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Houston Resident Builds Library In Sagyimase, Ghana

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Alice B. Otchere is a native Houstonian and was raised in Houston’s Fifth Ward. She never thought of herself as a philanthropist. After high school, she attended the University of Northern Iowa, and along the way received Business School Certifications from the University of Michigan and the University of Texas. She established herself in Houston and developed a longstanding and successful career in Human Resources, at all levels through executive levels. Otchere visited Accra, Ghana in 2019 after connecting with her sons’ Ghanian family. The family welcomed her and her sons with open arms. While touring the country, she visited Sagyimase, the village which the family called their “home village”. She observed that there were no libraries in the area for the school children and others in the community of villages.

After visiting Ghana and returning to the United States, Otchere established the non-profit Literacy for Life (www.literatelife.org) in September 2019. She has received tremendous financial support from her immediate family, including her family in Ghana who donated the land. In addition, she received support from friends and Port City Chapter (TX) Links, Incorporated sisters by hosting fundraisers and receiving donations from many donors who appreciate the value of her commitment to share blessings with those in need. She also contacted the pending Consul General of Ghana in Houston to advise him of her plans. He was delighted to hear about a Houstonian engaged in humanitarian efforts in his home country.

Ms. Otchere returned to Ghana and Sagyimase in January 2020 to announce to the family and the village community her plans to build a library. While there, her desire and plans to build a library were confirmed. She saw the local village school and recognized it was underserved. She asked one of the teachers if they had a library. There were a few books, and the bookcase was dilapidated. As an avid reader, Ms. Otchere wanted to do something to ensure the schools, the students and all who lived in the area would have access to a library. She committed to do her part to work towards building and operating a Library in Sagyimase. 2020 offered challenges with the COVID pandemic; the air space in Ghana was closed and travel into the country was prohibited. But 2020 offered opportunities to work with the General Contractor, Architect and Project Manager to layout the plans for the library.

In September 2021 Otchere returned to Ghana to break ground for the library in Sagyimase, Ghana! Since that time, the project has been on-going, and the Project team has been successfully meeting construction milestones. The library is scheduled to open and begin operations October 16, 2023,
When asked what her family takes away from this experience, Otchere says, “you don’t have to be a millionaire to help a village”.

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Africa

Stevie Wonder Granted Ghanaian Citizenship, Embracing His Heritage

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Stevie Wonder is officially making good on a promise to make the West African country his permanent home.

“I Steveland Morris swear solemnly, sincerely, and truly declare and affirm that I will be faithful, and bear true allegiance to the Republic of Ghana,” the music icon stated during his swearing ceremony.

He was wearing what appeared to be traditional Ghanaian garb and his signature leather hat. President H.E Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo conferred Wonder’s citizenship during a ceremony at the Jubilee House in Accra.

As we previously reported, Ghana has been on Wonder’s mind over the last few decades. During an interview with Oprah Winfrey, the songwriter said he desires to live in a place where he is valued. Wonder has been vocal about growing weary of “America’s unwillingness” to accept all its citizens equally.

“I don’t want to see my children’s children’s children have to say, ‘Oh, please like me. Please respect me, please know that I’m important, please value me,’” he replied to Winfrey when asked why he planned to relocate to Ghana.

Wonder’s citizenship marks a significant achievement for Ghana, where country leaders have worked to attract diasporan Africans to invest, live and work there.

Ghanaian leaders invited African diasporans to “come home” during what is now known as the country’s iconic “Year of Return” campaign. In 2019, Country leaders invited those of African descent on a “major landmark spiritual and birth-right journey.” 2019 marked 400 years since enslaved Africans first arrived in the United States.

“‘The Year of Return, Ghana 2019’ celebrated the cumulative resilience of all the victims of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade who were scattered and displaced through the world in North America, South America, the Caribbean, Europe and Asia,” leaders said in a news release about the campaign.

Over 1 million people visited Ghana during the campaign, including Cardi B., Idris Elba, Naomi Campbell, Steve Harvey and more.  Visitors invested more than $3.3 billion in Ghana’s local economy. Following that successful campaign, country leaders set their sights on getting diasporans to invest and live in Ghana, prompting them to launch the “Beyond the Return” campaign.

