Q: Is Africa rising or falling?
“I really subscribe to the ‘Africa we want’ narrative that’s being set by the African Union because I think that is a narrative that really says that Africa remains a continent of great opportunity. It must be us as Africans saying to each other that we can better how much we trade amongst one another, we can better a lot of the things that we do as Africans.”
Q: What needs to be done to unlock the continent’s potential?
“It’s the youth who are going to unlock their potential because they don’t really ask politely when it comes to demanding what they think needs to change. The change is happening but it’s not happening fast enough, and we’ve got a growing demographic that is increasingly at odds with the pace at which the change is happening and I think that they’ll agitate for a faster pace.”
Q: Is it time for a broad change of leadership in Africa?
“We like to focus on the perceived failures of African leadership which is a bit of a misnomer because when you look at leadership there’s a very great example at the moment in the Western world where you have a president who doesn’t seem so bright. So I don’t think he’s the best leader in the world but as a consequence we don’t say the entire government is terrible. We allow him to take accountability for his individual failings. Whereas in Africa we say all the leaders are terrible and therefore the continent will never succeed and I don’t really agree with that.”
“I think when you speak as a First Lady, the person you are speaking to doesn’t really hear you. Because they’ve got all the stuff in their minds that they’re processing as you speak of what is she wearing, how does her makeup look? What does she actually know? What are her actual qualifications? What did she do before first lady? So you need to kind of before you get heard, you need to help them break through their own misconceptions of what the African first lady is, what she represents.”