Legacy Collection Africa

Historic, exclusive, indepth interviews with Africa's leading women in public and private sectors

LEGACY COLLECTION

About The Work

We chronicle the journey of Africa through the lens of its most influential female leaders, showcasing the rich tapestry of the continent’s history and culture by celebrating the achievements of both renowned and hidden gems among African Women. Our collection illuminates the vast expanse of the African woman’s impact, engaging the global community with these narratives. This endeavor aims to enlighten current and forthcoming generations.

The interviews offer profound, previously untold, in-depth narratives produced in diverse media including video, audio, and written transcripts, all made accessible online at no cost. 

Your narrative is invaluable, distinctly yours, and irreplaceable in its authenticity; this is why Africa.com’s Chair, Teresa Clarke, dedicates herself to personally conducting each interview. Teresa’s approach to interviews is captivating, introspective, and deeply genuine, reflecting her sincere interest in each individual story. The Legacy Collection stands out for its authenticity, rawness, and truthfulness.

While interviews are initially set for an hour, the compelling nature of these conversations often extends their duration. This was notably the case with former President of Mauritius, Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, whose engagement in her session led to a more extended dialogue, with Teresa attentively facilitating this meaningful exchange.

Aida Diarra

Aïda Diarra

Aïda Diarra is Senior Vice President and Head of Sub Saharan Africa, at Visa Inc. In this capacity, she oversees Visa’s business operations in 45 countries and five offices in Sub-Saharan Africa. Her focus is digitizing cash, driving wider digital acceptance, and promoting financial inclusion in the diverse markets of the region. Tell us about your early years and growing up in your family background?   I was born in Senegal, with mixed parentage from Mali and Niger. I spent the early years of my life in Senegal and Côte d’Ivoire, and a year in Paris. Along the line, my parents divorced and I joined my mother in Ethiopia where she had relocated. I did the second part of my high school there. I went to university in France and graduated with a degree in Economics. I followed this up with a bachelor’s degree in Finance. Then, I did my MBA at the University of Hartford in Connecticut. Tell us about your career trajectory? My first job was as a marketer for the Welding Institute of France, despite not having experience as one. The institute had never done marketing before but they realized the industry was changing. They needed someone to

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Ameenah Gurib-Fakim

Ameenah Gurib-Fakim

Ameenah Gurib-Fakim served as the first female President of Mauritius from 2015 to 2018, thus making her the third woman to serve as Head of State of the country. Please tell me your name, and the period you spent in office as head of state of Mauritius. I am Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, a Mauritian national who served as the sixth president of the Republic of Mauritius between the years 2015 and 2018. Tell us about your childhood.  I was born in the 1960s, in a tiny village of Mauritius during the British colonial era. There was little to no infrastructure in the village where I was born. The only ones available were a primary school, a church, a Hindu temple, a mosque and an airport nearby.  The airport would later serve as the only avenue of distraction for kids in the village because we used to take long walks to catch a glimpse of aeroplanes landing and taking off.  My late mother was a housewife but my father was a primary school teacher. Their occupation mattered because while my mother created the home that was of course our rock, my father, being a teacher, understood the transformational power of education. He

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Aminata Kane Ndiaye

Aminata Kane

Aminata Kane is Chief Executive Officer of Orange SL, driving the operations of the telecommunications giant with more than 2 Million subscribers. She is also Chairman of the Board of Orange Mobile Finance Sierra Leone. With her at the helm, the Orange subsidiary in Sierra Leone has become the market leader, significantly improved its profitability with more than 20% revenue growth per year and +20 EBITDA points, and has established itself as a key player in CSR (education and health) and in innovation with the launching of microcredits, Orange energy and e-Education. Tell us about growing up and what your childhood was like? I had a happy childhood. My parents are well educated and they come from several generations of educated people so they were keen on making sure I and my two siblings had great education. My mom is a doctor – an endocrinologist – and my dad was a banker for most of his life. We grew up in France and Africa, spent our toddler years in Senegal. Our parents were very caring and extremely confident in us. They gave us room to explore. They told us, “Each one of you can do and accomplish something in this world

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Brenda Mbathi

Brenda Mbathi

Brenda Mbathi is the President and CEO of GE East Africa.She is responsible for managing government relations and advocacy across East Africa. Tell us about your childhood. I was born in Nairobi, Kenya, just after Kenya’s independence. I come from a lineage of strong women and had five siblings. My mum came from a family of 13, and my aunts, uncles, and cousins were a part of our lives growing up. We were raised on a farm about 20 kilometers from the capital city. I have fun memories of my childhood. We always had lots of people in the house and this helped us learn the virtue of sharing. Getting up early in the morning and contributing to farm chores were the order of the day and it helped cultivate an active and close extended family life. Tell us about your education. I enrolled in nursery school at the age of three, which was customary in our part of the world. Regular schooling started at kindergarten, after which you proceeded to primary school, secondary school, and, if possible, university. I started my education at All Saints Cathedral School, which was around the city center. It was about an hour’s drive

