All 15 graduates of the seventh annual African Leadership Group public speaking class have submitted the full texts of their speeches, along with an image of the symbol that represents each of them. You can read all 15 speeches below:
My name is Gaelle Koanda. I have been living in the USA since 2008 and moved to Denver three years ago.
The best thing that has happened to me since I moved here, besides having my son, was joining ALG. I always say that I did not have a family in Denver but now I can say that I have a family which is the African Leadership Group.
I was a student from the past session public speaking but my attendance was very bad and I was not allowed to graduate. I was very upset at Professsor Madiama and at Papa Dia for not allowing me to graduate. The reality of life is that we will hear more No than Yes. Tonight I just want to thank them for not allowing me to graduate because coming to this session was the best thing that could ever have happened to me.
I am glad I did not give up. Tonight I am here to tell anybody who is not graduating that the best gift that they can give to themselves is to attend the next session. Yes, giving up is like giving birth to regret.
In fact, I was not fitting the shoe I was wearing last session. Many of us have goals we are trying to achieve but the person we are at the present moment might not be the person we have to be when we achieve our goal. Yes, last session I was not the person I am now becoming.
This class has taught me more than just public speaking. This class has taught me wisdom, this class has taught me to say no, this class has taught me not to judge people, this class has taught me patience and also helped me regain confidence in myself and I will be forever grateful to you all.
I chose a lion as a symbol . A year ago I could testify that I had lost my identity and, as a matter of fact, a year ago if you had asked me to identify myself with a symbol or a quote I do not know if I was going to be able to do it.When Ousman reached out to ask me yesterday it did not take me five minutes to send him everything and I am glad because it happened through this class.
I chose a lion because a lion has some characteristics I have and would like to have. A lion manages to handle everything; she lost a battle but she got back on track. You will never see a lion begging; she knows when to say no. She never gives up.
Give her the misery of the whole world and she will take care of everything. A lion has a lot of pride and I also have a lot of pride. All the times where she should have fallen, it never crossed her mind that she would never be able to make it.
What I am asking all of you tonight is not to fear failure. If you fear failure you will be terrified of regret. Do not take no for an answer. I am still on my way to learning and in fact I will be attending the next session as well. What I have learned in this class I have never learned in any other of my classes.
Each week we learn something new in this class with Papa, Professor Madiama, Anne, Ousman, Amadou, and everybody else. I also learned with Professor Madiama that impossible Is not a word; is just a reason for someone not to try. This class is an empowerment class.
I am really really grateful from the bottom of my heart. Merci beaucoup.To my fellow classmates, congratulations , we made it. This is just the beginning. And Safari, congratulations, we will keep in touch and I am glad to know that you are opening a new Chapter in Dallas.
ALG is working. Moving the class from live to zoom has helped us a lot because a lot of us are here by ourselves and with the current situation we did not feel lonely. What I have learned in this class I have never learned in any other class.
This class is just Magic. Thank you!!
Good evening to my entire African Leadership Group Family globally. This class is more to me than a lesson, more than empowerment. It is truly a bridge to who I am and where I belong in this universe.
What I’m going to do tonight is share with you a few things about myself and what I’ve learned throughout this journey. My symbol is the sword because I am a writer. Writing is my first gift. It is what God put me on earth to do.
The symbol tattooed on my right wrist is the Japanese symbol for life. I am right-hand dominant and it was placed there because writing is my life and life is the subject of my writing. I can’t begin to imagine how profound it was when I discovered my sword is mightier than any weapon that could ever form to come my way. I have to thank God for something I didn’t even realize would turn into more than something I simply enjoy doing.
As I begin to reflect upon this class tonight, I can sum it up in one word and one phrase: Impact, and dare to dream to impact. Social, economic, and emotional impact is the backbone of what ALG does. We must increase our continued learning and our knowledge so that we may continue to be efficient agents of change globally and catalysts for each one to teach one so that we can actually have a global, major and long lasting impact.
This journey became more than a desire to me, for when I started this class, my goal was to not forget content as I, a candidate who I am supporting, or an individual whom I am helping deliver an effective speech. What I learned was far beyond anything I could ask or think. What I gained was a family with power unimaginable that has yet to manifest into its fullness of use.
My family, where can I begin? The three books we read this semester, “Think And Grow Rich,” “The Law of Attraction,” and “The Secret.” I must tell you that it is you who are the secret. I have said this to you before. There is nothing that we cannot manifest when we have desire, proper prepared planning, flawless execution, and follow-through.
