Sally glorifies Nigeria—Honored with a Recognition of Excellence



 By Ayo Omotoso
Wealth is not new, neither is charity. But the idea of using private wealth imaginatively,constructively, and systematically to attack the fundamental problems of mankind is new. There are people who just occupy space doing nothing in life but the story of Mrs Sally Mbanefo is humanitarian evident in love without borders.
Mrs Sally whose mothering tendency got her fondly called Mama, is a lover of culture, ever-constant with showcasing her identity through appearance, appeared magnificent with her sense of style that glorified her home country as a Nigerian at the 4th edition of the African Women of Excellence Awards AWEA held on Saturday 29th – 30th September, 2018 at the Michaelangelo Hotel, Sandton City, Johannesburg, South Africa.
The Awards hosted traditionally by African Union—the AU and the Diaspora African Forum (DAF) is a platform to recognize, honour, and appreciate women of Africa and the Diaspora who have significantly contributed to the struggle for political, social, and economic Independence at various levels with excellence.
This year’s overarching theme was a tribute to three of Africa’s past living legends:Mama Winnie Madikizeka-Mandela, Her Excellency Ruth Sando Perry, and the Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin of blessed memory.
The past Awardees included: Erstwhile female Presidents of Africa, Her Excellency Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia; Her Excellency Dr Joyce Banda, President of Malawi; Erstwhile Female Chairperson of the AU, Her Excellency Nkosozanna Dhlamini-Zuma; Mama Winnie, Mama Perry, Mama Osigwe, Mama Kenyatta, Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings, Dr Graça Machel, and among others.
This year, the African Women of Excellence Awards hosted an inspirational chat with the theme: “I am my Sister’s Keeper” which was moderated by the former CNN and Aljazeera Anchor, Femi Oke in the morning of September 30th 2018. The chat featured Queen Mother Xernona Clayton, an iconic civil rights leader from the United States of America, who illustrated the importance of Sisterhood.
The African Women of Excellence Awards Dinner Gala “The Star-studded Dinner” was held on the evening of Saturday, September 29th, 2018 to honour this year’s prestigious awardees at the Michaelangelo Hotel, Sandton City.
This year’s Awardees namely late struggle icon Winnie Madikizeka-Mandela; the queen of soul Aretha Franklin; Mrs Sally Mbanefo (Nee Uwechue) a cabinet member of Anambra state government managing the Diaspora Affairs, Indigenous Art and Culture and Tourism Ministry; Jeannette Kagame, the first lady of Rwanda; Hon. Baleka Mbete, Dr. Toni Luck; Dr Clarice Ford-Kulah; Oshunbumi Fernandez-West, Amb(Dr.) Amina Mohammed, Cabinet Secretary (Minister) for Education, Science, Technology and Innovation in Kenya;Dr. Martha Namundjebo-Tilahun, Chairperson of the United Africa Group, a privately owned multi-million-dollar business conglomerate in Namibia and Her Excellency Mrs Samira Bawumia, Second Lady of the Republic of Ghana.
Mrs Sally Mbanefo, a woman of many parts, owing to having worked as a corporate professional for three unique decades, that is, 21 years in Banking, 3 years in Oil and Gas, 2 years in Manufacturing, all at Executive Director levels and 4 years in Public Service, is also in the know of art.
The AWEA, on the evidence of Mrs. Sally’s skew into Social Entrepreneurship through The Sally Mbanefo (TSM) foundation which she set up in 2007 on HIV/AIDS Awareness, Youth Education and Empowerment, supporting monthly, over 20 schools to date, appreciated her by having her among those celebrated as the 2018 African Women of Excellence Awards.
The erstwhile Chief Marketer of the nation’s tourism industry (through her appointment as DG of Nigeria’s apex tourism agency, The Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC) in 2013 to 2017) is the only Nigerian honored this year with the recognition.