Tutu's Children

Swaady Martin-Leke: 'An Africa-shaped heart'

She is convinced that the continent's outlook has to change but are her views always on the cutting edge?
Last Modified: 10 Jan 2013 15:47
Swaady M Martin-Leke is pushing for African women to take what she believes is their rightful position in a man's world [Matthew Cassel/Al Jazeera]

Swaady M. Martin-Leke, the CEO of luxury tea company YSWARA, often has a cosmopolitan approach to the continent's problems.

"If you were to scan my heart, you'd see the shape of Africa."

- Swaady M. Martin-Leke, tea company CEO

A child refugee from Cote d'Ivoire, Swaady's family fled two violent coups. And by now, she has lived in 11 countries, currently living between Lagos and Johannesburg.

Swaady is convinced that Africa's outlook has to change and that she has to be involved.

As one of multinational General Electric's first female African leaders, she headed up transport development for the region of sub-saharan Africa.

She is pushing for African women to take what she believes is their rightful position in a man's world.

Bringing a touch of glamour to development, she is passionate about African fashion, but are her views always on the cutting edge?

What does Africa need?

"I think it is a complex issue. It depends on the leader, one can throw his country like Master Sergeant Samuel Doe, and one can build it like Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. We have [both] good and bad examples in Africa, like anywhere else in the world.

"I think our leaders and ourselves need to be very ambitious about the type of Africa we want. Vision without effective execution remains a dream ... so having the ambition and vision is not enough. We need to be able to execute that vision with unyielding integrity. Modern Africa also needs to regain its African identity.

"A true leader motivates, inspires, empowers and serves others. He exercises the character that sets him apart as a role model for others to emulate. He is passionately committed to the cause and is deeply grounded on strong moral and humanist values. A true leader is purposeful, accountable, has personal integrity, discipline, confidence, strength, perseverance, empathy, humility and wisdom. Finally, a true leader must lead by example."

Tutu's Children can be seen from Thursday, January 10, at the following times GMT: Thursday: 2000; Friday: 1200; Saturday: 0100; Sunday: 0600; Monday: 2000; Tuesday: 1200; Wednesday: 0100; Thursday: 0600.

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