ONE WOMAN, WIELDING A GAME AGAINST THE MINDSETS OF AFRICAN YOUTHS

 “Africa is such a cool place! But name me a computer game that is set here with positive messages of Africa… I want youngsters to be able to relate to how great their continent is through the games they play.”…Anne Githuku-Shongwe.

Women helping women is becoming a fast-growing trend and more women are rising to this motion. But this is not just about women, this is about women and the whole youth in Africa. This is what Anne-Githukwu Shongwe stands for.

Anne Githuku-Shongwe, the founder of Afroes Games is a gem who loves to develop businesses owned by women while also helping them improve their leadership capacity.

Anne Githuku-Shongwe is the Representative of the UN Women South Africa Multi-Country Office (SAMCO) which handles women empowerment and gender equality in South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland and Namibia.  She founded Afroes Games, which has produced many award-winning games with the goal of providing employment for African Youths. Years back, she flourished as a social entrepreneur, thought leader and digital innovator. 

Her successful career bags an Executive Certificate of Social Entrepreneurship from the Harvard Kennedy School for Masters in International Development from the University of Cape Town, a Postgraduate Certificate in Management Development from the American University, Washington, DC, and others. She is a grand juror and board member of the Worlds Summit Awards for the UN Information Society. She is also a board member of I WILL GIVE and CHESTRAD International. 

The mission of Afroes

Her foundation, “Afroes”, has received a lot of awards in recent years and still continues to make a huge name for itself. To maintain Africa’s heritage in a world of budding technologies, she created Afroes. Afroes was made to bring about the awareness of social issues and the creation of new skills.

Anne Githukwu through Afroes developed two mobile games in 2009, namely Champ Chase and Teka Champs. Both games were made to celebrate and teach Africans.

Her dreams and actions seemed like pure madness

What would you think if your friend suddenly leaves her well-paying job to go and make games because her son was interacting and learning from a game known as “Civilization”, all in the name of shaping the mindset of African youths? Crazy right? But she did it! And no, she was not tech-savvy. She learnt it and landed a grant. She left her thirteen-year-old career at the United Nations Development Program to start up something entirely different. My friendsThought I had lost my mind, one even bet me $1,000 I would come back to the UN within six months. I need hardly tell you how that motivated me to succeed!” Now that’s tenacity in its full glory. She could see something that others could not. You could relate this with hallucination, when one is hallucinating, people call it madness, and they likened her to a madwoman. They couldn’t see the rising mobile market she was looking at in Africa, nor could they see the minds that needed her service. She dived into this market with all her uniqueness and style. She represented her continent through and through. Her wild dreams and madness birthed a great foundation, “Afroes”.

She was pushed to this madness because she had to end poverty by any means possible. After working in the UN and coming up close with various poverty cases and the general belief that one has to leave Africa before one makes it, she decided to employ the youths who were thinking of leaving, she intended to help them produce some of the best games Africa will use and relate to. One would think she will be driven to make crazy profits, but she makes her products cheap and affordable so that children of any class can afford them.

Anne Githuku Shongwe aimed to produce games that will teach youth, social cohesion, governance and entrepreneurial skills.

Something that seems like pure madness must have a great level of difficulty, which is why it is tagged so and Anne Githuku Shongwe got to meet some of these challenges head-on. Running a non-profit agenda which is a commercial operation is quite the feat, but she said “I can’t resign myself to the “easy” option… being an entrepreneur can be a very solitary journey and I am so looking forward to being among business specialists and other women who have travelled the same path”.

Why must it be Afrocentric?

After watching her daughter argue with another child about their role models being Western figures she worried about how African Children do not get exposed to African content and only grew to admire the Western world. This thought brought about the creation of games that relate to African heritage and culture. Even the name Afroes, was derived from “African Heroes”. It had to be centred around Africa so it can “inspire the conversations and actions of youth across Africa with a message of possibility and pride” 

One of the games Afroes developed is MORABA, it poses questions that make the player aware of gender-based violence and aims to mould the user’s view of sexual relations and violence.

With African-centred games, African youths can be educated and their mindsets can be reshaped.

The advocacy she is undertaking

Just as women are helping women, women are also advocating for women. Anne Githuku-Shongwe is strongly against Gender-based Violence and she advocates against it. In a campaign, she stated that “For society to realize a generation free of violence, we have to establish a norm that does not tolerate violence but rather seeks to ensure that everyone recognizes it as a criminal offence and our collective responsibility to create a society where all women and girls feel safe. As South Africa did to end apartheid, community action to every street, ward and district is what is necessary to build zero tolerance to violence.” 

This great woman is a teacher, hungry to teach the youths how they can make better use of their time, brain, thoughts and minds. One woman against the whole African Youths with just a game to back her up. Women are daring, strong, and ambitious. The girl child’s dream should be nurtured not trampled so that more Anne Will come to make a change. Change can start from one place. Never forget the cliché, “Little drops of water make a mighty ocean”.

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