Kamala Harris, Madam Vice President
Kamala Harris, the current Vice President of the United States of America (Source: Wikipedia)
The story of the Vice President of America today is one that we can say is as a result of strong legislation and a long standing and deeply rooted culture of the United States of America, as well as her democracy, which has evolved over the years.
The eventual passage of the 19th amendment, over a 100 years ago, enabled an all-inclusive voting rights which made possible the feat which we all celebrate today – a Woman occupying the office of the Vice President of the United States. This goes beyond a pass mark in our ‘democratic’ institutions, one we have always hoped for, or a nod at inclusion and diversity. What we see here is a new dawn in America’s politics.
Kamala Harris, the current Vice President of the United States of America is a multicultural woman; with black, Jamaican, and Indian descent. Her story is one of possibilities and a spirited passion for the American democracy. Her political triumph pinpoints a significant landmark in her successful career even as she keeps making history.
Harris’s Mother, Shyamala Gopalan Harris, had arrived in the United States from India in 1958 as a 19-year-old; who through grit and hardwork went on to become a biologist cancer researcher. Her father, Donald Harris, who came from Jamaica was a lecturer at Stanford University.
Vice President Kamala Harris was born in 1964, She had a normal childhood till she was 7 with her younger sister Maya when her parents unfortunately separated. She continued her educational studies not withstanding and attended Howard University, a historically black university in the capital city of Washington, D.C.
Harris proceeds to California for her furtherance in education in Law, by attending the law school at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law through its Legal Education Opportunity Program. While at UC Hastings, during her stay in the law school she served as president of its chapter of the Black Law Students Association. She graduated in 1989 thereafter she joined the Alameda County District Attorney’s office where she specialized in prosecuting child sexual assault cases.
In the year 2002, Harris showed interest in running for District Attorney of San Francisco against two other contenders. Harris went on to win the keenly contested race with 56% of the vote, becoming the first black elected a District Attorney of San Francisco.
Going forward to 2010, Harris was elected as the Attorney General (AG) of the State of California! Therefore, becoming the first female and first African American to hold the post. She went on to write a book titled; Smart on Crime, this book was considered a model for dealing with the problem of criminal recidivism in the United States and the world in general.
In the year 2014, a new chapter in Harris’s life was opened, as she got married to Attorney Douglas Emhoff. Harris was then chosen to be recruited for the U.S. Senate for a seat that belonged to a woman retiring.
2016 marked another triumphant run in the record book of groundbreaking accolades. Kamala Harris, this time won the senatorial election by a landslide based on her situating policies calling for criminal- justice and immigration reforms, increase of minimum wage, and protection of women’s reproductive rights. As the pattern has been from her law school days, she became the first Indian American in the U.S. Senate.
Harris went in to announce she was seeking the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020 which Joe Biden clinched. But In August 2020, Biden chose her as his running mate for the presidential election, thus the first black woman to appear on a major party’s national ticket. Heading on to the November 2020 elections, she became the first woman to ever be elected Vice President of the United States. And by January 20, 2021 she was sworn in as the Vice President of the United States.
Kamala Harris is a role model in diverse ways as most of her notable milestones were stated above. Very inspiring to women around the world irrespective of race, ethnicity or country, she has a model of international repute, though of black and Indian descent.
However, despite what might seem as remarkable progress in our collective journeys towards gender equality and inclusion, women are still starkly underrepresented in leadership positions, most especially in the top echelons of power. This gap is not just a United States problem, but a global issue. Nevertheless, every win counts! As in the resounding words of Neil Armstrong, “this is one small step for man, and a great leap for mankind.”
We have successfully overcome the setback of relegating women to the kitchen. We have seen that a woman can get to the zenith of her career if she so wishes with hard work and perseverance.
Kamala categorically stated in her victory speech “But while I may be the first woman in this office, I won’t be the last. Because every little girl watching tonight sees that this is a country of possibilities.”
A historical new era is born in the United States of America with high hopes and aspirations for endless possibilities.
Article by: Remi Duyile
Nigerian-Born Ayomide Idogun On Creating Impact
Ayomide Idogun is the co-founder at the New African Movement, an initiative aimed at ensuring Africa is conducive for Africans. Ayomide is a development strategist, policy analyst, and military historian with a major flair for transformative change through strategic thought, leadership, and empowerment.
