Essay Contest Finalists
First Prize: Anjeneé Cannon USA
Lessons from the Front Porch by Anjeneé Cannon USA
Her grandmother has been a guiding light for this writer, who traces the Black female experience in the United States through the stories her grandmother has shared. Anjeneé discusses the lessons she has learned about self-improvement, female empowerment, and relationships between Black females and Black men. She also discusses the impacts of gentrification and displacement of Black people in their neighborhoods, and racial politics. She offers a critical view on how the Strong Black Woman has evolved from the traumatic history of Black womanhood in the United States.
What the Judges said about Anjeneé's writing:
A delicate, simple but powerful narrative; beautifully written with illustrative language and tenderly curated images. Stunning!
Superb writer with the ability to use metaphors to connect with culture and traditions of a Black household.
The story is filled with loss, love and optimism grounded on the strength of what it means to be a woman bathed in melanin.
The writer provided lessons learned from her grandmother and how she incorporates into her daily life, living unapologetically.
Second Prize: Melissa Penyeyi Ghana
Unfaded Melanin by Melissa Penyayi Ghana
“Someone once said they cannot wait for the day the world embraces the idea of a strong, Black woman. I told myself then that if it is a strong woman we still talk about in order to identify ourselves as empowered then count me out. I refuse to be labelled as strong, to qualify as empowered or independent. Nor do I want my colour to be associated with just strength, because strength doesn’t mean empowered and no Black girl needs a label.” These are Melissa’s words as she unpacks the idea of strength in the face of tradition, culture, misogyny, disadvantage, and patriarchy.
What the Judges said about Melissa's writing:
Excellent and captivating introductory paragraph with the ability to draw the reader!
Inspiring story of what it means to live an impactful life with actualizing your dreams that once felt far away.
The writer has a way with words that makes it difficult not to finish the story, especially when she brought in real life examples from her community of young women being married off.
Third Prize: Money Mathibela South Africa
A World Where Black Girls Can Thrive by Money Mathibela South Africa
South Africa has a sordid history of racism and violence. Money gives us a glimpse of the aftermath of apartheid. She paints a picture that illustrates the stark difference between Black and white; and male and female in the liberated country. Even after they won their freedom, the road to true equality and justice in South Africa is long and winding. Her story reminds us that freedom is subjective and so is power and self-belief. When the odds are stacked against the Black female, she does what she knows best, takes care of those around her and gives them inspiration through her selflessness.
What the Judges said about Money's writing:
Beautiful written story of the daughter of the land with confidence and enthusiasm for the future.
She provides her us with her stories from her time in school and nuances of why she was an overachiever; wanting to prove to everyone that she is capable.
She has laid down concrete steps of what it means to be a future successful Black woman, and to her that means immigrating to Canada. She has given concrete explanations of why this is the path she wants to follow.
Our Finalists' Judge
Emmanuela Alimlim is on a mission to support her community in Northern Kenya through Education and Entrepreneurship through her community-based organization. She is passionate about successful transition of rural African youth to post-secondary education to employment and/or entrepreneurship. In 2014, she was recognized by UNESCO as a rising leader. She is a graduate of the University of Toronto under the prestigious Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program.
In addition to being a rising leader, Emmanuela is a seasoned speaker, having spoken in many conferences. She has also produced and directed a documentary titled ‘Invisible Despair,” that aims to break stigma of mental illness.
Our Semi-Finalists' Judges
Adrienne Coddett is a community activist/advocate and high school educator. Her organization, 3Dreads and a Baldhead/BeMoreCommUNITY (founded in 2000), provides opportunities for people in Black communities to transform their lives by maximizing their physical, mental, spiritual, and economic potential.
Adrienne is also well known in Ottawa as one of the five co-hosts of Black on Black, Ottawa's weekly connection to African and Caribbean communities, which broadcasts every Saturday morning 11am - noon on the University of Ottawa’s radio station, CHUO 89.1 FM.
“I am the me I wished I could be when I figured out the Me was in Me!” #BeMoreCommUNITY
Brenda Okorogba is an award winning Productivity and Performance Coach, Nonprofit Strategic Project/Programs Consultant, Grant Writer, Student Success Advisor, Training & Development and Workshop Facilitator, with 6+ years experience in facilitating and supporting cross-functional activities required to achieve planned objectives.Currently, Brenda is the Founder and Chief Inspiration Officer at Momentswithbren, an organization that democratizes access to quality education and philanthropy. She has helped students secure $4.6Million worth of scholarships, full tuition fee waivers and bursaries. She has also helped nonprofit organizations, SMEs and grassroots groups gain access to funding of $1.2million. Through this work, Brenda has developed strong project management, critical thinking, workshop facilitation and presentation skills. You can follow her updates on various opportunities and resources across various social media platforms @Momentswithbren (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn).
Candies Kotchapow is a Critical Race Theory researcher in the area of Precarious Work in the Black community. She holds a Master's and Bachelor's degree in Social work. Candies is the Founder and Executive Director of DYLOTT.
Christina Sackeyfio is the owner of the consulting, training and coaching firm, Boldly Inclusive. An educator, strategist and engagement specialist, she uses DEI to address social issues affecting diverse communities.
Anjee Cannon - USA Thato Monare - Lesotho Melissa Penyai - Ghana
Sisco Cherono - Kenya Brilliant Bimhah - Zimbabwe Tatania Campbell - USA
Melinda Tatenda - Ghana Abigail Kufigwa - Botswana Boluwatife Ajayi USA
Money Mathibela - South Africa
Congratulations to the following Future Black Females who are now working on their essays for publication:
Money Mathibela - South Africa Tsitsi Karen Shava - South Africa
Andile Madonsela - South Africa Boluwatife Ajayi - USA
Abigail Kufigwa - Botswana Brilliant Bimhah - Zimbabwe Melinda Tatenda - Ghana Aminah Aliu - USA Christ-Love Felix - Haiti Chabota Hachandi - Zambia
Melissa Penyai - Ghana Francisca Anna - Canada
Anjee Cannon - USA Rebekkah Moton - USA
Brynesha Griffen -Bey - USA Mogorosi Motlatsi - Botswana
Tatania Campbell - USA Thato Monare - Lesotho
Olamide Afolabi - Nigeria Ann Wangui - Kenya
Peace Aboghene - Nigeria De'Antonique Knowles - Bahamas Jackline Kisanga - Tanzania Tinotenda Mapomba - Zimbabwe
Sisco Cherono - Kenya Menia Chaphamtengo - Malawi
Sharon Osembo - Kenya Barbara Drama - Zimbabwe
Tumai Sithole - Zimbabwe