Black excellence

Filmmaker and education advocate Zuriel Oduwole, 14, named ‘world’s most powerful girl’ by US Secretary of State


HIGH PRAISE: Zuriel Oduwole

HIGH PRAISE: Zuriel Oduwole

TEENAGE FILMMAKER Zuriel Oduwole has been named the “world’s most powerful girl” by US Secretary of State John Kerry.

US-born Zuriel, who has met and interviewed 23 world leaders and addressed more than 24,900 children across 11 countries on education, sat down with John Kerry at his office at the US State Department in Washington DC to discuss her Dream Up, Speak Up, Stand Up project and other secondary initiatives, such as her filmmaking class for unemployed youths.

The 14-year-old has now taught film making to more than 305 youths across four African countries – including Namibia, Kenya, Mauritius and Nigeria, where her father was born.

Her advocacy saw her made the youngest person to be profiled by Forbes and in November 2014, at age 12, Zuriel became the world’s youngest filmmaker to have a self-produced and self-edited work after her film, A Promising Africa, showed in two movie chains. It was screened in Ghana, England, South Africa and Japan.

Secretary Kerry commended Zuriel for her “clarity of purpose” in her fight for Girls Education in Africa and said he was happy to “recognise a talent” like her.

CHAMPIONING EDUCATION: Zuriel meets with Secretary of State John Kerry

CHAMPIONING EDUCATION: Zuriel meets with Secretary of State John Kerry

“I don’t believe there is anyone out there under the age of 35 doing anything nearly as much as what you are doing”, the Secretary told Zuriel. “It is incredible you have seen clearly the importance of these global challenges, and taken bold steps to do something about them. As far as I know, you are the world’s most powerful girl, but you probably just don’t know it. You are inspiring and empowering Africa’s youth, and that is very, very powerful,” he said.

In her reply, Zuriel said “I try”, but Secretary Kerry responded, saying, “No, you are not just trying, you are a doer, and we like to recognize talent like yours”.

Zuriel asked Secretary Kerry what his most difficult challenge was in the last four years as Secretary of State. In one word, he replied “Syria”.

He explained the difficulty was because of the various proxies and complexities of dealing with many factions with varying interests in the country.

Zuriel, who is fluent in English and Mandarin and was invited to speak at the UN last September, thanked the Secretary for not leaving out the issue of girls education in his programs over the last four years.

She hopes the next secretary of state continues with these policies.



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