It happened eight years ago when Winston Garyzon Hannibal Jackson, known on stage as ‘Skoolboy Wizzy’, saw a blister on his left foot. Then, he didn’t know it was Gouwa, an ‘African sign’ that swells the leg and causes a burning sensation from the inside. He landed in a sick bush for a year. Sadly, this caused him to miss out on travelling to the United States for the first time.A few days after noticing the blister, his leg had swollen so bad that he listened to advice and sought the help of a ‘country doctor’ to work on his leg.Still in the 12th grade at that time (2008-2009), Wizzy had no other option but to drop out of school for about six months seeking treatment in the sick bush.“This was unbearable for me,” Skoolboy Wizzy said. “I could not believe it at first that my close friend could do this to me; and up until now I still wonder why he had to hate me so much.”As God would have it, after Cavalry Chapel Mission School in Rehab community, where he attended, learned of his condition, Skoolboy Wizzy was able to graduate with his classmates at the end of the 2009 school year.“When my school accepted me, I was relieved and was able to sit the national exam and make a successful pass. Even though the situation was bad, God never let me down,” Wizzy noted.When they learned of his condition, his parents sent for him to join them in the United States for better treatment. Excited about his impending trip, Skoolboy shared his joys with some close friends. Unfortunately, the blister reappeared and he landed in the ‘sick bush’ again in early February 2010.Advised by the ‘country doctor’ not to tell anyone about his upcoming trip, Wizzy finally left for the US on March 8, 2010.In the US the leg healed without any western medicine. After registering for school, Wizzy played with Junior Leone Star FC in Delaware for a few years before matriculating to Deltech College in Wilmington, Delaware.Beset with recurring leg injuries, he decided to try his hand at music, which gave him relief during difficult times.“Because of difficult moments and continued injuries, I was forced to drop out of school and started working. In 2013, I decided to use my music talents, which I discovered when I was back home in Liberia to express my feelings. But I found it difficult knowing not where to begin. It was when I met Hip-Co Artists RawPekin and Tru Storry, they encouraged me to keep working hard,” Wizzy recalled.After a long while working with RawPekin and Tru Storry, he was able to release his first single “My Life” on September 18, 2014. The song is about the things he had to go through from childhood to adulthood.From “My Life” to his popular hit single, “EMOJI,” which put him on par with other Liberian stars based in the US, Skoolboy Wizzy on hoping to continue making waves in the Liberian music scene worldwide. “When the song was released and went viral, I said to myself that ‘the time has come for you become a true star.’ From that moment until now, I have always been in the circle of top Liberian stars in the states,” said Skoolboy Wizzy with a smile.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
The smart red and blue Rea Vaya buses line up at their specially built stations. (Image: Rea Vaya) MEDIA CONTACTS • Megan CameronBRT Marketing and Communications+27 11 870 4602 or +27 83 441 6747RELATED ARTICLES• SA ready for Rea Vaya• Rea Vaya gathering speed• Gautrain rolling along smoothly• Cape Town’s new bus system• All aboard the Tshwane ExpressJanine ErasmusThe fuel-efficient Rea Vaya bus rapid transit (BRT) system, launched in Johannesburg on 30 August 2009, is set to change the lives of South African commuters while doing its bit for a greener environment.Although the media focus has been largely on the ruffled feathers and strident protests of the minibus taxi industry, which fears major job losses, the benefits of Rea Vaya (seSotho, meaning “we are going”) far outweigh the perceived drawbacks.Rea Vaya is part of Johannesburg’s Integrated Transport Plan, an initiative to raise the standard of the city’s public transport to fall in line with the global standard.The system is a first not only for the country, but also for the Southern African region. Meanwhile, Cape Town, Tshwane and Port Elizabeth are implementing their own BRT systems.With the 2010 Fifa World Cup mere months away, the four cities, which all host a number of games, are ensuring that visitors will be able to get around quickly and easily.Green transportNot only will South African commuters now have a choice of transport to work, but the effects on the environment are not to be underestimated.In the short term the benefits include efficient and accessible service, affordable fares and easier traffic conditions. Medium term benefits include job creation