2023 Festival Speakers

Profile image Wole Soyinka

Wole Soyinka

Wole Soyinka, a Nigerian playwright, poet, and Nobel laureate, is a prominent figure in literature and activism. He made history as the first African to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature. With an impressive body of work spanning drama, novels, essays, and poetry, Soyinka’s influence reaches global audiences. From founding theatre groups to teaching at prestigious universities, his contributions have left an indelible mark on the literary world.

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Profile photo of Hope Azeda

Hope Azeda

Hope Azeda is a  playwright, director  and founder of mashirika performing arts media company . She  is a pioneer in using art as a tool for peace building and is a celebrated leader of the Rwandan and the African continent’s arts sector.  She is the founder of the acclaimed  Ubumuntu Arts Festival which provides a platform for artists from around the world to present […]

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Justice Malala

Justice Malala is an award-winning South African journalist, TV host, political commentator, newspaper columnist, and best-selling author.  In 1997, Malala was awarded the Foreign Correspondents Association Award for Courageous Journalism and served as a judge for the Taco Kuiper Awards for Investigative Journalism for ten years. During 2007 and 2011, Malala was general manager of Avusa Media (currently Times Media […]

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Profile photo of Rokia Traore

Rokia Traoré

Rokia Traoré is an award-winning Malian-born singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist. Her album, Bowmboï won the Critics Award category at the BBC Radio 3 Awards for World Music in 2004 and another titled Tchamantché won Victoires de la Musique World Music Album of the Year in 2009. In 2015, Traoré was appointed a UNHCR Regional Goodwill Ambassador for West and Central […]

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Profile photo of Navyn Salem

Navyn Salem

In 2009 Navyn set out to help end the crisis of global malnutrition by founding Edesia, a U.S. non-profit, social enterprise, with a mission to treat and prevent malnutrition in developing countries worldwide. Her factory in Rhode Island produces a range of fortified, peanut-based products like Plumpy’Nut for humanitarian agencies like UNICEF, World Food Programme, USAID and other NGOs working […]

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Profile photo of Chris Varelas

Chris Varelas

Chris Varelas is a founding partner of Riverwood Capital, a private equity firm focused on high growth technology and technology-related companies in need of capital and expertise to scale on a global basis. Notable Firm investments include Alog, ForgeRock, Globant, GoPro and Vacasa. Notable personal seed and venture stage investments include FIGS, Berkeley Lights, Forge Global and Elemental Cognition. Prior […]

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Profile photo of Laurie Garrett

Laurie Garrett

Photo Source: http://lauriegarrett.com/about/ Author, speaker and Foreign Policy columnist Laurie Garrett was senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) in New York from 2004-2017.  Ms. Garrett is the only writer ever to have been awarded all three of the Big “Ps” of journalism: the Peabody, the Polk, and the Pulitzer. Her expertise includes epidemics, pandemics, […]

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Profile image Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka is Former Executive Director of UN Women & Deputy President of SA Founder of Umlambo Foundation Gender Activist and Campaigner for Universal Access to Education. She was sworn into office on 19 August 2013 and brings a wealth of experience and expertise to this position, having devoted her career to issues of human rights, equality and social justice. […]

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Profile image Michael Jordaan

Michael Jordaan

From leading one of South Africa’s most successful banks to investing in 25 promising startups, Michael Jordaan is a business leader who embraces innovation and entrepreneurship. He served as the CEO of First National Bank (FNB) for nine years, where he spearheaded the bank’s growth and transformation through technology and customer focus . He left FNB in 2013 to start […]

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Gloria Serobe

Distinguished for her remarkable achievements in the business world, Gloria Serobe stands as a trailblazer in the field of comprehensive economic empowerment for women. Her journey involves constructing initiatives from their very foundations, as she passionately collaborates with women from diverse backgrounds, to pave the way for heightened women’s economic engagement. Her work has been recognised through  accolades, such as […]

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