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Cathy (Prim) Smith

Cathy (Prim) Smith

Cathy (Prim) Smith is Managing Director (SAP Africa) at SAP.She is the first female head of an emerging markets unit in SAP’s history. Tell us about your background? I am colored and the youngest of eight children. I feel like I was born to grandparents as my parents were quite old when they gave birth to me: my mum was 46 and my dad was 50. In fact, some people thought my elder siblings were my parents. I grew up in Coronationville township. As the youngest, my brothers and sisters had paved the way for me. They didn’t enjoy many of the privileges I did. For instance, unlike them, I attended a multi-racial private school when I was old enough for high school. At that time, we were not allowed to mix across racial lines. However, at the school, we had Indians and coloreds together. I had the privilege of attending the school because my parents could afford the fees. Although, I also had a bursary. The experience had an incredible impact on me. It  gave me an understanding of the role of family, especially in providing support for each other. It also helped me understand parents and how they

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Hélène Echevin

Hélène Echevin

Hélène Echevin is the Executive Chairperson of C-Care (Mauritius) Ltd. and the Chief Executive Officer & Director of CIEL Healthcare Ltd.  She holds a degree in Food Sciences and Technology from Polytech Engineering School, Montpellier, France and followed Management Executive Program at INSEAD. Her main mission consists in supporting the consolidation and growth of CIEL’s global operations through the deployment of new principles and tools of operational excellence across the group. She is also heading the Healthcare cluster of the group. Can you tell us about your background? I’m Mauritian, although I have a European background. While I was born and bred in Mauritius, I left for France when I was 18 – that’s the reason for my French accent and English mistakes. I spent five years in France and attended school there. Then, I went to McGill University in Canada. While I was there, I received a Ph.D. proposal for a research program. However, I felt I would have a stronger, more visible impact if I came back home. So, I did that. As a technician by training – I’m a food expert – I got a job in a company that manufactured animal feed. It was a man’s world, with

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Jane Karuku

Jane Karuku is the Group Managing Director and CEO of EABL (East African Breweries Limited), headquartered in Nairobi, with subsidiaries in Kenya, Uganda, South Sudan and Tanzania. She has been instrumental in driving innovations in the business by launching new brands and categories that include Tusker Cider, Tusker Premium Ale, Sikera Cider, and a number of premium scotch whiskeys, gin, rums, and liquors.  Tell us about your background? I grew up and had my education in Kenya. Where I come from, education is very important and we were encouraged to give our best to it. I was a bright student. For my first degree, I studied Food Science at the University of Nairobi. I had an option to study medicine, among others. I decided against it because someone told me that in Anatomy, they would give me a dead body for a month. After graduating, I worked in a dairy company that processed butter. Then I got married and moved to California, USA, where I stayed for four and a half years. My husband was attending University of California, Davis, at the time. While we were there, I did an MBA and we also had two kids. Then I decided to

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Keabetswe Pheko-Moshagane

Keabetswe Pheko-Moshagane

Keabetswe Pheko Moshagane is Managing Director & Executive Director at Absa Bank Botswana Ltd. She received an undergraduate degree from Tshwane University of Technology and an MBA from Management College of Southern Africa. She made history, becoming the first Motswana woman to lead Absa Bank Botswana. What was it like growing up? I grew up in a modest family of seven girls. Because of our size, we competed for attention from our parents. To resolve this, our parents made a rule that whoever gave their best to their tasks will receive the most attention. I still try to live by this rule today. We didn’t have much: my mother was a housewife, while my father was a government employee. So, growing up in my family meant we couldn’t afford to buy toys. Our games consisted of looking for anthills and counting the ants as they moved in and out to practice our addition and subtraction. So, from a young age, playing was work, and my toys had to teach me something or there was no point to them. The African tradition places much stock in male children. And since my parents gave birth to only girls, my father had to

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Kendi Ntwiga Nderitu

Kendi Ntwiga Nderitu

Kendi Ntwiga is the Country Leader at Microsoft Kenya, where she is responsible for developing and maintaining effective relationships across the company subsidiary in order to increase Microsoft’s share of voice in the region. Tell us about your childhood and how you were raised? I was born in Embu. It is a town not too far from Nairobi that offered a vibrant life back in the day. It was a happy childhood, but things changed when I was around the age of 12. My family ran into some financial problems and because of this, my parents decided we should move to a village upcountry. The village is different from what it is today. It was tough back then. While we resided there, I went from being a confident, carefree girl who would stand on tables, recite poems, and receive guests at the door to a young lady who walked seven kilometers to tend to the farm, look for food, and fetch water and firewood, as I was the oldest. It was a life of hardship, poverty, and bitterness. I wanted to run away and sometimes wondered why I was born into my family. Eventually, I realized I had two choices:

