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African success stories - guardian.co.uk
By Peter Tatchell from Guardian Unlimited, guardian.co.uk
Thursday 24 April 2008 19.30 BST

African success stories

Countering the endless stories of doom and gloom, a new website highlights the remarkable achievements of Africans from across the continent

So much of the news we hear about Africa is negative: famine, civil war, HIV, corruption and dictatorship. The latest horror stories from Darfur, Zimbabwe and the Congo grab the headlines, but the many extraordinary success stories of people in Africa rarely make the news.

Africansuccess.org is a new website that offers a welcome correction to the media bias that too often projects Africa as a narrative of failure, suffering and tyranny.

While the legacy of colonialism and under-development has inhibited African achievement, the success stories documented on this website show that many Africans are triumphing despite these problems.

Without doubt, unfair terms of trade and debt contribute to Africa not fulfilling its potential, but many heroic, inspiring Africans are nevertheless making a contribution to the uplifting of their countries and continent - and to the general advancement of humanity.

"We want to get people to look at Africa in a different and positive way," says the creator of AfricanSuccess.org, Kadija Traoré Bush, who is of is both Malian and Beninoise heritage.

"We want to inspire the young, give hope and ambition to Africans and change the way the world sees Africa. Our aim is to create a website that will inspire a continent.

If we can show the world where Africans are successful, we can change the way in which we are perceived.

It is an interactive community website, which encourages the people to add the names and biographies of people that they know and consider worthy of being included. The site is free access and it is free to add names, biographies and other historical information.

We are still building the website, and we welcome contributions to add to our growing data base.

We hope that people from all countries and all walks of life are going to put up the biographies of people they feel proud of ... [people who can become] the role models for today's children and tomorrows leaders."

Here are a few of the lesser known awesome African achievers featured on the AfricanSuccess.org website. Take a look and be inspired:

Zachie Achmat (born 1962) is a South African Nobel Peace prize-nominated HIV treatment campaigner. Openly gay and HIV-positive, he spearheaded the campaign to win greater access to drug treatments for South Africa's six-plus million people with HIV, helping save hundreds of thousands of lives.

Marguerite Barankitse (born 1957), is a Burundian humanitarian who, during the dark days of civil war, set up a network of children's shelters to provide refuge to orphaned and displaced children. In 1998 she was awarded the Prix des Droits de l'Homme by the French government.

Souhayr Belhassen (born 1944) is a famed Tunisian journalist. In 2007, she became the first Arab and first woman to be elected president of the International Federation for Human Rights.

Cheikh Modibo Diarra (born 1952), is a Malian astrophysicist who has worked with the US Nasa space programme, and is a Unesco goodwill ambassador. Since 2006, he has been head of Microsoft Africa. He is also vice president of the World Commission for the Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and Technology.

Romuald Hazoume (born 1962) is a Beninoise sculptor and painter, famous for his masks and installations. He co-founded the museum for contemporary art in Cotonou, Benin, and was awarded the Arnold Bode prize in 2007.

Cecilia Ibru (born 1946) is a Nigerian banker, head of Oceanic Bank International, the country's fifth largest bank.

Bridgette Radebe (born 1960) is a South African mining entrepreneur, chief of the South African Mining Development Association and one of the richest black women in Africa.



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