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Several years ago, we could say that there was a huge career gap between the genders all over the world. More women were involved in caregiving roles, family functions, and specific jobs which were considered suitable for women (because of the deeply rooted feminine features, and ability to multi-task within somewhat stress-free subtleties) such as teaching, nursing, and catering. Women were regarded as the “weaker sex” as they were generally considered incapable of keeping up with roles that involved security, physical strength and might, and an all-around mental/emotional stability.

The men, on the other hand, were seen as protectors, leaders, and builder who in most cases, have things figured out. This notion was born out of a close study of natural occurrences over time and not particularly because a certain category of the individual was selected to be marginalized. A meta-analysis concluded that men prefer working with things and women prefer working with people.

In the past in developing continents like Africa and Asia, customs and traditions dictated the roles of each member of the society. For instance, in rural African communities where communal living was the structure upon which they were built, girls were groomed to be home keepers and in order to avoid distractions, they weren’t sent to school. At that time, the only medals a woman could get revolved around being responsible through marriage, being a good home keeper (which included the proper training of her girl children), and the act of submission as a wife. Short of these, she was limited in vision not because she couldn’t dream big dreams, but rather because she didn’t even know what to dream about. Her society had made her short-sighted to the possibilities of career paths.

It was not the men that limited her by relegating her to the background and seizing choice jobs in exotic places. No! it was cultural norms passed down from one generation to the next. The custodians of these norms didn’t know any better. They saw a weaker sex and not the strength capable of causing socioeconomic development across nations of the world.

An article by Rebecca Onion titled “Unclaimed Treasures of Science “, reveals that as far back as the Cold War, there were already women in STEM in the developed countries. The official government line during the Cold War was: STEM careers for everyone! But as historians Margaret Rossiter and Sevan Terzian have pointed out, that push for science, technology, engineering, and math conflicted with gender norms and discriminatory institutional practices, resulting in a confusing set of mixed messages for women and girls. A book by historian Laura Micheletti Puaca titled “Searching for Scientific Womanpower: Technocratic Feminism and the Politics of National Security, 1940-1980 buttresses this point. Puaca wrote about female scientists, engineers, and educators who used innovative tactics to help women succeed in STEM, long before second-wave feminism in the late 1960s and the 1970s made issues of employment equity and stereotyping part of the national conversation.

According to the historian, World War II gave women their starting point. During the war, demands for more of what was often called “scientific manpower” and a shortage of civilian male workers prompted government and industry to start programs to train women in science and engineering. But when men returned from the service, women’s status in STEM fields worsened. The GI Bill sent a flood of male students to American universities, and opportunities—both for women who had gotten quick wartime training and for more established female scientists—dried up.

Importance of having women in STEM

It goes without saying that it has become a necessity to have more women in the STEM fields with the rush of digitalization consuming the world. The coming years will see massive changes in all sectors of the economy and nations of the world need to be prepared for this surge. Women constitute up to half of the world’s population, they are ready to be involved in developmental activities and should be put to good use. In addition, STEM-related organizations and groups must be commended for their relentless efforts towards encouraging a greater participation of women and girls in STEM fields and activities.

The way forward

Despite the successes already recorded regarding women participation in STEM activities, there is a lot of work to be done.

Mentors: There is the need for a greater support and encouragement from mentor figures. This will go a long way in women’s decisions of whether or not to continue pursuing a career in their discipline.

This may be particularly true for younger individuals who may face many obstacles early in their careers. Since these younger individuals often look to those who are more established in their discipline for help and guidance, the responsiveness and helpfulness of potential mentors are incredibly important.

Cultural Exchange: Another way to spike up the number of women in STEM is through Cultural exchanges.

It is true that some tribes and races have cultural barriers which may affect their decisions, cultural exchange programmes should be incorporated in those systems to enlighten such communities on the benefits of having women who are self-reliant.

By: Eruke Ojuederie

Examining the life of a Woman and her journey in S.T.E.M, you will find that almost everything she ever did from the stone age till date has had some elements of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, which in today’s world is referred to as S.T.E.M.

Now, when we think about S.T.E.M and related jobs, we envision Physicists, Aeronautic Engineers, Software Developers, Biotechnologist, Medical Doctors and the likes. We tend to see more men in these fields and it is only natural to assume that men have always dominated these fields. This is not completely true, women have always been in the S.T.E.M field from the beginning of time, however, their contributions have not been adequately recognized or commended. Some may argue that this lack of appreciation may have contributed to the decline in the number of girls interested in S.T.E.M fields.

In this edition, we are looking at certain factors that make up the S.T.E.M disciplines and how much women have contributed to them over the years.

Let’s take a closer look at the genesis of machinery, which we identify as “technology” today, and the invention of some household products; we would find that long before we had modern-day science to create new and easier methods of performing household chores and activities, women had always performed all these activities without the use of technology.  Women washed, cooked, cared for the daily health needs of their family, devised means to preserve foods etc.

