Fast receding is the usual boast about acquisitions – cars, houses and bank account among celebrities and some corporate bodies in Africa! The new yardstick for success has become – “How many lives have you impacted positively with your fame and fortune?”

With the unveiling of her Corporate Responsibility Social Africa Award-CORSAA, Amaka Jane Anakwe, a Nigerian and an upcoming artiste who finally returned home about a couple of years ago from South Africa where she had lived and worked for several years as a local counselor, is setting the tone for the trend which she believes will help develop Africa and influence standard of living.

In this interview, Amaka, a graduate of Journalism from the Midrand Graduate Institute in Johannesburg, talks about her brainchild- CORSAA, whose first edition comes up in September 2013. Enjoy!

We already have a myriad of award organisers in the country; how is CORSAA different?

One of the things that make it different is the selection of judges. Our judges will not be from Nigeria only, but from across Africa. Their names cannot be revealed now but I could vouch on their integrity. If I must promote social responsibility, it simply has to be solidly on merit. This is going to be a noble and prestigious award, and not the type that can be bought with money because I know the dream I have for CORSAA.

What inspired this award?
CORSAA is more of a calling. As a child, I always prayed to be able to use my face to improve the lives of people in future.  So, when the need for this nature of award was stirred up in me, I immediately took up the challenge. Really, I love to help, and everyone who knows me could attest to that. I attended a beauty pageant last year and one of the questions thrown at the contestants was: “What is corporate social responsibility?” I was shocked that most of them could not come up with cogent answers! That was the day I knew I had to do something. If you’re going to represent a country and you don’t  know what you can use your position to achieve, I think there’s a problem.

Amaka Anakwe

Fame is not all about being popular; God blesses with fame so we can use our influence to impact lives. I’m going to award producers as well who have produced movies that have changed lives or attracted international bodies to look into a certain matter. For crying out loud, movie production shouldn’t be all about love and sex! Corporate
bodies are also included because I believe they have a huge role to play in the development of this country. It’s sad sometimes when you go to some big organisations and right in front of their office is a messy road full of pot-holes and stagnant water! They claim the road is a state road or federal road, but that’s not an excuse! Whether the road is a government or state road does not matter because if they make the move to help, government would come in.

How relevant is this award to Africa?
When you look around Africa, you see the irony of life! The rich are getting richer while the poor get poorer; that seems to be the norm. Everyone cannot be rich at the same time, but at least, we can let the wealth circulate reasonably. We need to start learning to help; we could even start with our own neighbours.

Apart from trying to encourage service amongst Africans, how are you taking the lead?
Part of the proceeds from this award will go to a selected African country chosen from a draw. That is, we’ll write down the names of participating African countries, put them in a box, and any country picked will get the proceeds. We’ll either embark on a new project in that country or buy into an existing one.

Could this concept of yours be the saviour African has always yearned for?
CORSAA is not a magical solution to Africa’s problems; it’s just a move to be part of the collective hands in promoting and developing Africa the right way. What Africa needs are people with generous hearts, and an ardent desire to rescue the poor from abject poverty. Africa needs people who can subdue the prevailing greed and selfishness we see all around the continent.

Let us talk about your early years.
I  grew up in about four states, including Enugu and Anambra, thereby attending several primary schools. I first lived with my parents who were always relocating because of my father’s job, and then with my older sister who was a teacher. The frequent change in schools however did not affect my performance because I always emerged between first and fourth positions. I loved sport while growing up, and as a matter of fact, I was a tomboy.

For how long have you been in South-Africa?
I’ve been in South Africa since 2004. I’ve since then worked as a Local Counselor for expatriates with a company, Enterprises Group.


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