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The Five Must-Have Apps for Diaspora Africans in 2020

These mobile apps and digital platforms are making it easier for Africans across the world to find jobs and scholarships, get new citizenship and send money overseas.

Sponsored content from WorldRemit

Mobile apps and digital platforms have fundamentally transformed nearly every aspect of our lives. Whether it's ordering food, keeping track of our work or life goals to sending money to our loved ones, these apps and digital platforms have made lives easier, efficient and more productive.

As the brand new year begins, we have compiled a list of five must-have apps and digital platforms that we believe will help Africans in the diaspora, especially in the U.S. make the most of the year.


​Job Opportunities

It is one thing migrating to the U.S. and another getting a job to sustain your livelihood in a new country. Upwardly Global helps work-authorized Africans in the diaspora, and Special Immigrant Visa holders (SIVs) restart their professional careers in the U.S. Their online Job Search Program helps users adapt their skills, education, and previous careers into the American workforce, whilst demonstrating the value of their experience to potential employers.

The majority of people who move away from their home country, look for jobs to support their family abroad assisting with key necessities like food, education, medical and housing costs.

If you are looking for a platform to assist with your job search, Upwardly Global will provide the support you need.

​Citizenship Education

Another goal for many Africans in the diaspora after settling in the U.S. is to start their journey towards securing their U.S. citizenship. The 'USCIS Citizenship Test Prep' App helps Africans in the diaspora who are studying for their naturalization civics exams to access mobile tutoring. The app provides flashcards on 100 different civic questions, covering topics like U.S. history and geography.

Available on Android and iOS, this app seeks to help new Africans in the diaspora to adequately prepare for their American citizenship test as they continue to pursue the American dream.

Finding Scholarships

This app is particularly relevant to Africans in the diaspora that want to pursue higher education and would need a scholarship to make this possible. Trying to find scholarship money for yourself or your child can be very tedious and time consuming. The Scholly app enables tuition-starved students to procure the funds to enroll in higher education. The Scholly app now has over two million users and has helped students to secure more than $100 million in scholarships. The app can be downloaded from both Android and iOS app platforms.

Language Translation

Tarjimly means "translate for me" and was founded in 2017 with the aim to connect a community of volunteer translators with African immigrants and refugees in real-time. The connections between the immigrants and volunteers are anonymous, and the only information shared is the translator's first name. Other information is up to the participants to share. When someone requests a translator for a particular language, Tarjimly's machine which uses a learning matching algorithm, selects the best volunteer available in a community of 8,000+ people. The translator is then connected in a live chat with the person in need, where they can send text, documents, and start a phone or video call.

The app can be downloaded from both Android and iOS stores.

Sending Money Home

Sending remittances back home is important to many Africans in the U.S. and around the world. Money that is sent back home is used for necessities such as food, clothing, housing, education as well as to start small businesses. We understand the sacrifice being made; leaving everything you know and love to provide a better life for your loved ones. To help make this journey a little easier, the WorldRemit service offers lower fees and faster transfer times so more money makes it to loved ones when they need it most.

Available online or via the WorldRemit mobile app, you can make a transfer to family or friends in a matter of minutes. We are connected to more mobile money services around the world than any other money transfer operator and with mobile money, people can instantly receive remittance payments on their phones instead of travelling long distances to foreign exchange bureaus to collect cash.

Around 70% of our transfers are sent from the mobile app, and 90% of our transfers arrive in less than 10 minutes.

Looking to transfer money online to your loved ones in Africa? We are offering zero fees on your first three money transfers when you use the code "3FREE". All you need to do is download our app or sign up on our website, choose where you want to transfer money and how much you want to send. It is super simple to sign up and you can start sending money in minutes. See www.worldremit.com/3FREE for more details (T&Cs apply).

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Collage by Ta'Ron Joyner

I Would Rather Breathe Than Think Outside the Box

South African artists were already working for little to no pay, but the pandemic has unleashed a flood of exploitative work requests right when we need money the most.

This essay is part of OkayAfrica's SA Reframed series, featuring personal writing from some of South Africa's best young writers edited by Verashni Pillay.

On the radio the other day, I heard a small business owner of a costume design company being interviewed and asked how they have managed to:

a. Reinvent themselves during this period, and

b. Think outside the box while doing so.

Their conversation made me think about how I have not managed to wrap my head around any sort of future, or reinvention outside any kind of box—beyond the one that wraps itself around my immediate reality. When the lockdown was announced, three friends and I withdrew to a remote area where internet access was dubious and, most times, simply not available. I would need to walk a bit of a distance to locate a spot under a tree or up a mountain to be connected for thirty minutes, or so.

