1. What three words describe Yabome Gilpin-Jackson?
· vivacious, tenacious, fearless – my friends and We WIll Lead Africa co-editors said: sun, fire & steel
2. As the winner of the ‘International African Woman’ how did you feel on winning that category and tell us a bit about who you are and what you do?
- Winning the International African Woman of the Year has been an amazing endorsement of the work I have been doing. I feel blessed and validated to have been recognized in this way. I am a social scientist, focused on human and organization development. That means I work as an organizational consultant, teach/research in the field and write, both academically and for general audiences. In recent years, my research and writing has increasingly focused on issues of African leadership, identity and human/social development. Examples include that I wrote an academic paper on African Leadership: Now and for the Future, that led to the work I am now doing on the We Will Lead Africa platform and the resulting edited book volume. I wrote a book of short stories on global African identities to engage everyday audiences in issues such as Identity Interrogation that I have been researching, writing and speaking about academically. I have been researching the phenomenon of posttraumatic growth and transformation in African war survivors, motivated by my own experience and a deep knowledge that popular media and coverage does not include the transformational leadership, civic participation and contributions of African ‘immigrants and refugees’.
3. If you could change one thing about what you do to make it have a greater impact, what would it be?
- I would have started earlier to do what I am doing now…creating, looking for and participating in platforms that will drive the conversation and create action for Africa’s collective advancement at every level. I hope now to increase my impact and influence in doing so.
4. When life throws you challenges, how do you handle them?
- Like a dog with a bone! I don’t give up easily unless it becomes clear that something is not mine to do or pursue. Otherwise I pray much…and buckle down to find ways up, under, around or through the challenge.
5. How would you encourage more women to live out their dreams?
- I would say, don’t wait. Life is too short and a year goes by so quickly! I know women’s lives are generally filled with so many responsibilities it’s hard to see a way forward sometimes. Like the West African parable of Anansi the spider, we are pulled in so many directions at the same time and for me the spider’s slim waist in that parable as a result of everyone pulling is a metaphor for how women’s lives can get depleted when we don’t make time to follow our own dreams and do what fulfills us. So I’d encourage more women to put a little effort at a time towards your dreams and soon it will snowball and grow. It may take longer than you may want but I would say don’t give up and don’t wait. There’s never a good time to get started, so just do it – one day at a time.
6. Who would you say has been your inspiration and why?
- My parents and especially my mom! She is a role model in every way! She had 8 children and raised many more, while studying, working, being a diplomat’s wife, a civil servant, a researcher and a writer! She continues to write and win awards even now at age 75. There are other public figures and writers I admire but my inspiration comes first from my mom. See her website here.
7. What is the one thing you love most about Africa?
- Our love for the fullness of life, experienced in community! I haven’t experienced the vibrancy that exists in the places I’ve been on the African continent anywhere else in the world…yet. From the most rural village to the most contemporary urban city, Africans will laugh, mourn, dance, eat and drink together – experiencing life in all it’s complexities…together. I can’t wait to visit countries on the continent I have not yet been to and experience our diversity more. I have a long way to go!
8. Do you have website? Are you on Social Media?
· Twitter: @supportdevelop
· Facebook: @yabomewriter
· Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/yabome/
· Check out my talk, Where are you from?: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9dq-Hnsj08M