and enhanced social interaction for those who up till now have had no way of getting around, and in the long term Rea Vaya will contribute to economic development as well as reduced pollution and a better quality of life.All of these factors add up to the development of a world-class public transport system.Described by the City of Johannesburg as the largest individual climate-change initiative ever undertaken by city management, Rea Vaya’s buses have efficient engines that run on low-sulphur fuel and emit less nitrous oxide and particulate matter, one of the primary causes of air pollution.According to Rea Vaya, if just 15% of people who would normally use their cars to get into the city switch to BRT, this will save a massive 382 940 tons of carbon dioxide emissions by 2010, and an incredible 1.6-million tons a decade later.And hard-pressed Johannesburg drivers will feel the relief in the form of less traffic congestion.Speaking at a public transport summit held in August 2009, Johannesburg’s executive mayor Amos Masondo said that 47% of commuters travelled by public transport. This figure is further broken down into 72% travelling by minibus taxi, 14% by train, and 9% by bus.Advanced vehiclesRea Vaya is to be rolled out in three stages. Phase 1A, spanning 25.5km, is currently underway and is expected to be complete at the beginning of 2010. There are 40 smart red and blue buses currently operating but by completion of the initial phase, all 143 will be on the roads.The 86km phase 1B will follow later in 2010, and the phase is expected to be fully complete by 2013. This will see the route wind through 150 stations along 122km of trunk, or main, roads.The trunk routes feature the largest buses, articulated and able to carry 112 passengers each. These vehicles will travel only in the dedicated bus lanes and will stop at the Rea Vaya stations.Complementary buses have a capacity of up to 75 passengers and will be able to pick up passengers not only from Rea Vaya stations, but also from bus stops on the pavement.The feeder buses, with a capacity of 32 passengers, will bring commuters to the trunk routes from outlying areas. All buses are wheelchair-friendly.With the system running between 5am and midnight, passengers will be able to catch a bus every three minutes in peak times and every 10 minutes during off-peak periods.For those worried about the infamous tardiness of buses the world over, it may help to know Rea Vaya has an on-board global positioning system that will keep vehicles to a tight schedule by monitoring the exact position of a bus and advising the driver to slow down or speed up where necessary.Smooth runningThe initial service runs just over 25km, from Lakeview station in Soweto, to Ellis Park station in the city. Tickets cost between R3 and R8 a trip.Latest reports show that the system is running smoothly despite taxi demonstrations and the occasional teething problem. Rea Vaya is carrying an average of 8 000 passengers per day, after an initial surge of almost 17 000 passengers on day one, as a result of a taxi strike.Ultimately it is envisioned that taxi operators will make up the bulk of the planned bus operating company that will own and manage Rea Vaya.And the commuter will come out tops, as the notoriously dangerous and unreliable taxi sector and other public transport operators will have to raise their game to compete with the new system and woo their customers with good service rather than complacency in knowing passengers lack an alternative.Integrated transportRea Vaya is designed to blend with other forms of transport, such as the Gautrain rapid rail system. Combined bus stations and taxi ranks will facilitate passenger transfers between the two.Gautrain is currently in an advanced state of construction, with stations and viaduct construction well under way. The rapid rail system has also not been without its controversy, notably because of its high construction cost and probable targeting of middle class passengers, but many agree that the benefits outweigh the disadvantages.Gautrain is expected to bring economic growth to the province through job creation, less traffic congestion and stress, and a reduction in costs of road accidents and the accompanying loss of productivity.It will also bring added convenience and reliability for commuters, as well as a far lower carbon footprint than the thousands of vehicles that jostle for position on the overburdened freeways between Johannesburg and Pretoria every day. The expected saving in carbon emissions is around 70 000 tons per year.The first Gautrain section expected for completion is the route between OR Tambo International Airport and the Sandton station, north of Johannesburg. According to the latest progress report, construction all