The #CashlessRwanda #CashlessAfrica Revolution shall be televised, someday.

They said it would never work – they’ll never accept because cash is king! Well, here we are….moving FORWARD🙏🏾

The journey continues….

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Tea Time: The Way It Should Be. Thank you @CarlManlan

I am a tea lover and will choose to have it over any beverage anywhere. Our household especially loves black tea with spices like cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, lemongrass and mint. As usual, I boil water, put our special spice mix and a teabag for only seconds because the doctor says I should limit my caffeine. This was the best tea, which my husband likes to call fried tea, hehe. We were tea experts, until the Manlans opened my taste buds to the TRUE tea experience.

One fine afternoon, before heading to Accra Mall to work with colleagues on a cashless evening initiative, I had the tea experience of a lifetime at my dear colleague Carl Manlan’s home. And so it was, that lovely Saturday afternoon that my tea life was changed forever. Carl brought out a TRAY of several teas to choose from, most loose leaf. This was first for me and all I could think was all the afternoon teas I’ve been a part have clearly been unserious.

Anyway, I chose my usual lemon and ginger teabag. Carl indulged me while he put together his own mix, which looked like this below. He invited me to try and boy was it good – I still dream of it. I quickly abandoned my boring cup and went of this most gorgeous tea I’ve ever had, accompanied with yummy snacks including a decadent HOMEMADE made chocolate cake all thanks to one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever met, Lelani Manlan – I was in heaven.

I tried a few mixes until my stomach was filled to capacity.

After this taste bud awakening experience, my love for tea multiplied. Carl also gifted me with a tea mug complete with one of these and every evening I don’t go to sleep without a cup of my herbal tea blend.

I was reminded of a time a tea producer advised that loose tea is the way to go and that tea bags were really a product of what’s left after all the quality tea has been exported to be packaged and branded abroad at a premium. We should keep some of this good tea for ourselves instead of the “stuff” we get in teabags.

Thanks to Carl and his beautiful family, I’m now the proud owner of the Perfect Tea Maker and spreading the gospel of GOOD and real tea :-). Carl, see you in Kigali for afternoon tea, with the Rwandan touch.

Life and Times of The #CashlessGal In Africa Foodie Edition 1 :-).

Today marked the end of the beginning of my journey transversing our beautiful continent, working to see FORMAL financial inclusion for ALL Africans with the help of Digital Payments what I like to call #CashlessAfrica. With a home base in the birth place of Africa’s independence, Ghana and life on the road most of the time, you can imagine I have a lot of stories and I’ll do my best to share.

First up, food.

For a vegetarian East African in Ghana and traveling mostly in West Africa in last 3 months, it has been quite the experience. Meat of many animals and some – if not all their parts; Joloff rice (will share about my favorite); fufu of pounded yam, cassava or fermented corn in either banku or kenke; plantain in all forms, fried plain or with pepper or in some type of cake batter, or steamed and more rice are the order of the day. There’s a time I was super excited to find a dish that looked like spinach in the cafeteria, I was ecstatic, even did a little dance. Unfortunately, this lovely green was ruined with meat, or was it fish, and just like that my high was iced quick! Thankfully, I am now able to enjoy some veg options, albeit with pepper and floating palm oil sometimes :-).

If you are a meat lover, you will love many places in West Africa. If you aren’t, brace yourself because a good salad and my favorite spinach are a hard find. You’ll have to find a great salad place, and this is no easy task. You may also be lucky to find frozen spinach in the supermarket. With a lot of time on the road and many late nights, I eat what I find. Needless to say the carb overload and effects of the road shows around my waist and hips hehe. I laugh but it’s painful work to get back to shape.

For vegetarians:

In Accra, be sure to checkout Bistro 22, Nourish Lab, Sunshine for salads and hearty healthy smoothies. Mango and Wheat have samosas to die for.

In Cotonou, L’Impala and l’imprévu are gems.

In Lomé, Sarakawa, Onomo and Former Radisson can whip up a good salad. Make sure you have google translate to help you ask for specific ingredients.

In Côte d’Ivoire, Abidjan Cafe and Salad & Sun were a good treat.

