On December 2, 2018, Tyler Perry and Ivy McGregor, Executive Director of BeyGOOD, the foundation created by Beyoncé Knowles Carter, stood on the Global Citizen Festival stage in Johannesburg, South Africa and made a commitment to support young African people. This led to the establishment of a fellowship program in Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya in collaboration with Global Citizen. Global Citizen is a leading advocacy organisation dedicated to achieving the end of extreme poverty.
Through the program, fifty fellows would be immersed in the use of digital technology for social change, storytelling tactics that shift attitudes, the importance of building lasting professional relationships, and the role of innovation in a constantly changing world. “With all that is happening in our world, educating, empowering, and employing our youth to use their voice and vocation to make a positive impact is essential to creating lasting change,” said McGregor.
Last year, fifteen fellows, ten from Nigeria and five from South Africa were selected from a pool of thousands of applicants to embark on this yearlong program. Following a thorough curriculum, they were taught the necessary skills to thrive in the workplace while gaining hands-on experience in various departments in Global Citizen. They also participated in community project in order to give back to the community and raise awareness on the issue of period poverty in African countries.
To celebrate the end of their fellowship program, a graduation ceremony was held at the Marriott Hotel, Ikeja on the 9th of June, 2022. In attendance were Ivy McGregor, Lipalesa Morake, Global Citizen’s Senior Associate of Strategic Partnerships and the fellowship’s program manager; Chebet Chikumbi, Global Citizen’s Southern and East Africa Regional Director; Maimuna Maibe, Global Citizen’s Country Director for Nigeria; Global Citizen Nigeria staff as well as friends and family of the graduands.
The ceremony started with observance of the National Anthem taken by Asuquo Okon, the Senior HR Consultant for Global Citizen Nigeria, followed by an introduction by Chikumbi. Speaking on the theme for the class of 2022, Daring Courageously, she said, “Being courageous doesn not mean not being afraid, in fact it means recognizing your fears, seeing your worries and insecurities and showing up nonetheless. And today I want to commend you all on showing up everyday to this program, for bringing your whole beautiful black selves. And I want to dare you all today to challenge yourselves to do something new, something bold, something that will impact your community and something that will require you to take responsibility for the benefit of others.”
While giving the keynote speech, McGregor talked about the importance of daring and courage, especially given the times we’re in. “Life is going to happen,” she said. “Things happen that are beyond our control but we’re still here because someone made the decision to keep it moving. Sometimes you win and sometimes you learn. Don’t stay stuck.”
The keynote speech was followed by an emotional speech by this year’s valedictorian Oluwafunmi Taiwo. During her speech, she recalled the highlights of the program and urged the graduating fellows to keep the lessons they’ve gotten from the program with them.
“Fellow Fellows, go, be searing bursts of light; illuminating the world with your impactful initiatives. Just as you have consistently done it in the past few years of your one life. Dear colleagues, allow me to echo the words of the accomplished Nigerian writer, Ben Okri; Our time here is magic! It’s the only space you have to realise whatever it is that is beautiful, Whatever is true, whatever is great, whatever is potential, whatever is rare, whatever is unique. It’s the only space. Occupy this space, walk heads high as you keep co-creating change for the good of Nigeria, for Africa and for the world. Do good, be good, go and be bigger,” Taiwo concluded.
After an inspiring speech from Morake, the graduating fellows began accepting their certificates in a dignified ceremony facilitated by Maibe and Morake. The ceremony was then closed after which the new graduates celebrated with their family and friends.
The Global Citizen fellowship program powered by BeyGOOD is returning this year with another fifteen fellows. This time with five fellows from Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa each. Like the graduating fellows, they will spend the next year working in different departments within the organisation, and gaining the experience and skills they required for the development of their future careers.