Then I would do a basic comb through my emails and respond to work or requests that were already underway pre-lockdown. I only responded to new requests that either afforded me the opportunity to earn an income or those that allowed me to be productive on my own terms.

I was tired, lowkey grateful for the global pause, and no longer interested in the overly productive, overloaded nature of my previous normal. Something about the forced halt made me realise that I was on the edge of everything—myself included. I turned down anything that required me to join the endless online festivals, zoom panel discussions, Instagram takeovers and live readings. I refused all opportunities that needed me to grapple with any sort of forced normalcy. The ones that offered data or airtime or solidarity as compensation or assumed that I had gone pro bono. I needed a moment. I needed the space and time to re-bargain with the point of it all.

The pause was both useful and scary. It brought to the surface fears and revelations about the shortfalls of our industry and how creatives are positioned within the productivity machinery and economy of South Africa, or rather all the ways we fall outside of it.

As Minister of employment and labour Thulas Nxesi mentioned in a briefing two months ago, "On the issue of freelance workers—unfortunately with the current legislation they fall outside. Maybe what we are going to do is that after this we will have to re-look at it in terms of our legislative amendments and start a debate about that." Why are there laws that have gone unchallenged? Who should be challenging them? Why are artists hearing, out loud for the first time, of convenient loopholes that render us outside of an economy that taxes us like everyone else, and consumes us and our work. Yet, in times of crisis, this same economy engages with our art and our productivity and our products, but still deems us on the margin, outside, and non-essential. If we are not assisted financially, how can we be productive, how can we acquire the resources to produce? How can we apply our minds to anything else outside of survival and scrambling to stay afloat.

Pandemics do not mean that artists have gone pro bono

When you approach an artist with the assumption that they have gone pro bono during this time, when you draft an email to request a collaboration, a commission, a participation, a productivity of any kind, please bear in mind that artists are up against an unconcerned and corrupt government that has failed to provide aid and assistance to their sector during this time.

Theatre critic Sara Holdren says "Art is hard and most of it fails—either in small ways or catastrophic ones." In South Africa, the process of making art is hard, sure, but more than that, the conditions and the context in which we make work fails us in catastrophic ways that will require more than a debate and amended legislation. It will need, for starters, a minister who cares about the arts and understands its soul and mechanisms. This pause has brought about more questions and concerns for me than inspiration to reinvent or think outside the box. I have questions about the box itself and why I feel asphyxiated and trapped by its design.

I would rather breathe than think outside of the box

This pandemic has made me question what my career, livelihood and stability have been built on; what has been propping them up all this time, and what has been allowing me to appear valued and valuable in this economy? What does and will the spectrum of value look like in a normal that has been disrupted and now sits in a near distant future that may or may not be near?

Then I find myself vacillating between hope and concern. My hope is that when the pandemic is no longer with us, artists can have a come-to-jesus conversation about what has contributed and exacerbated this attitude and disrespect toward our practice and industry, I hope we can challenge the legislations that we have been dared to challenge, I hope we can be productive in ways that serve us and make sense for our well-being, that we will be paid our worth and that our society will realize that without the artist producing, there will be no art, or music, or films, or books and things that have kept people entertained and creatively nourished during this time.

My concern is that the "free"content artists are currently creating and the free access to art or performances, will not make this realisation possible, and that this kind of access, that was already undervalued and exploited, will be irreversible. The exploitation dialogue is tiring. Being treated as non-essential is tiring and terrifying too, and while most of the world can slowly start going back to work, most artists will probably have to hang tight until 2021, maybe even 2022.

While artists deal with a hoax of an arts and culture department that is dead to us and a minister who tweets more than he does his job, in an ideal world, I wish that artists could afford to indulge uncertainty, and fear, and pause, in ways that allow them to heed the call made by Nicholas Berger in his piece The Forgotten Art of Assembly [Or, Why Theatre Makers Should Stop Making] "We must lean into this pain. We must feel the grief. We must mourn. Mourn the loss of work, the loss of jobs, the loss of money, the loss of life. Mourn the temporary loss of an art form that demands assembly. Lean into the grief. Lean in. Lean in. Lean in. We must remind ourselves that mourning is a human act, not a digital one."

Koleka Putuma is an award-winning poet, playwright and theatre director. Her bestselling debut collection of poems Collective Amnesia is in its 10th print run and her play No Easter Sunday for Queers Sunday for Queers won several awards.

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