Over the last 20 years, the narrative on the African continent has shifted from Afro-pessimism to Afro-optimism. The truth lies somewhere in between. Now is the time for Afro-realism: for sound policies based on honest data, aimed at delivering results.
It's a date etched in the minds of every Kenyan -- September 21, 2013. At the upscale Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi, a youth cooking competition was underway, friends laughed as they sipped coffee and families strolled idly through supermarket aisles.
CNN's Zain Verjee meets Abbas Gullet who is the Secretary General of the Kenya Red Cross Society.
Kenya's Red Cross boss Abbas Gullet on how further investment can help the organization take things to the next level.
Abbas Gullet, Secretary General of Kenya Red Cross Society, on the lessons learned from the 2013 attack on Westgate mall.
Ending energy poverty is central to my vision of a resurgent Africa.
She started her business with just £100, lugging her beauty bag from door to door, but some 25 years later Grace Amey-Obeng has built a multi-million dollar cosmetics empire that's helping change the perception of beauty for many.
Cosmetics boss Grace Amey-Obeng on grooming the next generation and making a difference in her native country of Ghana.
Grace Amey-Obeng on her Ghana-based beauty conglomerate which includes a school, a factory and retail stores.
Grace Amey-Obeng knows business and beauty. As CEO of a cosmetic empire in Ghana, she's bringing positive change to her country.
Wearing a stylish red dress and a beaming smile, celebrated fashion designer Adama Paris sits comfortably inside her spacious living room in Dakar, the vibrant seaside capital of Senegal, as we discuss her inspirations.
Senegalese fashion designer Adama Amanda Ndiaye reflects on her incredible career and exciting new venture.
As she took to the stage, both judges and spectators alike were unsure what the young Egyptian woman would do. Standing before the mic, dressed head to toe in a soft pink ensemble complete with a matching veil, Mayam Mahmoud was about to perform in front of an audience for the first time. Then, a hard-hitting beat began to blare out of the speakers and the 18-year-old started to rap.
Adama Amanda Ndiaye on how the ocean inspires her work as a designer.
Senegalese fashion designer Adama Amanda Ndiaye talks about her plans to launch a fashion television channel.
Go to Google and type in Rwanda and the word genocide creeps in instantly. Do a similar search in Google Images and your screen is quickly inundated with piles of scattered hacked bodies, grisly mountains of skulls and long columns of fleeing refugees.
Betty Gikonyo's life changed forever at 30,000 feet.
Pediatric heart surgeon Dr. Betty Gikonyo talks about raising funds for those in need of life-saving procedures.
Kenyan doctor Betty Gikonyo on how having children has helped her better "understand the complexity of life."
Dr. Betty Gikonyo is one of Kenya's leading pediatrics heart surgeons and founder of the Karen Hospital outside of Nairobi.
Zoubida Charrouf opens the doors to her argan oil processing facility which empowers local women. CNN's Errol Barnett reports.
Research scientist Zoubida Charrouf explains why Moroccans don't always reap the financial benefits of the country's argan oil.
CNN's Errol Barnett meets Zoubida Charrouf who has uncovered some of the many riches of Morocco's argan oil.
A young boy sits in his bedroom staring up at the poster of Bruce Lee hanging on the wall. Like most kids in Kafanchan, a small town in the heart of Nigeria, he is a big fan of the martial arts supremo, frequenting the local cinema which almost exclusively shows Hong Kong karate movies or Bollywood films.
Music video and film director Sanaa Hamri moved to New York with dreams of making it big as an actress. But like so many others, she found herself struggling through endless auditions and unemployment. Born worlds away in the town of Tangier, Morocco, Hamri wasn't afraid to fight back. She'd grown up in a traditionally male-dominated society and her rebellion against gender stereotypes had helped put her on this creative career path.
Moroccan-born Sanaa Hamri on how the Grammy-winner helped her transition from editor to sought-after music video director.
