By: Godfrey Lloyd Randall
The United Nations General Assembly resolution 68/237 proclaimed 2015 to 2024 as the International decade for people of African descent. As a result, the Most Influential People of African Descent (MIPAD) was set up to identify high achievers of African descent in the public and private sector from all around the world to build a network of relevant actors to foster recognition, justice and development of Africa both in the continent and diaspora.
I was nominated in the media and culture category for under- 40s for 2020. I was nominated alongside prominent names, such as Burna Boy (Nigerian singer), Leo Santana (Brazilian singer), Renan De Souza (CNN Brazil) etc. It was a privilege and honor to be in such elite company considering some of the previous honorees of MIPAD include stellar names like Trevoh Noah (South Africa, 2017), Usain Bolt (Jamaican, 2017), Lewis Hamilton (UK, 2017), Chimamanda Adichie (Nigeria, 2017), Chadwick Boseman (USA, 2018), Naomi Osako (Japan, 2019).
I am a Sierra Leonean currently working as a TV presenter in China. I am also a documentary maker, actor, published author, show host and motivational speaker. In my life’s journey to date, I have been fortunate to star as Mike Tyson’s stunt double in the movie “China Salesman’, host and script edit a documentary in Russia (in the run up to the Football World Cup in 2018), served as an anchor for both the Football World Cup 2018 and FIBA Basketball World Cup in 2019, do a documentary on the 30th anniversary of the collapse of the Berlin Wall in Germany, win best speech at an African speech contest held in Beijing in 2016 (featuring over 30 other contestants), host a covid-19 sensitization show targeting Africa and always proud to be an ambassador for my native Sierra Leone and the African continent wherever I go.
It is based on some of these accomplishments that I was nominated for MIPAD 2020. I was also chosen as one of the co-host for the awards ceremony that was held virtually. This year’s event was dubbed ‘Recognition week’ and it ran from October 2nd to the 5th. It was an amazing experience.
There were multiple events, workshops and courses held daily. I was thrilled to be surrounded by people of African Descent from all over the globe – ranging from Costa Rica, Brazil, Iran, Colombia, the UK, Canada, USA, Kenya, Nigeria, to China. Many renowned individuals joined in the discourse, centered on uplifting and elevating people of African descent. It was a humbling and fulfilling experience.
During the award ceremony on day 3 of recognition week that I co-hosted, we were joined by Michele Bachelet (United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and former Chilean President), Johnita Due (Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, CNN), Teresa Clarke (Former General Manager of Goldman Sachs and now CEO of Africa.com), Kojo Annan (son of the late Kofi Annan), Dakore Akande (Nigerian Actress) and many other reputable individuals.
With so much going on in the world and considering the upheavals we face as people of African descent, it was comforting to many like-minded individuals determined to make a difference and change the narrative. I had already garnered a wealth of knowledge before the final icing on the cake- being recognized as one of the most influential people of African Descent in the class of 2020.
Coming from a humble background in Freetown, Sierra Leone and looking back on my life’s trajectory, I was a bit overwhelmed when it was officially confirmed. I have survived a decade long brutal civil war and untold hardship in my homeland, dealt with the rigors of being a black man on foreign soil (the racism, the apprehension, the uncertainty, sometimes the fear is palpable) and here I am, getting some recognition for persevering and wanting to make a difference. It is an experience I will never forget. I will like to thank the CEO of MIPAD Kamil Olufowobi, the entire MIPAD organization, my fellow honorees, my co-host Priscilla, my family and the people who nominated and continue to support me. I am proud as a Sierra Leonean to be amongst such esteemed company. This is just the beginning and impetus I need as I strive to do more to advance the visions of MIPAD and become a beacon of hope for aspiring MIPADANS.