The ripple effect of training young leaders | Fred Swaniker

Fred Swaniker has lived and worked in 10 different African countries. He passionately believes that good leadership is the most critical need for the continent. He has founded two organizations that aim to catalyze a new generation of ethical, entrepreneurial African leaders: African Leadership Academy and the African Leadership Network, both fulcrums of leadership training for the continent.

The ripple effect of training young leaders | Fred Swaniker | TEDxEuston

Transcript of the Video:

at the age of six Joseph William banza
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found himself here it’s a refugee camp
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in Uganda he had fled here together with
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about 23,000
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inhabitants from countries like the
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Congo Sudan Rwanda and Burundi he was
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alone he was bewildered and several
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thousand kilometers from his home in
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this community of 23,000 people there
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were only two primary schools and one
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secondary school and so as you can
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imagine access to education to a quality
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education was was not very prevalent in
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the top in the community and the crews
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overcrowded and so very few people had
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access to high quality education now
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Joseph was spotted by a nonprofit
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organization that was working in the
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community someone who had talent and
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they sponsored him to go to a school
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outside of the outside of the refugee
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camp and Joseph felt so bad that he was
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only on who had access to education that
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he said that he would do something about
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it access to high quality education and
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so began a program where on weekends he
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would get together with these peers and
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they would go and work as laborers on a
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farms near by and raise money to use
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that to sponsor others in the school in
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the refugee camp to go to schools
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outside of the campus wrong and soon he
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was sponsoring ten young people in his
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community to go to school he was 14
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years old
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he kept doing this every weekend they’d
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go
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work as laborers raise more money and
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soon about age of 17 he was sponsoring
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52 children in his refugee camp to go to
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school now at this point 2008 January
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February 2008 we were selecting the
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first class to join the African
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Leadership Academy so we run around the
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entire continent looking for young
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people that we believed could transform
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Africa people with courage determination
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and passion to really change the
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continent forever but I didn’t hear
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about Joseph in those travels I actually
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learnt about Joseph when I was speaking
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of the Harvard Africa Business Forum
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something similar to this and just like
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what’s going to happen up to this
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there’s an after party so I was hanging
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out the after party and the scrawny
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white guy comes up to me and he says you
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know I didn’t even pay to the others
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conference but I snuck into this party
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because I heard you were going to be
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here is this young man his refugee camp
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in Uganda that my organization sponsors
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he’s amazing and you went on one is and
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the way you was talkin bout this guy he
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sounded like a saint
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I said no this is not you know it’s too
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good to be true so I went back to South
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Africa I looked through the files of all
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the applicants and read this guy’s story
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and yes
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it was exactly what Eric I had to had to
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add syllabi and so we had made a Joseph
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into the first class of the African
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Leadership Academy now one of the things
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that happens in the Academy in addition
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to educating these young people and
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training them to be transformative
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leaders for Africa is we bring different
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leaders and speakers onto campus all the
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time to interact and share the
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experiences with these young people one
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day a woman came and shared the work
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that she was doing to help people
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overcome trauma people who had been
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traumatized overcome trauma and she and
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she was using theater as the way to do
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this and Joseph said you know
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people my refugee camp could really use
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you and invited her to come and spend a
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few days with her doing his summer
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holidays at end of the first year so she
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went saw what he was doing and fell in
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love with his project
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so Joseph second year she helped him to
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raise about $10,000 and to him Joseph
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built a school in the refugee camp any
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second year delay and began educating
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243 orphans now this is the school that
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you can see behind me that’s Joseph June
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2010 Joseph graduates from the African
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Leadership Academy but unfortunately he
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didn’t have he was able to get a
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scholarship to go on to university he he
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had been admitted but didn’t have enough
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funding to go to university so he went
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back to the refugee camp and kept
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working on his projects educating more
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young people educating these orphans and
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one of the things one of the
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organization I started something called
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the African Leadership Network now the
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Afghan mission network is an association
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of young leaders from across Africa but
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who are a little bit more established
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than the ones at the African Leadership
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Academy so in their 30s 40s and 20s and
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once you would bring these leaders
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together so they can forge relationships
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with each other and actually do things
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together so about 70 percent of people
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that will bring our Africans living on
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the continent 20 percent of Africans
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living in the Diaspora and 10 percent
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are non Africans who are doing
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interesting things in Africa
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now Joseph shared his vision for
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education what he was doing in the
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refugee camp and he had a vision
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specifically to build a hostel both to
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rent a hostel outside of the refugee
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camp so that some of the young people
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from there could get access to
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high-quality schools outside of the
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refugee camp remember I said that there
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was only one secondary school in the
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refugee camp and it only went up to 10th
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grade so this is what happened when
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Joseph spoke at African Leadership
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Network in 2008 well we plan to take 110
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students into
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high school and to do this we need 13
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thousand US dollars
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I’m sure thirteen thousand US dollars
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two or three mentors and in this room
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today young man from Congo I’ve got to
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commit the thirteen thousand this will
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be from a client by the name of Curtis
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Jackson who has a huge initiative to
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work in Africa and on his behalf thank
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you both so much for this opportunity to
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help thank you now who here knows who
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carries Jackson is that’s right right 50
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cent he had been sponsored by 50 cent
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and soon he was able to get an
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additional 100 young people into school
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and he was sponsoring now three hundred
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forty three young people to go to school
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these are some of the young people that
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he’s been working with that’s him
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leading a pep talk and some of the high
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school students that he had sent to
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school and that’s him teaching them a
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few things
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Joseph graduated I saw after a few more
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months of doing this he was able to get
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a scholarship and end up attending a
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university in the u.s. called
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Westminster College so Joseph now in his
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second year at Westminster College in
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Missouri he’s continuing to run his
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program in the refugee camp and now