Together collectively among us we have experts in banking, finance, education, politics, child services, and more. There is not a single thing this group collectively cannot accomplish. That is why I not only believe but know in my heart of hearts that I was drawn to you.
The law of attraction speaks for itself, for we are all here. Throughout COVID, and everything we are experiencing during this challenging time globally, this class was my weekly therapy. I could not be who I am right not in this moment if it was not for what we have achieved here over the past several months.
I would like to talk about impact. Impact is not just what happens when you hit something. When we think of impact often we think of a crash. That is no longer what impact means to me. Impact is change that starts on the inside of each of us beginning with our minds.
My quote for the night can be found In our book “The Secret.” It comes from the Buddah who says “All that an individual is, is the sum total of what that individual has thought.”
I like to say that I was born to bring glitter and sunshine to the world. People have always said it was kind of corny and have made fun of me. What they didn’t realize is that I learned this secret a very long time ago. What people may not understand Is the majority of self-help books, leadership and life coaching guides can be summed up in Philippians. “Whatsoever you think.. think on these things, what is good, what is true and what is virtuous.“
You need to manifest your goals in your mind before they ever manifest in the world. Once they are in your mind you then need to put them on paper. Then you must act on them by doing what we learned in chapter three of “Think and Grow Rich,” which is if you are not an expert in a certain area you must surround yourself with those who may lack in areas where you do not and who are strong in areas where you may be weak. This is your mastermind group.
I need to let you know I have been surrounded in this class by some of the most phenomenal people I could ever have not even dreamed of meeting. Your accents that make you so ashamed when you come here are beautiful. In your nations and homelands where each of you come from, you may be the top in your class, or the most educated, most documented or the most prolifically producing in your field.
But you came to America, and people have been sold an American Dream that we have found out recently has been a lie. You find out real quick that simply because of your accent and the false standards of American greatness you may be placed at the bottom of your field when indeed you should be at the top as you were back at home in Africa.
Well allow me to introduce myself in some of the languages I speak. Je m’appelel Papillon, Erin um Nani Nguyen Nani, me Llamo Mariposa Blanca, y ultimo I love you all. We who speak a multitude of languages truly have the advantage.
We are here to change the entire world. Africa and its youth are catching up to where the world needs to be. You are the future now catching up to the real past. What I am here to do is utilize my sword to help each of your dreams become reality in order to have an economic, social, educational, and global impact on what ALG is yet to do and what the world is here witnessing tonight.
Africa is realizing her true potential through us her children. Let me be the agent of change for you. And as I close tonight I want to let you know there is not a single thing you cannot do. There is not a single thing that you will not achieve for I have already envisioned it and seen it for you.
There are some of you who have not felt this inside of yourselves, but this class has allowed you to see who you truly are through what you have seen. You must understand as agents of change it is our desire to make change in this world positive for all people.
You have a contribution to make. Each of us do. A very special selective skill that you are all blessed with and I can’t wait to help manifest your dreams. It has been my pleasure and I am beyond pleased to let the world see that we must first break down stereotypes, for Africa loves African Americans and African Americans are Africa. Once we change the narrative of how we think and speak about and to each other, there is nothing collectively that we can’t do.
I can’t tell you the number of languages and ethnicities that comprise the African Leadership Group and the people in the communities that we serve. I am here to let you know that we are coming!
And as I open the floor for the next candidate who I am going to place my entire life behind, because she has dedicated her life to the future, our children. I cannot speak more highly about Dr Anne Keke. This class is more than individuals, this class is more than what we do on a weekly basis, this class is more than who you see on this call right now.
This class is a catalyst for change for the future of the world. And our dreams will be the impact the world receives.
Mount Kilimanjaro. Snow capped, rising majestically above the African plains, is the highest mountain in Africa and highest free-standing mountain in the World.
Giraffe. A giraffe symbolizes grace, peace, individuality, protection, communication, perception and farsightedness ( the ability to see distant objects clearly)
Why did I pick these symbols?
The tribe that lives under the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro is Chagga, and my maternal grandparents were Chagga. I had a Blessing of living with them for six good years and during those six years I remember sitting around the fire that Grandma made after she came back from the farm and cooked dinner, and this was story time. I am reminded of her wisdom and strength as we sat, and it was dark outside surrounded by coffee and banana trees. I do believe the years that I spent with them have shaped me to the person I am today.
I am standing in front of you all today with the symbol of Mount Kilimanjaro as it symbolizes peace, love, strength and grace I received from them.
What did I learn from our class?
