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Leaders: Africa Monday recap

A graphic of a blue background with diamond-shaped symbols in a white, grey-ish, white, red, teal, yellow, white, red, teal, yellow, and white color pattern.

Earlier today, we shared the update below about the Obama Foundation Leaders: Africa program in Johannesburg, South Africa, recapping the inspiring events on Monday, July 16. If you'd like to receive updates like these, you can sign up for our email list here. 

“Don’t go at it alone. When spider webs combine, they can even tie-up a lion.”

Monday of the Leaders: Africa convening began with a roar. On a panel on “Leadership in the Face of Adversity,” Graça Machel, Bogolo Kenewendo, and Thulisile Madonsela shared stories about their own journeys and how each overcame obstacles to find success in their efforts to drive change. As the conversation was wrapping up, moderator and journalist Nozipho Mbanjwa asked each panelist to share their own headline for the conversation, a few words of wisdom to leave the crowd inspired.

Thulisile Madonsela shared the quote above, a stirring proverb about the power of teamwork.

Graça Machel sounded a similar note, encouraging the gathering of young leaders to work together. “A profound transformation of the continent will be achieved when young leaders’ networks work together to build the wave of transformation,” she said.

And finally, Bogolo Kenewendo told participants that they were “not the future of tomorrow, they are the now leaders.”

Afterwards, leaders attended a number of different workshops and activities. The first focused on developing entrepreneurial skills, from leveraging the latest technology, to non-profit fundraising to investor pitching.

A black male with a deep skin tone and long locs looks at sticky notes on the wall in the colors of yellow and a lighter green.

David Sengeh, the Chief Innovation Officer of Sierra Leone led a session on innovation in government.

A group of people with various skin tones, holding hands, and step on white paper plates on a concrete tennis court.

And leaders put their heads—and hands—together to make it across a series of lily pads strewn across tennis courts, using only gestures and body language, rather than their voices.

The night ended with a traditional South African braai, or barbeque. The cookout gave the leaders and some special guests a chance to socialize and deepen the connections they’d made this week. The Soweto Gospel Choir closed out the evening with several inspiring South African songs and a moving, joyful tribute to Nelson Mandela.

Stay tuned for more updates from the Obama Foundation: Leaders Africa convening in Johannesburg. If you missed yesterday’s fun, you can watch a recap video here (Opens in a new tab) and read a dispatch from one of our leaders, Veda Sunassee.  

You can also check out the brilliant work of Zimbabwean-born, Joberg-based graphic designer Osmond Tshuma, who created the design for Leaders: Africa program and took over our Instagram (Opens in a new tab) to share his inspiring designs.

And be sure to tune in for a live stream of the President’s Town Hall with Leaders on July 18 at 11 AM SAST on!