The adage of the Wisdom of Solomon having absolutely nothing to the age of Methuselah was proven recently when 10-year-old Jemimah Ochole engaged in a thought-provoking conversation with two renowned African leaders. In the frank but impassioned interview organized by the World Bank, Jemimah endearingly engaged the Africa and Liberia’s first female president Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, as well as World Bank Vice President for Western and Central Africa, Ousmane Diagana, on how support can be channeled to some girls in Africa and around the world that face many challenges so that they can go to school, dream big, succeed and be happy.
Kicking off the interview, Jemimah boldly asked Madam Sirleaf what her dream or ambition was when she was young; and whether, as Africa’s first female president, she was ever scared to be president of Liberia. “What would be your advice to girls like me to overcome our fears?” Jemimah queried.
“When I was your age, I did not think I would be president. I hadn’t planned for it. I thought I would be a teacher or mother. But it didn’t take me long, when I got into a classroom to start to be very active, to take positions. It was easy on that road, that I achieved one step after another. After today, we will be looking to see when my next interview is. And you will find yourself wanting to open the paths for your success and for your leadership,” Madam Sirleaf responded.
Regarding the question about whether she feared becoming president of Liberia, said Ellen: “As a young girl as you are now, I think I spoke up every now and then in class, just like you’re doing, to get opportunities like you, to talk to others. I got way past my fear, so I was able then to take the leadership of the country, which provided me with the opportunities to be able to do things for girls like you.
“Know that you can do it. Reach out to others. Nobody can be successful all alone. Reach out to friends; have those who you like, who support you, and those who you support, as you carry on yourself”.
When it came to World Bank Vice President Ousmane Diagana, Jemima wanted to know what was the dream of Mr. Diagana; and how as a well-positioned African influencer, with the clout and position of a global leader, he could help to support women and girls in Africa and around the world.
“As a young boy, my dream was really to be a teacher because I had always been selective of how a teacher can help a young man or a young girl. First, you have to believe in yourself that the sky should be the limit. From a humble beginning, today I am the Vice President of the World Bank, so it’s not impossible,” Dagana stated emphatically.
With regards to using his station in life to promote girls achieve their dream, the WB Vice President disclosed that because he comes from a humble background in which the women in his life served as role models for his quest for education, he believes in the training of everybody, most especially girls.
“My mother had never been schooled. I am a product of a sister who was the first in my family to go to school. And, when I saw my mother so proud of the achievements of my big sister, therefore, myself and those in my generation have started to be inspired from those specific training activities, to benefit everybody, but in particular for girls.