along this route is going well. All eleven bridges are nearing completion, while work on the three viaducts is essentially complete.Ample choiceWith Metrorail’s Tshwane Business express – a service launched between Johannesburg and Pretoria in May 2008 and now running a second train – the Gautrain, the BRT, Metrobus, and taxis, commuters will have ample choice in their modes of transport.Johannesburg’s RideSmart campaign is also up and running – this is an initiative that encourages people to share rides. Drivers or passengers enter their names into a database and are automatically matched by the programme with others in their area.A further initiative that will ultimately ease traffic congestion is the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project, which is upgrading and widening the province’s network of freeways, and introducing an electronic toll-collection system.Do you have queries or comments about this article? Contact Janine Erasmus at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Konza City is one of the largest infrastructure projects planned in Africa. When complete, it will be a major technology hub. (Image: KOTDA)• Miriam RahediManager, Branding, Marketing & CommunicationsKonza Technopolis Development Authority (KOTDA)+254 20 434 email@example.com Sulaiman PhilipIn Nigeria it’s the Wennovation Hub; Cape Town has CodeBridge, and Zambia BongoHive. Across Africa, from these centres to the ICT Incubator in Mauritius, the continent is alive with tech entrepreneurs.In Nairobi coders and entrepreneurs find one another at the iHub. In Ghana, Mobile Webs’s 300 techies have driven the growth in region-specific apps and technology, showing that Africa’s tech industry has grown quickly and organically; now African governments are looking to harness that success to spur diversity and growth in their economies.Over the next few years two new cities will emerge. Both – one in Ghana and the other in Kenya – are the vision of a new Africa made real.Ghana will spend $10-billion of private and public money over the next three years to build Hope City. Once completed it will provide employment for 50 000, have housing for 25 000, and facilities geared towards encouraging the growth of Ghana’s blossoming IT sector.Designed around a complex of six towers, which will be built to resemble Ghana’s traditional compound housing, the tallest will be a 75-storey, 270m-high colossus, the highest building in Africa. Once completed Hope City will be the largest tech assembly plant in the world, able to manufacture a million products a day.Hope City in Ghana will be home to the tallest building in Africa, once it is completed. (Image: OBR Architects) Africa’s ‘Silicon Savannahs’Roland Agambire, CEO of Ghanaian tech company RLG Communications, has been tapped to run the project. He believes that the lack of research and manufacturing infrastructure is holding back Africa’s ability to diversify its economies and tap into the high-tech boom that is coming to the continent. As he told CNN, “The inspiration behind Hope City is to have an iconic ICT park where ICT players from all over the world can converge to design, fabricate and export software and everything arising from this country.”Over the next 20 years Kenya will spend $14.5-billion to build Africa’s Silicon Savanah 60km from Nairobi. The construction is part of Kenya’s $25-billion infrastructure re-building programme. Money will be spent to improve Kenya’s commuter rail system, increase investment in green energy, and build a world-class sports academy. And it is Konza, with its hoped-for 200 000 jobs, that is the most significant project.The architects envision a network of roads sweeping out from a CBD through residential neighbourhoods, a science park and two tech hubs. Green space will run along the seasonal rivers, and schools and a university, hotels and places of worship will all grow out of the 20km² open savannah.Water pipelines are being laid to supply the 100 million litres a day Phase 1 – predicted to be completed by 2017 – will need. Construction on a new rail link connecting Konza to Mombasa and the port of Malaba has also begun.The Konza Technopolis Development Authority aims to attract software developers, data centres, call centres and light assembly manufacturing industries to the Silicon Savanah. Konza will be a game changer for the ICT sector in Africa, President Mwai Kibaki believes. “We expect to spur massive trade and investment as well as create thousands of employment opportunities for young Kenyans in the ICT sector.” Diversifying African economies through ICTA recent Africa Progress Panel report highlighted the importance of diversifying African economies. The authors argued that governments needed to embrace new technology