How Obama influenced the empowerment of a Soweto communityBy MTHULISI SIBANDA
JOHANNESBURG, (CAJ News) – WHILE South Africa did not feature in United States President Barack Obama’s itinerary when he toured Africa recently, an initiative inspired by his historic ascendancy as the first black President of his country is set to empower generations for years to come in a largely impoverished community south of Johannesburg.
Coinciding with Obama’s visit to the continent, the Ibammo Foundation has officially opened a library, refurbished at a cost of more than R360 000, at the Mokgome Secondary School in Meadowlands in the sprawling township
Ibammo, an acronym for Inspired by Barack and Michelle Obama, wholly financed the refurbishment.
The library has been commissioned amid pomp and fanfare in an event attended by a selfless delegation from the foundation, which has been received by enthusiastic educators and students who expressed gratitude and hope the facility would improve educations standards and subsequently empower students reach their full potential.
Tumelo Moyo, one of 900 students at the school established in 1959, welcomed the commissioning of the facility saying it would enhance his and colleagues’ success in their final examinations and beyond.
He appreciated the gesture of goodwill by the Ibammo Foundation.
Nearby schools such as Meadowlands, Moruta Thuto, Inkonjane, Tietsi Mashinini and Indoni are also set to benefit.
“Against all odds, we have a facility that will assist us improve our education standards and realize our dreams. As students, we are grateful. We thank those that have seen it worthwhile to provide us with such a facility. We feel lucky and blessed to be chosen out of hundreds of schools in Soweto to be the beneficiaries,” said Moyo the enthusiastic
Grade 11 scholar, who harbours hopes of becoming a gynecologist.
Another student, Mpho Vilankulu, was equally thrilled.
“We welcome the gesture by the Ibammo Foundation to select us as the beneficiaries. We promise to put the facility and the donated books to good use. The library will afford us an opportunity to be successful in life,” Vilankulu said to applause.
Song and dance marked the official opening of the facility on a day that would go down the annals of the school’s and students’ history as among the most inspirational.
To further enhance the partnership with the school that caters for children mostly from disadvantaged backgrounds, the Ibammo Foundation pledged to provide a year’s scholarships to some students at a tertiary university of their choice upon completion of studies at Mokgome.
Educators at the school also expressed excitement at the commissioning of the library.
“We wish to express a big Thank You to the Ibammo Foundation for the library and the continued support. We are proud to be chosen as the beneficiaries of this worthy facility. We have for a long time dreamt of having such a facility and that dream has at last come true,” said Henrietta Seerane, the Mokgome Secondary School Governing Body (SGB)
Don Makhado, an Institutional Development Support Official, said the library would be a catalyst for the success of the students enrolled at the school, their future counterparts and subsequently, the community.
“The library is in line with policies by the government to make education paperless. It is a very important part of that project. We appreciate the gesture by the Ibammo Foundation and hope this cements a cordial and fruitful partnership,” Makhado said.
Ibammo Foundation’s Chief Operations Officer, Agnes Hove Chiweshe challenged the schoolchildren to make the most of the opportunity given to them.
“Education is the key that opens doors to success. Through this project, we appeal to the learners to take full responsibility of their own education, progress and own future. Through education, they can facilitate their growth. We hope they use the library to ensure they reach their full
potential,” Hove Chiweshe said.
Prominent entrepreneur and philanthropist, Dr James Makamba, established the Ibammo Foundation in 2009, inspired by the historical presidential election of Obama and the support the history-making President received from his wife Michelle.
That, and the attendance of a London concert that would catapult Obama to the Presidency of the US, as well as the role that quality education played in the Obama couple’s life, inspired the formation of the foundation.
An education-focused entity of the Makamba Holdings, the foundation inspires and empowers disadvantaged African youngsters between the ages of 14 and 18 to develop leadership and entrepreneurial skills.
“Ibamo Foundation is inspired by the rise of Obama to the Presidency of the US. The foundation is a legacy of that historic moment,” Makamba said.
He expressed confidence in the potential of youth from disadvantaged backgrounds.
“The next African billionaire will not necessarily emerge from the plush suburbs of Sandton (South Africa), Borrowdale, Kumalo (both Zimbabwe) or Victoria Island (Nigeria),” Makamba said.
“Rather, they will emerge from the so-called ghettos as Soweto, Nguboyenja (Zimbabwe) or Kibera (Kenya). Like Obama said, the future of Africa is in our hands. We have it our hands to become a continent of innovators, discoverers and problem-solvers. There has to be a passion for self-motivation and a better life,” Makamba said.
– CAJ News
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