Women changed the world through S.T.E.M in areas like:

Research: Many simple things that have been modified today for daily use, were as a result of women’s discoveries, for example, researchers from the ACI, while describing the origin of soaps, state that women found that a slippery mixture of melted animal fat (or tallow), washed down from Mount Sapo (sapo: the name from which the name soap is derived), the mountain where animals were sacrificed, made their wash much cleaner without much effort, this led to the discovery and manufacture of soap. Maybe we owe the amazing feel of clean fresh washed clothes to women.

Technology: Have you ever wondered whom to thank when you’re getting your coffeemaker ready for your first cup of the day? Melitta Bentz was a German Housewife and entrepreneur who invented the coffee filter in 1908. Bentz modified the old tedious method of coffee brewing to a new method. She received a patent for her coffee filter system in 1908 and founded a business that still exists today.

Looking further into how certain tasks were achieved in the past, you would see that there was quite a very strong influence of the women community in how things were done.

Women such as Ellen Eglin an African-American who during the 1800’s invented a clothes wringer, which started the mechanization of the uncomfortable but predominant method of hand washing. Her invention would be further modified as washing machines today.

Eglin sold her patent to a “white person interested in manufacturing the product” for $18. The buyer went on to reap considerable financial awards, while Eglin, disadvantaged in colour and gender, spent her life making a living as a housekeeper and a government clerk.

Going back to the past, and women’s’ contributions to the S.T.E.M field, let’s take a look at the subject of water purification. A scientific process, pioneered by a woman Hypatia.

Chemistry: Hypatia lived in Alexandria Egypt from 350–370 died 415 AD; she was a Hellenistic Neoplatonist philosopher, astronomer, and mathematician. She taught philosophy and astronomy and is recorded as the first female mathematician whose life is reasonably well documented. Hypatia was one of the scientific pioneers that introduced the distillation of water which has now become a common activity in every household. Easy as it now seems, it was considered a scientific exploit meant to make a substance purer than its original state. A process made possible by the contributions of a woman, and not many people have heard of her.

In tackling this issue of how much influence or participation women had in S.T.E.M in the past, it can also be viewed be from a very unconventional point of view. Take Alchemy, (defined by the urban dictionary as a form of chemistry before the periodic table, and speculative philosophy practiced in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance which was aimed at transmutation of the base metals into gold) – some called it magic.  During the time of the alchemist, women had far more reputable standing especially in the depth of their research when compared to men in the field of alchemy. Something their male colleagues did not particularly like.

A good example of such a woman is Marie le Jars de Gournay, who was not allowed to receive the same education in science as her brothers. Blessed with an inquisitive mind, she was able to teach herself Latin and later went on to edit academic manuscripts. As a fully-grown woman and with all the knowledge she had acquired, she became the first female mineralogist and mining engineer.

She later moved to Paris, where she tried her hands at alchemy and published books expressing her views on how women were very much capable of creating a career for themselves in science-related fields like men. During her practice of alchemy, in a time when people still believed in magical creatures and witchcraft. Marie who was very proud of her work ignored the advice of people who cautioned her to stay away from mining. Her bold refusal to give up her practice had her accused of witchcraft and imprisoned, she died in jail at age eighty (80). How dare she thrive in a ‘Man’s’ field, poor Marie.

Isabelle Cortese is another remarkable Alchemist who lived during the sixteenth century in Italy. She chronicled her discoveries in her book titled “The Secrets of Signora Isabella Cortese”. Among her discoveries include; practical methods of perfume production; the production of essential oils and methods of melting metals to make durable jewellery. Most of her works are still in use today.

Innovation: In the area of manufacturing, we have Margaret E. Knight, she was born February 1838, in York, Maine. Armed with only a basic education, she started as a mill worker at age 12. Witnessing an accident at the mill, where a worker was stabbed by a steel-tipped shuttle from a loom, Knight was prompted to invent a safety device for the loom – Her first invention. A device which was later adopted by other mills in Manchester. Several years later, Knight moved to Springfield, Massachusetts, where she was hired by the Columbia Paper Bag Company; here she invented a machine that folds and glues paper to form the flat-bottomed brown paper bags familiar to shoppers today.

While Knight was still working to perfect the processing machinery, Charles F Annan, a would-be-inventor of dubious morality, tried to bully her out of her hard work, stealing her design, and patenting the device. Knight filed a successful patent interference lawsuit and in 1871, and she was awarded the patent. Before her death, Knight held over 20 patents and a decoration by Queen Victoria.  At the time of her death in 1914, an obituary described her as a “Woman Edison” A name which many people will come to remember her by. Somewhat dispiriting, to think that she needed a reference to male inventor for the value of her work to be understood?

Katharine Burr Blodgett is another remarkable woman, an American physicist, and chemist known for her work on surface chemistry. Blodgett contributed important research to military needs. Her work in chemistry resulted in her most influential invention: non-reflective glass. Her non-reflective glass is today, an essential for eyeglasses, car windshields, and computer screens. She was a pioneer in several respects, but how many know about her?

The list of women that have made remarkable contributions to various branches of S.T.E.M remain unending, however, the questions remain “What happened?”, “Where did it all change?”. Women had always been in the S.T.E.M field, what held them back to create the gap?

