An Afropolitan is: “An African from the continent of dual nationality, an African born in the diaspora, or an African who identifies with their African and European heritage and mixed culture.” And increasingly, Afropolitans are thinking about going home. Africa is increasingly politically stable, and Africa, not the first world, is where the economic growth is these days. Here’s a look at a small part of what calls Afropolitans home.
* Our Parents Left Africa – Now We Are Coming Home Afua Hirsch The Observer
When I was a teenager, my mother overheard me telling my peers that I was Jamaican, a clearly absurd statement from a half-Ghanaian, half-English girl whose first name is one of the most common in a major African language…It wasn’t cool to be African in those days and in my ignorant teenage way, I was acting out a much bigger crisis of confidence, one that had been swallowing Africans and spitting them out as permanent economic migrants in Europe and America ever since the end of colonialism….
There is a symmetry to the journey that returnees are making, which speaks volumes about the state of Africa today. Our parents left – exactly 50 years ago in my case – fleeing deteriorating economic conditions and limited opportunities at home. Now their children are forming an exodus from the crisis-ridden eurozone, four years of recession and the dogged perception of inequality and discrimination in the west. “Who needs the glass ceiling when you could be running your own business in one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, enjoying the warm weather and surrounded by your own people?” one returnee to Ghana told me. “There is no contest.”
The facts about Africa’s change in fortunes are dazzling. Dubbed the “next Asia” for its rapid growth, the IMF forecasts that seven of the world’s fastest-growing economies over the next five years will be in Africa; Ethiopia, Mozambique, Tanzania, Congo, Ghana, Zambia and Nigeria are expected to expand by more than 6% a year until 2015.
* How A Software Entrepreneur Became ‘The Bill Gates Of Ghana’ The Observer
He was born in Ireland, studied in America and worked in Britain. But when Ghanaian Herman Chinery-Hesse decided to build a software company, he was determined that it would be in Africa.
“I didn’t have an option in America,” he says. “I was a black African there; until Obama, we didn’t have a track record of leadership. It would be an uphill battle, whereas in Ghana the sky was the limit. Also I’m African: we need development here and it’s Africans who are going to develop Africa. I felt a sense of responsibility, apart from the fact that I thought I’d have a brighter future here.”
Moving to Ghana in 1990, Chinery-Hesse had no money but did own a computer. With a friend, he began writing programs and selling them, eventually moving from a bedroom to a garage to an office. Today, he is dubbed the “Bill Gates of Ghana”. SOFTtribe is the country’s leading software developer, providing management systems to dozens of companies, including Guinness and Unilever, and products to thousands of consumers. One of its most popular programs allows a user whose house is being attacked to text their GPS co-ordinates to police, neighbours and local radio.
Idea: The Hippo water roller is a drum that can be rolled on the ground, making it easier for those without access to taps to haul larger amounts of water faster.
Problem: Two out of every five people in Africa have no nearby water facilities and are forced to walk long distances to reach water sources. Traditional methods of balancing heavy loads of water on the head limit the amount people can carry, and cause long-term spinal injuries. Women and children usually carry out these time-consuming tasks, missing out on educational and economic opportunities. In extreme cases, they can be at increased risks of assault or rape when travelling long distances.
Method: The Hippo roller can be filled with water which is then pushed or pulled using a handle. The weight of the water is spread evenly so a full drum carries almost five times more than traditional containers, but weighs in at half the usual 20kg, allowing it to be transported faster.…
Verdict: Around 42,000 Hippo rollers have been sold in 21 African countries and demand exceeds supply. Costing $125 each, they are distributed through NGOs. A mobile manufacturing unit is set to begin making them in Tanzania. Nelson Mandela has made a “personal appeal” for supporting for the project, saying it “will positively change the lives of millions of our fellow South Africans”.
* The 10 best contemporary African books The Observer