In April 2023, as I embarked on a flight to Nairobi for the Pledge for Change meeting hosted by Adeso as a representative of the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI) and the Reimagining INGO (RINGO) initiative, a profound realisation dawned on me. At 35,000 feet above the African continent, I experienced an epiphany often referred to as an “aha moment.” It was a nagging question that stirred within me, why is there such a glaring lack of platforms for African development practitioners to authentically share their stories and perspectives?
This was no mere idle pondering, it was a clarion call, a consistent reminder of a glaring need in our global discourse. As I dug deeper into this issue, it became increasingly evident that an extraordinary opportunity awaited me, an opportunity to merge my innate conversational skills with my deepest passions and interests. The answer was clear and transformative, I should create a podcast.
The concept was beautifully simple yet carried the potential for profound impact. A podcast could be the canvas where I, alongside diverse voices, could engage in thought-provoking conversations, capturing untold stories and experiences that had remained hidden for far too long. The necessity for such a platform was undeniable, and the name that reflected this vision, “Alternative Convos,” emerged organically. In the realm of international development discourse, where the quest for “alternatives” was an enduring theme, it perfectly characterised the essence of our mission, engaging, thought-provoking, and unforgettable.
With this vision firmly in mind, I contacted my colleague, Fiifi Boateng, who serves as the Communication Officer at WACSI. Fiifi offered invaluable insights and creative support in shaping the direction of the podcast. Our mutual conviction in the profound impact of storytelling, particularly in reshaping the discourse surrounding international development, served as the driving inspiration for his contributions and substantial assistance.
To initiate this podcasting experience, I chose to work with what was readily available, my smartphone. With this unassuming tool, I ventured, seeking quiet spaces and willing participants eager to share their experiences. Thus, the Alternative Convos Podcast was born.
This journey has been an extraordinary wellspring of empowerment and enlightenment. It stands as a testament to the urgent need for platforms that amplify marginalised voices. Our podcast is an ongoing exploration of dynamic dialogues that transcend boundaries, fostering unity and understanding. At its core, our mission revolves around the transformation of Africa, and by extension, the world. We are resolutely committed to providing a platform for passionate activists, seasoned practitioners, and innovative thinkers to share their perspectives on the critical issues shaping our collective global journey.
But why is this so crucial? The need to reshape international development discourse is apparent. Our world is a complex mosaic of cultures, experiences, and challenges, yet for too long, the narratives have been dominated by a select few. The impact of this exclusionary discourse has been far-reaching. It has perpetuated a narrow understanding of development, leading to policies and strategies that often miss the mark.
Here is where the Alternative Convos Podcast steps in. It is not just a platform; it is a movement. Our podcast is a medium for voices that have been sidelined to take center stage. It is a catalyst for change, driven by the conviction that a more inclusive and authentic dialogue can usher in transformative solutions to the world’s most pressing problems.
Our journey’s profound impact comes to life through these real-life examples:
In one memorable episode, we showcased Taye Balogun, a Pan-Africanist creative and storyteller. Taye seamlessly bridges the creative industry with the development sector in Africa. Taye is also the Festival Director of the NGO International Film Festival. His experiences and insights illuminate the vast potential of harnessing culture and creativity as potent tools for sustainable development.
In another compelling instance, we had the honor of hosting Chernor Bah, Sierra Leone’s Minister of Information and Civic Education. He shared his involvement with Purposeful, a feminist hub dedicated to girls’ activism. Chernor’s episode dug deep into the urgent matter of decolonising international aid and challenging the dominant mindsets that shape it. This thought-provoking conversation triggered introspection and motivated change makers to reconsider their strategies and viewpoints.
Further enriching our journey was our discussion with Zindaba Hanzala, a social entrepreneur from Zambia. She shed light on her efforts to support small and medium-sized farmers through innovative Agro financing and Agro insurance services via her Social Enterprise, Mulimi’s Farmers Scheme. Zindaba’s journey unveiled inventive solutions to tackle the intricate challenges related to food security and agricultural sustainability.
In addition to these remarkable voices, we had the privilege of engaging with a diverse array of activists, practitioners, and innovators. These individuals include Mutemi Wa Kiama, Hardi Yakubu, Deo Ochieng, Dr. Nana Efa Attafua aka Adwoa Bekoe, Makmid Kamara, Melissa Juisi Simo, Anthonette Quayee, Chamrid Kpadonou, Christian Elongue, Robert White among others.
Access the podcast via Spotify: https://lnkd.in/gy4rC4Xu
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Access the podcast via Google: https://lnkd.in/disQANmz
As our journey continues, we extend a warm invitation for you to join us on the Alternative Convos Podcast. It is more than just a podcast; it serves as a lifeline for authentic voices that the world urgently needs to hear. It is a clarion call to reshape the discourse surrounding international development, amplify voices that have long been marginalised, and spark transformative change. Together, let us explore alternative perspectives, broaden the scope of our conversations, and pave the way for a more inclusive and impactful global development narrative.
Charles Kojo Vandyck is a dynamic development practitioner and thought leader who is who is driving transformative change within civil society. He is a founding member of the International Consortium on Closing Civic Space (iCon). He is the Head of the Capacity Development Unit at the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI) and hold several positions such as Trustee of INTRAC and an Advisory Board Member of Disrupt Development among others.