We can see that there was quite a large number of women who were genuinely interested in this field of study, but over time the number began to dwindle. Taking into consideration, the environmental, societal and mental factors that have come into play between then and now, we can begin to understand why women and girls are slowly losing interest in the S.T.E.M. community.

Some of the reasons include: They were not encouraged; they were held back by pressures; their efforts were sabotaged, and they are oftentimes not acknowledged for their contributions.

The most common is lack of Encouragement. Most cultures in the world have given a high level of dominance to the male-folks when it comes to studying S.T.E.M related courses. It is no new issue that some countries see the place of the woman solely in a domestic light. Little wonder girls who study in all girl’s schools tend to be more interested in the S.T.E.M field, and oftentimes outperform their co-ed counterparts. Psychologists found they have less discouragement and little or no negative comparison which their co-ed counterparts are regularly faced with.

What do we do?

Create an “I Can Do It” Atmosphere. In order to excite the minds young girls into studying S.T.E.M related courses, they need to be exposed to the right atmosphere. Vanessa Vakharia who runs The Math Guru science and math studio noted that one of the reasons for the low number of girls in science, is simple; many girls have come to believe that they do not have what it takes to be in S.T.E.M. She advises that incorporating a more psychological and critical means of approach would benefit the girls, especially while they are still trying to figure out who they are.  

Mentors and Role Models for Girls in S.T.E.M. The place of role models cannot be overemphasized when it comes to the girl child development, this cuts across all areas, education, workforce etc. Increasing access to S.T.E.M Mentors (women who have excelled in these fields) for the young girls, would go a long way toward building their self-confidence. Interaction with S.T.E.M mentors would serve as a confidence booster, and as a driving force towards achieving their goals.

Condition their minds. It’s quite common knowledge parents and guardians play an important role in preparing their children psychologically towards their career path. They can do this in various ways; for instance, introducing a variety of television programs that can help them identify what their kids are interested in – e.g. kids may show interest in S.T.E.M inclined programs like Doc McStuffins or Dexter’s Laboratory, which gives you an idea of where best to channel their energy

Other areas include; S.T.E.M inclined books, toys, fun activities like visiting the aquarium; that way you will awaken the marine biologist in them. You can also encourage your girls to participate in their school’s science exhibitions e.t.c.

While early school years can contribute to developing an interest in S.T.E.M in girls, parents can also work towards encouraging their kids with the littlest things in their surroundings. A little nudge once in a while can help create that enthusiasm to study.

S.T.E.M is a very broad and interesting study area and having more women interested in it will definitely be better for the world.

As parents, we find often find ourselves in a situation where we have to put our feet down and completely disagree with our teenage wards. It could be due to their late-night habits, rude retorts or simply avoiding daily chores. Have you ever wondered what your teenage daughter would choose if she was presented with the options to stay with you, or be emancipated?

Ariel Winter, an American actress and voice actress, popularly known for her role as Alex Dunphy in the comedy series Modern Family, earned her legal right to emancipation at 17, in 2015. As stories of her emancipation due to a complicated and somewhat strained relationship with her mother swarmed the media, it was sure to give mothers a great cause for concern.

Teenagers had a new weapon, they could threaten to file for emancipation and get away with mischief; Many parents wondered if they were getting it right with their teens; What I’m I doing wrong? I wish she would talk to me and not a stranger; some thought their daughter would choose to be emancipated if presented with that option.

In this article, Lauren Paige Kennedy Journalist and author of Keeping Mum: On Mothers & Mortality, tries to allay the fears of these mums with tips on 10 Things to Say to Your Teenage Daughter Who Wants to Be Emancipated. She writes:

We moms can’t help but recognize the all-but-universal dynamic between freedom-chasing teenagers and harried parents. Generations consistently clash over the obvious and mostly mundane: broken curfews, obnoxious boyfriends, snarky attitudes and that hidden stash of weed beneath the bed.

Still, you know what they say: God made teenagers so mothers would want to cut the apron strings – joke. Here’s how to answer your darling high school senior when she threatens to walk. (Try to restrain yourself from telling her to run.)

  1. You realize you’ll be doing your own laundry now, right? No more Mom to help sort, wash, dry and fold. So there, welcome to running out of clean underwear. Get used to it.

– Make her understand walking away means taking absolute responsibility for her wellbeing and giving up all that she is dependent on you for. Mummy cannot be all that bad, and chances are, she doesn’t have Ariel’s unlimited resources.

  1. Bills are not boys with the full name ‘William’. Guess what sweetie; those totally chic open-toed boots you love? The ones we remortgaged the house for? How ’bout those oversized nerd glasses that come in cherry red? Yeah. Guess what; they cost money. A credit card statement arrives each month. And someone’s got to pay it. That someone is now you.

– Now this may sound a bit exaggerated, Lauren is simply saying, refer her to the bills. Money does not fall from trees, it is earned.

  1. Just because you can write a check does not mean you can write a check. Yes, you do have hundreds of blank checks! No, this is not the same thing as having money in the bank!

