Spoken word artist among 26 picked as Ford Global Fellow

Spoken Word celebrity Willie Oeba has been selected as a Ford Global Fellowship cohort 2024 alongside 25 others, having campaigned against inequalities among artists. [Courtesy]

Nakuru-based spoken word artist Willie Oeba has been selected for a Ford Global Fellowship.

Having campaigned against inequalities among artists, Oeba is among 26 international cohorts selected by the American-based organisation in the 2024 list.

In a press release, the Ford Foundation said the selected members are leaders from around the world, who fight against inequalities on all grounds.

“The global fellowship is a program aimed at connecting and supporting the next generation of leaders from around the world who are advancing innovative solutions to end inequality,” read the statement.

The foundation announced that the 26 leaders join an existing network of 72 fellows working across Africa, Asia, the United States of America, and the Middle East.

“Launched in 2020 with an investment of 50 million dollars over 10 years, the foundation provides emerging leaders with tools, networks, and solidarity they need to effectively advance social justice,” read the statement.

Executive Vice-President of the foundation Hilary Pennington said the foundation is committed to investing in the ideas, individuals, and institutions creating lasting, systemic change.

He said the newest fellows were courageous leaders in their own right who are both imagining and actively building a more just future.

“Each new fellow will receive a no-strings-attached 25,000 dollars stipend, alongside individualized coaching, to help grow leadership skills and reach new audiences,” he said.

Speaking to The Sunday Standard, Oeba said he was delighted and could not believe he would be selected.

He said the success rate of the selection was five percent and the last time Kenya was selected was in 2020.

“It is the first time a Kenyan artist has been selected as a fellow. I feel privileged and proud,” said Oeba.

Oeba runs ISM Academy where he trains upcoming artists on how to survive, grow, distribute their work, and succeed.

He said he wants to mentor artists and show that there are other avenues for success.

Oeba said 250 leaders of the world in other departments. He said they were subjected to four interviews, both face-to-face and virtual.

“When I got the news I was shocked because I didn’t expect I would be traveling to learn more on how to assist artists in my academy,” he said.

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