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From West Africa To Baltimore: A Ghanaian Long Path To Education For A Hopkins Star

 

Tim Prudente
George Mwinnyaa                               © Amy Davis/Baltimore Sun/TNS George Mwinnyaa

 

The remote bushlands of West Africa are far from Johns Hopkins University, and the path was neither sure nor straight for the boy whose name meant “beloved by his ancestors.” They called him Kpimenongme Mwinnyaa.

Only now, as he prepares to graduate – having been baptized George, having earned semester after semester of straight A’s despite grades once too poor for college – does he dare believe it’s more than a dream.

George Mwinnyaa, 29, will receive a bachelor’s degree in public health with academic honors during Hopkins’ commencement Wednesday.

Mwinnyaa, who is from Ghana, says he slips on a woven African smock each morning to remember where his path began.

“If you don’t know where you come from, you will not know where you are going,” he says.

He comes from a remote village in Nandom-Guo, where a cobra bite kills fast and cholera even faster. Polygamy was the custom and his father had seven wives and 32 children. George was the youngest of them all. He was about five years old when his father died and his widowed mother was left to raise seven children. A slight woman, she held off starvation with her wits, boiling hot peppers into soup. A few spoonfuls would cause George to gulp water to ease his hunger.

Each morning he woke before sunrise to fetch water from the river and hoe the dry plot that never grew enough beans. Then he walked a path through the bush to cinder-block desks arranged beneath a shea tree, a place they called school.

He earned poor grades, C’s at best. When he led his class in the morning routine, he burned with shame from the holes in his pants; he had no underwear.

Somehow, his mother managed to pay his school fees. Monica Naaludong persuaded teachers to take him when his tuition was late. She sold her traditional beads and hand-woven cloths to afford his books. George held back his frustration when she insisted education was more important than a full belly.

“She knew that education was a way to change not only me, but my whole family’s destiny,” he said.

His grades were too poor for college, but Ghana’s health department offered to train traveling health workers. Two years later, he was riding a motorbike to rural villages, immunizing children against yellow fever and polio. He waded across rivers carrying vaccines on his head. He taught mothers breastfeeding methods and measured the heartbeats of their babies.

He earned less than $9 a day, a life-changing salary, and bought his mother the traditional cloths she once sold for his books.

In the coastal city of Esiama he met a Peace Corps worker from Alaska, and all his questions about America tumbled out. He saw a job opening online for a health worker in Haiti. What was a resume? he asked her.

“I was like, ‘He’ll never be able to save enough money for a plane ticket, but I’ll help with a resume,'” Leslie Lucas said.

When they walked along the beach, she told herself it was customary for friends to hold hands in Ghana. But they married in a local chapel in August 2012. One year later, the couple boarded an airplane and flew to America.

A surprise arrival

Dr. Henry Perry taught Hopkins students about Ghana’s health workers for nearly a decade before one showed up on his campus in Baltimore. It was spring 2016, and Perry heard of a transfer who had worked in the Ghana community health service.

“To have one of them end up coming here to our university is entirely unusual,” said Perry, a professor in the Bloomberg School of Public Health. “I don’t know if this has ever happened.”

He invited George Mwinnyaa to share his experience with a class. Later, he learned of the young man’s path.

George and Leslie Mwinnyaa had settled in the suburbs east of Reno, Nevada, where she worked as a school counselor. George walked the mile each day to Fernley Elementary School and his job as a janitor.

The admissions office at University of Nevada, Reno, turned him down. Nearby Truckee Meadows Community College requested his high school transcripts. George didn’t even have a birth certificate. He passed an exam to enter Western Nevada College and made the dean’s list.

American colleges had libraries and tutors, he discovered. Professors even held office hours. The young man who was raised without any advantages was now embracing every one.

“You have the Internet. You have light. How does somebody fail in America?” he said.

He watched college lectures on YouTube again and again, telling himself he must study twice as hard to compete. He transferred to Truckee Meadows and earned an associate’s degree in spring 2015, finishing with a 4.0 GPA. He was inducted in the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. One day he burst into the office of his biology professor with news. Johns Hopkins University offered him a scholarship. Now his path led to the nation’s premier public health program.

“That was his ultimate dream,” said Laura Briggs, his biology professor at Truckee Meadows.

