Hannah Pool is, in her own words, British-Eritrean, Eritrean-British. She was born in Eritrea in 1974 and was adopted at the age of six months by a British scholar who lived and worked in the Sudan. She was raised in Manchester, England, believing that both her parents had died shortly after her birth. She now lives in London where she works as a columnist for The Guardian.
At the age of nineteen, she received a letter from her brother informing her that her father was alive and she had a sister and several brothers who lived in Eritrea. It took ten years for her to make the decision to meet with her birth family. She then embarked on a journey which took her back to her origins and which she recounts in her book titled My Fathers’ Daughter (Hamish Hamilton, 2005.)
Petina Gappah is a Zimbabwean lawyer with law degrees from Cambridge and the University of Zimbabwe and a doctorate in international law from Graz University in Austria. Petina is also a writer, her first book, An Elegy of Easterly, a collection of 13 stories which offers a moving portrait of contemporary Zimbabwe, won the Guardian First Book Award in 2009 and will be translated into more than a dozen languages.
She grew up in Zimbabwe during the transformation from Ian Smith's white minority rule to Robert Mugabe's increasingly authoritarian regime. She has lived in Europe since before 1995, first as a student in Graz and Cambridge, then in Geneva, where she works for an organisation advising developing countries on the complexities of the law of the World Trade Organization.
She is currently on a sabbatical from her job in Geneva, and is based in Harare where she is writing her second novel and second short story collection, and where she is engaged in a literacy project that aims to ensure that every one of Zimbabwe’s 6000 plus schools is equipped with a library.
Muhtar Bakare retired from banking after 12 years, in June 2004, to launch the publishing house; Kachifo Limited. In 2005, Kachifo published the West African Paper Edition of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Purple Hibiscus. It was widely received in the country and remains one of the most read Nigerian books.
It was soon followed by work from established names such as Sefi Atta, Biyi Bandele and Ngugi Wa Thiong'o and newcomers such as Eghosa Imasuen. Kachifo is not just publishing but organises through its affiliate non-profit organisation; Farafina Turust, writing and editing workshops. It ran a free-online magazine, Farafina, where it highlighted the work of emerging and established writers. Aside having introduced Nigerian writers like Segun Afolabi, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, to a Nigerian audience, he is on the verge of some exciting new projects on the cultural scene in Nigeria.
Bakare is a confident believer in the power of ideas as change leaders in society. He recently told a conference audience that “The internet is our own Gutenberg moment; it is going to democratize knowledge in Africa.” He is also a social entrepreneur who believes that African leaders and intellectuals should spend more time pandering to their own internal audiences, markets, and citizens than to foreign donors and other agents of the subsisting global power structure. While Farafina is still Nigeria's leading independent publisher, it is still struggling - perhaps the greatest setback is the lack of distribution networks - but because of Bakare's vision, writers are energised and Nigerians are beginning to see literature as viable again.
Winnie currently works as African services manager for Positive East and was one of the first people from the African community in the UK to have the courage go public with her HIV status. After discovering she was HIV positive, Winnie spent the following eight years volunteering; writing, researching and speaking about issues affecting HIV positive Africans.
To counter the stigma and discrimination she encountered within her community, in 1999 she took the bold step of becoming the first woman to announce her status on the front cover of this magazine, something it still takes courage to do. As well as her hard work at Positive East, Winnie is chair of the African HIV Policy Network (AHPN) and trustee of National Aids Trust (NAT).
Paul Onwuanibe began his career in the ‘built environment’ with a formal education in Architecture, Property Development and Construction Management, together with a London Business School MBA with a merit in “Value Engineering”.
Paul has 20 years in the professional property environment with experience of design and execution projects (Africa, USA, Europe). He served as Development Director with Beacon Housing, a UK based house builder producing over 1000 homes.
Paul was the Executive with responsibility for the Property and Logistics team of Regus Plc during its rapid expansion years, which oversaw the opening of 190 business centres in 62 countries globally. He has expert knowledge of commercial property and workplace management and led Landmark’s expansion into America, Europe and Africa.He has a deep and passionate interest in real estate in Africa, knowledge, experience and fresh views.
Kemi Adegoke, was the feisty, outspoken Conservative Party candidate for Dulwich and West Norwood in south London in the recent elections in the UK. She otherwise works as a systems analyst within the RBS Group. She studied Computer Systems Engineering (M.Eng) at Sussex University, graduating in 2003, and is also a Chartered Member of the British Computer Society.
In June 2009, she completed an undergraduate degree in Law at the University of London (Birkbeck). She is a school governor at St. Thomas the Apostle College and the Jubilee Primary School in Southwark and Lambeth boroughs respectively. She is also on the board of Charlton Triangle Housing Association, part of the Family Mosaic group of housing associations. She was born in Wimbledon although lived in Nigeria until she was 16 and now lives in Herne Hill ward within the Dulwich and West Norwood constituency.
She stood for Parliament under the Conservative Party during the last elections in the UK. Before her selection, she was the Deputy Chairman of the Dulwich and West Norwood Conservative Association and worked as a project leader for the Conservative Party Globalisation and Global Poverty Policy Group in 2006 and 2007.
