Popular
(Photo by Elisabetta Villa/Getty Images for TIME)

ROME, ITALY - DECEMBER 02: Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Chair, Gavi, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization, speaks at the Fortune + Time Global Forum 2016 on December 2, 2016 in Rome, Italy.

History in Motion as First African Woman Set to Head the WTO

Nigeria's Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is set to become the first African woman ever to be at the helm of the World Trade Organisation in it's entire 25-year history.

Nigeria's Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is reportedly set to become the head of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). This comes after South Korea's Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee, who was also a finalist for the top WTO position, announced that she planned to withdraw from the race this past Friday. Hence, as the only remaining finalist, and with the recently-elected Biden-Harris administration having endorsed her candidacy, Okonjo-Iweala, will become both the first African and first woman to ever helm the WTO in its 25-year history.

READ: President Joe Biden Ends Trump's Muslim Travel Ban

In September of last year, Kenyan Sports, Culture and Heritage Minister, Amina Chawahir Mohamed, and Okonjo-Iweala were selected as the top candidates for the director-general position for the WTO. They were the only two African women in the running at the time. Okonjo-Iweala's candidacy, however, had been blocked by the former Trump administration, according to The New York Times.

According to a press statement by the office of the US trade representative, "Dr. Okonjo-Iweala brings a wealth of knowledge in economics and international diplomacy. She is widely respected for her effective leadership and has proven experience managing a large international organisation with a diverse membership." European Central Bank President, Christine Lagarde, also responded to Okonjo-Iweala's historic appointment in a recent interview saying, "[Okonjo-Iweala] is this wonderful, soft, very gentle woman with an authentic approach to problems but, boy, under that soft glove there is a hard hand and a strong will behind it."

Okonjo-Iweala is certainly an excellent pick for the top post having already served twice as Nigeria's Finance Minister, having been a development economist at the World Bank for 25 years and the current chairperson of the board for the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation. Her appointment will follow that of Brazil's Roberto Azevêdo who resigned last year citing personal reasons and subsequently left the organisation without a successor.

Music
Photo by Don Paulsen/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Hugh Masekela's New York City Legacy

A look back at the South African legend's time in New York City and his enduring presence in the Big Apple.

In Questlove's magnificent documentary, Summer of Soul, he captures a forgotten part of Black American music history. But in telling the tale of the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, the longtime musician and first-time filmmaker also captures a part of lost South African music history too.

Among the line-up of blossoming all-stars who played the Harlem festival, from a 19-year-old Stevie Wonder to a transcendent Mavis Staples, was a young Hugh Masekela. 30 years old at the time, he was riding the wave of success that came from releasing Grazing in the Grass the year before. To watch Masekela in that moment on that stage is to see him at the height of his time in New York City — a firecracker musician who entertained his audiences as much as he educated them about the political situation in his home country of South Africa.

The legacy Masekela sowed in New York City during the 1960s remains in the walls of the venues where he played, and in the dust of those that are no longer standing. It's in the records he made in studios and jazz clubs, and on the Manhattan streets where he once posed with a giant stuffed zebra for an album cover. It's a legacy that still lives on in tangible form, too, in the Hugh Masekela Heritage Scholarship at the Manhattan School of Music.

The school is the place where Masekela received his education and met some of the people that would go on to be life-long bandmates and friends, from Larry Willis (who, as the story goes, Masekela convinced to give up opera for piano) to Morris Goldberg, Herbie Hancock and Stewart Levine, "his brother and musical compadre," as Mabusha Masekela, Bra Hugh's nephew says.

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox

popular.