Feel free to share recommendations I can check out next time I visit.

Homemade is BEST

I loooooove sweet things and many times gravitate toward dessert first to determine my main when I go out to eat. If dessert is good, I shall eat a light meal, mostly salad and top it off with dessert, hehe.

Anyway, went grocery shopping yesterday and it took a lot for me to not get dessert. Walked by the chocolate sauces but the ingredients I couldn’t pronounce and shelf life turned me away. Picked up pure untainted Ghana made cocoa instead. Unfortunately, was on the bottom shelf below all the imported ones who probably bought cocoa here for next to nothing, took it “West” processed and tainted it with whatever, packaged and branded it nicely only for us to import it back and pay premium – I digress.

Fact is many times we don’t know what’s been put in the already made food we buy, in grocery shops and restaurants. And for desserts, gelatin is in many including the beloved ice cream – trust me you don’t want gelatin. This is why I strive to make my own food, although leading a single life outside of my beautiful Rwanda has made Jumia a constant part of life, and this may well change after my successfully delicious experiment today. aided by Auntie google.

Thanks to auntie google, got a simple recipe and gave it my own touch. Almond milk in place of water, brown sugar, 100% untainted Ghana Cocoa, a pinch of sea salt and my favorite spice mix courtesy of the best love of my life, made the most delicious chocolate sauce I’ve ever had. Dessert breakfast was heaven in my mouth.

My love for the kitchen is back, hope you too can enjoy more homemade goodness.

Financial Planning and Discipline Are Our ticket To financial freedom.

I’ve been meaning to write this for a while but never got around to it until I was reminded this past weekend, when a group of us where talking about the savings culture in Rwanda. Thanks to the national savings week and ongoing cashless payments awareness, we are having these discussions.

Some of us thought Rwandans don’t save, others believed many do we just don’t put it in the bank. Some said they’d rather save in property than the bank. We discussed interest rates, and distrust in banks. Some said many don’t have enough to save, which may indeed be true. Whatever the case, I think these are good discussions we should have at dinner tables with our family, especially the majority youth among us.

Growing up is great and something to look forward to.  And at 38 (yes, it has taken me that long), I can comfortably speak about financial discipline, after making countless financial blunders and now finally getting it together. So here are some tips I’ve learned along the way.

  1. Know your numbers aka budget: How much do you earn? How much do you spend? Write it ALL down so you can visualize your money matters. This can be shocking at first when you’ve been spending all willy-neely. But it is a necessary exercise if you want to live WITHIN your means, i.e. spend less than you earn, not more and plan for the future. If you can read this, you can definitely use excel – time to get real :-). How much do you spend on needs (life essentials) and how much on wants (things you can do without)? Next time you want to buy something, ask yourself is it a need or want? Could you save that money instead? Believe me, I battle this many a time and do waste sometimes, but getting better at being disciplined.
  2. Savings: This is money we put in an account for a rainy day. It is imperative that you save, no matter how small. This builds discipline and will eventually become second nature. How do you measure your savings? When done with number 1, hopefully there’s a savings line, you will know how much you spend. Now multiply this by at least 6 months and begin to work towards having enough savings to cover you for at least 6 months should anything happen to stop you from working. My target is savings of at least 1.5 years worth of expenditures. Set a goal and diligently work to achieve it and even if you don’t fully, at least you can avoid being stranded on a rainy day. Please note a house, land, car are NOT savings because you can’t liquidate them at a moments notice when you urgently need funds to pay your bills when temporarily unemployed.
  3. Investments: This is money we put in assets which can bring us a good return in the future, especially when not working. You want invest in assets, which can bring returns enough to cover your basic needs in the long run. Assets are property such as land, property or equity in a company. Please note, a car is Not an asset because it depreciates the second you drive off into the sunset with your new ride.

If we want to achieve financial freedom, discipline to manage monies effectively is the surest way to succeed. What better time to start than today. See you here👇🏿👊🏾.

Throw Out The Poison of Comparing Your Life To Others – LIVE Yours! 

To be true to yourself is strength.  To continue working towards being your best self is why we are here, it is the only way to LIVE life to the fullest.  