Moroccan-born director Sanaa Hamri talks about her 2005 film "Something New" which explores interracial dating in America.
Music video and film director Sanaa Hamri shares her journey from Tangier to the big studios in Hollywood.
What do the Apollo space missions, laser eye surgery and sustainable cocoa have in common? These are just some of the historic breakthroughs that IBM research labs across the world have helped become a reality over the years.
The chief scientist at Africa's first IBM research lab talks about the company's commitment to the continent.
IBM research boss Uyi Stewart on the need to create innovative solutions for African challenges.
CNN's Nima Elbagir meets Nigerian-born Uyi Stewart -- the chief scientist at Africa's first IBM research lab.
Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong'o has become a new critics' darling after her breakout role in last year's hit movie "12 Years A Slave."
In February 1990, the same month that Nelson Mandela, also known as Madiba, walked free after 27 years behind bars, South Africa's then-President, Frederik Willem de Klerk, issued written instructions to dismantle the nation's atomic arsenal.
The Kenyan actress and star of "12 Years a Slave" on her experience with race in America.
The "12 Years a Slave" star opens up about working behind the scenes and transitioning into acting.
Lupita Nyong'o on preparing for her breakout performance in Steve McQueen's critically acclaimed film.
Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong'o on her breakout role as a young slave who endures a volatile relationship with her master.
The "12 Years a Slave" star talks about her unique upbringing and why she was afraid to pursue acting as a full-time career.
It's early in the morning on a sunny mid-January day and Khensani primary school is buzzing once again. Cheers and laughter fill the schoolyard as groups of arriving pupils line up in rows under a big red kiosk. After a long summer break, it's back to school time -- and rules need repeating.
They say there are no stupid questions -- or are there?
African Voices meets award-winning principal Fannie Sebolela who is putting young South Africans on a path to success.
Fanni Sebolela talks about his approach to teaching -- which was recognized at South Africa's National Teaching Awards.
South African principal Fannie Sebolela explains how gardening helps create a better learning environment for students.
Nigerian lawyer Beatrice Hamza Bassey on combining family life with a successful career.
Beatrice Hamza Bassey on moving to the U.S. and eventually making partner at top law firm Hughes Hubbard & Reed.
CNN's Zain Asher talks to Beatrice Hamza Bassey, the first African partner at one of the most prestigious law firms in the U.S.
Olympian Guor Mading Maker on the emotional return to his home village in South Sudan.
Marathon runner Guor Mading Maker on surviving Sudan's civil war and relocating to the U.S..
Marathon runner Guor Mading Maker on losing family members in the civil war and being enslaved by Arab nomads.
Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde is known as the Queen of Nollywood, Nigeria's booming movie industry. Since her 1995 film debut, the actress has appeared in some 300 movies, selling millions of videos and establishing herself as a Nollywood icon.
Nigerian actress Omotola Jalade Ekeinde opens up about her humble beginnings. Vladimir Duthiers reports.
Actress Omotola Jalade Ekeinde on creating a better infrastructure for Nigeria's booming film industry.
Actress Omotola Jalade Ekeinde talks about sharing her life with millions of television viewers and her passion for activism.
Durban's beachfront promenade was whipped by thin sheets of rain as Stan Engelbrecht and Nic Grobler sat at a seaside café to have breakfast. Coffee was in order. The two photographers were still trying to shake off their morning tiredness, having just arrived at the coastal city after cycling some 1,600 kilometers from Kimberley, a town at the heart of South Africa.
Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong'o became the new Hollywood "It Girl" after she played the object of cruel affection in the movie, "12 Years a Slave." Since her role as Patsey in the movie released last year, she's made rounds in fashion magazines, hobnobbed with celebrities and is considered a breakout star.
Meet South Africa's Luthando Kaka who has defied the odds and broken down barriers in the world of cycling.
