BY TONY KWAME ANSAH, JR
This is the eighth episode of the Ansah Podcast, a place where we have conversations with speakers, writers, entrepreneurs, thought leaders, innovators, inventors, investors, philanthropist and so forth about progressive solutions, progressive developments, and progressive innovations happening in the world, especially those involving Africa.
On June 14th, 2019, the Ansah Podcast had the great pleasure of interviewing Julius Kolawole. For those of you who don’t know him, he and his siblings were born and raised in Nigeria. Julius immigrated to the United States as an adult. He is a father as well as the President and co-founder of Africa Alliance of Rhode Island (AARI) and co-founder of Oasis International, which are both based in Providence, Rhode Island, USA.
Through AARI, Julius promotes “unity within the African Communities in Rhode Island, advocate for the rights of Africans in Rhode Island, and educate the American public about Africa, AARI supports and benefits agricultural producers, while evaluating the profile of the continent and facilitating linkages between Americans and Africans. Established formally in 2004 to provide assistance to the growing number of African immigrants and refugees settling in RI. AARI is a leading provider and community collaborator in offering, health and nutrition education, culturally- appropriate fresh crops, literacy and youth programs and facilitating access to resources that promote self- sufficiency.”
Below are excerpts of nuggets exchanged during the question and answer segment of this episode, which revolved around Julius’s personal development and growth. Read now and be inspired!
What would you do every day without expecting anything significant in return like money?
I tell people about what this country (USA) has done for me and my family. I tell people about giving back because it is not in our (African) DNA.
I’ve learned to give back. It’s been part of my life. When I had a credit union with Oasis International, that was giving back. Since I retired, everything I do or said about AARI I don’t get paid for it or my time. I raise money and do all that is required. This is my giving back. My message behind giving back are the following: freedom of association and freedom expression to be of service to the community, especially Africans in the USA. Giving back is important and I’ve learned a lot from it.
What is 1 strength you have and what is 1 weakness you have?
Well, I don’t really have any. Family is primary for me. I believe in family because when you’re successful, you have to go home. If you fail, you still have to go home. I look at that as my key pillar. I’m fond of creating work for myself. I just can’t sit still.
Do you believe in accountability?
Yes, I do. It is very important. I look at the following things: admit when you are wrong, don’t try to defend lies, and be truthful. Also, listen because in listening it doesn’t mean that you don’t have your own opinion. But listening to me is an asset. When I listen to people, sometimes I ask some questions. Then, I listen to how you are attending to the question(s). The other reason why I listen to people is everyone has a hidden talent. It is not until you hear them talk that you find out.
How do you assess or evaluate your progress?
I’m happy with myself, especially given my upbringing, my starting point and to see where I am at today. It has not been easy. The journey has not been easy. The journey continues. There’s so much work to do. It is a constant battle. I assess my progress by looking at my children. Hence, where are they and what are they doing? What’s their value system? What are their core interests? My value system allows me to measure progress.
If you had advice to give or leave behind for the youth, what would it be?
I’m going to tap into something that my dad used to tell me. When done working at the family farm, we would walk through the woods, I’m always ahead of my family. From time to time, I noticed some missing footsteps behind me, and I would stop. My father would ask: are you waiting for your messenger? Who are you waiting for? Go! I didn’t understand the meaning of it then. I spoke to my anthropologist friend about it. The interpretation they gave is don’t ever look back & always look forward. Keep on going. Take 1 step at a time.
It was great having a conversation with you. Until we speak again, stay blessed, stay strong, peace be unto you, later.
The podcast interview between the Ansah Podcast and Julius Kolawole is coming very soon.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tony K Ansah, Jr., M.P.A. is a self-published author and a social entrepreneur based in Rhode Island, U.S.A. He has written and published several books and content via poems, quotes, fiction, non-fiction, blogs and articles. Tony is also the founder and owner of Ansah Africa, a consulting and marketing startup that connects donors in the U.S.A. with nonprofits in Africa to solve global problems, which was established in 2017.
Copyright © 2019 by Tony Kwame Ansah Jr
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