The only way we can stay true to self, love and know who we are is to STOP comparing ourselves to others.   We simply CANNOT BE or achieve what we want when we are constantly comparing or checking what the other person has done, and try to beat them at it – you won’t because it is NOT your journey.   This is the poison we must dispose of, quickly, to win and stay winning.  

In the words of the GREAT Maya Angelou, “Success is liking YOURSELF, liking what YOU do, and liking how YOU do it.” 

Go on, get in your mind and throw out that poison of comparison today.  Only then shall you LIVE a peaceful existence, one in which you thrive on positive energy to propel you to SUCCESS in being your best self. 

Rise, I know you CAN. 

In life we are dealt with various hands some good, some bad and some simply ugly.  It is how we manage and overcome them that reveals who we are.  

Hardship or plain ugliness will befall us as we journey on to becoming our best selves.  People, yes even your friends and family, will work or turn against you, smear you, hold past sins against you and simply not wish you will.  Such is life.  

Whatever comes, jealously guard your mind and heart against hate/revenge.   Instead, CHOOSE to free yourself by forgiving and cultivating inner peace.  It is in RISING and STANDING Up each time that we find and build strength to overcome any obstacle.  

I am a living testimony that we can overcome, even the most insurmountable odds to succeed and BE somebody without hate or vengeance.  Now, I am far from where I need to be and everyday is work, but I am clear about one thing, I shall never let my mind imprison my potential by hating or standing in the way of others’ prosperity.   

I choose to RISE and STAND TALL through it all, celebrating mine and others’ success, while praying for and wishing well the naysayers.

Dare to fearlessly RISE, I believe in your ability to STAND. 

Commemorating to remember loved ones is NOT Politicking! 

Few weeks back, the remains of 547 victims of the Genocide against the Tutsi were laid to rest in Kicukiro – my home.  I can never comprehend it all and it is always heartbreaking to say the least because more than 23 years, we are still finding our loved ones! 

Moments like these remind me of how far we have come in rebuilding our country after the horror of 1994.  They also remind me of the work that remains knowing that some go to sleep at night knowing they can help find remains but still keep quiet.  I cringe when I hear someone can be so heartless to deliberately construct a house and put a driveway on top of the remains of a loved one of a fellow Rwandan, who already suffered to death!  How do we get so possessed to commit and live with such evil!!! And, how do some even join forces with people who killed and still want to kill us!! 

Additionally, how is it that people don’t understand that we must always remember to honor our loved ones and make sure NEVER AGAIN remains a reality in our Rwanda!!  No matter what noise is out there or what heartless people who don’t see it as politics, we must give a voice to those who passed by speaking about what happened and boldly doing what it takes to remember and educate.  Moments like these remind me of this past April 21st, when someone told me, to my face, that my out of office commemorative message was offensive in that I was bringing politics to work stationery.  For nearly six years of writing a commemorative out of office note, which this year read, 

“Commemorating our loved ones lost during the Genocide Against The Tutsi alongside fellow Rwandans. I’m not on email and shall respond when back online on Monday April 10th. For urgent matters, please SMS me.”  

No sooner had this man uttered and displayed his heartlessness than my eyes welled up and all that good emotional intelligence went out the window.  It took everything to not utter any insult during this humiliation.  At the end of it, gathered myself to leave his office, and go for a staff get together.  When I got back to my hotel room, I couldn’t stop crying with my always supportive husband on the line.  After those tears, two things were abundantly clear 1) I MUST do more to tell/support telling of the stories of our loved ones and what happened in Rwanda. 2) It was time to move on and out.  

Commemorating is NOT politicking! It CANNOT BE because commemoration is exactly what we should be doing to keep the memory of our loved ones alive and ensure genocide never happens again.  Only we can preserve and honor the memory of our loved ones. We must continue to remind ourselves and the world what happened here so NEVER AGAIN remains a reality in our Rwanda. 

For you who take offense to what we do to commemorate, shame on you!!  Know this we CANNOT and SHALL NOT stop.  We shall make sure our children and generations after them always remember and renew commitment to NEVER AGAIN!  It is NOT politicking and we shall not standby as you undermine how we choose to remember!   

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