She threw a farewell party for George and Leslie Mwinnyaa and guests passed around a hat to collect money for the couple’s drive to Baltimore. They left the next day with their 3-week-old son, Yiri.

George Mwinnyaa entered Hopkins in fall of 2015 and began acing classes. By spring, he was enrolled in Professor Karen Masterson’s science writing class, where she presented a live video lecture by a Dutch expert. George asked if he might address the expert on the screen.

“George gave this eloquent, smart thank-you that was about a minute long,” Masterson said. “I didn’t even think to do that and I was the professor, right?”

She went to the academic adviser for public health students, asking, “Who is George?”

By then, the adviser, Lisa Folda, had befriended the young father. She gave him the old stroller and baby gate in her basement.

“We don’t take many transfers. We definitely take a very few from community college,” she said. “To know George’s origin story and how he wound up in Reno was to know he wasn’t going to take any opportunity for granted.”

He was selected last year from more than 100 applicants around the country who applied for about 15 prestigious undergraduate scholarships from the National Institutes of Health. He will work this summer at a lab in East Baltimore, testing blood samples from South Africans with HIV.

In boyhood, George Mwinnyaa walked barefoot on a dirt path to school from a house built of mud and cow dung. On Wednesday, he will walk his shortest yet longest path of all: across Hopkins’ graduation stage.    (Baltimore Sun)

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A Car Hijacked Every 32 Minutes In South Africa |The Republican News

Top 10 most hijacked and stolen passenger vehicles
                     Top 10 most hijacked and stolen passenger vehicles

According to statistics released by the South African Police Service in March 2017, a total of 12 743 vehicles were hijacked in South Africa between April 2016 and December 2016 – that’s 14.9% more than in the 2015/16 financial year, Wheels24 has reported.

The SAPS says that 1 416 vehicles are hijacked in South Africa each month – one every 32 minutes.

Incidents reported to our control centre alone indicated that 34 vehicles were hijacked in the greater Durban area over the past 6 months, and 69 cars were stolen in the same period. National stats for the worst hijacking spots in 2016 showed that Chatsworth ranked 5th in the country with 175 incidents reported, and Pinetown was 7th on the list with 146.

These frightening statistics beg the question, which cars and car brands are the most hijacked in South Africa?

Vehicle company Ctrack released their hijacking and crime statistics from January to December 2016, detailing which passenger vehicles and SUV’s and vehicle manufacturers, are most targeted by criminals.

Businesstech compiled their findings and according the the report, the most hijacked passenger vehicle in South Africa is the Volkswagen Polo. Toyota’s Fortuner was the most hijacked SUV, making Toyota the SUV manufacturer most targeted by criminals in the country followed by Land Rover and Nissan.

Notably, this data is an almost exact mirror of the best-selling passenger vehicle in South Africa every month. The Volkswagen Polo and Polo Vivo are currently the first and second-bestselling cars with the Toyota Fortuner currently in third.

In order, the top 10 most hijacked and stolen passenger vehicles in South Africa are: Volkswagen, Toyota, Ford, Citroen, Kia, Hyundai, BMW, Audi, Renault, Chevrolet.

In order, the top 10 most hijacked and stolen SUV’s in South Africa are: Toyota, Land Rover, Nissan, Mahindra, Volkswagen, Jeep, Porsche, Renault, Ford, Daihatsu.

Most hijacked and stolen SUV's in South Africa

Sources:
Wheels24
Businesstech
Ctrack

South Africa Today – South Africa News

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17 New Mummies Found In Egypt Desert

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                     The mummies found by archeologists in Egypt

Archaeologists in Egypt have discovered 17 mummies in desert catacombs in Minya province, the antiquities ministry announced Saturday.

The mummies, yet to be dated, were the largest to be found in the area south of Cairo and may be a boost for tourism in the country.

Archaeologists found the non-royal mummies in a series of corridors after following the trail of burial shafts in the Touna-Gabal district of the central Egyptian province, the ministry said in a statement.

Along with the mummies, they found a golden sheet and two papyri in Demotic — an ancient Egyptian script — as well as a number of sarcophogi made of limestone and clay.

There were also animal and bird coffins, the ministry said.