This class is an extension of what Grandmother had poured into me! I extend my gratitude and my heart filled with joy to Papa, who never gave up on me as he constantly encouraged me to participate in ALG, and for me coming to this class was one of the best decisions I have ever made.
Most of us thought we were coming to a “Public Speaking Class” but we gained family, love, peace, and life lessons. There were days I was so tired I felt like I could not go on but coming to our class each Tuesday was motivating, restoring and refreshing like the water that flows from Mount Kilimanjaro after the snows have melted! ALG to me is refreshing like the cold water on a summer day flowing from Mount Kilimanjaro, soothing our spirits.
I learned a lot of things which I want to take with me; I am not alone, we are a family – and what I want to share today is how to succeed.
If you want to succeed, you must conquer your fears. Fear will hinder you from going forward, from point A to point B. Why am I saying this? And how am I connecting with my symbols?
Mount Kilimanjaro stands above all things on the Continent of Africa, and the giraffe stands taller above all the other animals in the wilderness. So for you to succeed you must stand tall, you must conquer your fears, you must have a desire and have a plan to succeed, you must persevere, you must abide by your desire strictly no matter what obstacles will come.
People will discourage you, absolutely yes, but what I want to encourage you tonight: Persistence will take you forward, so no matter what comes your way, always remember to never lose your focus, because your focus is to succeed.
Determination: You have to have the firmness of purpose in you, you must have courage to do what scares others. You must rise above all, you must soar high like the eagle above the storms to be able to reach and fulfill your goal, and lastly you must have FAITH! You must believe that you will succeed and believe in yourself because everything you want to do and anybody you want to become is within you. You will succeed.
In conclusion I want to take each one of you, individually. I am humble enough to know the time, the love and knowledge graced to me from Papa, Professor Madiama, the ALG Family and the whole team – I am taking this opportunity to say thank you!
I will stand tall as Mount Kilimanjaro and share with others in our communities and to our young generation, so that they know that nothing can stop them but themselves.The sky is not the limit, it is our minds; we limit ourselves. And I am calling on us as the giraffe to share the grace and peace and to see beyond our generation.
Thank you !!!
Good evening ALG family, Papa, Professor, friends and Family.
Muli mutya, Habari, Bonjour, salaam aleekum, Hallo, molo, Hi everyone.
Today I will be discussing my spirit animal and how it relates to me; the ALG public speaking class and its benefits and how it will take us forward.
My spirit animal is the butterfly. The purpose of spirit animals is to give us strength, hope, love, and comfort, and also to protect and support us on our individual paths and journeys.
I have always been drawn to the butterfly and it always gives me peace of mind. The butterfly is adaptable, curious, and learns new skills everyday. The butterfly shows up in times of transformation and appears through times of life change and development, which is where I am in my life.
When I came to the U.S. I had a plan but God had a different plan and path which led me to Papa, who has lived this journey. He is my biggest support, strength, and guide. He introduced me to the ALG family, which is made up of the most amazing group of people. The day I was invited to the public speaking group I was not sure what to expect. I was nervous, anxious and scared but joining the class has been nothing but a blessing.
What did I hope to learn from this class? Well, like the name says, public speaking — how to be a public speaker, but that was not all I learned. Most importantly I learned communication, the power of the mind, the ability to see and be positive in the midst of darkness and love.
The biggest lesson I learned from being part of this ALG class was the support and love of a family made of people I never knew, but I learned to love after my first class. A family who stands by you and will help you when you are wrong and teach you the right way. A family who loves you unconditionally without even knowing anything about you. A true family.
And that I will take with me and pass on to everyone I meet. ALG’s is not just a public speaking class that helps you with public speaking, but a family that helps you through this journey called life.
With that said I wrote a poem to my ALG family called:
I didn’t know what I was getting into when I met you. I didn’t know what to expect when I met you. I didn’t know what I wanted out of this when I joined you. But I do know I got more that I thought I needed. I was scared, I was nervous, I felt like the new in-law that everyone is looking at. But to my surprise I was loved. Hearts were warm, smiles were big, hugs were huge but most of all the love was real. The crazy part is I did not know I could love another, I could love people, people I hardly knew, people who hardly knew me, people who took me in as if I was part of this family from the beginning. To me this was my beginning.They have lived their beginning but they were willing to meet me halfway and start off with me. I never felt like the stepchild, I never felt lost, all I felt and still feel is love, love from people I hardly knew, love from people who are more to me than I thought I needed, love from a new family that I gain on my new journey. I know I am blessed especially in this world where heartache leads more than love. I know I am blessed because even though I am alone, I am not alone. I feel like I never left my family, I feel like I just got to know my extended family better. ALG you started this journey with each and every one of us and we will continue to build this new family that you have given me, that you have given us. To more love and light. Love you all, Georgine
Thank you everyone who joined tonight and everyone who has been a part of this journey. This is not the end, this is just the beginning.