to help diversify and improve their financial systems. They went on to argue that continued foreign investment was dependent on a skilled labour market and acceptance of new technologies.World Bank economist Hinh Dinh believes that now is the time for projects like Hope City and Konza, large infrastructure projects that show the world that Africa is indeed open for business. “If African countries miss this opportunity, it will take decades to catch up with the rest of the world.”There have been advances and successes in African IT. The face of mobile banking has been changed by M-Pesa. Rwanda is hoping that its investment in digital technology will speed its transition from an agrarian economy to a service one.John Ngumi runs the Konza project and believes steadfastly that the project will create between20 000 and 30 000 jobs by the time the first phase is completed in 2017 and a total of 200 000 by 2030. He believes that Konza will create jobs outside the IT industry as the city evolves to completion.But not everyone is convinced that this top-down idea to build the African IT industry will work. Including local communities for sustainabilityAlex Mukaru is a Nairobi-based IT entrepreneur who argued, to CNN, that the government has both overlooked the challenges of starting a business and misjudged the ability of the sector to create jobs on a large scale. “Getting everything you need to help you compose your project into a working unit is a challenge. You find that you lack the money or resources to move to the next level.”His concerns are grounded as Konza and Hope City have run into problems with local communities.Kenya had to introduce bylaws (recently rescinded) restricting informal settlements to outside a10km exclusion zone and the Hope City site has had to be moved after the developers squabbled with local leaders, who claimed they had angered the ancestors.Professor Vanessa Watson of UCT’s African Centre for Cities writes that cities like Hope and Konza threaten the well-being of the urban poor and, as is happening already, help to mobilise against them.Governments, Watson warns, want to re-imagine African cities as sub-Saharan Dubais or Shanghais without considering the conditions in most African cities. Looking to build legacies politicians disregard the fact that most of the population that will be displaced are extremely poor and living in informal settlements and that those left behind are excluded from the benefits of new developments.“Draped in the rhetoric of ‘smart cities’ and ‘eco-cities’, these plans promise to modernise African cities and turn them into gateways for international investors and showpieces for ambitious politicians. They disregard conditions of urban populations living in deep poverty and with minimal urban services, and could indeed make the situation worse.”Social engineering through grand purpose-designed cities are nothing new. Among the most legendary is the Le Corbusier-designed city of Chandigarh in northern India. Intended to replace Lahore – lost to Pakistan after partition in 1947 – as Punjab’s provincial capital, Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru wanted to set a marker. Chandigarh was going to represent India’s emergence into a brave new world, free of the yoke of Britain’s colonial rule.The crowning achievement of the Swiss architect’s career, the only city he custom-designed (right down to the manhole covers, door handles and furniture) and built, was meant to be a living experiment, the encapsulation of his theories on urban planning.Its boulevards were designed to accommodate a growing number of cars and its wide open plazas meant as a gathering place for citizens. Designed to house 300 000 people it is now home to a million. It is considered safe, with job opportunities in abundance and lively cultural and educational sectors.Chandigarh is a success not because it was custom-designed, but in spite of this. The administration quarter, the reason for the city’s existence, is surrounded by machine gun nests and barbed wire – because of its proximity to the border with Pakistan and the disputed Kashmir region. The Capitol complex is slowly returning to the forest while the rest of the city is thriving. Chandigarh’s administration centre has been allowed to decay. The pools around the Capitol are dry most of the year. (Image: Dave Morris)The citizens of Chandigarh appropriated their city and made it more blue collar than bureaucratic. Today Konza and Hope City are still jigsaws of trenches encircled by fences. In Konza the water infrastructure is being completed and just the borders of Hope City has been marked out of the bush. It is a long way away before any citizens of these silicon savannahs get to make their cities over in their own image.