Recently, he had the opportunity to be a delegate at the Arab Youth International Model United Nations Conference, now known as the Best Diplomats Conference, held in Dubai. Beyond the piquancy that came with meeting over 150 people from about 80 countries, and the experience of learning different cultures, the delegates were largely charged with proffering solutions to solving the global food crisis. Ayomide represented the great people of Guatemala, who sadly are no strangers to this phenomenon, with 4.6 million people at the least, facing the hunger crisis, and suffering hugely from food insecurity.
This led him to come up with prospective solutions, to ensure farmer empowerment, and the mitigation of factors hindering food supply minimized to the barest minimum, so as to ensure Guatemala does not just become self-sustaining, but grows to the point of exporting food produce to other Nations. His efforts did not go unrewarded as he bagged the Outstanding Diplomat Award, in recognition of his outstanding negotiation, leadership, and overall performance during the course of the conference.
He is a trainer and speaker with core area in leadership, capacity building and development. Some of his engagements amongst others, includes, training members of the African community in the United Arab Emirates, on capacity building and maximizing potentials, to ensure their time and resources are utilized to maximal effect. And at the maiden edition of DisruptHR Lagos, organized by OutsideinHR, where he spoke on the role COVID-19 played on priorities for humanity, and the ever-changing landscape of work.
Ayomide Idogun holds a degree in Policy and Strategic Studies from Covenant University, a second degree in History and Strategic Studies from the University of Lagos, and he is currently enrolled in the School of Politics, Policy and Governance, where he is undergoing the Public Leadership and Policy Programme.
Scrabble for Africa Reborn?
Kamala Harris, U.S Vice President (Image: Reuters)
In a speech presented to a group of women entrepreneurs in Dakar, Senegal early this year, US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen stated that the United States had come as a partner to help Africa realize its massive economic potential. Arguably, Africa has long been a continent of interest to Western countries, and in recent years, their influence has been growing at an unprecedented rate. Whether it is through economic investments, military partnerships, or cultural exchanges, Western nations have been making significant strides in establishing themselves as key players on the African continent. It appears that most developed countries are trying to grow their influence on the African continent in what appears like the rebirth of the scrabble for Africa of the 19th century, albeit not through direct colonization but other different forms of control and influence.
Could it be coincidental that nearly all world power countries are visiting Africa at intervals not seen in the recent past? The first quarter of 2023 witnessed the visit of US Vice President Kamala Harris to Ghana, Tanzania and Zambia, the visit of US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to Senegal, Zambia and South Africa, the visit of China’s foreign Minister Qin Gang to Ethiopia, Egypt, Gabon, Angola and Benin, the visit of Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov to South Africa, Botswana and Angola and the visit of France President Emmanuel Macron to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Angola and the Republic of Congo. Each of these high-level visitors has argued that their visits are aimed at creating meaningful partnerships with African countries with France acknowledging that foreign powers are jostling for influence in Africa.
The French President added that Africa is a theatre of competition and advanced countries are seeking long term partnerships. In an interview at the white house after her recent trip to Africa, US vice President Kamala Harris argued that by 2050, one in four people occupying space of earth will be in Africa and as such, this presented a lot of opportunities in terms of the future and since Africa has a median age, the demographics have an impact on the entire globe. It appears the leaders from advanced countries are seeing the potential that Africa has and are each trying to clinch partnerships in the continent but can the same be said of African leaders? How many African leaders have taken time to visit each other to discuss the opportunities in their nations and work on actualising them?
The real question that African leaders should ask is, why is Africa becoming a theatre of Competition for foreign nations when it can be a centre of cooperation for the advancement of the continent? Is it not true that when elephants are fighting, it is the grass that suffers and in this case the grass will be Africa?
Africa is home to some of the world’s largest reserves of mineral resources such as diamonds, gold, platinum, copper, and iron ore, among others. Undoubtedly, Africa is the richest continent and therefore, its untapped trade potential is very attractive. It is no wonder that developed countries are competing to foster relations with African countries. However, it should be noted that the competition for Africa’s resources has a long history, dating back to colonial times when European powers scrambled for control of Africa’s land and resources. Today, the scramble for Africa is driven by a range of factors, which include the growing demand for natural resources, and Africa’s emergence as a key market for consumer goods and services.