The ministry said they belonged to the Late Period, which spanned almost 300 years up to Alexander the Great’s conquest of Egypt in 332 BC.

But a spokeswoman told AFP they could also date from the Ptolemaic Dynasty, founded by Alexander the Great’s general Ptolemy.

The discovery of the non-royal mummies is considered unprecedented because it is the first such find in the area, officials said at the site.

Egyptologist Salah al-Kholi told a news conference held near the desert site that the discovery was “the first human necropolis found in central Egypt with so many mummies”.

It could herald even more discoveries in the area, he said.

The discovery was “important, unprecedented,” Mohamed Hamza, director of excavations for Cairo University said.

The site is close to an ancient animal cemetery.

“The discovery is still at its beginning,” Antiquities Minister Khaled al-Enany told reporters.

It was the second discovery of mummies announced with much fanfare by the government in less than a month.

In April, the ministry invited reporters to the southern city of Luxor to unveil eight mummies discovered in a 3,500-year-old tomb belonging to a nobleman.

For the cash-strapped Egyptian government, the discoveries are a boon from the country’s glorious past as it struggles to attract tourists scared off by a series of Islamist militant attacks.

“Antiquities are the soft power that distinguishes Egypt,” Enany said. “News of antiquities are the things that attract the world to Egypt.”

Millions of tourists visited Egypt every year to see its Giza Pyramids — the only surviving monument of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World — and its ancient pharaonic temples and relics.

But a popular uprising in 2011 that overthrew veteran strongman Hosni Mubarak ushered in years of unrest that battered the economy and drove away tourists. (Punchng.com)

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Foreign Shop Onwers In Coligny, South Africa Left In Despair After Looting

Police patrol the streets of Coligny which has been rocked by violence. Picture: ANA

     Police patrol the streets of Coligny which has been rocked by violence. Picture: ANA

One of 30 Bangladeshi nationals who own shops said collectively, Bangladeshi business owners lost stock valued at more than R700k.

At least 30 shops owned by foreign nationals have been looted in Coligny, in North West, since the outbreak of community protests, a local businessman said on Wednesday.

“I am left with nothing, they took everything in my shop, they even took the cups I used to drink water,” said Mahammed Rubel.

“It is heartbreaking to see your neighbour looting your shop. They took everything, including my clothes. People do not have mercy, you give them credit and help them, yet they loot your shop. People you know …”

Rubel is one of 30 Bangladeshi nationals who own shops in Tlhabologang. He said collectively, Bangladeshi business owners lost stock valued at more than R700 000.

“We do not know whether we will be able to recover from this great loss, we do not have means to start. We are depending on donations from food to clothes. We have nowhere to go. We are now staying at the mosque and hope our brothers in Johannesburg will help us.”

Rubel said they would monitor the situation in Coligny before deciding on their next move.

Shops were looted on April 24 when violence erupted in Coligny following the death of a 16-year-old boy, Matlhomola Jonas Mosweu.

Motlhomola died after two farmers, Pieter Doorewaard, 26, and Phillip Schutte 34, alleged they caught him stealing sunflowers at their employer’s field in Rietfontein, near the Scotland informal settlement. They ordered him to climb onto the back of a van, intending to hand him over to the police, but according to them, he jumped out of the moving van. He suffered neck injuries and later died on his way to hospital.

But an eyewitness told the police Matlhomola was thrown out of a moving van.

His death triggered a mass protest that left several houses and vehicles burnt, shops looted and damaged as the community demanded that his alleged killers be arrested.

The protest stopped after the two handed themselves over to police on April 25. But renewed violence erupted on May 8 when Doorewaard and Schutte were released on R5 000 bail each.

Furious residents torched three houses and police were forced to fire teargas and rubber bullets to disperse a crowd that wanted to torch a house in Rietvlei.

Schools have been disrupted since the outbreak of the violence, but on Wednesday, pupils at one of the high schools returned to class.

The situation was calm on Wednesday. A police helicopter monitored the situation.

African News Agency (ANA)

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Johannesburg South Townships Mobilise For Massive Protest On Friday

Protests over lack of housing continues in the south of Johannesburg despite government’s promise to residents that the plan will provided within two weeks.

The protests started in Eldorado Park on Monday and quickly spread to other neighboring areas, Ennerdale, Klipspruit, Finetown and Orange Farm.

