At Fifth African Diaspora Awards, Knowledge Transfer Were Buzzwords

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Political strategist Thione Niang receiving the TRANSFAST Advocate of the Year Awards, co founder and president of Akon Lighting Africa

[Diaspora Awards]

Thione Niang, president and co-founder of The Akon Lighting Africa, Laurie Cumbo, city council member and founder of the MOCADA Museum, Atti Worku, founder of Seeds of Africa and Kennedy Odede, social entrepreneur and founder of Shining Hope for Communities, were among the 10 honorees at the recent Fifth African Diaspora Awards in New York City

Over 300 attendees gathered to celebrate exemplary individuals from the African Diaspora at the fifth Annual African Diaspora Awards organized by Applause Africa and held at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center in New York City on November 21.

Ghanaian TV presenter, actress Peace Hyde and Nigerian comedian Seyi Brown hosted the award ceremony, which started with an all-acoustic Fela performance by Sahr Ngaujah the Fela! On Broadway star.

The theme for the 2015 African Diaspora Awards was the "pursuit of knowledge transfer: Entrepreneurialism in Education."

“It comes from our driving principle that education is vital to a thriving society. A society without education will become the breeding ground for violence and intolerance," says Debo Folorunsho, co-founder of Applause Africa. "But an educated society will promote tolerance and peace, justice and understanding, innovation and advancement, and positive, self-sustaining growth”.

The electrifying ceremony brought together the movers and shakers of the Diaspora, from entrepreneurs and corporate executives to entertainers and artists, scholars and philanthropists.

In attendance were: Gbenga Akinnagbe the American actor and writer best known for his role as Chris Partlow in the HBO series The Wire, actor and director Tony Okungbowa, as well as Award winning designer Loza Maléombho, super models Georgie Badiel and Flaviana Matata, Miss Africa USA, Frances Udukwu, Miss Africa USA and pageant director of Miss Nigeria USA Joy Ikedinma.

Ambassador Philbert Johnson, Deputy Permanent Representative of Ghana to the United Nations and Niyi Ojuolape, Special Assistant to the Executive Director Office of the Executive Director United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) were among the participants.

“In five years, the African Diaspora Awards has produced over 70 winners and 1,100 nominees across the Diaspora," says Debo Folorunsho. "Our mission is to inspire leadership and build enterprise. The awards have created and connected a new elite set of change markers and nation builders across sectors from causes to businesses, creativity and innovation. The African Diaspora Awards offers Africans in the diaspora and friends of Africa the opportunity to enhance their impact on the continent and grow professionally and personally while celebrating one another.”

Sponsors included Brussels Airline, Transfast, Arik Air and Delta Airline.

Transfast continues to build robust partnerships with diaspora Africans. Transfast’s African payout network is available to 90 percent of adult bank account holders in 23 African nations. Transfast focuses on providing money transfer services to families and friends while also allowing beneficiaries of international money transfer to get money directly into their accounts in any currency.

Debo also advised people to build projects and initiatives to develop the continent while using Transfast rather than only sending money.

Jay Vix, Global Director of Marketing, presented the TRANSFAST Advocate of the Year Award to Thione Niang, president and co-founder of the Akon Lighting Africa. Originally from Senegal, Thione Niang who has recently been appointed an "Ambassador" to the US Department of Energy says: “Africa will not develop without its diaspora”.

Recording artist Somi presented and accepted the Person of the Year Award to talented Zimbabwean actress Danai Gurira well-known for her role as Michonne on the TV series The Walking Dead.

The creative artiste of the year, Nicole Amarteifio, who has created and produced the web series An African City said in a moving speech that rather than #An African City, she wants to see #An African Move.

"The evening was truly an inspiring one. It was great to see people from all walks of life come to support the African Diaspora. The icing on the cake was speeches given by each honoree, all of which were motivational & encouraging. It was a memorable awards show indeed", says Seun Ariyo, Director of Strategy & Communications at Applause Africa.

The 2015 honorees were:

Person of the Year: Danai Jekesai Gurira, Actress Eclipsed, Zimbabwe

TRANSFAST Advocate of the Year: Thione Niang, The Akon Lighting Africa - Senegal

Entrepreneurship: Chid Liberty, Liberty & Justice, Apparel Manufacturer – Liberia

Community Service: Atti Worku, Founder Seeds of Africa – Ethiopia

Creative Artist: Nicole Amarteifio, Creator of An African City – Ghana

Humanitarian: Kennedy Odede, Social entrepreneur, Shining Hope for Communities – Kenya

Friend of Africa: Laurie A. Cumbo, Council Member, Office of New York City – USA

Designer: Alhassan Toure, Toure Design – Mali

Organizational Impact: Young African MBA’s – Pan African

Excellence in service: Dr Oluyemi Badero, Cardiologist – Nigeria

For more information go to

Applause Africa Communications is an innovative media brand that focuses on people, cultures, philosophies and successes of Africans and the Diaspora. It publishes the quarterly magazine Applause Africa along with

The Africa Diaspora Awards has become the annual “Who’s Who” of meaningful and powerful leadership in the Diaspora.  Past distinguished luminaries include: Leymah Gbowee, 2011 Nobel Laureate for Peace winner; Angelique Kidjo, Grammy Award–Winning singer & activist; Meck Khalfan, CEO & Co-Founder Puku LLC, Tony Okungbowa, resident DJ for The Ellen DeGeneres Show; Lola Ogunnaike, Correspondent for CNN, The View, VH1, MTV and BET; Les Nubians, R&B Grammy nominated duo; Flaviana Matata, 2007 Miss Universe & Angel Ambassador of Diamond Empowerment Fund; and Yaya Alafia, American Actress The Butler, Big Words and The Kids Are All Right.

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