As more Black American families consider relocating amid racial tensions, many people are considering Ghana. In 2019, country leaders granted 126 African diasporans citizenship. Ghana is one of a handful of African countries that have stepped forward in offering citizenship based on ancestry. Under its “Right of Abode” section, Ghana grants people of African descent to stay indefinitely with a path to apply for citizenship. In Sierra Leone, those who can prove lineage through ancestry can also obtain full citizenship. Idris Elba notably obtained citizenship in Sierra Leone, his father’s native country. Nigeria has the same policy for diasporans, while South Africa offers free citizenship to African Americans without proof of lineage.

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Africa

Donors raise more than 2 billion euros for Sudan aid a year into war

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PARIS/CAIRO, April 15 (Reuters) – Donors pledged more than 2 billion euros ($2.13 billion) for war-torn Sudan at a conference in Paris on Monday, French President Emmanuel Macron said, on the first anniversary of what aid workers describe as a neglected but devastating conflict.
Efforts to help millions of people driven to the verge of famine by the war have been held up by continued fighting between the army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), restrictions imposed by the warring sides, and demands on donors from other global crises including in Gaza and Ukraine.
Conflict in Sudan is threatening to expand, with fighting heating up in and around al-Fashir, a besieged aid hub and the last city in the western Darfur region not taken over by the RSF. Hundreds of thousands of displaced people have sought refuge in the area.
“The world is busy with other countries,” Bashir Awad, a resident of Omdurman, part of the wider capital and a key battleground, told Reuters last week. “We had to help ourselves, share food with each other, and depend on God.”
In Paris, the EU pledged 350 million euros, while France and Germany, the co-sponsors, committed 110 million euros and 244 million euros respectively. The United States pledged $147 million and Britain $110 million.
Speaking at the end of the conference, which included Sudanese civilian actors, Macron emphasized the need to coordinate overlapping and so far unsuccessful international efforts to resolve the conflict and to stop foreign support for the warring parties.
“Unfortunately the amount that we mobilised today is still probably less than was mobilised by several powers since the start of the war to help one or the other side kill each other,” he said.
As regional powers compete for influence in Sudan, U.N. experts say allegations that the United Arab Emirates helped arm the RSF are credible, while sources say the army has received weapons from Iran. Both sides have rejected the reports.
The war, which broke out between the Sudanese army and the RSF as they vied for power ahead of a planned transition, has crippled infrastructure, displaced more than 8.5 million people, and cut many off from food supplies and basic services.
“We can manage together to avoid a terrible famine catastrophe, but only if we get active together now,” German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said, adding that, in the worst-case scenario, 1 million people could die of hunger this year.
The United Nations is seeking $2.7 billion this year for aid inside Sudan, where 25 million people need assistance, an appeal that was just 6% funded before the Paris meeting. It is seeking another $1.4 billion for assistance in neighbouring countries that have housed hundreds of thousands of refugees.
The international aid effort faces obstacles to gaining access on the ground.
The army has said it would not allow aid into the wide swathes of the country controlled by its foes from the RSF. Aid agencies have accused the RSF of looting aid. Both sides have denied holding up relief.
“I hope the money raised today is translated into aid that reaches people in need,” said Abdullah Al Rabeeah, head of Saudi Arabia’s KSRelief.
On Friday, Sudan’s army-aligned foreign ministry protested that it had not been invited to the conference. “We must remind the organisers that the international guardianship system has been abolished for decades,” it said in a statement.

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SA users of Starlink will be cut off at the end of the month

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Starlink users in South Africa are facing a major setback as the satellite internet service provider has issued a warning that their services will be terminated by the end of the month.

In an email sent to many South African users, Starlink stated that their internet access will cease on April 30 due to violation of its terms and conditions.

The email emphasized that using Starlink kits outside of designated areas, as indicated on the Starlink Availability Map, is against their terms. Consequently, users will only be able to access their Starlink account for updates after the termination.

Starlink, a company owned by Elon Musk’s SpaceX, operates a fleet of low earth orbit satellites that offer high-speed internet globally. Despite its potential to revolutionize connectivity, Starlink has been unable to obtain a license to operate in South Africa from the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa).

Icasa’s requirements mandate that any applicant must have 30% ownership from historically disadvantaged groups to be considered for a license. However, many in South Africa resorted to creative methods to access Starlink services, including purchasing roaming packages from countries where Starlink is licensed.

However, Icasa clarified in a government gazette last November that using Starlink in this manner is illegal. Additionally, Starlink itself stated in the recent email to users that the ‘Mobile – Regional’ plans are meant for temporary travel and transit, not permanent use in a location. Continuous use of these plans outside the country where service was ordered will result in service restriction.

Starlink advised those interested in making its services available in their region to contact local authorities.

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