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Kerry Cassel

Kerry Cassel

Kerry Cassel is Director and Chief Executive Officer, Mobility Solutions & Head: Innovation and Technology at Motus Holdings Ltd.  In addition to being an executive director, Kerry serves on the boards of various subsidiaries of the Group. Can you tell us about your childhood? As a child, I don’t think I believed I could do anything. In fact, I was shy and introverted. I was also probably insecure in more ways than one. I was that kid in class who knew the answers to the teachers’ questions but lacked the courage to put up their hand and provide the answers. I’ve changed a lot over the past couple of decades and the older I’ve got, the happier I’ve become. You may not have had the courage to raise your hand but you were certain about the answers? I knew the answers. I think I knew I was a bright kid, as I was very bookish. However, I’m terribly clumsy and I was terrible at sports. So, all the sports events at school were a terrible nightmare for me. I’m very grateful that my children didn’t inherit my sporting abilities. My best moments were always with a book. I remember adults

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Nevine Wefky

Nevine Wefky

Nevine Wefky is CEO of Corporate Credit & Investment at Commercial International Bank [CIB]. Throughout her career, Ms. Wefky was chosen to represent CIB as a board member, Managing Director, and Chairman at several affiliates. She is an active member in several committees within the Bank, such as the Management Committee, High Lending and Investment Committee, Asset and Liability Management Committee, Non-Financial Risks and Compliance Committee, and Pricing Concession Committee. Tell us about your childhood. What was it like growing up? I come from a small family. I have a brother, sister, and an amazing mother. When I was nine years old, I lost my father to an unfortunate car accident. As a result, my mother took on the role of both mother and father. I have various roots: my paternal grandmother is Turkish, while my maternal grandmother is German. My German maternal grandmother moved in with us after my father passed. I was raised in Egypt and studied at a well-known German school in the country with a history that goes back over 100 years. I met my husband there and my son graduated there this year. I graduated in 1981, having met the requirements for both the International

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Nunu Ntshingila

Nunu Ntshingila

Nunu Ntshingila is Regional Director, Facebook Africa. She joined Facebook Africa in September 2015. Based in Johannesburg, she is responsible for building Facebook’s commercial presence across the entire African continent. Ms. Ntshingila holds an undergraduate degree from University of Swaziland and a MBA degree from Morgan State University, Baltimore, Maryland. Tell us about your background and childhood I was born and bred in Soweto. It was a tough time when everybody was looking to leave South Africa. When I was young, I left for Swaziland and neighboring countries in search of a decent education. Later, in my early twenties, I traveled to the USA to further my education. If I think about what got me here, it’s mostly trial and error. I started my career looking to provide a solution to the quagmire “How do we get social justice?” At the time, I was very influenced by justice. That’s what happens when you grow up in a system that lacks justice, which is what the system in South Africa lacked. I intended to work in institutions that will make South Africa better. That was my initial goal as that was what consumed me while growing up. When I came back,

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Vivien McMenamin

Vivien McMenamin

Viv McMenamin works as a Chief Executive Officer (South Africa) at Mondi, which is a manufacturing company that specializes in containerboard, kraft paper, corrugated packaging, industrial bags extrusion coating, release liner, consumer goods packaging and more. Viv has a Master of Science degree from University of London and is based in Johannesburg, South Africa. Tell us a little bit about your childhood and growing up? I grew up in a very happy, middle-class family in South Africa. My mother died when I was young, and as the oldest child, I took responsibility for my siblings – two brothers and a sister. This shaped my leadership drive and sense of responsibility. Also, I grew up in apartheid South Africa. And even as a young person, I recognized the discrimination that existed around me and concluded it was unacceptable. I went to a boarding school where I had my first major leadership position as head of school. Later, I attended the University of Cape Town, which was a liberal campus. There, I had the opportunity to engage in the struggle against apartheid. I led an underground unit of the ANC and was also a student leader. I would say that the whole of

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Yvonne Ike

Yvonne Ike

Yvonne Ike is Managing Director and Head of Sub Saharan Africa (Ex-RSA) at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Yvonne has received many international awards including being recognized by the Queen of England as one of the top 200 business women in the UK to make a significant impact in society and in 2019 she was also recognised as one of the Top 100 Women CEOs in Africa. Tell us about your childhood and growing up? My ancestry is from Nigeria, although I was born in London, England. I have an older brother and a younger sister. When I was less than 10 years of age, I moved to Nigeria and had my secondary education there. Later, I came back to England for my university education. When I finished, I did not know what I wanted to do. So, I trained as an auditor for three years. During this period, my love for numbers and finance became apparent and this led to me joining Ernst and Young. Eventually, I decided to join the banking sector; I got my first job at Lehman Brothers, from there, I moved to JPMorgan. After working there for 15 years, I moved to Bank of America where

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