Mr McEva Temofe is the president and founder of African Economic Merit Awards (AEMA). In this interview with MAKINDE OLUWAROTIMI, he speaks on the impact of the organisation on the African continent, the upcoming awards among other things.
Tell us about AEMA
AEMA is a pan African organisation that covers 17 African countries and we are into education, health, agriculture and technology. These are areas in which we develop programmes that will help the people at the grassroots by providing solutions in community development in Africa.
Tell us how it all started
Well, AEMA started in 2013 though initially it started in 2012 but became virtually active in 2015 and then, as a founder, I had passion for the less privileged and also for a better, greater Africa because this is a continent that is blessed with not just natural but human resources. The African continent is blessed with abundance of human resources as well as human capacity in producing results. So, I thought so much about this area and I also considered harnessing talents of those who do not have access to discover their talent. So, I thought on how to go about it and how to give awards as an incentive, not to keep it at home, saying that I have received this plaque from this reputable organisation, No. It is a course for you to give back to the society and work more in developing communities. It places a responsibility on you to help people and also develop the community.
We understand that you have different branches, can you tell us more about them?
Yes, we are in 17 African countries: South Africa, Kenya, Cameroon, Ghana, Ethiopia, Egypt and others.
Can you tell us about some of your laudable projects?
Under AEMA, one of the most laudable projects, which we actually pushed out is a photograph project, the Nzilani festival. The Nzilani festival cuts across Africa and also Africans in diaspora. It helps lots of African youths see beyond their vision in capturing the moment and the happenings of Africa for record purposes. In Nzilani festival, we bring together African youths to capture moments in Africa, which youth celebrate in each of the African countries and apart from the Nzilani festival, which is photograph event, we also help in community developments like agriculture by setting up seminars and workshops, we have done same in education as well. We also did it in environment sanitisation; we have been doing it a lot. In Kenya for instance, there was a major slum but we were able to assist them in the areas of health and environmental clean up. We have also been able to assist in some other countries like Ethiopia and Ghana where we were able to help in eradicating snake bite in an entire community and for this, we are willing to do more.
How Has AEMA been able to influence the Leadership of these countries where its presence is located?
First, you cannot influence the leadership of the country without starting from the grassroots because those in leadership come from somewhere and majority of them come from the grassroots. So, now what we have been able to do is to create an awareness of the places that do not have access to basic amenities. By the time we create this awareness, we let the leadership know that there is a responsibility on their neck to perform and we also make sure that places that do not have access to better amenities like better education, healthcare, transportation system, are attended to.
Now by the 26th of October 2018, we are having world class unveiling and we are unveiling our nominees but beyond that, we are also discussing two major issues, which are actually needed in Africa right now. We are going to discuss firstly about the effects of youth on Africa’s economy and secondly, Africa and China’s economic relationship. Respected individuals in Africa will discuss these and with this, we will be able to reveal how the leadership can be influenced, touched; produce more impact in community development and take up the responsibilities for building better nations for Africa.
Since education is the foundation for good leadership, how has AEMA been able to help in this area?
I will say yes and no because with quality education, there will definitely be a sane environment though quality education does not determine good leadership. You can have someone who is well educated but does not have the basis of being a good leader. Good leadership has to do with foundation. What I mean by foundation is the environment, which impacts societal value, and I plead and implore each and every African to encourage and inculcate family values. When your family carries huge value, it is healthy and acts normal and that is what the society should carry; also, what you bring to the society shifts back to where you are coming from.
So, these values should be what we encourage in Africa to produce good leadership. The leadership we had in the eighties is different from what we have today why, because of environmental and societal decadence, not education. Education can only produce and provide a sanitised environment but it does not determine good leadership. So, we have to go back to our family values. What our fathers and mothers imposed on us to know the good and the bad. If you can discipline yourself, you are producing good leadership in you. So, I implore everyone in Africa, education does not provide good leadership but family values, individual values, produce good leadership.
What are the criteria for the awards?
The criteria are very open. We are awarding in agriculture, education, health, governance and the list goes on and it has to do with what is happening in our society, what is affecting lives in our society. These are the areas, which we are awarding, for a greater Africa, for better life and economic development in Africa. We also have dignitaries coming for this event.
What is your view about having a United Africa?
We have ECOWAS, Africa Union and these unions have to work hand in hand to utilise their energies to produce a better Africa by being independent but putting on a corroborative economic growth with the foreign countries.
What about the issue of single currency?
The single currency, I think, can influence economic growth in Africa. This is because you have taken a responsibility and other nations in Africa know that there is a purpose, they need to keep the currency stable and the economy strong, and there is a responsibility for each president to make sure that this does not fail.
What is your advice to the Nigerian Leadership?
The leadership of Nigeria stands mostly on citizens. It is high time we came together to work in creating a better environment by setting up responsibilities for each and every one of us by ourselves and also creating values for our families and not be carried away by values that belong to other continents. So, leadership rests upon each and every one of us, it’s not only the responsibility of one person.
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