Moky Makura was born in Nigeria, educated in England and since 1998 has lived in Johannesburg, South Africa. A TV presenter/producer, writer and a successful entrepreneur in her own right, Moky holds an Honours degree in Politics, Economics and Law from Buckingham University in the UK. Moky formed her own agency - Red PR - early in 1999, with the vision of becoming the first pan-African PR network.
In 2002, she sold her business to Draft FCB – then SA’s largest communications agency. Three years later she left to set up as an independent consultant and pursue her media passions. From 2001 to 2006, Moky was the African Anchor presenter and field reporter for South Africa’s award winning news and actuality show – Carte Blanche. She has presented numerous field reports on Africa; including stories on the Nigerian Film industry; Zimbabwean farmers in Kwara, People trafficking in Edo State, Child soldiers in the DRC and Democracy in Zimbabwe She has conducted interviews with Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba, Chinua Achebe, Femi Kuti, Danny Glover and Seal.
In 2004, Moky presented an hour long interview format show called African Pioneers which was syndicated to commercial stations in 5 African countries. In 2005, she produced and hosted a 26 part marketing show on the South African business channel; Summit TV. In 2006, she played a lead role in the ground breaking and very popular MNet Pan-African drama series; Jacob’s Cross. In 2007, she conceptualized, co-produced and presented a lifestyle TV series for MNet called "Living It, which focused on the lifestyle's of the African continent's wealthy elite. The series has been re-run on several occasions across the DSTV bouquet. In November 2008, Moky completed her book; 'Africa's Greatest Entrepreneurs' with a foreword written by Richard Branson which tells the success stories of the top entrepreneurs on the continent.
Bright B. Simons is a technology innovator, development activist and social entrepreneur. As an Executive at accra-based think tank IMANI (www.imanighana.org), he contributes to activities that challenge received wisdom about Africa's development challenges.
As President of the mPedigree Network (www.mPedigree.Net), he pioneered a system that empowers consumers to instantly verify with a free text message whether their medicines are safe and not counterfeit, while providing pharma companies previously inaccessible market intelligence. Counterfeit medicines are reckoned by experts to kill at least 2000 people daily in the developing world and can constitute more than 40% of all medicines on sale in some countries. Bright is a member of the World Economic Forum's Global Agenda Councils and Technology Pioneers Community. He is also an Ashoka Fellow, TED Fellow, Tech Museum Laureate and a Brain Trust member of the Evian Group at IMD, widely considered Europe's foremost business school.
His work has led to speaking engagements around the world and consequently to numerous citations in the international press, ranging from the Economist, New York Times, the Financial Times, BusinessWeek, Asian Times, and the BBC, where he is a regular commentator for the World Service. In 2010, he was conferred with an Archbishop Desmond Tutu Award by the African Leadership Institute.
Michela Wrong has spent the last 16 years writing about Africa. As a correspondent for Reuters news agency, based in first Cote d'Ivoire and then Zaire, she covered the turbulent events of the mid 1990s in west and central Africa, including the fall of Mobutu Sese Seko and genocide in Rwanda.
She then moved to Kenya, where she became Africa correspondent for the Financial Times. In 2000 she published her first book, “In the Footsteps of Mr Kurtz”, the story of Mobutu, which won a PEN prize for non-fiction. Her second book, “I didn’t do it for you”, focused on the Red Sea nation of Eritrea. Her third book, “It’s Our Turn to Eat”, tracks the story of Kenyan corruption whistleblower John Githongo. It has been described as reading “like a cross between Le Carre and Solzhenitsyn”.
Richard Dowden first worked in Africa as a volunteer teacher at a bush school in Uganda in the early 1970s. On his return to Britain he was employed by a peace organisation in Northern Ireland and then became a journalist, and was made Editor of The Catholic Herald in 1976.
After joining The Times foreign desk in 1980, he reported from the Middle East and Africa, before being appointed Africa Editor at The Independent when it was founded in 1986. During the next nine years he visited almost every country in sub Saharan Africa. He later became Diplomatic Editor. In 1995 he was invited to join The Economist as Africa Editor continued to travel regularly to Africa. He left The Economist in 2001 and a year later, began working as a freelance journalist and writer. In November 2002 he was appointed Director of the Royal African Society.
In addition to writing extensively about Africa, he has made three full length documentaries on Africa for Channel 4 and the BBC as well as several shorter films. He also continues to write on African issues and appears frequently as a commentator on African affairs on the BBC, CNN, Sky News and other broadcast media. His book: Africa: Altered States, Ordinary Miracles was published by Portobello Books in September 2008 .
Matthew Kukah is a Catholic Reverend Father and former Secretary-General of the Catholic Secretariat in Nigeria. He served on Nigeria’s Presidential Truth Commission into Past Human Rights Violations. Until recently a Senior Fellow at St Antony’s College, University of Oxford, Dr Kukah is a rigorous scholar and respected commentator, Dr Kukah received his PhD from the University of London.
He is the author of the critically acclaimed work, Religion and Politics in Northern Nigeria since Independence (Spectrum, 1994), and most recently of Democracy and Civil Society in Nigeria (Spectrum, 2002). Father Kukah is a regular commentator on complex social and political issues in Nigeria.