Luthando Kaka, South Africa's first black captain of a professional cycling team, puts his $6,000 bike on display.
South African-born Luthando Kaka on how humble beginnings prepared him for success as a pro cyclist.
My mom was always sports mad -- my dad not so much.
British-Nigerian satirist Ikenna Azuike on growing up mixed race and abandoning a lucrative career as a lawyer.
What's Up Africa-founder Ikenna Azuike credits creative freedom as a key factor behind the success of his video blog.
African Voices meets Ikenna Azuike who pokes fun at pop stars and politicians through popular video blog What's Up Africa.
After a tragic accident left him with no legs and only one hand, tennis champion Lucas Sithole had to change his game.
Tennis coach Holger Losch talks to CNN about forming Wheelchair Tennis South Africa and training Lucas Sithole.
Wheelchair tennis champion Lucas Sithole talks to CNN about remaining independent in his quest for trophies.
Chris Aire is known as "the King of Bling," the jeweler to the stars whose dazzling creations are worn by the likes of Angelina Jolie, 50 Cent and Shaquille O'Neal.
African Voices meets Nigerian "jeweler to the stars" Chris Aire shop in Beverly Hills, California.
Born and raised in Nigeria, jewelery designer Chris Aire shunned the life his father plans to pursue his dreams in America.
Jewelery designer Chris Aire talks to CNN about the importance of sourcing diamonds in an ethical way.
As Kenya celebrates 50 years of independence, many will be looking back on the events of the last half century, which saw country shake off British colonialism to carve its own identity. But it is also a time to look ahead to the next 50 years, and how technology can shape a new Kenya.
Inside Africa looks back at Nelson Mandela's return to politics after his release from prison in 1990.
CNN's Robyn Cunrow explores the trials and tribulations of the anti-apartheid leader.
CNN's Robyn Curnow explores the legacy of Nelson Mandela's life and his hopes for the future of South Africa.
"The first thing he asked was 'Are you the one who said that you are the best drummer in this country?' I laughed and told him, 'I never said so.' He asked me if I could play jazz and I said yes. He asked me if I could take solos and I said yes again."
Isha Sesay speaks with the Cameroonian CEO of Yummy Spoonfuls, Agatha Achindu about her to spread her organic message.
Isha Sesay speaks with the Cameroonian CEO of Yummy Spoonfuls, Agatha Achindu about her passion for cooking.
CEO of Yummy Spoonfuls, Agatha Achindu tells CNN about the importance of feeding babies fresh, organic food.
Burundian humanitarian Marguerite Barankitse talks about the thousands of orphans she has helped.
Burundian humanitarian Marguerite Barankitse talks to CNN about promoting a peaceful life in post-war Burundi.
Burundian humanitarian Marguerite Barankitse started Maison Shalom as a home for the many children left orphaned by Civil war.
The masked man had already cut her chest open when the lights went off, plunging the entire room into darkness.
Sara Sidner speaks with Dr. Godwin Godfrey who opens up about being one of few black doctors in Israel.
Dr. Godwin Godfrey on how working in Israel helped him to bring pediatric open heart surgery to Tanzania.
Sara Sidner meets Dr. Godwin Godfrey, the only person in Tanzania capable of doing open heart surgery on small children.
African Start-Up follows the journey of self-starters breaking into business.
You've probably heard by now about the Afropolitans and the Afropreneurs -- but what about the Africapitalists?
Jill Dougherty talks to Nigerian economist Tony Elumelu who explains how business can solve the continent's problems.
Nigerian economist Tony Elumelu on how his upbringing helped prepare him for the success he is experiencing today.
CNN's Jill Dougherty meets Tony Elumelu who turned a struggling bank into a global financial institution.
It's just after two o'clock in the morning and a never-ending queue of South African commuters is waiting to get onto a bus that will take them to Pretoria for work. Many are carrying blankets in the hopes of getting some much-needed rest while on the three-hour journey.