The trade potential that each country in Africa has, if well exploited would be sufficient to end some of the major challenges faced. However, the focus has mostly been on external trade with developed countries rather than intra-Africa trade hence unfavourable outcomes. Trade with developed countries has mostly been unfair due to factors such as developed countries using their economic and political power to negotiate trade deals that favour their own interests at the expense of African countries.
Further, African countries often lack the bargaining power in trade negotiations due to being small compared to their trading partners and may be forced to accept unfavourable terms in order to access advanced markets. It is interesting that the pricing of commodities predominantly found in Africa is determined by the developed countries and Africa has no control whatsoever. The question remains, what voice do African countries have to decide on what and who to trade with as they seek to actualise their potential?
African countries should come to a realisation that their strengths lies in their numbers and the ability to work together. Why should Zambia order fuel from far countries and incur huge transport costs instead of importing from Angola, its neighbour? Africa will be respected on the global stage when economic decisions such as trade focus on inward solutions rather than continued dependency. The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) which should be the world’s largest single market is a key weapon to boost Africa’s economic freedom. Africa should not come to the trade table as beggars but rather equal partners because the World needs what Africa has and not only the other way round.
Working in partnership with other countries is not the problem, but having only one partner benefiting is. While it is true that scrabble for Africa is history, its reoccurrence in the form of control, power and cultural change should be questioned. It’s a call for leaders, investors, Africans and interested stakeholders to ensure that African interests and viewpoints are prioritised by all in working towards bettering people’s lives. Africa has potential to be its own redeemer instead of being ripped apart in the fierce struggle resembling the scrabble for Africa. In the context of globalisation, Africa should seek meaningful and mutually beneficial deals that are only possible when it comes to the negotiating tables as equal partners, not as directionless people who need deliverance.
By: Nchimunya Muvwende
Prof. Remi Duyile on Nigeria 2023 election and advice to the youths
Prof. Remi Duyile, Founder Legacy Premier Foundation
As Nigerians are gearing up and campaigning for the 2023 election begins, Business Africa Online asked Prof. Remi Duyile share her thoughts on what this election means to her and why everyone must be involved, why we cannot afford to get it wrong this time around, and advice to the youths. Excerpts.
I held a political role in Nigeria a few years ago, which provided me with a good understanding of the country’s political institutions. As we approach another year in the political chapters of Nigerian history, we must not only look forward with expectations but also reflect on our previous experiences in order to identify and choose the right leaders for our future.
We’ve all heard the saying “,those who fail to learn from history are likely to repeat it.” With elections approaching, it is critical that we look back and critically examine not only the people, but also the patterns that have led us here. We cannot build the Nigeria we want without learning from the past and making the necessary adjustments while preparing for the future. It takes time for change to occur, just like Rome did not rise overnight. Nevertheless, now is the time to lay the foundation for the Nigeria we seek to build, tomorrow.
There may be a question in your mind as to what these foundations are. There is first of all a sense of worth and worthiness in life. For any nation to fully develop, it must place a high value on the lives of its residents. As we prepare for the next elections, we must question which of these candidates prioritizes the worth of life and a sense of being Nigerian citizens. This includes: freedom of speech, equality and democratic processes at all levels. This is a priority because unless the worth of life and a sense of self are prioritized above all else, even the best-looking prospects will ultimately become unyielding and dictatorial.
Secondly, there is the growth of human capital and socioeconomic empowerment. It is common knowledge that every industrialized country prioritizes these two factors. No nation is more powerful than its economic potential. Our leaders must be intentional about this. Being a producing nation is one way to successfully enforce this. Nigeria is a great country, yet we are unable to enjoy the fruits of our labor.
All human capacities that can help to improve our economy include the capacity to create, invent, strategize, and engage. To think for ourselves, to maximize the potential of our teeming young people, to generate opportunities and employment, all of these are vital for progress and must be prioritized if we are to see any change in our nation.
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