– So, she thinks she has an unlimited supply of blank checks, she needs to know the money is drawn from someone income, and those blank checks ae sure cease when she becomes emancipated.

  1. Who will you scream at when I’m not around? Do I really need to elaborate on this one?

– Mum’s may sometimes seem like a neurotic bunch who just love to get on their nerves, but truth be told? They will miss you if they left.

  1. No, you can’t take the car. See No. 4. Ditto.

– They do borrow your car, jewelry and Gucci purse, let them know they can’t do that when they are gone. You are an adult, get yours.

  1. Sorry, I’ve got nothing in my wallet. Your allowance days are over, kid. You’re an emancipated adult now, remember? This means you must do every necessary task for yourself—for free.

– Again, let her know they days of extras from mum’s pocket are over.

  1. Does this mean I can finally turn your room into an office? I hate to say it, but I’ve been eyeing your corner bedroom for years now. The western exposure in the afternoons is to die for!

– Throw that in her face, you have other use for that corner room.

  1. The contents of the refrigerator cannot go with you. Oh! Wait. I take that back. You can have the Frescas.
  2. If you honestly believe managing Forever 21 at the mall is a better career move than going to college, by all means, suit yourself. I know. You’re almost 18. Almost old enough to vote, and certainly old enough to have a say in your own future. Yes, those amazing discounts you’ll soon get on lacy cami rompers and southwestern-style jumpsuits will help your bottom line, for sure. And it’s true, parking is free at the Galleria. I think you might soon grow bored earning minimum wage and eating Cinnabon every day for lunch, but what do I know? I’m only 30 years older than you, and your mother.

– This is very important, direction is the word; remind her who she wants to be, right now, she probably thinks being free of you would make her happy, paint a mental picture and ensure she understands it.

  1. Oh! Wait! You weren’t serious, were you? Sweetheart, don’t go. I only have a year or so of you before you really walk away and toward adulthood. And even when you roll your eyes at me and sigh heavily in my direction, please know this: You’re my favorite teenager in the world. And that’s really saying something because you’re 17 right now.

– Finally, do not forget to remind her, that you love her, and even when you do not agree, she is special and will always be. Let her understand that discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment.

Lauren passes the message in a rather snacky way, but I bet the message is clear. “There are no shortcuts to any place worth going” – Helen Keller

What better way to show someone that something is achievable than to point them in the direction of someone who actually did? Not just anyone but someone with a similar background as their own.

Despite the efforts of the women’s movement across the globe women are still largely marginalized in terms of their participation in political, economic and social processes that affect them the most. The 21st-century woman has found her voice yet the percentage of women having a powerful role in different sectors is not reflective of her efforts. She is still not paid enough and there are still sectors she is nervous to approach and this is partly because she has believed that certain goals are not possible to achieve.  At the same time venturing into a certain profession with no real guidance, no known success stories, no knowledge of what is required to succeed and no real motivation is a challenge for many young women. This is where role models such as Michelle Obama come in yet one of the biggest obstacles young women face is their absence.

What is a role model? A sociologist Robert K. Merton was the one who coined the term to describe the ways that people model sets of behaviours they admire in others. A role model is a person whose behaviour, example, or success can be emulated by others, especially younger people.

So why should women have female role models?  Research has led to the conclusion that women benefit more from same-gender role models as compared to men. These are the people whom young women use to define their own identities, gauge their own potential and whose behaviour they will emulate. Let’s explore this idea in greater detail.

Confidence. It often feels intimidating to venture into new territory that no one (you know) has ventured before. It is easier to believe in the possibility of positive change if it happens to someone who had circumstances that are similar to your own. Female role models are important because they instill confidence in young women. Evidence has shown that exposure to female role models may be an effective way to induce more women to major in male-dominated fields. Accomplishments of women such as Barbara Askins – (an American chemist, known for her invention of a method to enhance underexposed photographic negatives, an invention used by NASA and the medical industry) in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) have instilled confidence in young women that they can successfully venture into the same field. A woman needs to see confidence, leadership, and accomplishment in other women in order to envision herself ad finally attain those qualities from these powerful, positive role models (Meier 2018). Jenny Willott; a British Member of Parliament was quoted by the Chartered Management Institute (2014) saying: “Role models encourage women to believe in their own abilities – from girls at school making decisions about their future, to young women starting their careers wondering how far they can get.” Hence female role models are important because they instill confidence in young women in that they quench the need these women have to see people like themselves succeeding in similar fields.

Inspiration through the provision of practical knowledge. “It is achievable. It is not too late for me.” This and similar positive outlooks are born from the inspiration that comes with female role models for young women. Hope is what keeps us alive. It is what drives us and determines our goals, plans subsequently our actions. Female role models such as Oprah Winfrey who rose above major hardships to become very influential are giving young women hope for a better future in different sectors. In the Lockwood and Kunda’s research (2006) demonstrated that an important part of the value of role models is that they are symbols of possibility and offering inspiration. Without female figures such as Serena Williams in the field of sports to look up to, girls miss out on the encouragement, inspiration, and exhilaration that can come from looking up to, and cheering for, a sports idol. (Huggins and Randell 2007) Examples of success stories provide young women with more easily imaginable visions of the success experienced by the role models hence in their minds it becomes attainable and replicable.

