It is common for people to pile praise on someone in their death than they did when the person was alive. Right? Very often the society will only realise the contribution of a person when he or she is gone.
In 2009, when Lady Dentaa Amoateng set out to establish what was then known as Ghana-UK Based Achievement Awards (GUBA), her mission was to recognise Ghanaians in the diaspora (UK) doing amazing things in their society and beyond.
Having moved to the UK with her parents at the age of 5, Lady Dentaa, as she is famously known, realised that little is done to recognise Africans doing great things.
The British Ghanaian TV personality and entrepreneur wanted to do something that would recognise the hugely significant contribution that British-Ghanaians were making in their respective societies.
The first awards ceremony took place in London, England, in October 2010 and in the subsequent years the awards started attracting many Africans in the UK who picked interest in the awards and often requested her to expand them to cover all African countries.
The demand to make GUBA Awards more inclusive continued to grow when they were held in the U.S as African Americans were also recognised for their achievements and as people of African descent.
“In 2019, the board decided that we focus on Africa and its diaspora as a whole which meant that we will celebrate and recognize all people of African descent, especially whilst they are still alive,” she said.
“Sometimes we end up celebrating people when they’re gone and we don’t actually get them to realize how much we appreciate them and how much they’ve inspired us as along the way,” Lady Dentaa points out.
In 2019, GUBA Awards were rebranded to ‘Grow, Unite, Build, Africa (GUBA) Awards’, with the aim of rewarding and celebrating excellence and innovation of African individuals and organisations in the diaspora and back home.
The GUBA Awards particularly recognise individuals that work towards the advancement, empowerment and progression of the African community in the Diaspora.
In 2020, the awards didn’t take place due to the Covid-19 pandemic and in 2021 they were held in Ghana for the first time.
Recognising legendary African icons
Beyond recognising Africans who are still alive and doing great things in their communities, the GUBA Awards also recognises legendary African icons from the past, who inspired generations with their sheer resilience and grit many decades ago.
That is why the 2021 GUBA Excellence Awards was dedicated to celebrating a century of the transition of Yaa Asantewaa, who was Queen Mother of Ejisu. She led the Asante army to fight the British in 1900.
According to Lady Dentaa, the awards recognised and celebrated the resilience of all African women in the last century, inspired by the Queen mother.
“We honoured African women from all over the continent and also in the diaspora. Just to mention a few, we had Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the Director General of World Trade Organization (WTO), Diane Abbott, MP, the first black Member of Parliament in the UK MP,”
“We also honoured Dr. Diane Karusisi, the CEO of Bank of Kigali, who was in attendance, Afua Hirsch, a journalist based in the UK, Bozoma Saint-John, the former Chief Marketing Officer of Netflix, who also attended, among other names,” Amoateng adds.
Lady Dentaa said the purpose of the awards was to recognise the courage and determination of strong women, at all levels, who have been able to break barriers and be at the top of their game.
“We also honoured four market women, who have been through it all. Some of them have four to seven kids. They wake up at 3am in the morning to go and work, they go to the farms and get the food, they feed us,”
“We wanted to cut across, not just people at the top, but people across the different fields and sectors so that we can really recognize them,” she adds.
GUBA Awards 2022 in Rwanda
Rwanda is set to host the 2022 GUBA Awards on September 29, at a highly anticipated ceremony to be held at Intare Conference Arena, under the theme ‘Ndabaga – Drumbeat of Dreamers and Legends’.
The GUBA Awards this year seek to celebrate a historical hero within the Rwandan and African communities.
The story of Ndabaga is a keystone of Rwandan folklore representing bravery and determination. This year’s awards seek to convey a message on the power of determination and focus.
“This year we are really pleased and to be hosting the awards in Rwanda, in partnership with Rwanda Convention Bureau (RCB).”
“We thought that the theme and the story of Ndabaga is such a powerful story. We want to honour people who are resilient and can inspire many Africans on the continent and in the diaspora,” Lady Dentaa said.
Ndabaga, who is said to have lived sometime in the eighteenth century, is remembered as one of Rwanda’s earliest heroines who defied odds to do things that were reserved for boys and men.
She is recalled as the fierce girl who trained herself to join the King’s army, to replace her aging father, who didn’t have a son, so that he can go back to his home and retire. Normally only boys were allowed to do that.
Ndabaga became a top female warrior and even went on to outperform masculine boys and men on the battlefield.
Who is who?
Some of the awardees being recognised this year include Alena Analeigh McQuarter, 13, the youngest black girl that’s been accepted to go into medical school in the US.
The Fort Worth, Texas-based teenager is looking to give young African girls scholarships working with the University of Oakland in Africa.
Other notable personalities to be recognised include the Director General of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, for his response and management of Covid-19 and Rwandan businessman Sina Gerrard.
Others include Ghanaian YouTuber and vlogger Wode Maya who will get the excellence in tourism award for promoting Africa, Dr. Sangu Delle of Africa Health Holdings Limited as well as Dr. Sylvia Shitsama Nyamweya for Kenya, who will be recognised for their contribution to the development of healthcare on the continent.
“We really wanted to make sure that the award celebrates people in the diaspora and people on the continent,” revealed Lady Dentaa.
Dr. Nyamweya is the first female neurosurgeon in Kenya. Also, to be recognised is the Chief Executive of the Grammy Awards, Harvey Mason Jr, Keith Ellison, the Attorney General of Minnesota and Cameroonian business personality, Acha Leke.
Uche Ufodile, the CEO, MTN Benin, Amadou Gallo Fall, the president of the Basketball Africa League (BAL) and Chairperson of East of Eden, Sandra Zawedde, are among those to be recognised.
Lady Dentaa says that the awards happening in Rwanda, with big names in attendance will be an opportunity for Rwanda to showcase the immense investment and networking opportunities.
Rwanda’s Ambassador to Ghana, Aissa Kirabo Kacyira encouraged Lady Dentaa to host the awards in Rwanda and when she travelled to Kigali, the vision and mission of the awards rhymed with what Rwanda is doing.
“Last year, Rwanda’s Ambassador to Ghana attended the awards and she was like how do we get GUBA Awards to Rwanda? What you’re doing is incredible,” she says and from there, they started talking.
“I came to visit Rwanda and I fell in love with the country. Beautiful venues, clean city, everything. I just loved everything about Rwanda. I felt so at home in Rwanda,”
“The leadership of the country, particularly President Kagame, stands for Pan-Africanism, promoting our own and that just falls in line with everything that we are currently doing,” Lady Dentaa said, adding that there is no better place to host the awards than Rwanda.
The prestigious awards, which can be considered Africa’s Grammy Awards, are expected to attract high profile personalities and celebrities.
To get a ticket, visit www.gubaawards.com.