In this photo taken on Sunday, Aug. 10, 2014, Liberian soccer star George Weah smiles inside a room in the city of Monrovia, Liberia. Liberia’s world famous soccer star George Weah has produced a song to raise awareness about Ebola, the deadly disease ravaging West Africa. Weah, who before he retired was FIFA’s player of the year, is now a politician and singer. (AP Photo/Jonathan Paye-Layleh)

Former soccer great George Weah was elected last week as Liberia’s new president, succeeding Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who is stepping down after two terms as Africa’s first female president.

Weah easily beat out Vice President Joseph Boakai in a runoff election. With more than 98 percent of votes counted, Weah received 61.5 percent of the ballots while Boakai received 38.5 percent.

The West African nation will now encounter its first democratic transfer of power in more than 70 years.

In his first public comments after his rival conceded, Weah said he is “honored to join a new generation of heads of state.”

The 51-year-old senator, who entered politics after retirement from soccer more than a decade ago, won Liberia’s first independently run election since the end of its civil wars.

South Africa Gets Special New Year’s Message from Zuma

The year 2018 marks the centenary of late South African President Nelson Mandela, and in early celebration and honor of the activist, current President Jacob Zuma delivered a special New Year’s speech to the nation’s residents.

Highlighting varied social woes plaguing the country, including economics, drugs, and racial disparity, Zuma outlined strategic government plans to help boost the economy and equal the playing field for all residents.

“The year 2018 marks the centenary of the late President Nelson Mandela,” Zuma said.
“We should use the year to celebrate his contribution and promote unity and togetherness in our country. Let us work together to build a truly united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa.”

Zuma also said the country has shown improvement in the areas of electricity, housing, roads, water and sanitation, health care, social grants and accessible education.

Nonprofit Awarded for Community Service

A D.C. nonprofit involved in annual programs such as the MLK Day of Service and the Mandela Day River Cleanup was recently honored with a special Community Excellence Award.

The Capitol Professionals, an organization that celebrates D.C. professionals, awarded Path to Greatness, which works closely with the Mayor’s Office of African Affairs, during an event at the Andrew Mellon Auditorium on New Year’s Eve.

“This award is given in recognition of the exemplary commitment and performance of a non-profit in the DMV area,” said Sayo Esconsay, organizer of the event. “The energy and the people that you surround yourself with going into the New Year is how you set the tone for the rest of the year. We host this event so that like-minded people with like-minded goals can bring in the New Year together on a high note, with the hopes of keeping that same energy throughout the year.”

Lauren M. Poteat

Lauren Poteat is a versatile writer with a strong background in communications and media experience with an additional background in education and development.

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