Women4Africa are National Diversity Awards 2016 Winners!
Tola Onigbanjo also known as WiseTola is a POWERHOUSE. She is a wife, mother of 5 children, grandmother, mentor, author, radio personality, and has founded countless businesses. Tola’s love of music has led her to become a highly sought-after leader in the African entertainment industry for more than 10 years. She has played a major part in getting multiple artists signed to music labels. She is passionate about helping young people and women live out their dreams as she has.
As a mentor for more than 25 years Tola has had a positive impact with young people by helping them avoid crime despite growing up in deprived areas of inner London, in particular Brixton and Camberwell. Many of her mentees reach back by mentoring other young people making Tola “grand mother of mentorship”. Tola lives by the motto “do the right thing”. Her passion has further motivated her to focus on parenting by writing her first book ‘STEPS’ in 2007 which discusses the issue of step parenting. Additionally, Tola is a leading African female personality, showcasing the quality of African culture in parenting and the community.
To add to her resume, Tola is the co-founder of Women4Africa, which has been dubbed the largest gathering of African women in Europe. Women4Africa is a platform created to celebrate the best of African women. Tola is also the founder of The Solid Woman, which is all about empowering, inspiring, and encouraging women. Furthermore, Tola is the founder of The Listeners101 a non-profit organization designed to help young people (11-26) by giving them a place to talk without judgement.
Women4Africa is an amazing celebration of African girls and women. What was the motivation that led to its launch?
As a hairdresser for over 30 years and listening to the stories of my clients, some sad stories, some happy stories, and some heroic stories, I was inspired time and time again. Hearing stories of triumph and courage I knew I had to create a platform so other women would be just as inspired as I was. I have always been passionate about women and my husband has always been passionate about Africa so from our passions, Women4Africa was birthed. We launched in 2012 and we have been going since then.
Why is highlighting Amazing African women and inequities they faced so important to Women4Africa?
It is important to us because when the young girl coming up can see what the ordinary woman has overcome to get to where she is now, it will give her hope and let her know that she can also do it. They need to see that despite the inequalities and barriers that may present themselves, women can still break the glass ceilings and go on to become the game changers needed to make a difference.
What impactful changes are being made by the charities that
The first charity we supported ‘Afruca’ has just celebrated 20 years and all the charities we have supported are doing amazingly well changing the lives of the children they represent with what they do.
With such a powerful cause to acknowledge African Women, how do you find time to relax and enjoy life?
I have taught myself to take a day off when I need to. If I find it is getting a bit overwhelming, I just take a day off and that day is really a day off. I do not touch my emails or do anything work related. When I do that, I can come back refreshed and recharged.
What advice would you give other women dealing with inequities and do not feel protected or supported?
First thing, always remember you are a whole woman. Protection and support come from within first, so you need to daily affirm and believe you are the best version of you and any other is a fake. This advice, though it might seem hard, will always be with you even if the whole world disappoints you.
What is next for you? How can we support?
We are currently in the planning phase for Women4Africa 2022. We like to use a year to plan the event and so we are starting from now and will begin to roll out a few campaigns in the lead up to our conference in September and then the awards in May 2022.
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