According to EWN reporter, Mia Lindeque, Ennerdale residents say they do not want to speak to any government official.

The schooling has also been suspended for the past three days in Ennerdale and Eldorado Park.

 

EWN reports seeing a notice circulating in these communities inviting residents to join a massive protest on Friday.

Yesterday Police Minister Fikile Mbalula said these protests are led by drug kingpins and peddler.

Municipal IQ economist, Karen Heese, says though protests may provide an opportunity for criminal activity, they are are not planned by criminals.

 

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South African Student, Age 23 Bags Her PhD In Psychology, Making Her Youngest Female In The Continent

Shenaaz Jamal

Congratulations to 23 year old Musawenkosi Saurombe. She is the youngest female PHD Graduate in Africa with a Research thesis of No Corrections & Ammendments
Image by: Facebook/NWU Mafikeng Campus

Musawenkhosi Sourambe has become one of the youngest students on the continent to obtain a PhD at the age of 23 at North-West University.

North West University said she had obtained her PhD with no corrections being made to her thesis‚ which was flawless.

Sourambe started school at the age of four in Gaborone‚ Botswana. When she was in grade three her teacher promoted her to grade four after the first school term.

“My parents had to explain to my teachers after wanting to promote me to other grades that I needed time to mature and it was true because when I got to university I struggled‚” she said.

Sourambe matriculated at the age of 15 and started a BCom degree at 16. She received an honours degree at 19 and master’s degree by the age of 21- with distinction.

Her initial years at university were tough‚ she added‚ because she struggled to relate to other university students.

“I had a lot of responsibility from a young age and my peers had more liberty than I did because I was so young‚” she said.

“I couldn’t act my own age. I always had to be more matured and some of my peers didn’t know how old I was‚” she said.

Sourambe‚ who has already joined a doctoral fellowship at North West University‚ said she had a few academic conferences lined up overseas for the rest of the year. She is involved in teaching and supervising postgraduate students at NWU’s campus in Mahikeng.

Her goal now is to get a driver’s licence. She was too young to get one after matric and too busy completing her third year at university when she turned 18.    (TimesLive)

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Police Arrest ‘Coup Plotter’ Planning To Assasinate Prominent South Africans

         A Hawks police vehicle. File Photo.
Image by: Gallo Images / Beeld / Felix Dlangamandla

The Hawks arrested a “coup plotter” on Wednesday who was allegedly planning to assassinate 19 people including members of the cabinet‚ state owned entities and prominent South Africans.

Those in the crosshairs were allegedly “officials perceived as state capture beneficiaries”‚ according to a statement issued late on Wednesday by Hawks spokesman Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi.

During October 2016 the Hawks intercepted communication related to “possible assassinations” being planned against various targets.

“The Hawks acted upon the information received and conducted undercover operations in Pretoria and Johannesburg which lead to the arrest of a 23-year-old African male for allegedly plotting to assassinate officials perceived as state capture beneficiaries. Almost 19 individuals were targeted and their names will only be divulged in court‚” said the statement.

“The suspect and a founder member of the Anti- State Capture Death Squad Alliance (ASCDSA) was arrested on the 26th April 2017 in Midrand while he was busy explaining to the donors how the assassination of state capture beneficiaries was going to be carried out by the undercover coup plot snipers.

“The communication intercepted by the investigators included various letters which were sent to selected companies to donate money at a total amount of one hundred and forty million rands (R140m) to fund the alleged clandestine operation.”

The statement went on to say that during the ongoing investigation another group‚ “the Anti-White Monopoly Capitalists Regime (AWMCG) surfaced” which necessitated a two-pronged investigation approach.

“It was discovered that the AWMCG used the same operandi soliciting donations in order to assassinate senior government officials and other South African citizens. Four individuals were allegedly targeted for this operation‚ their names will also be revealed in court.

“A search was conducted at the suspects’ home and evidentiary proof was confiscated for further investigations. It further transpired that there were other companies he solicited funds from using same modus operandi.

“The suspect is expected to appear before Johannesburg Magistrate Court on Friday 28 April 2017 to face conspiracy to commit murder and other charges. Bail will be opposed to allow further investigation.”                    (Times Live)

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