Learning from experiences. Female role models also provide the methodology towards success. Their experiences can answer the “How did you get there?” question. Young women can draw a lot of lessons through hearing how their role models came to face challenges and found the right solutions. These are the women who have successfully navigated the career these young women eventually hope to achieve. Looking at role models such as Thai Lee – the Korean American billionaire businesswoman, and president of SHI International, one can learn a lot from her life story and deduce lessons as to how she found herself at the top.

Enforce a positive view of women. Female role models are important in the changing of societal perceptions of women. With the birth of influential female role models, there has been a favourable shift in the societal perception of the role of women, which has led to increased participation in the formal labour employment and other economic activities. Female role models have often been the catalysts that challenge gender stereotypes. For example, through their achievements, elite female athletes dispel the misconception that sport is not biologically or socially appropriate for females. When more and more women are seen in the top of organizations and running high growth technology businesses, the more this will be regarded as the standard and a perfectly normal, and logical, path to choose.

Work beyond inspiring. Michelle Obama kick-started health, education, and other programs as soon as she got into the white house. This is but one of the examples of how female role models have been directly having a positive influence on the fight against poverty, exploitation, and oppression through their advocacy efforts. Nowadays most female role models advocate for opportunities for girls and other women.

Promotion of Ethical Leadership. Recently there has been a focus on the creation of ethical young leaders as part of developmental efforts with special attention being given to efforts in encouraging ethnic leadership in young women. Female role models are commonly expected to behave in an ethically extraordinary manner. It is often assumed that SRMs must be moral exemplars worthy of emulation.

Increased participation of women. Ultimately female role models lead to increased participation of young women. It is argued that ‘The use of high-profile female sports ambassadors and role models can [also] be effective in promoting female participation. More visible women as decision-makers as well as displayed female leadership skills may motivate women and girls, thus increasing female participation at all levels in sport (UN 2007).

Not all role models have a positive influence. Unfortunately, however, the term role model does not always entail positive influence. Young women encounter both positive and negative role models. Success does not necessarily translate into being a role model. Young women are then faced with a task to evaluate virtues, values, and expectations when looking at potential role models. 

The importance of female role models indeed cannot be undervalued. Female role models are important in the context of achieving gender equality and generally in the context of positive social change in society. In the end, there is nothing more powerful than the impact of a woman’s effort to uplift another.

By Karen Whitney Maturure
Harare, Zimbabwe

I recently visited Accra, Ghana in West Africa. I live in Lusaka, Zambia which is a landlocked country in Southern Africa, so I was excited about my first ever visit to West Africa.

Being a foodie, I was excited to taste different foods and experience the different cultures and I was not disappointed.

Zambia being landlocked, did not really take part in the spice trade with the Arabs and Europeans and most tribes were nomadic in nature as they were running away from various wars around Africa and finally settled in Zambia so our local foods do not have many additional spices. Others would argue that our local food is so full of natural flavours that there is no need to add spices to the food. So, with that in mind, my palate was a bit taken aback by the generous amounts of pepe (chilli) in every meal that I ate. I literally had to have a bottle of water next to me at mealtimes.

First night in Accra, we were hosted by Sierra Leone Chef Binta who specializes in Nubian Fulani cuisine and is known for her ‘dine on a mat’ food experience.  What I love most about African cuisine are the stories that go with each dish and how our ancestors came up with the different recipes and decided what is edible and what isn’t.  The Fulani tribe in west Africa are nomads so of course, each dish had lots of stories to keep us entertained throughout the dinner. As an African, experiencing a different African culture, it was interesting to see how we are so similar in our cultures but yet so different. 

Our first course was Kuti (which is fried cassava balls) with a chilli powder. For our main dish, we had Maffe Tigga (which is lamb cooked in peanut sauce with rice, sweet potatoes, okra and garden eggs). In Zambia, garden eggs are a large part of our local cuisine and referred to as Impwa. We usually serve it mixed with other green leafy vegetables with nshima (which is like fufu, banku or kenke but made from pounded maize meal or cassava) and a protein dish to complete the meal.   For dessert, we had millet in sour milk. What amazes me is the fact that most ingredients used in the meal we ate are all readily available in Zambia, but we would never cook up recipes like that in our local cuisine.

Our host, Chef Binta, told us the stories surrounding the food we ate, and how according to Fulani tradition, you can only eat with your right hand.  For the main dish, all the food is dished out into one big plate and everyone eats together.  You have to eat the food with your right hand while holding the plate with your left hand. As with most African traditions, elders get to eat most of the meat and it is very bad manners to leave unfinished food on the plate. Everything must be eaten.  I am glad our host didn’t take offense when we didn’t finish the food, as we were all still shocked with the generous portions of Jollof rice we had been served at lunch at a popular restaurant in Accra.