Baie dankie, Merci, Jerejef, Enkosi, Asanye.
Dr, Anne Keke
My name is Dr. Anne Keke, an active member of ALG and also a proud student of this cohort. I usually help in the education committee and with the youth empowerment team.
I chose the artichoke as my symbol because I think it represents me well. This is the food that will be passed by at the grocery store because of the way it appears. People don’t know how healthy it is. Once you get to peel it and eat it, you get hooked.
Same with me. People that don’t know me may think on first impression that I am not approachable, but when you get to know me you find out that I have the biggest heart in the world, and all I want is your success and that of your family.
When I signed up for this class, I had no expectations, but I obeyed my mentor when he asked me to enroll. Little did I know the life transforming journey I would take.
This class helped me find my love for serving my community and discover the true meaning of sharing with people without expecting anything. Most of all this class gave me friends and a family.
Some of the things I learned I am already applying. Yes, I am a student of this cohort but also one of the planners and the helper of the facilitator. Though I helped plan and helped the facilitator, I get no slack! I have to turn in ALL assignments just like every student and actually more is asked of me. I was stretched and expected to deliver every time.
To my classmates, thank you for letting me serve you. To my mentor I hope you are proud of me.
To professor Madiama Mbaye, I also want to say thank you. Thank you for your love for your students and your passion for what you do. The way you do your job makes it look like it is easy, but I know it comes with its challenges and hurdles.
Please for the sake of the amazing and awesome people coming behind us, don’t get tired, don’t give up. More people need your knowledge and expertise.
We love you.
Once again, thank you.
Alain Sinai Diatta
My name is Alain Sinai Diatta, I am an eternal optimist and my symbol is the lion.
Born and raised in the south part of Senegal, commonly known as Casamance, I belong to the Diolas and Balanta ethnic groups. I always live with integrity.
That’s why during all of my life I always encourage myself to never give up and to have courage to achieve all my dreams. People have visions, have inspiration, but sometimes due to the lack of courage they do not achieve their goal.
We need the courage, loyalty, and dignity of a lion to inspire and create positive leadership in our community.
I always love working to empower capacity building of young people of the African Renaissance. I am currently with YMCA of the Rockies as a trainee in Human Resources.
As an extraverted person, I like creating impact in people’s lives and during my days off in Colorado I was doing some research to see how I could get involved in other activities with African communities and I saw on the news information about ALG.
I called the number and the following day, I got a call back from Papa Dia, who invited me to the ALG retreat.
When I arrived, I was welcomed by Mrs Lorry with a very great smile and this made me feel like I was in Africa. During the retreat I got the chance to connect with the team and proposed some future collaborations with local NGOs I am involved in to have more impact in the world.
Thus, the founder invited me to attend the public speaking class with other ALG students. There I learned a lot from everyone. This class gave me an opportunity to practice my English speaking and allowed me to be patient listening to people speaking with different accents.
At first, I didn’t have many expectations, but I found this public speaking class interesting because if we want to share our vision, leaders need to have very good communications skills.
I think that these kinds of opportunities are very important because it is not only public speaking but also a personal and professional development tool for future leaders.
This public speaking class allowed me to discover the book called “The Secret,” by Rhonda Byrne. This book is amazing and incredible!
What I learned from this book is that thoughts are magnetic, and thoughts have a frequency. As you think, those thoughts are sent out into the Universe, and they magnetically attract all like things that are on the same frequency.
Also while reading this book I learned that “Everything sent out returns to the source. And the source is you.”
So when I return to my country, my action plan is to share this experience with my family, co-workers and my community, for the common good.
I would like to thank the African Leadership Group for giving me the opportunity to share this platform with the students and as a member I will be attending the next sessions as well, because as Professor said during one of the classes: “Winners never quit and quitters never win.”
Good evening family.
My name is Safari Bushayija and my connection to the “The eagle flying” symbol is very simple: traveling. I love to travel and always look for an opportunity to discover a new place.
A little story to start with: A few days before I was born, my dad was impatient and “tired” of waiting for me because he was looking for a job opportunity a few miles away from where we were living. He decided to go to another city and a few days later I was born!
