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Public speaking graduation ceremony lit a fire — even over Zoom

Listening to the seventh graduating class of the African Leadership (ALG) public speaking program Tuesday evening brought out goose bumps and blew me away. It was at times like a joyful therapy session over Zoom for everyone involved. Calling it amazing understates the impact.

Congressman Jason Crow who is a frequent participant and a friend to ALG joined the event via teleconference as a surprise guest to congratulate the graduates for their hard work. The congressman confirmed his strong support for this unique organization.

Every member of the graduating class spoke, and they all stunned listeners with their unique perspective on what each speaker described as a life changing experience. The confidence, the precision, the energy, eloquence, brilliance, and unity displayed by the class was spectacular. Some speakers described how ALG is more of a family than just another organization.

Many speakers also noted that their backgrounds, and how they look and sound has affected their reception, not just in American society but in their workplaces, where they often are judged even before they open their mouths. However, this class empowered them to see things differently.

As one speaker who used the lion as their symbol (each graduate presented a symbol) said: The lion may not be the biggest or the strongest animal in the ecosystem, but when she sees the biggest animal, like the elephant, what she sees is another lunch. In other words, fear no giant tat stands before you, because it’s all about perspective in life.

The ALG’s public speaking chair, Madiama Mbaye, is affectionally called ‘professor’ by his students. He was at a loss for words when it was his turn to comment on what he experienced during the class. He took no credit despite the flood of appreciation that poured down on him. He counseled his students the most important thing is to speak, and when you speak, make sense.

He also reiterated what ALG founder and Executive Director Papa Dia said earlier in the program: What you become in the next five years will be dependent on the books you read and people you meet. In fact, let me also put it this way, if I may: If you surround yourself with four negative people, soon you’ll become the fifth.

Dr. Anne Keke who doubled as a class member and co-master of ceremony along with the amazing program coordinator, Ousman Ba led the program successfully.

The environment was still blazing, with the audience commenting and clearly wanting more, when Papa made a final announcement that connected the dots to the next major ALG endeavor. Followers are trained to become leaders, he said, and then those leaders over time are transformed into change-makers in society. Helping create these change-makers is the goal of the upcoming ‘LEADERSHIP AFRICA’ program.

This is a twelve month, twice-a-month program that aims to transform the mental landscape of participants, unearthing leadership potential and placing such leaders in decision-making positions in their fields of expertise for maximum impact.

As Papa also says, if you are not at the table, you’re on the menu. It’s about time for all of us to be at the table, and, in fact, at the head of the table.

Evans Kwesi Mensah
Evans is a father, a husband and the bestselling author of: "Synergy and Commonality - The Key to Success" and, recently, "Beyond the Credentials". He is executive director and co-founder of ValueCycle Limited ( - an organization that specializes in leadership and organizational development, coaching, supply chain management, strategy, education and capacity building. A Fellow of McKinsey & Company, and 2018 prestigious Made Man Honoree for social impact globally. He is the country chairman of the Eisenhower Fellowship in Ghana and a serving advisory board member of Howard University’s Executive Education program in Washington, D.C., as well as the Omar D. Blair K-8 School in Denver. More on Evans at htpps://

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