After such a delicious meal, I will be sure to go out and buy ingredients to share these exciting new west African recipes with my friends back in Lusaka. My favourite food on this trip has definitely been fried plantain – something else that I will introduce to my Zambian friends. After a lot of research on the fried plantain, I discovered that it is a favourite dish in most parts of the world like north and south America, the Caribbean and parts of Europe. Great to know that African cuisine has made its way across the world. In Zambia, our climate is similar to West Africa but the plantain doesn’t grow as big. Let’s see how we could make some Zambian fusion cuisine with West African influences.

I got to try out Ghanaian jollof rice, fufu, okra soup, banku and a local drink that became my favourite – bissa or sobolo (made from hibiscus and ginger). It is really tasty and nutritious and will definitely make its way onto the African Sunsets Restaurant menu.

With all the wonderful west African food I got to try, I was glad I also got to showcase some Zambian cuisine at the indigenous TV show launch.  Indigenous is a TV show about African cuisine and the effects of westernization and climate change which begins to air in Ghana. It’s made interesting by the interactions with the different chefs from across Africa and the recipes they share.

On the Zambian food menu, we had:

Vinkubala- (which is our local caterpillars sometimes referred to as Mopani worms in other Southern African countries). This is a Zambian delicacy, and can be eaten as a snack or served with nshima and vegetables.

Chikanda – which tastes and looks like meat and is affectionately referred to as African polony. It is made from the chikanda plant, which is a tuber which is washed and dried and pounded into powder form. It is then cooked together with pounded groundnuts and is on the fire until it is hard. It is left to cool and cut up into pieces to be served as a snack. It is perfect for vegetarians who still want to feel like they are eating meat. I still wonder what on earth our ancestors were doing when they discovered chikanda mixed with groundnuts made a delicious snack!

I also served Lumanda in peanut sauce or visashi as we call it in our local language.  Lumanda is actually a weed that grows wild in most parts of Zambia and can be cooked in vegetable oil or peanut sauce.  Most of the west African dishes can easily be made in any part of Africa as ingredients are so readily available across the continent.  I think we need more of these cultural and food exchanges within different African countries just to showcase how diverse and at the same time similar, we actually are. If we are ever going to get our indigenous food out into the world and recognized as potential five-star cuisine, we need to band together to market our food and culture.

My trip to Accra was fun, delicious and exciting.  I met some wonderful people and the ocean air was just what this girl from a landlocked country needed. Learning about the history of the Ghanaians and seeing how entrepreneurial they are even in their packaging and exporting of black soap and shea butter, gave me inspiration on how we all as Africans need to export our local food and culture around the world.

 

By Abigail Mbuzi
Mastercook Zambia

 

 

 

“Too many people spend money they have not earned, to buy things they don’t want, to impress people that they don’t like”.  This wise saying by Will Rogers kept resounding in my subconscious as I walked towards the grade 1 class of Deepens Elementary school to teach the pupils on this very important but neglected topic “Financial Management”. 

It is not wrong to say that one of the challenges people face nowadays is the inability to secure resources for pressing future demands and needs, and the source of this problem can be traced to improper financial management. In a society where being in debt has become a norm and an unavoidable means for survival, the importance of educating the upcoming generation about financial management cannot be overemphasized. Children who have learnt how to navigate the world of debt and credit will grow into adults who have more money for savings, which can help them pay for large expenses without relying on credit, and they can set aside money for retirement accounts.

Most times Parents find it easier and more comfortable to talk to their little kids about Time Management, keeping the right company, Table etiquettes and so on but they often don’t see the need to talk about financial management. Since the kids are young and do not earn a living, they consider talking about Financial Management as a topic for when they are grown into adulthood – but adulthood creeps in fast; because they tend to forget that financial management is not a skill that is built overnight, but a habit that is cultivated through constant practice.  

As parents, one of the great ways to lay the foundation of a strong financial background for your kids is starting right on time to teach them about financial management.  Kids can only become money smart when they have the right coaching.  Since Money has become one of the vital yet scarce resources on earth, a smart parent must make effort to produce money smart kids who can keep them rest assured that this scarce resource will be used optimally. Here are some tips:

Give them an allowance. In order to teach your kids financial management, you should be willing to give them an allowance.  You might decide to give money every week to the youngest children, at two-week intervals for preteens and monthly for teenagers. Gradually spreading out the timing will help your children understand the need to manage their spending. Since they know they have to spread a small number of resources around their countless wants; they will have to learn how to prioritize their wants and sieve out the needs from the countless list of wants. Giving allowance to your child gives her a chance to control her own money; also remind her that she would not receive any other cash until the next allowance date.

Make use of Piggy Banks. A piggy bank is a money box where people save money for a certain period of time until they are ready for use. Introducing your kids to a piggy bank is another easy way to teach them financial management. Piggy banks can help your children imbibe a habit of saving money for bigger projects. You can help your kids increase the money in their piggy banks by insisting they save something out of every money they get as gifts or allowance.

