The Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders continues to grow on the continent and positively influencing lives, as participants of the fellowship contribute to the economy and growth of their communities, societies.
In Equatorial Guinea, Valentin Bull Zamora, a 2018 fellow, has since the program, used lessons learnt and leadership skills from his time to implement and expand further his entrepreneurial venture. Dreams Talks sat with him to discuss the impact of the fellowship and his plans for the future. Enjoy!
Dreams Talks: What motivated you to apply for the Mandela Washington Fellowship?
Valentin: I must say that at first, I wasn’t well acquainted with the whole Mandela Washington Fellwship (MWF) concept. A great friend of mine was selected for YALI the year before and when he got back, he never stopped telling me about how great his experience was. He really pushed me into applying for the 2018 call.
The more I learnt about the initiative, the more interested I was. What really motivated me was the idea of meeting and interacting with fellow young people across the continent of Africa. I had never experienced such a thing, and that prospect was really compelling to me.
Dreams Talks: Describe the process, were you also nervous and how did you feel after being selected?
Valentin: Self-sabotage is real, during the time my friend was talking into applying for the MWF, for some reason I kept reminding myself that I would never be selected for such highly competitive contest. Even when my application was already submitted, I had strong doubts about my chances of making it. The day I received confirmation of my selection; I was shocked. Do not get me wrong, I trust in what I do and know that I have a great proposal, however, the mental game at that point was not on point.
Dreams Talks: What were some of the vital leadership lessons you learnt during the fellowship?
Valentin: I first came across the Ubuntu philosophy at YALI, and it radically changed and shaped my view of the word and my way of doing business. According to the Wikipedia, Ubuntu is sometimes translated as “I am because we are” (also “I am because you are”). It is the belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity. An authentic individual human being is part of a larger and more significant relational, communal, societal, environmental, and spiritual world.
My take on this, is that everyone matters. In order for me to do business and succeed does not necessarily mean that somebody else has got to lose. The ideas of cooperation and togetherness are engrained into this Ubuntu philosophy.
Leading by example is another great leadership lesson.
Dreams Talks: How have these leadership lessons influenced your life and businesses/career since then?
Valentin: I was familiar with most of the leadership concept presented to us at YALI, what really impacted me was the lives of and lessons learnt from my fellow colleagues at the fellowship. Something great is happening in Africa and I feel blessed to be part of this amazing movement.
Dreams Talks: Tell us more about your new venture with Okume studios?
Valentin: Okume has come a long way. I really like the fact that whenever Okume is mentioned, it is often associated with a well-done job. This new venture is actually a dream come true, both for us, and for our clients. It is a significant step in the right direction
Dreams Talks: As a Photographer, seeking to tell stories, how has the reception being so far since you started?
Valentin: Great question! My inception into the creative realm was almost accidental. I started taking photos because I did not like the photos that ware being taken by local photographers. I had a great reception almost instantly. Although I was not taking great photos at the time, they weren’t a lot of photographers trying to do what I was doing and for the most part, people were very appreciative and supportive.
Dreams Talks: What are some of the things you seek to achieve with it?
Valentin: The goal is clear. We are working to become the leading studio for people and businesses looking for industry standard images, both photo and video to tell their story or sell their product in the most compelling way. We hope to achieve this goal in 2 years.
Dreams Talks: What future do you see and seek to create for your line of business/industry in Equatorial Guinea?
Valentin: I would like to see more people, especially young people, both boys and girls interested in the creative sector. I really believe it is time for Africans to tell our story through our own lens. I am currently leading an incipient movement of local photographer, and the goal is to become the EG association of photographers. I really look forward to that.
With his recent rebrand and launch of the Okume Studios, Valentyn, also plans to equip young people in different areas of creativity and media to tell stories using a unique blend of photography and videography.
Dreams Hub contributed to this article!