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today he controls an organization with a
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bunch of 186,000 dollars and ten
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full-time employees
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what I especially am excited about is
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that he’s begun sponsoring some people
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from his refugee camp to some of the
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universities so he had his and
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Westminster where he is right now
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there’s a there’s a freshman there who
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came from his refugee camp and was one
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of the participants in his program he
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sent a student to invest in Rochester
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including the first girl ever to
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graduate and go to university from the
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refugee camp and especially idea to me
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is he sent two students who have come to
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the African Leadership Academy now these
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are the two students that I took a
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picture of them earlier on this week to
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see how John but they also came from his
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program as a result of all this work
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Joseph recently was introduced to a
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former US UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown
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and who as you know is now the UN
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Special Envoy in education and he has
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also been invited and serves as one of
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15 young people on the UN
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secretary-general special Advisory
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Council for youth on education
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so just send me an email in September
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this year tell him about how he had
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spent his summer holiday I talked about
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how he had gone back to the Congo he
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hasn’t been there for many years and as
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a result of connections that he has with
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Gordon Brown and the UN
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secretary-general he’s now meeting with
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the chief of staff of the president and
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the Minister of Education and his entire
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cabinet and he’s identified that there
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are seven million children in the Congo
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who are out of school and his objective
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was to see how he could get 1 million of
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these young people to go to school and
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the first step towards that was he
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managed to get at the end of the summer
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the Minister of Education of Congo then
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expanded the education budget by 20% and
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they’re now well on their way
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his goal of 1 million
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now if this is not a ripple effect I
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don’t know what is
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he went from just free with Interscope
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of five years from touching ten people
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to 52 to 242 to 343 and now 1 million
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and he’s only 22
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the example of Joseph really illustrates
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what I believe is one of the most
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powerful ripple effects that we can ever
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have in any society and that is the
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impact of leaders now one might think
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that okay of course
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leaders make a difference in every
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society but I believe that in Africa
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more than anywhere else in the world
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leaders just one person one good leader
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can have much more impact in Africa than
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anywhere else in the world and here’s
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why there’s something that we called
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institutions that existed every society
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institutions are the rules and the
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systems that’s govern how a society
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functions so these are things like your
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Constitution the media the judiciary the
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Parliament system all of those things
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the rule that I believe is that the
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stronger the institutions in a given
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country the less effect one leader can
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have in that country and therefore by
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the inverse of that means that the weak
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of institutions in a country the much
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much more powerful effect that just one
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person can have in that society so when
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you look at a developed country like the
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UK your Parliament Big Ben you walk past
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that place it’s been around for five
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hundred years you look at the u.s. got
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very developed systems so if you become
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the president of the United States and
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you think oh I’ve arrived I’m the most
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powerful man in the world
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now you decide okay I think Americans
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should get health care
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I’m gonna pass a law to make this
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possible you go to the Senate they say
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no no you can’t do that you go to the
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Congress they say no you can’t do that
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if you decide that you want to become
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president for life there’s a 300 year
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old Constitution that will stop that
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there’s a very powerful police forces or
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that will come and take you out of that
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Oval Office if you decide you want to
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print money and you call Ben Bernanke
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Alan Greenspan the central bank governor
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they’ll say you smoking crack you come
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to Africa the situation is different if
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you are the president of Zimbabwe and
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you decide that you know what and I just
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want to stay in power forever there’s no
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Constitution that’s going to stop and
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you just stay on and on and on and on
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like the energies I’m energized about
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bunny if you decide that you want to
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print money and you call your central
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bank governor the guy’s okay yes sir how
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much do you need and as a result
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hyperinflation ensues in that country
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and so the lack of these institutions in
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Africa have meant that our leaders have
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had tremendous impact on us just one
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person like Robert Mugabe can destroy an
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entire country and this is why I say
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that leaders in Africa can have much
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more impacted in well still they are
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really the ultimate ripple effect in
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Africa and this is why myself and my
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peers were really inspired to develop
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the African Leadership Academy when we
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realized that this was the single
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biggest thing that was holding us back
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from achieving our potential as Africans
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was the quality of the leaders that we
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had we said do we just sit back and hope
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that one day we’ll get good leaders or
15:04
can we create a system a machine that
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can actually find young people and
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develop hundreds and thousands of young
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people like Joseph
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who each in their own way you know I
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looked in my lifetime when I was growing
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up as I grew up in different parts of
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Africa and everywhere I went I saw we
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had different problems healthcare
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infrastructure poverty housing
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sanitation and it was overwhelming where
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would I start but I thought there’s no
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way in my lifetime that I can try and
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tackle all these things but if I can
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produce a set of leaders and those
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leaders this one will take the
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infrastructure that one will take
15:44
politics this one will take healthcare
15:46
this one will take education and each
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and every one of them in their way will
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go out and they will become the leaders
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that can really transform Africa and as
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I mentioned just one leader in Africa
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and a very very powerful effect on that
16:05
society and that’s really what inspired
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the African Leadership Academy today we
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get a 100 applicate we get a thousand
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several thousand applications and we
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pick only a hundred people say how can
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100 people change Africa I say that we
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don’t need a lot of people to transform
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Africa we just need a few good leaders
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so when you walk into the walls that
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African Leadership Academy everywhere
16:33
there’s a quote that I like that that is
16:35
all over the place is my favorite quote
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it says never doubt that a small group
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of thoughtful committed citizens can
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change the world indeed it’s the only
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thing that ever has I believe in Africa
16:53
I would rewrite that statement that says
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never doubt that a group a small group
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of thoughtful committed leaders can
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change Africa indeed is the only thing

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