Children love to be rewarded for their good works, while building in your kids a lifestyle of proper financial management, tell them that although the goal is to fill up the piggy bank with dollars and coins, until there is no room, but the main intention is to use the money to purchase the gift they have long desired. 

Teach them to earn a little extra. Another great way to raise money-smart kids is by teaching your children how to earn a little extra.  This goes a long way to prove to kids that money is not just plucked on trees but it is earned through timely smart work. You probably expect your kids to clean their room, help with the dishes and do other daily chores but consider offering them a financial reward for going the extra mile to take on other jobs that go beyond their normal routine.

Getting paid for extra work will help instill good habits and give children more control over saving and spending since they realize how hard they had to work for the money. This will also help them build the habit of going the extra mile when assigned a task since they know each extra mile attracts a cash reward.

Help them understand the true value of money. In order to raise money-smart kids, you must help your children understand that the impact and the true value of money is recognized when it is used to help others. A great way to raise money-smart kids is by letting kids know that the money they get is not just for them alone but that is also needed to help other lives. This will motivate them to save more since a part of their money will also be used to assist the less privileged children around them.

You raise money-smart kids when you help your children earmark part of their allowance to donations for the less privilege.

Mirror a Proper Financial Management Lifestyle. Children see their parents as their first models if you do not showcase the right financial management skills; your children will definitely follow suit. If kids see you spending wisely, they’ll be more likely to follow your example. As a parent, when you stick to a budget during shopping it becomes easier to train your teenager to stick to a budget while spending her allowance.

While educating your child on financial management, you must not forget that children learn by example. Have your own jar of money that you put funds in regularly and let your kids know that you practice what you preach, this means you must save also. Reiterate the message that every time you get paid, you save a portion of your check to help prepare for the future. Let your kids know that you have priorities which you save for and that this includes their education. They should know about why and how you are saving for their college education. 

As parents, you should be willing to let your children know when you have a financial crisis. This is not to frighten them or to be used as an excuse to deny them of their basic needs, but it should show a sought of financial openness to your children. Let them know that money does have a constant flow always. You must help your kids realize that most times “mum does not get all her needs met as planned”.  Let them understand that there are days you squeeze through scarce resources in order to meet vital needs in the home.  This will teach them how to use their little resources to meet their endless needs and also how to forgo some wants for other needs to be met.

In Conclusion, teaching kids to save money will not be an easy task; of course, it demands discipline not just from the child but also from you as a parent but the benefit and comfort enjoyed from exhibiting proper financial management skills are limitless. In this modern society, it is not difficult to see adults who are poor money managers who find it difficult and stressful to make vital financial decisions. This often happens because they did not learn at the right time, how to be proper financial managers. Some parents try to avoid money conversations with their kids; this is very wrong. Parents need to realize that money conversations from childhood help children grow into adults that have a healthy relationship with money and therefore face little or no financial crisis.

By
Eloke-Young Splendor

 

 

Chamonix is a vibrant, edgy town known as both a world-class ski resort and a mountaineering destination. Situated in the Haute-Savoie region of eastern France, Chamonix is bordered by Switzerland and Italy and dominated by the incredible Aiguilles de Chamonix mountain chain which peaks at the top of Mont Blanc (4810m).

With these vast, jagged mountains towering over the town, the scenery is arguably the most spectacular in the French Alps. The snow-capped peaks soar into the bright blue sky, ancient glaciers sweep down towards the valley floor and waterfalls cascade through pine-covered hillsides. Old rustic farmhouses and barns can be found in the Alpine meadows, whilst new luxury chalets stake claim to the best locations on the valley floor. Take in the views from Chamonix itself or ride the cable car up to the top of the Aiguille du Midi peak at 3842 metres. Pretty mountain huts only accessible by foot are hidden along the mountain trails providing welcome refreshment stops for hikers and often offer the best views around. The natural beauty of this valley is the main draw for those who love the outdoors whether you be a skier, a mountaineer, a hiker or a sightseer. There is a real international feel to the place, not just from tourists, but from individuals and families who have decided to settle here from all over the world. Come and find out why!

Skiing in Chamonix

Chamonix is most famous as a ski destination. It has five separate ski areas spread above the 20km of valley floor that provide terrain for skiers of all levels, from beginner to advanced. The skiing is often talked about as ‘challenging’, this is because 70% of the pistes are classified as red or black as they tend to be long and steep descents.

However, each of the ski areas has nursery slopes and blue pistes that will keep beginners happy for their week’s holiday. The high altitude of the skiing (most pistes are over 2000m) means that snow is assured through to the end of April. In addition, there is an incredible amount of off-piste and ski touring terrain that draws experienced skiers and snowboarders from all around the world.

Sights & Attractions in Chamonix

The main attraction that brings tourists to this picturesque town is Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in Western Europe at 4810m.

Visitors either come to reach the summit themselves, view it from the station at the top of the Aiguille du Midi cable car (3842m) which also enjoys spectacular views of the Mont Blanc range, or take it in from the valley floor. At the top of the Aiguille du Midi, you’ll find “Step into the Void”, one of Chamonix’s most recently added attractions. You literally step into a glass-sided box with views of Mont Blanc to your left and a 1000 metre drop under your feet.