Recent military gains against the M23 militia in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo are an encouraging development, a respite from the impasses faced by Congo.
CNN's Robyn Curnow meets David Goldblatt who reveals the story behind some of his most celebrated photographs.
South African photographer David Goldblatt on capturing the country's darkest hours in black and white.
South African photographer David Goldblatt on how digital advances have revolutionized his work.
Each year, bright, optimistic Africans leave home to earn an education or seek a better economic life abroad for themselves and their families. With fewer opportunities in their home country, many never return home.
The CEO of the Africa-America Institute, Amini Kajunju, on all the opportunities offered on the African continent.
The CEO of the Africa-America Institute, Amini Kajunju, on fighting negative perceptions about the African continent.
The first African-born CEO of the Africa-America Institute, Amini Kajunju, empowers people in Africa and the U.S.
Meet Amini Kajunju who is impacting the African continent through the work she is doing in America.
When art expert Safia Dickersbach cast a dart at a map of Africa, she had no idea it would spark an eight-year love affair with a country she had never seen before.
It wasn't too long ago when the image of Africa was plagued by photographs of starving children, war, wildlife photography and portraits of African tribes exoticizing the "dark continent." But Africa for the past few years has been immersed in digital technology and culture and the digital age in Africa can now be witnessed through art and photography.
Zied Mhirsi tells Errol Barnett about helping the country's most vulnerable population groups.
Physician and blogger Zied Mhirsi talks about starting Tunisia Live, the country's first news website in English.
Zied Mhirsi talks about his blog which earned global attention and played a role in the country's revolution.
A young woman steals her way down darkened passages in Korogocho -- one of Kenya's largest slums. Crime, prostitution and drug use are rampant in the locality where a quarter of a million people reside and the young woman's eyes dart around erratically on the lookout for danger.
For a second consecutive year, no leader has been deemed worthy of the $5 million Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership.
Human rights activist Aggrey Otieno talks about the Telemedicine Project which provides health care in a new way.
Activist Aggrey Otieno talks about educating fellow Kenyans on their right to quality health care and education.
African Voices meets Aggrey Otieno, a human rights activist who tackles high rates of maternal mortality in his hometown.
An investigation into appalling conditions in school hostels has won two South African journalists the top prize at the CNN MultiChoice African Journalist Awards.
All eyes are on Pakistani teenager Malala Yousafzai as the favorite to win the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday. But there's another top contender, according to the bookmakers. That man is Denis Mukwege, a pioneering doctor from the Democratic Republic of Congo who has dedicated his life to helping rape victims.
Is Africa on the cusp of change? Ghana's President John Dramani Mahama shares his vision of the future.
What is the value and impact of international aid? In an era of global austerity, this is a question that is frequently posed by policymakers and the citizens they represent.
His ambition was to get a six-pack before he turned 25 years old. With just nine months to go, time was running out.
Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng opens up about losing the leadership race of Ghana's New Patriotic Party in 2008.
Dr. Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng on returning home and establishing the country's first cardiothoracic center.
Errol Barnett meets Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, a heart surgeon and founder of Ghana's first and only Cardiothoracic center.
First the good news.
Abbey Road Studios in London. This is where The Beatles produced some of their classic records. It's a long way from the Cape Town townships where Pumeza Matshikiza grew up, but this is where the South African soprano is recording her debut album.
South African opera singer Pumeza Matshikiza talks about blending different sounds, styles and ideas in her music.
South African opera singer Pumeza Matshikiza talks to CNN's Rosie Tomkins about her musical education.
South African opera singer Pumeza Matshikiza talks to CNN's Rosie Tomkins about making her first album.
Margaret Kenyatta, the wife of Pres. Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta, is leading an online campaign to protect elephants.
Africa is in the middle of an amazing demographic shift. Our continent is the only one where the size of the younger generation is rising significantly.
