In celebration of Black History Month, the University Preparatory Program (UPP) hosted the second installment of the African Leaders’ Public Speaking Series Showcase. This event featured on February 27 fourteen of the top speakers from UPP Basic, Intermediate and Advanced Oral Communication classes, as well as two students from the African and African-American History course.

The African Leaders’ Public Speaking Series is a cultural literacy project designed to facilitate student mastery in public speaking. Students immerse themselves in Black excellence embodied by the leadership of both our ancestors and contemporary role models in academia, the arts, business, engineering, health, mathematics, politics and the sciences. There are numerous benefits to public speaking including increased confidence, oral fluency, development of vocabulary, critical thinking and the building of leadership skills. The African Leaders’ Public Speaking Series encompasses all of these advantages as it nurtures African identity by integrating positive role models to inspire students’ interest and self-confidence as they research phenomenal achievers, synthesize language and embody the characteristics of excellence.

Left to right: Prince SOUMAHORO, Moussa TRAORE, Arouna MOUTARI, Siaka TRAORE, Kader SYLLA, Ben Kaled SAWADOGO, Jules KACOU, Malick COULIBALY, Rosalie Regine GOLY, Abdoul-Rachid CAMPAORE, M’bike Ange Danielle Eunice KOLIA, master of ceremonies Lazare KOFFI, Fanta NIANG, Tenindja COULIBALY, Yinhouele Anzoumai TOURE, Larissa Nafissa IBRAHIM, African Leader Series founder Brioné LaTHROP.

This year’s African Leaders’ Series Showcase was dedicated to Katherine Johnson, the “Human Computer “who calculated the trajectories for NASA’s first space launch. She was introduced to IUGB students last semester in IUGB student Yinhouele Anzoumanan Touré’s speech before she passed away at 101 years young on February 24. This year, student speakers shared the inspirational leadership of Julius Nyrere and how he unified tribal divisions in Tanzania, Prince Béhazin and his Dahomey Warriors fight against colonial imperialism in Benin, the remarkable journey of Uganda’s Chess Champion Phiona Mutesi, Sophia Abdi Noor’s women’s rights fight against genital mutilation in Kenya, and the story of many others such as Clara Brown, a former enslaved African-American woman that finally received her freedom when she was 56. At a time when many people’s lives are winding down, Ms. Brown created several enterprises and became a multi-millionaire and philanthropist who used her fortunes to improve the lives of so many of her people.

The audience was riveted as they listened to stories of these incredible heroes, they roared their applause of approval as each student took on the persona of the leader they represented. They applauded even louder in encouragement for a few student speakers who let nerves get the better of them and celebrated the phenomenal success stories of all the inspirational leaders that were highlighted.

We salute our amazing IUGB student leaders who inaugurated the showcase in December of 2019: Brahima Prince SOUMAHORO, Astou Malika Yasmine SIAGBE, Abdul Aziz Vakaba KEITA, Kofi Ivan Stephane KOUAKOU, Madina Sarah COULIBALY, Bintou ZABRE, Balamine Jeremie SOULAMA, Tenindja COULIBALY, Sidiki KANE, Ahmoud Trezzore Alex DAGNOH, Ange Ryan Imann DIALLO, Yinhouele Anzoumanan TOURE, Patrick Kevin Astrid N’GUESSAN, Marie Orlane Edith Akoura ADINGRA, Komenan Yves-Alex AKAHI, Sawadogo, Abraham SAWADOGO, and Myra Ahmad GHADOUR.

In addition, we celebrate all the IUGB student leaders who made Black History Month 2020 so exceptional:

Yinhouele Anzoumanan TOURE, M’bike Ange Danielle Eunice KOLIA, Larissa Nafissa IBRAHIM, Jules KACOU, Kader SYLLA, Nahouo Malick COULIBALY, Moussa TRAORE, Ben Kaled Emmanuel SAWADOGO, Siaka TRAORE, Rosalie Regine GOLY, Prince SOUMAHORO, Abdoul-Rachid COMPAORE, Tenidja COULIBALY, Arouna MOUTARI and Fanta NIANG; they remind us all of the greatness of the shoulders we stand on.