Rosemary Nuamah: A wordsmith advising The Elders

By Eliza Villarino 12 October 2011

Rosemary Nuamah, speechwriter and member of the African Leadership Network. Photo by: David White

When Desmond Tutu, Jimmy Carter and the other global leaders known as The Elders discuss next steps in their campaign for peace and human rights, they rely on a small team of policy and advocacy advisors.

Rosemary Nuamah, a speechwriter and member of the African Leadership Network, is one of them. She is among today’s most influential development leaders under 40 in London.

Devex is recognizing 40 of these young London-based trailblazers in international development. They are social entrepreneurs, government leaders, development consultants, business innovators, advocates, development researchers, nonprofit executives, philanthropists and investors.

We asked the Devex London 40 Under 40 International Development Leader in London about working with illustrious mentors and how she wants to boost enterprise in Africa.

As a speechwriter, how do evaluate success – and which of the development-themed speeches you’ve written are you most proud of?

Success in speechwriting could be described as when the listener takes away something that changes their own lives or someone else’s for the better – when words translate into actions.

Building Capacity, Restoring Hope,” delivered [by UNDP Administrator Mark Malloch Brown] in Botswana in 2004, told the story of the devastating impact of HIV/AIDS on human capacity across Southern Africa. It highlighted how HIV/AIDS is robbing societies of their workforce and leaders, and of the skills and knowledge so critical to development. Revealing both the personal tragedies and the societal damage inflicted by HIV/AIDS, the speech also outlined the steps being taken to restore hope through holistic and innovative approaches to capacity building.

What do you see as your greatest accomplishment in helping to shape The Elders’ advocacy?

Helping to articulate and develop The Elders work to highlight the human impact of conflict, be it in the Middle East, Sri Lanka or Sudan, has been one accomplishment. Implementing the Elders’ commitment to engage with young people – to listen, amplify and encourage youth – has been another. Bringing together some of Africa’s top students with all ten Elders in Johannesburg in 2010 to discuss the future of the continent was a particularly enriching experience.

How do you leverage your African Leadership Network membership to facilitate the creation of African enterprise?

I am so excited by the way so many members of the ALN have an entrepreneurial approach to tackling Africa’s development challenges, as well as harnessing the fantastic opportunities the continent offers. The ability to clearly identify a problem and think both practically and creatively about solutions is one of the greatest strengths members of the network possess.

I seek to leverage both the energy and idealism of these influential leaders, drawn from business, the public sector, civil society, academia and the arts, when seeking to connect people and/or resources to take ideas forward.

Read more about the Devex 40 Under 40 International Development Leaders in London.

About the author

Eliza villarino 400x400
Eliza Villarino

Eliza Villarino currently manages one of today’s leading publications on humanitarian aid, global health and international development, the weekly GDB. At Devex, she has helped grow a global newsroom, with talented journalists from major development hubs such as Washington, D.C, London and Brussels. She regularly writes about innovations in global development.


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