Hollywood actress Charlize Theron talks about her roots and helping fight the spread of HIV/AIDS in South Africa.
South African actress Charlize Theron talks about preventing the spread of HIV in her native country.
At 19 years old she was spotted by a talent agent while engaging in a shouting match with a bank teller in Los Angeles. Since then Charlize Theron has powerfully demonstrated an almost chameleon-like ability to assume the roles she takes on.
Actress Charlize Theron on her bond with South Africa and preventing the spread of HIV and AIDS in Africa.
Actress Charlize Theron talks about embracing the unknown after her career as a ballet dancer didn't work out.
Global Fund advocate Charlize Theron sits on a workshop aiming to change perceptions about the disease in South Africa.
The Princess talks about the African Arts and Fashion Initiative which helps young people interested in those fields.
CNN's Zain Verjee speaks with Princess Fifi Ejindu about her career in architecture and the strength of African women.
Meet Princess Fifi Ejindu, a Nigerian descendent of royalty who has done pioneering work in architecture and business.
If you're reading this somewhere in Africa, then perhaps you should thank Nii Quaynor.
Ghanaian internet pioneer Nii Quaynor discusses the future of Internet industries across Africa.
Mention DR Congo, Sub-Saharan Africa's largest country, and what comes to mind? Probably conflict minerals, proxy wars, the rape capital of the world, or the trigger for the 19th century "Scramble for Africa."
Patricia Mawa, Host & Managing Editor at Silvertrust Media, describes her incredible journey from rags to riches.
From the moment she steps onto the stage, lighting up the concert hall with her radiant smile and striking flowing dress, to the very last notes of her energy-filled show, which finds everyone at their feet, it's easy to see why Fatoumata Diawara feels right at home while performing.
In this period of gloomy economic forecasts, Africa's rise has become a widely discussed international policy topic. The sweeping optimism about Africa's economic prospects has been reinforced by 2013 projections that the continent will grow faster than the world average.
Inside a brightly painted Mogadishu clinic, Salim (not her real name) sits alongside her seven-year-old son, waiting for a check up. Opposite them, a health professional listens to their nightmarish ordeal.
It's hard for me to choose the greatest African films of the 21st century as the genres and styles of African cinema have evolved in a big way over the past 20 years or so. Movie makers are now showing a more vibrant Africa than the Francophone filmmakers did before them.
For centuries, the lush national parks of southern Kenya and northern Tanzania have been called home by the Maasai, one of Africa's most culturally district tribes.
It is one of the iconic modern cinema scenes: Mena Suvari, as Angela in Oscar-winning "American Beauty," stretches her arms wide as she basks in a sea of floating rose petals during one of Lester's (Kevin Spacey) frequent fantasies.
As the world celebrates the long-awaited addition to the British royal family, it is worth taking some time to reflect on the women around the world for whom childbirth is not such a joyous, beautiful and celebrated occasion.
When Ahmed Jama decided to leave behind the successful restaurant he'd started in London to open a new one in one of the world's most dangerous cities, his hometown of Mogadishu, reactions ranged from surprise to scorn to straightforward questioning of his sanity.
Last week, President Obama came to my country, Tanzania. President Kikwete and our people received him with great pride, but it is unlikely Obama heard anything about our government's plan to give a great chunk of land that has been the Maasai tribe's home for millennia, to a hunting company from the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Eight-year-old Tineyi takes my hand and leads me into her mud-thatched hut in my home village of Matau in rural Zimbabwe. There, in a dark corner of the room, is a wooden bookshelf. Carefully crafted by her father, it protects her word-filled treasures from the smoky fire inside the small hut where her mother cooks. I smile, knowing that her father has recognized the value these books will bring to his little bookworm -- a life ahead of her with limitless opportunities.
There's a plaque affixed to the wall inside the lounge room of the downtown Cairo studio where Bassem Youssef films "Al Bernameg" ("The Program"), the Arab world's most watched TV show.