Here I come into this world and all the friends around us didn’t hesitate a second: this baby’s name is “Safari” which means traveling in Kiswahili, a language spoken in East Africa: Tanzania, Kenya, The Democratic. Republic of Congo, Burundi and Rwanda.
The same way we travel and discover a lot during an adventure, our life is also a “travel journey” which has challenges, roadblocks, risks, issues, and where we always try our best to overcome them. One of the skills I wanted to improve on is public speaking and I couldn’t resist and miss the opportunity when I saw an email for signing up from ALG a few months ago.
I’m very glad I signed up for the course, and more than a public speaking class, this experience has been an empowerment group where I’ve learned so much, met great people, and which I will always be grateful for.
The two main books that we read “Think and Growth Rich” by Napoleon Hill and “The Secret” by Rhonda Byrne contain so much wisdom and great knowledge. One sentence which keeps coming back to me, and that I’ve adopted in my daily routine is that “ Your thoughts and your feelings will create your life. It is and has always been that way: guaranteed”!!
It’s so true and has so many practical applications! Friends in our family have shared stories to validate that. It’s not theory, it’s practical. I also have a story to share and align as well with the 3 steps of “creating what you want“from the book “The Secret:” Ask, Believe & Receive.
Ask: I’ve been asking in different ways, to get a job opportunity which will allow me to be with my family in Houston, Texas. Through job applications, I got so many rejections, but I kept trying to find a way to connect and build a professional network which guided me in the process.
Believe: To keep thinking about this goal has helped me to focus and look for every opportunity in my field which could make my dream come true.
Receive: A few weeks ago, I accepted a job offer in Denver, which was going to be a small shift in an upcoming great technology field. Strangely enough, after putting in my resignation letter from my current job, my employer managed to get me an opportunity in another group and extended me an offer for a job that I applied for many months ago. The great news? I went for the second opportunity because I’ll be able to work from home, which means moving to Houston!! As a family, we couldn’t be happier and timing was just perfect as we just had an addition to our family – a new baby girl!! The universe has worked its “magic!”
This new job also reflects the eagle symbol which means that sometimes we get opportunities presented to us and you must snatch them up while they last!
I believe to go through this experience during a time whenI was taking this public speaking /empowerment class through ALG is not random: that’s part of a journey. I’m happy to have made the decision to join ALG. It’s a journey that I’ve enjoyed. I’ll look for a way to give back and have a positive impact on the African community.
I’m therefore traveling again as I love to do, another journey from Denver to here in Houston.
I’ll conclude by inviting you to pause, reflect, think, and act on the famous Dalai Lama Quote “ONCE A YEAR, GO SOMEPLACE YOU’VE NEVER BEEN BEFORE.”
Now that I’m in Texas, I’ll check on San Antonio, Austin. and will be happy to be the tour guide for anyone visiting Houston!
I want to say thank you to each and everyone in the class. Congratulations, and please raise your glass: CHEERS!
My name is Annet Namubiru. I come from Uganda, East Africa.
I chose the Bible as my symbol, because it talks about love, peace, and unity, regardless of which country or religion you come from, and that’s what I have experienced with everybody on this platform.
Coming in, my expectations for the public speaking class were different from what
I have learned and experienced.
When I joined the class, I thought we were going to have a lecturer talking just like in a traditional classroom setting, but it turned out to be an interactive class. We would read and share our knowledge together.
Because of that I have gained more confidence in myself and my ideas.
I promise to always share the goodness and benefits of being part of ALG and share the knowledge I have learned in this class.
My thanks go out to Papa, Professor Madiama and the rest of the members of the ALG family. I love you all.
Good evening everyone, I’m glad to see you all and thank you for taking time out of a busy day to come and celebrate with us our accomplishment in public speaking here at ALG!
I would like to start by telling you a little bit about myself growing up as a kid in Uganda, but let me have you listen to my quote first,
Always ask yourself if what you are doing today is getting you closer to where you want to be tomorrow.
( By Paul Coelho)
Growing up as a little kid in Uganda, we did not have many privileges to speak up especially around adults.
Kids had no say in almost anything, no business whatsoever when it came to having even simple conversations around adults, most especially if there were visitors in the home. This was sad and it put us at a disadvantage as we could not even suggest what we wanted to eat for our meals. Hence adults just came up with any food that suited them and you were lucky if you had some food or else you would go without.
That was back about three decades ago and even though things have changed tremendously now, I felt like we were compromised and this led us to low self-esteem when it comes to speaking up in general, and kept us so timid and shy.
