Prince Africa Zulu of Onkweni, who starred in BBC’s “Undercover Prince,” is a kind man dedicated to improving Africa. His Highness travels the world speaking on ways to help Africa flourish. We talk today about what is needed in Africa and the options he lays out, on how to manage it.
It is my honor to welcome my new brother, Prince Africa Zulu of Onkweni, to The Global Townhall.
Gabrielle Reilly: So how do you spend your time?
Prince Africa Zulu: It depends. I spend my time between things that I do for my Foundation. For example, we are looking at the women in the rural areas and how we can bring them programs to enhance the quality of the crafts that they do. There are a lot of crafts in Africa, as I’m sure you know. Most of the African countries do a lot of crafts but the quality becomes the issue. Due to the lack of quality control they are working hard just to eat. They are not able to maximize the profits they make from these three or six months spent making crafts. So unfortunately with the lack of quality control they can’t charge an appropriate sum of money for their work.
Gabrielle Reilly: On that point, I know there are areas and organizations in Africa that do actually sell the work online to Americans. Do you have anything set up in your area?
Prince Africa Zulu: Well, we would be happy to explore those who are already bridging this kind of work. But I do know that the industry has been hijacked by opportunists who really don’t have anything to do with crafts. They take the crafts from the ladies for nothing and they sell it at a big price in big cities like New York, London. So people think that they are supporting these women but you are actually supporting the people who actually sold it, because most of the people who make these crafts are people really who come from the rural backgrounds.
And because of the government’s incapacity to focus solely on all citizens, it becomes impossible for the government I think to be able to monitor 100% the exploitation and the abuse of the work that is done by these women. It’s something that no one can really do anything about. But the key is to empower the women to be able sell their crafts themselves, for them to know how to market and how to link with the market directly. In that way they can control their destiny and control of their business because any business wherein you don’t have control becomes a problem for that person selling the products, because they are making the product but somebody’s got a system. Somebody owns the system to distribute these crafts all over the world at a big profit.
Gabrielle Reilly: Do the women that are making these crafts have a cell phone or are they too poor to have a cell phone? Can they use a mobile phone to take a picture of their work and put it directly onto a website where they get rated on their work and whether they send it on time?
Prince Africa Zulu: Yeah. The women in Africa are actually well advanced in regard to technology. They have access to fresh technology like the cell phones. But I think we need to create a structure. I know that there are other structures but we want to come up with our own structure. Where we’re able to create a platform that could really, really benefit these women for their work. But they do have access to iPad, to iPhones, Samsung Galaxy, and so forth. Africa is as advanced as the rest of the world, even though the technology came from the West, everybody here is just as used to the technology, it’s not a big issue in Africa.
Gabrielle Reilly: So then they just need a platform to take a picture on their phone and upload it to the web so that they can sell it directly to the consumer without the middle men ripping them off.
Prince Africa Zulu: Yes, we have good opportunities now like Amazon. And some are sort of seeing how we can get that link.
But education is our Foundation’s key focus also. We really want to reevaluate some of the education systems. To learn how we can actually improve the education system in the rural areas.
We also rollout school uniforms to primary school children. Some families in some parts of South Africa can’t afford good uniforms for their children. We want to create equality at schools for the child by providing new uniforms. It affects the confidence and the self-esteem of a child when they have a uniform that is already torn up as opposed to another child who’s got a good fresh uniform. We don’t want their self-esteem hurt so we try to provide that through my Foundation, the Prince Africa Zulu Foundation.
And also I spend a lot of my time with artists. We’re trying to uplift the artists, traditional dance artists, in the rural areas. We also promote a lot of nation building, special cohesion among our people, our artists, and our citizens using music to break the barriers of this world that are sometimes created by culture. We try to make sure that culture works in the favor of the people. Diversity works in the favor of the people. We should not be dividing cultures for example, so we use music to unify people.
I also focus on growing the tourism industry by bringing the visions and the traditional dancers. I want become fully trained artists that are paid so that they can be able to sustain their families. In Africa artists don’t make much money like in other countries like America. There are only a few of those who really make a lot of money but many artists could six to seven months without any income. So we bring soft skills to this and education.
And as for yourself Gabrielle, I believe like I said before, that you are a really alternative voice in the world. You represent what leadership is doing, where you really use the voice of leaders to build societies and link organizations and individuals to improve communities. And for me, I very, very much thankful to have a chance to talk together with you, I’m very, very happy because I feel like I’m talking to my sister. I’m thankful to see the lives of people in every part of the world getting better. And if we all do our part, at least as much as possible and the world will slowly improve.
Gabrielle Reilly: Well, thank you so much, I really appreciate that. I’m very thankful to be able to talk with you and I feel like I’m talking with my brother. I’m glad to see that you’re doing so much for your country too. It’s what the world needs.
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