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Why Africa?

I get this question a lot lately: Why Africa?

When Americans express and interest in Africa the assumption is that they’re either going on a mission, some type of charitable work. Noble causes, but not the whole story.

Many people in business assume they’re going to Africa to extract natural resources or raw materials at a bargain basement price or to export handcrafts ripe for a huge mark-up.

If those are your assumptions, you’re missing out on what today’s Africa has to offer––and we’re not taking THE SENSEI LEADER MOVEMENT to Africa for any of those reasons.

Africa today is, as a continent, the fastest growing economic power in the world.

Nations like Kenya and Nigeria continue to flourish while Ghana is now reported as the fastest growing economy in Africa. Formerly troubled areas like Rwanda and Ethiopia are seeing record growth and smaller nations like Tanzania are producing at record pace. I don’t want to offend by leaving nations of this list, but there are too many to cover here! While there are still trouble spots in Africa, most of the continents nations are producing record growth and forecasters predict a bright future.

We’re going to Africa because we see this as an opportunity to support, develop, learn from and network with tremendous human-centric leaders. We see Africa as a bright spot in human-centric leadership and we see African leaders as partners to help us expand our MOVEMENT around the world.

Of course you know some of the stars: Desmond Tutu, Nelson Mandela and Kofi Annan are well known to the West.

Have you heard of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf?

She was the first woman elected as a head of state in Africa when she was chosen president of Liberia––that after already receiving a Nobel Peace Prize.

One of her most notable quotes is: “If your dreams don’t scare you, you aren’t dreaming big enough.” That has become one of my favorites.

She also said: “Leadership is never given on a silver platter, one has to earn it.” Too true.

And PLO Lumumba?

Lumumba is an attorney and became famous in Kenya as the head of his nations anti-corruption crusade. He is now a leading voice for Pan-Africanism and Afro-optimism.

His message is that “Africa has to be at the dinner table among civilized nations as a diner, not a waiter.” He constantly reminds the world that "The continent now considered a dark continent was at one time the home of civilization. When the Europeans were in caves, Africans were building pyramids…”

Our sole focus at THE SENSEI LEADER MOVEMENT is to support and develop human-centric leaders. Leaders who genuinely care about the people they serve. Leaders who Inspire, Empower and Guide people to their very best.

I see these leaders in Africa.

My connection and continued interest in Africa did not, however, start with an awareness of these highly visible leaders. It started with three remarkable leaders you may not have heard of––yet…

Jared Akama Ondieki…

My introduction to Jared came shortly after the publication of THINK LIKE a BLACK BELT. I honestly don’t remember how we connected––I believe it was through LinkedIn or Facebook.

At any rate, Jared felt that the message of self-empowerment expressed in THINK would resonate in Kenya. He was the first to encourage me to visit.

At the time Jared was serving as the Executive Director of The Center For Partnership and Civic Engagement. He was active in building schools, expanding education, developing young leaders and bridging tribal divides. Today he serves his community as a representative in the Nairobi City County Assembly.

Jared is a dedicated human-centric leader who cares deeply about the people he serves. I look forward to actually meeting with him in person and working shoulder to shoulder!

James Solomon Mensah…

James first contacted me on LinkedIn years ago to ask me to come to Ghana. I have to admit––I was at first skeptical. To my shame, I did not realize the scope and importance of his work.

James is the founder of King James Foundation and Ministries. King James “is a humanitarian relief, development and advocacy organization dedicated to working with children, families and communities to overcome poverty and injustice. We serve all people regardless of religion, race, ethnicity or gender. We are non-governmental, non -socio-economical, non-political and non-profit organization.”

He is also one of the most persistent people I’ve ever met!

We’ve missed connections several times over the past few years. Just this summer I got a message from James that he was going to be right in my own backyard. He was visiting Maine.

I have to tell you that meeting James was one of those rare moments when you feel as if you’re reunited with a long-lost member of your family. After listening to him talk about his work in Ghana, I was convinced more than ever that the SLM has a place in Africa and that together we do important work.

At that meeting we pledged to make it happen in 2019.

Nana Wanjau…

Have you ever had a moment in life when it seems that exactly the right person shows up at exactly the right time? Enter Nana Wanjau…

I believe Alex found Nana originally as an interesting guest for Walking the Walk. And she was! (Listen here!) But we all soon realized there was much more work to do!

Nana is one of Africa’s rising women leaders. Founder of Power Woman International, she is leading the charge to overcome traditional barriers and empower women in business and political leadership.

Based in Nairobi, she is also the founder and Executive Director of Branding Beyond Borders. Her focus at B3 is to connect Kenya to the world by promoting international speakers and creating a global network to encourage sharing of ideas across every international boundary.

After extensive Skype meetings, Nana came to Boston to meet with us in 2018. It was as if we’d known each other our entire lives. She has become our partner and leads our efforts to bring SLM to Africa. More important––she has become an important part of our family.

I am convinced that with these 3 amazing leaders in our corner, 2019 will be the year that THE SENSEI LEADER MOVEMENT travels to Africa, and that we continue the work these remarkable people are doing to share Africa with the world.

For too long one nation or another––one people or another have looked at Africa as an object of pity––as a place that simply needed charity or modernization. Even allowing for best intentions, this attitude no longer has a place.

Africa, and more to the point, Africans, are taking their rightful place on the world stage as Professor Lumumba says, as diners––not as waiters. Africa should not be the object of our pity––we should see Africa as a full and equal partner in the world community. We should welcome and embrace the wisdom and experience of her leaders. We should share with one another and join in a unified and mutually beneficial effort to support and develop human-centric leaders in our communities, in our businesses, our politics and our homes.

That’s why we’re taking THE SENSEI LEADER MOVEMENT to Africa––and we’re going with eyes open, ears open––hearts and minds open. My sincere hope is that I learn far more from our friends in Africa than I can possibly share with them.

Africa already deeply inspires me. I hope I can return the favor in some small measure.


We are now preparing for our 2019 Tour! In Africa, contact Nana Wanjau to book Jim for your conference, meeting or workshop!

We are now organizing "TPC" groups in Africa!

Our Training Partner Cooperatives Program brings organizations together to share investment, ideas and networking to support and develop human-centric leaders around the world––leaders who Inspire, Empower and Guide people to their very best!

Working together makes top tier SENSEI LEADER MOVEMENT workshops and events affordable for small to mid-size businesses and non-profits, and helps increase the collaborative power of associations to deliver impactive leadership development training to their members.

Even more important, TPC Groups become a powerful network where you support fellow leaders and develop and share new ideas for better, more effective leadership!

Learn more by visiting our TPC page. To organize your group in Africa, contact:

Nana Wanjau at Branding Beyond Borders…

(+254 728 257 141

In North America contact:

Alexandra Armstrong…


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