So when I came to the U.S., things were so different with little kids.They always spoke up and knew what they wanted, In fact when I had Glenda,at only four years old she would let me know what she did not want or what she enjoyed.
I always liked cooking a delicious dish from my country Uganda popularly known as Matooke. She was so fed up with this and so one day she came up to me politely and said “Mom, I do not want to eat this( Mitoke)” She even pronounced it differently! She was very serious about it and when I gave it to her she looked at it and did not eat at all. I was so scared after a while, because hours passed without her eating. I was not ready to give her an alternative.
I checked in with my Mom, Glenda’s grandma,and she advised that I give her what she wanted to eat instead and that’s how she stood her ground and won the battle that I myself could not win back home.
Anyway, fast forward. As she grew up I started noticing a little shy girl. She told me that she was afraid of speaking up around others that she didn’t know and that’s when I realized that I had to do something about it
So when the opportunity knocked after reading an advert from the ALG on one of the social media platforms regarding public speaking, I jumped at it and registered to go to class the first day. I liked everything that I heard and saw including all people from all walks of life, i.e. Doctors, nurses, IT engineers, activists etc.
I had some doubts in my mind if this was the right decision for both me and Glenda but my heart was filled with joy and dreams of overcoming the fear of public speaking . Indeed we both learned so much more than expected, especially reading those wonderful and amazing books!
This is what we always heard and transpired in our minds:
ALG Family, you have to be Bold!
Family, you all have to think Big!
Family, we are bigger and better together!
Family, the future is here!
Family, take a deep breath !
It’s game time! That meant all speeches would be ready to go in our minds without reading from anywhere.
Let’s go family!
We are there with you!
Make this moment count!
And lastly: We did it !
Thank you and we appreciate you all!
Imagine not having to worry about bills, debts, or whatsoever related to finances.
For soccer fans like myself, just imagine being in Qatar at the next World Cup, doing nothing else but enjoying games every single day for a month, without having to worry about money. YES you guessed it! The financial freedom, however to get there there is a necessity to become a SUCCESSFUL ENTREPRENEUR, which is why, ladies and gentlemen, I have the honor to present to you my favorite quote: “No journey is long when dreams are big and the sky’s the limit.” According to the web dictionary, an entrepreneur is an individual who creates a new business bearing most of the risks and enjoying the rewards.
An entrepreneur is a person with a strong belief, and to be successful they simply use the law of attraction by believing in what they say and doing what they believe in. The book “The Secret,” lesson number three states that; “to manifest your dreams, you must ask, believe and then receive.”
A successful entrepreneur also values the quality of people to surround himself/herself with. In the book “Think and Grow Rich” chapter 10: “The power of mastermind,” Dr Napoleon Hill states that to reach the objectives/goals, there is a need for a special selection of people to work with. An entrepreneur might not be smart enough to take care of his/her business, face hardship, or overcome difficult situations, but can rely on a team of people with expertise and skills to claim success and rewards.
In the same book there are two instances to support this: Henry Ford believed in his team of experts that successfully built a six cylinder engine for cars after falling more than twice. Thomas Edison spent more than twelve thousands hours to invent the light bulb that it is in use nowadays, after falling multiple times as well.
Dr Napoleon Hill also mentions that: “Thoughts are things, and when powerful things are mixed with purpose, persistence, and a burning desire, they are translated into riches or materials objects.”
In conclusion, it is very important to dream big and have it come through, to have goals/objectives and achieve them. But everyone was born unique and special, and has a life story to write in the most beautiful way, because what really matters is not the end result but the JOURNEY.
Anne Attouah Koffi
My journey to become a dynamic and fearless public speaker starts with the public speaking class organized by the African Leadership Group (ALG).
Tonight, I am going to share with you a brief version of this journey, focusing on two significant points. First what have I learned during this class? And second how am I going to pay it forward?
This speech is a letter for my community and beyond.
Every day of my life, whenever I enter a room or regardless of where I go, I make sure that I enter the room like the poem of Dr. Maya Angelou “PHENOMENAL WOMAN.” And like the lion walks fiercely in the savannah, with courage and determination, so do I when I walk in a room. I made the conscious decision to educate myself, get the degree and get the job.
Then two words will literally stop me in my tracks in corporate America : PUBLIC SPEAKING
In my head, public speaking goes hand to hand with the word FEAR. The FEAR of being judged because of my accent, although English is not even my second language.
The fear of being judged because of the color of my beautiful organic dark chocolate skin.
