The HarDDA Initiative pilot planning workshop at Monash South Africa in pictures


Hi, I thought that I should introduce this blog with a story that reflects the foundational principles of this initiative.


There was once a young girl named Nwadu. She was born in a rural community in West Africa and was betrothed at about 12 years old. She was sent to live with her sister in-law to learn how to run her own home before joining her husband in another city. Her time was taken up mostly with farming, caring for her husband's nieces and working around the house. However, her sister in law also enrolled her in primary school.

She showed great acumen for academic studies but after grade three, her sister in law removed her from the school. The reason the woman proffered was that if she was allowed to continue schooling, she would become more educated than her husband and intimidate him. This broke the girl’s heart and she wept but there was nothing she could do about the situation. The people who were in a position to intervene were very few and they generally agreed with her sister in law. She eventually accepted her fate but silently vowed that when she had children, all would have the opportunity to go to school irrespective of their sex.

Fast-forward 18 years and some children later, she had kept her vow and all her children that were of school age were enrolled in school. Her first child, a girl, was very intelligent and was already showing interest in going on to secondary school. There was one major snag, secondary school education was costly and they did not have that much money. Moreover, according to their culture, the girl was supposed to be getting ready to marry and make her own home, while the boys could carry on with school. However, Nwadu was determined to keep her vow and secretly started buying the items that would be required by the school in advance. When it was time, her daughter Cecilia, was able to start secondary school. By sending her to school, Nwadu was able to protect Cecilia from child marriage and focus her on educational attainment.

To cut a long story short, Cecilia eventually became the first female University graduate in their hometown and worked as a secondary school teacher for many years. She positively influenced thousands of young girls during her career as a teacher and beyond. Many other families in their neighbourhood and hometown allowed their female children to study further because they could see the benefits of education, especially with regards to countering the impact of child marriage. This one child, started training her immediate younger siblings as a teenager with her first income, shortly after leaving secondary school. She transferred the same passion to them and so the family became self-sustaining and everyone had the opportunity for good education.

Today Nwadu’s descendants are professionals or training to be professionals. Her family members include medical doctors, nurses, public and business administrators, clergy, lawyers, scientists, engineers, architects,professors, authors, teachers at all levels of education amongst others … all because one young girl turned her heartbreak into a driver for advancement.

Nwadu’s life and future was seemingly in a very dark pit - she was stopped from continuing her education. However, she could see her tomorrow, believing that if she kept her passion, prepared for it and transferred it to her children, they would all be able to achieve their full potential, through the intrinsic value gained from education. In her limited circumstances, she was tenacious enough to invest in one child, transferring that drive to her daughter, thereby setting off a self-sustaining movement within her immediate family, resulting in them achieving their potentials, and a younger generation of descendants who are well on their way to achieving their potentials.

Nwadu was a change agent who transferred the capacity and the principles down her family line and into her community. She earned the title ‘O zi Igbo uzo ndu’literally meaning ‘the one who teaches the populace the way of life’.

Everyone reading this has more advantage than Nwadu did…what are you doing with yours?

The HarDDA Initiative is all about each young person in Africa determining to achieve their full potential thereby reaping a personal Demographic Dividend (DD). It is about getting the word about the DD out into our communities and creating a DD mind-set in the young people of Africa. It starts with YOU!

By the way…Nwadu was my grandmother and Cecilia my mother…they both passed on within the past two weeks. May their souls rest in perfect peace.

As I celebrate this rich legacy, may the principles I learnt at their feet, which is foundational to this initiative, spread on.

Do you have a HarDDA story? Please send it across.

Let's HarDDA together!