Articles in Category: Profiles & Bios

Todd Twala & Thembi Nyandeni (Dancers/Singers ) Creators of Umoja

Susan notes: this story is a slightly modified version of that which can be found on the Umoja website. Click here for my review, international media raves, and videos of the show .

In 1950, the apartheid government of South Africa passed a law, The Group Areas Act. The Act allowed the government to determine who would live where. Forced removals and the relocation of Black people who occupied valuable land, or land considered too close to White settlements were the order of the day. This was to ensure that Blacks remained in “reserves” and only came to the White areas when needed for work.

Over the years, tens of thousands of Black people were forcibly removed without compensation and dumped, often in the middle of nowhere. Lack of food, improper housing and little sanitation resulted in incredible poverty, malnutrition and suffering by Blacks living in the most prosperous country in Africa!

thembi__todd.jpgTodd Twala’s (right) and Thembi Nyandeni’s (left) ambitions for a better life took shape against this background of poverty and hardship.

Twala grew up in a township outside Johannesburg, called George Goch. In 1968, she and her family woke up to a bulldozer at their front door. They were forced to leave.

They settled in Soweto (an acronym for SOuth WEstern TOwnship) on the outskirts of Johannesburg, or Egoli (City of Gold). Like their neighbours, they lived in a box-like hut with no electricity or running water. There was limited access in and out of the township, which was surrounded by barbed wire.

Dr. Qanta Ahmed (Physician)

dr.qanta.ahmed_by_cnn.jpgDr. Qanta Ahmed (MD, FCCP, FAASM) is a top multi-disciplined physician and medical specialist, educator, consultant, researcher, guest lecturer at medical universities and sought-after speaker at medical conferences.

Lisa Koch (Comedian/Singer/Songwriter)

lisa_koch.jpgPicture the triangulated love child of Bette Midler, Lily Tomlin, and Karen Carpenter... and you’ve got Lisa Koch.

An irreverent Seattle singer/comedian, Koch (“Coke”) is a deliciously twisted mix of comedy, theater, and demented songs. She has 4 solo recordings, is one-half of hilarious sketch-comedy duo, Dos Fallopia ("My Breasts Are Out of Control"), and is an alumnus of cult quartet Venus Envy ("I'll Be A Homo for Xmas").

In her own words a: "demented singer/songwriter/comedian/Britney Spears body-double..."

Related links:
I'm A Middle-Aged Woman

Juliette: Acid Attack Survivor, Amazing Woman

juliette.jpgSusan notes: I found Juliette's story on the ode exchange where it had been posted by Vicky Collins, a Colorado-based TV producer and photographer, who graciously gave me permission to post it on AWR. Collins asked me to credit HDNet World Report, which looks to me like a very cool news resource.

See an inspiring video of Juliette at the end of this story.

Juliette dreams of someday marrying a nice man.

One unlike the monster who poured acid on her in a jealous rage in July 2007.

We are sitting with this young woman, just 19 years old, on a porch near a church in Kampala, Uganda. Juliette is beautiful on the side of her face that she shows to the world. Her eyes are bright and she has a radiant smile. The other side of her face she covers with long braids.

Dee Caffari (Yachtswoman)

dee_caffari_1.jpgBritish yachtswoman Dee Caffari was the first woman in history to sail solo, non-stop both ways around the world.

She completed a double world first on 16 February 2009 by completing the gruelling Vendée Globe, the round the world yacht race that is known as the 'Everest of the Seas'.

Caffari first sailed into the record books in May 2006 by becoming the first woman to sail solo, non-stop around the world the 'wrong' way (against the prevailing winds and currents). That solo circumnavigation took her 178 days in a 72 foot steel yacht.