I always make the conscious decision to dress well, my bright color-coded outfit always married so well with the tone of my skin.
I ask myself: Why this constant insecurity each time I have to speak in front of people?
Then, oh then, an email in my inbox, the next public speaking class at ALG will start in February.
2020 is the year of “YES”. I told myself. The journey begins.
Second day of class, Professor Madiama, in his wisdom, said something that will change everything for me. FEAR as he wrote on the whiteboard is “False Evidence Appearing Real.”
What does that mean? I thought, and analyzed that all week. Then, it happens, the fear of being judged is perhaps in my head, it is not real. I made the decision then, To Fear No More
This class not only taught us the dos and don’ts of public speaking but became for me a wonderful escape time from the world and every injustice happening now.
Being open to constructive criticism to better ourselves is and always will be the way of growth.
Yes, Fear no More.
Tuesday became TUES………YAY!!!! As the beautiful Miss Mel puts it, this has been for me a place of comfort and therapy .
This class has taught us how to embrace our differences regardless of where we are from.
Learning from Dr. Anne Keke, that my “THOUGHTS ARE THINKS” and THE LAW OF ATTRACTION” through The Secret, can work for me. Fear No More.
The wisdom of Miss Glenda shows me that surely age is just a number and the list goes on and on.
Words like LOVE, EMPOWERMENT, TOGETHERNESS , BELONGING are the cove values of this class.
My dear friends, this journey continues. I will pay it forward somehow, by being part of my community. As immigrants in a foreign land our community becomes our extended family. I am making the commitment to help create awareness about this public speaking class.
Please, forego the mentally that Africans cannot work together. Yes, we can, we will, and we will prevail together. As many have said before me, we all have something to bring to the table, each one of us has a talent that can be shared.
We will have to change our hearts and thoughts and be available and willing to work and create a legacy for our children, grandchildren and the African diaspora. I am a Lion,regardless of what the by-standers are thinking of me. I am a fierce and PHENOMENAL WOMAN.
Please join the next public speaking class and learn for yourselves.
Sincerely Anne Attouah Koffi
An African daughter, an African wife, An African mother and fearless black woman, who believes in her community.
I am as old as time, forever standing in humble defiance to turbulence…
and the kind of ice that lasts for ages.
My mere existence is a dare…
a challenge to trouble, to turmoil, to the heartbreaking indifference of time itself.
Though I might have withered, shrunken by the deathly sun,
with colors that put hue-drenched royalty’s robes to shame.
I am crowned and embraced by Spirit, yet fully rooted, grounded in the rhythms of the Earth.
My presence is a balm, my hand a healing salve to the wounds of the world.
I feed the weary with my tears and sweeten the bitter root of its essence with my blood.
And in the darkness, I descend into the nebulous, murky void…
submerged in solitude
sitting in silent meditation.
But in daylight I arise…unscathed, unstained…and offer the sun a bit of its own reflection.
I’ve lived so many lifetimes, died a dozen deaths destined to give birth
To something yet unimagined, but still as old as time.
The lyrics are different, but the song is perpetually the same…
I ascend again
Coffi Alfred Euloge Ninguin
Hello family. Good evening everyone.
Great is my joy to be among these respectable personalities this afternoon to express to you in very few words my sublime recognition to the African Leadership Group, ALG.
I am Coffi Alfred Euloge Ninguin. I come from West Africa, from a country called Benin. My first language is French.
I am very admiring of peace. This bird that you see on the screen is universally recognized and designated as a symbol of peace. Promoter of peace, I have chosen this dove as a symbol.
Taking the opportunity offered to me during this period of great turbulence here in the United States linked to these gigantic demonstrations that we have been observing for a few days to demand impartial justice, I ask everyone to cultivate this spirit of peace. The deep peace of forgiveness. As a great contemporary example, consider our patriarch Nelson Mandela who forgave everything after 26 years in prison.
I said earlier that great is my joy this evening to count myself among these famous and valiant people who have positively impacted me during time spent with them. I admit that I will never forget this public speaking class. I’ve learned so much.
I was sincerely impressed by the brilliant idea of Founder of African Leadership Group Papa M’Dia.
I am also deeply impressed by Professor Madiama for his rather advanced sense of commitment and love for his students.
It would not be right if I did not mention the merit of the good lady whom I affectionately call my coach, Dr. Anne Keke.
I can’t forget Uzi and Lori.
Finally a big thanks to my Eternal Heavenly Father who allowed me to discover this splendid Group.