Another hugely popular place to visit is the Mer de Glace glacier (the “Sea of ice”) which is accessed by the Montenvers train. From the top, you can descend to an ice cave excavated into the glacier via a cable car and a series of walkways and steps. Markers along the rock walls on the descent show you just how much the glacier has retreated in recent years.

You can also take the Tramway du Mont Blanc from Les Houches down into the neighbouring town of St Gervais and back again up to the Nid d’Aigle (2372m). Many mountaineers use this as the start of their access to routes up Mont Blanc but it’s even more popular with hikers and sightseers in the summer months.

Events in Chamonix

Chamonix hosts a wide range of sporting events throughout the year. The biggest ones include the Freeride World Tour in January where you can see pro skiers and snowboarders making extreme tracks down the mountain, the various Mont Blanc Marathons in June, the World Climbing Festival in July and the UTMB trail running race in August.

It’s not all about sport though, Chamonix also has a strong music tradition. The lively Fete de la Music takes place on 21st June every year where dancing in the streets until the small hours is standard – even if it rains. The Cosmo Jazz Festival at the end of sunny July has venues in different mountain locations as well as the town centre (all concerts are free) and Black Crow’s ski and music event, Chamonix Unlimited, takes place in March.

Things to Do in Chamonix

Many visitors come to Chamonix simply to admire the scenery. Nevertheless, a big draw is to take part in one of the many adventure sports that are available, or even one of the many sports endurance races/events organized each year. The resort is open and busy all year round, including the lifts, which makes Chamonix a fairly unique destination in the French Alps. Apart from the big draw of alpine sports, the area has a number of more leisurely pursuits, including forested trails, adventure playgrounds for kids, shopping & markets, and a number of spa facilities where you can enjoy a well-earned rest at the end of an activity-packed day. There’s so much to do here you’ll have to read our guide, as a summary introduction just can’t cover it!

Restaurants in Chamonix

Chamonix is a town inhabited by and visited by a large international community and its cuisine reflects that. As well as the much-loved fondue, raclette and traditional French restaurants, you’ll also find Indian, Scandinavian, Chinese and fusion cuisine on offer. There are plenty of restaurants in Chamonix, most on the valley floor, but also a good selection at altitude which you can access by the ski or summer lifts. Many of these mountain restaurants offer spectacular views of the surrounding mountains.

Nightlife in Chamonix

The Chamonix valley offers visitors a range of nightlife from live bands, boisterous après ski parties and nightclubs to more sedate jazz nights, the occasional music festival and film nights. In the centre of Chamonix, you’ll find the broadest selection of things to do, with each of the villages along the length of the valley offering their own unique selection of nightlife.

Where to Stay in Chamonix

There is a vast selection of accommodation, covering all budgets from hostels to luxury chalets. There are very few ski-in and ski-out properties because of the low altitude of the valley in comparison to the high-altitude skiing but you can find some in Les Houches, Chamonix and Le Tour. Many hotels and apartment rentals have a flexible approach to holiday bookings so you don’t need to be tied to a traditional Saturday to Saturday, seven-day holiday.

Chamonix is more than just a ski resort, it’s the beating heart of the valley. This is the place to stay if you are looking for the biggest selection of accommodation, shops, restaurants and nightlife. There are two lift stations in the town, the Aiguille du Midi cable car (for views and the off-piste ski route La Vallee Blanche) and the Brevent gondola (for sunny skiing suitable for all abilities).

Argentiere & Les Praz

The smaller, more traditionally Alpine villages of Les Praz and Argentiere lie further up the valley. Les Praz is served by the Flegere cable car, taking you to a beautiful ski area suitable for all abilities. It’s also where you will find the golf course. Argentiere is a lovely village with a good selection of accommodation, bars and restaurants and is right next to the Grands Montets ski area. This is where to come if you want challenging skiing as it’s renowned for its steepness and long descents. It’s also north facing, and so holds on to the best snow all the way through to May.

Les Houches

Les Houches is a larger village just below Chamonix with its own ski area. It’s a pretty town and the ski area is a favourite with families thanks to its mix of pistes and kid’s play areas. Chalet holidays are popular here, with many companies offering minibus services so you can also explore the rest of Chamonix’s skiing area.

Servoz, Les Bossons, Les Tines and Montroc are quieter hamlets, dotted along the valley, where you will need to take a bus/train or drive to the slopes.

Where is Chamonix?

Chamonix is situated in the French Alps, at the foot of the Mont Blanc. The resort is nestled up against the border of Italy and Switzerland, giving access to three countries (sometimes within the same day!).

It takes a little over an hour to get here from the nearest airport at Geneva, making it a popular destination for quick weekends away and short trips. Its location and accessibility to neighbouring countries make it a great destination for people touring through Europe in summer as well as to ski the varied terrain in winter. A 15-minute drive through the Mont Blanc Tunnel will take you to Italy, and the Swiss border is a 30-minute drive if you continue on up the valley.

So, if you are planning a trip this holiday, you should consider Chamonix.