Everything about the experience was amazing and so different from life in England. The best parts for me were teaching and spending time with the children as it was very rewarding. Travelling at the weekend was amazing as I was able to see such things as waterfalls, national parks and tame crocodiles.
One thing that intrigued me was that it seemed that 99% of all music videos submitted, seemed to come straight from Jamaica, such is the passion of Ugandans brought up on dancehall music. With full patois accents and dancehall dance moves, it was like judging a Caribbean set of acts, as opposed to African. It reminded me of the early UK urban music scene.
Of course, no one is saying that battles for same-sex marriage shouldn't be fought in the West and victories celebrated. It would be nice though, that as we toast the successes at home, we don't forget that the struggle for equality, rights and dignity continues elsewhere, and that it is not a struggle that is apart from our own.
Just over 12 months ago 'Styled By Africa' was still in its scribble stage. A time when myself and my best friend Alae Ismail were frantically scribbling brainstorms on bits of paper in university libraries between lectures, on the tube, even hiding in cupboards in our part time jobs to discuss our idea over the phone. A year later, and it has grown into a fully-fledged website highlighting creative businesses from Africa...
U.S. President Barack Obama recently made a long-anticipated return to Africa, a continent rich in natural resources and containing a strategic cluster of emerging markets. The unstated but primary aim of his recent trip to Tanzania, Senegal and South Africa was the containment of China's economic influence in the region.
Last Friday, Women for Women International opened its landmark Women's Opportunity Centre in Kayonza district, Rwanda. The WOC will serve as a centre of excellence and innovation supporting women's economic and social development in the region through training, employment, and business opportunities.
Madagascar has many different faces. There's the wealth of biodiversity and endemic species such as the famous lemurs, but then there is also the extreme poverty and political instability. Before I arrived on my volunteering placement, I didn't really know what to expect; I'd never been out of Europe before so everything was a new experience.
Only 4% of women in Tanzania work in formal employment and only 5% have access to financing from banks, leaving them with fewer resources to invest in their businesses. These challenges stem from a number of gaps where women tend to be left behind in East Africa, such as insufficient business management skills, marketing know-how, networks and access to capital. Often women are pushed into running a business as a last resort rather than making the choice themselves. There are huge demands placed on women in East Africa in particular and yet they are offered little support.
"I wanted to save lives not put them at risk." That's what a former female genital cutter told me during a visit to Kenya this week, as she explained why she downed her tools and instead became a birth attendant. I believe this woman should be celebrated for taking such a brave stance against the centuries-old tradition of female genital mutilation. And she's not alone.
Africa's wildlife is what sets the continent apart from the rest of the world. It is their best resource. With many areas tormented by political dispute, poverty and an on-going battle with the demon that is HIV, it seems that the people of Africa need to realise the significance of what remains. So why is it then that they can so easily be seen as passive in its destruction?
Africa's time is now but its full potential can only be unleashed by those brave enough to forge true partnerships. As economies stumble and fail around the world, the continent is the chief source of hope for global growth but the world's most powerful leaders are ignoring the truth. China's rise is slowing.