Dear Kakehashi Africa Member,

On behalf of Kakehashi Africa, I would like to wish you a happy Africa Day. As this year’s theme is “Healthy Lifestyle Prolongs Life,” please make sure to include some fruits in your feast 🙂

Since I believe there is a strong connection between the origin of Africa Day and the vision of Kakehashi Africa, I would like to use today as an opportunity, if I may, to reflect on our journey and share some thoughts on the way forward.

Last weekend, I had the honour of being an observer at the Japan Chapter Succession Workshop. Tanaka-san, the director in charge of the ABE Initiative at JICE, was one of the speakers. She reminded us that it was a bit more than two years ago that ABE Initiative participants approached her with the idea of Kakehashi Africa.

She shared with us that during her career at JICE she has often received proposals by the beneficiaries of Japan’s capacity building programmes for the creation of organisations of some sort. The proposals were always similar: Let’s create an alumni network through which the beneficiaries who have graduated from the programme could meet every once in a while, say hello, eat together and then return to their lives.

The proposal for Kakehashi Africa, however, was something very different for her. It was the first time that beneficiaries wanted to create something more than an alumni organisation, an organisation that goes beyond self-profit to become an autonomous and active actor in regional development and relationship-building with Japan. She was deeply impressed by the philosophy that expressly underpinned this idea and that would serve as the guiding principle for the organisation, namely that of ubuntu, “I am because you are.”

The idea of young Africans from across the continent committing in the spirit of ubuntu to selflessly hold hands to build something together to the benefit of Africa as a whole had the potential to be a game-changer for African development. It was for this reason that JICE decided to actively support the incubation of Kakehashi Africa and to this day continue to openly express its hope to JICA, MOFA, METI and other Japanese stakeholders that Kakehashi Africa will become the greatest proof that the ABE Initiative has made a significant and sustainable impact on Africa’s development.

Today, as Kakehashi Africa is moving forward under a new governance structure, I hope we can rediscover the magic that brought not only JICE but all of us to Kakehashi Africa. Because there is no doubt about it. Kakehashi Africa holds world-changing promise indeed! As I wrote in my application for the position of CEO, Kakehashi Africa has the potential not only to be the most powerful network to catalyse partnerships between Africa and Japan, but also be a leader in strengthening relationships between Africans across the continent for a more integrated and synergetic Africa. This is the potential that has made many of us excited about Kakehashi Africa. In this sense, Kakehashi Africa can make a remarkable contribution to the objectives of the African Union and should, in fact, be an object of today’s Africa Day celebrations.

That said, Kakehashi Africa still has a long journey ahead of it before becoming the organisation it can and should be. As someone who has been actively involved in the organisation since its formal inception, I am deeply aware of the many challenges that we have been facing and the frustrations that we have been causing in the ABE Initiative community. I know that many ABE Initiative participants have been sorely disappointed.

However, I would like to humbly ask you to not lose faith. Growth pains are natural for most new organisations. In our case, one could argue that we had to deal with especially difficult circumstances. We are a deeply diverse group of people, spanning an enormous geographical area, with severely limited financial resources and only our free time after our academic, vocational and/or personal responsibilities to dedicate to the organisation. It should therefore perhaps be no surprise that our organisational development and ability to respond to challenges have been slow and sometimes off the mark.

Nevertheless, in the last few months Kakehashi Africa has made significant progress. If you have not already, I would like to encourage you to look at the quarterly report of the previous interim executive management. I truly believe that our new governance structure and platforms give us a great chance to take Kakehashi Africa to the next level. As the new head of the Executive Management, I am fully committed to not only help maintain but also help boost this momentum.

Once the COO and CFO positions in the new executive management have been filled, the new team will have a workshop on creating a concept plan for the new Executive Management’s term of office. We will share this plan with all Kakehashi Africa members for your critical feedback. We will then make adjustments and present the plan to the Board of Directors for their approval. Once approved, we will officially implement the plan. After every 3 months we will report back to you and the Board of Directors on our progress. If the Board of Directors are not happy, they can remove us from office.

So please be assured, the pressure to perform is there!

However, the success of Kakehashi Africa cannot rest on any particular individual or even a small group of individuals’ shoulders. We can only be successful if the entire member base takes ownership of the organisation and consistently tend to the responsibilities that come along with that ownership. As our organisational philosophy states, I am because you are.

In the last quarterly report, we have listed 11 ways to contribute to Kakehashi Africa. Please read through them again. But I specifically would like to kindly encourage you to apply for management/committee positions as they open up on all organisational levels in the coming weeks. The more people there are who are willing to pull up their sleeves, the easier it will be for any individual to balance his/her responsibilities in Kakehashi Africa with his/her other responsibilities in life.

I also want to remind you that the applications for the COO and CFO positions will close today (May 25) at 23:59 Central African Time and tomorrow (May 26) at 06:59 Japan Standard Time. Please read here for more information.

I have used enough of your precious celebration time today. I apologise. But I am looking very much forward to working side-by-side with all of you. In the meantime, enjoy the rest of your Africa Day! Just please remember those fruit…

I love you all.

Kind regards,

Nico de Wet
Chief Executive Officer