YALI Links

Official Mandela Washington Fellows website


YALI Reno experience video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WkWbu6He_Rk 

Meet the 2015 Reno YALI Fellowshttp://www.unr.edu/nnic/programs/mandela-washington-fellows/meet-the-2015-fellows 

Why Not Reno?

Chris Sacca interview on entrepreneurship and life https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_jwzgvZ88_U

Be true to yourself

Ignite Talks - https://www.irex.org/resources/mandela-washington-fellowship-ignite-talks

Dipo Adesida on Ethics (unconventional perspective, powerful message)

·        https://www.irex.org/resources/mandela-washington-fellowship-ignite-talks

Grace Jerry

·        Official Tribute - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M-N8ibkOnmI

·        Rehearsal - Yes we Can https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YhQq1U3kfE8

Summit Dance (coming soon)

Facebook #YALI2015 https://www.facebook.com/hashtag/yali2015?source=feed_text&story_id=10153071418965418

Africans Don’t Live in Trees Anymore



After the frenzy of being selected as a Mandela Washington Fellow simmered, I re-read my posting letter again and again.

I had been posted the the University of Nevada-Reno and the terms of acceptance were clear - it was non-transferable.


I knew Las Vegas was in Nevada and that fact gave me a twisted kind of ecstasy but Reno held nothing in sight; it painted no picture, it offered no promise.

Speaking to other Fellows who had been posted to universities in Texas, New York, Illinois, California and other 'popular' states seemed to confer on me the status of a poorer cousin and checking Reno out on google didn't produce any better results. At best, I saw casinos and the 'biggest little city in the world' sign across Virginia Street but that was all.

As my departure date approached, I couldn't help thinking about spending 6 weeks in Reno, a gambling desert with a big little signage across the street.


So, after 22 hours, spread between flying and waiting for connecting flights, I finally arrived in Reno, into the warm embrace of Irin Mannan Carina A Black Dave Croasdell and the rest of the team who would be become my lifelong friends. They were the ambassadors of Reno in flesh and blood and started to give everything I'd tried to read on google a deeper dimension.

Then the Mandela Washington Fellows started to trickle in, 25 powerful world changers from 17 different African countries and we all had the same inquisitive grin hanging over our heads.


Like an onion, shedding its aromatic essence, layer after layer, we plunged into Reno, Nevada and discovered a whole new world of unlisted wonders.

The University of Nevada-Reno reignited the feeling of returning to school for further education. Then start up row with an assemblage of small businesses, collaborative work spaces, maker spaces, mining tours, Art Town, mentorship platforms, Entrepreneurs Assembly, Incubators and Accelerator programs, parks, ranches, game reserves, lakes, boat rides, hiking, mountain climbing, tubing, horse riding, intellectual exchanges, great conversations, home hosts, wild horses, sage brush and so much more.

It's amazing that everything I found on google was nothing compared to the reality on ground.

Why Reno?

Reno beat my expectations.
Reno helped me form friendships and partnerships that will last a lifetime.
Reno reminded me to respect everyone, regardless.
Reno, ironically, gave me a broader view of Africa.
Reno taught me how to big things can grow out of little ideas.
Reno told me it's okay to under promise but over deliver.

Reno proved that an ebbing gambling desert city, living in the shadows of Las Vegas' constellation could bounce out of an economic recession, change it stars and become a big city where dreams step boldly out of every street corner.

If Reno can, anyone can.



Today, I took a selfie with a billionaire.
But it wasn’t his wealth that impressed me.

He had nothing on his wrist, except for a spangled fabric bracelet.
One of his left fingers held a rather self-effacing wedding band.
He wore an unbuttoned shirt with a T-shirt beneath fighting for attention.
And his cowboy boots seemed like he’d just returned from the Rodeo.
He wasn’t clean-shaven either.
He had just one mobile phone.
He had no entourage.
He seemed to be the exact antithesis of everything success was meant to look like.

Today, I took a selfie with a storyteller.
A man, brave enough to unveil his story;
A story of risk and resilience
A story of hustle and hunger for more.
A story of opportunity turned failure turned success.
A story of broke turned boom.
A story of a one-hour class that lasted for three.

Today, I took a selfie with an authentic man.
Who business decisions are guided by a simple question:
“Will I be able to sleep at night if I go ahead with this deal?”
A man at peace with himself, even though he has lost out on so many multi billion investment opportunities.
A man who sees money as a tool but integrity as a must.

Today, I take a decision with myself.
That whatever it takes to be that authentic, billionaire storyteller
I’m going to do it the right way.

#‎Ethics Ignite Talks
Mandela Washington Fellowship - University of Nevada, Reno 2015 Mandela Washington Fellows U.S. Embassy Nigeria VZ Innovention Carina A Black Dave Croasdell Irin Mannan