Hello family, thank you for joining me here to talk about my experience with the ALG.
The first thing I am going to talk about today really connects with me. Something that is so similar but so different. The thing I’m going to talk about is a giraffe and how it is similar to me.
How many of you guys would say that you know everything about someone when you first look at them? That’s what I can one hundred percent say about a giraffe. Someone can look at the animal in two different ways. You can look at the presence of the animal and be completely terrified or you can look at it as an animal that can’t do much.
That’s what many people say about me; there are those who look at me and assume that I am not nice. This is probably due to that fact that my resting face makes someone assume that.
Or people can look at me and assume that I can’t really do much. By not really doing much I mean not being able to stand up or do something I’m passionate about. Now I can say that I am shy but that doesn’t make me someone who can’t accomplish something that is important to me.
One thing that I find so fascinating is that a giraffe is so unique that you can’t define its personality and what it can do. A giraffe teaches me not to judge someone solely on what they look like. The giraffe is also different from other animals. And so am I. We were all made for a reason and if we all went around trying to act like or look like others we would lose sight of our individuality and what makes us special.
One quote that really relates to the giraffe by Emma Stone says that, “What sets you apart can sometimes feel like a burden and it’s not. And a lot of the time, it’s what makes you great.”
This really applies to the giraffe because it can’t look or oftentimes do the exact same things as other herbivores or other animals in general and that’s what makes giraffes great. I feel as though that’s what many people need to hear.
Being a part of the African Leadership Group really helped me realize that my differences make me stronger and can ultimately make me a better leader. I had originally thought that the class was supposed to just be about public speaking but being in the class with such an outstanding group of people just uplifting each other made me become a better person.
I couldn’t be more happy to be a part of this amazing family. Thank you.
Good evening friends & family. My name is Mel Hooks and welcome to tonight’s celebration and thank you all for joining. I would also like to acknowledge my special guests, my family and mentor, who’s been an encouragement in my journey with The African Leadership Group.
My symbol is watermelon and my hope is when I share how my experience with the public speaking class was, you will see how it connects to watermelon!
Watermelon is my favorite fruit because I love its sweet rich flavor and it’s so delicious to eat any time of the day and I find watermelon to be full of hydration and very refreshing.
It is also my favorite summertime treat to serve at family gatherings! It’s large round size makes it enjoyable to share and I even use a special watermelon knife to make slicing and serving it fun for the entire family!
The ALG public speaking class is my watermelon. Every Tuesday for the past three months I eagerly wait to see my ALG family, knowing we will be sharing watermelon in words of inspiration and encouragement through our presentations and discussions.
This is how I describe ALG in family terms; Professor Majama is the father because he taught us not only through reading of books, but he also shared his wisdom, knowledge, and experiences to make whatever topic of discussion relevant; and at times he would provide feedback that was hard to hear, but he would always share additional learning opportunities, which is what a caring father does for his family.
Our mama of the family is Ikunda or as we affectionately call her “Mama Africa” because every week Ikunda wraps her motherly arms around us through her affectionate words of encouragement as a mother would.
My lovely sisters: Tarsha, Anne Attouah, Grace, Annette, Gaelle, and Butterfly.
As well as my brothers: Koffi, Herman, Safari, & Alain; I learned so much about you all through your touching and intimate personal life experiences and I’m proud to be your sister.
A family is not complete without our little sisters: Glenda, Georgine, and Mariem, your voice gives us all hope for the future.
I would be remiss if I didn’t include the organizers of the family: my dear friend Papa, Uzi, and Anne Keke, who worked hard and collaborated together each week to ensure the class would be inclusive and fun while learning through a virtual platform.
This is how the ALG family feels to me and I am so grateful for each and every one of you for staying together as a family during some of the most challenging times as we all needed that watermelon; the delicious, refreshing, and hydrating conversation from on another! We even renamed Tuesday class to TuesYAY because of the excitement we all felt to be among family.
When I started the class my thoughts were that I would gain tips on public speaking, which I did. But I learned so much more than that. Never did I imagine I would read books that taught me “thoughts are things,” or that I would create a video recording for my presentation, or give a 60-second elevator pitch, or give a live presentation to youths in Africa!
These are just a few examples of what I did and learned from the public speaking class, and in conclusion, this is only the beginning for me as I will be attending Leadership 101 and will continue to be an advocate for the ALG community and their mission of bringing communities together through Transformation, Integrity, Diversity, Excellence, and Equality.
So ALG Family, until we can eat watermelon and break bread together side by side, Congratulations virtually! 😊