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Why David Oyelowo Created A Scholarship For Nigerian Girls

The actor and activist hopes to have an “actual direct impact” on their lives.

07/29/2016 01:08 pm ET
David Oyelowo’s scholarship will help educate Nigerian girls. 

David Oyelowo isn’t just a successful actor, he’s a humanitarian, too. 

To that end, the “Selma” actor created a scholarship which aims to ensure that young Nigerian girls have the necessary tools to excel in society. In partnership with the LA-based nonprofit organization, GEANCO, the David Oyelowo Leadership Scholarship for Girls will specifically support female victims of terror attacks and gender-based inequality.

Oyelowo told The Huffington Post that his scholarship was inspired by Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa, and that he was propelled to action following the 2014 abduction of 276 schoolgirls in Chibok, northeast Nigeria.

“For me, being of Nigerian descent myself, being a father to a daughter, I just feel so drawn to this particular group of girls in Nigeria who have been disenfranchised, who have been attacked, and having their very basic rights stolen from them,” Oyelowo said during an interview with The Huffington Post. “And so, forming this partnership to start this scholarship that is going to have actual direct impact to girls who have been displaced through these acts of terror, is something that was kind of a no brainer for me, because I’ve been looking for places to be effective rather than just be angry about some of the injustices that I see in the world.”

The scholarship, which started with preliminary plans in August 2015, has so far been funded by the likes of The Oprah Winfrey Foundation, Participant Media and NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Warren Moon.

This year three recipients will be awarded a full scholarship for the 2016-2017 school year at the Anglican Girls Grammar School in Nigeria’s capital city, Abuja.

Afam Onyema, GEANCO co-founder and Chief Operating Officer, has high hopes for the scholarship.

“My dream eventually is to have this scholarship be regarded in the same way that the Rhodes Scholarship is,” Onyema told HuffPost. “I want these girls to become the president of Nigeria, and I want their bio to be, ‘and she was a David Oyelowo Leadership scholar.’”

“I want to instill that sense of dignity into these girls and say, ‘whatever you wanna do we’re gonna help empower you to do it. And we’re gonna walk with you for as long as we possibly can to help you live the life that you deserve to live,’” Onyema added. 

Oyelowo is committed not just to high-quality education for Nigeria’s next generation, but he hopes to address other pervasive issues in the African country that are close to his heart, including human trafficking and gender inequality.

“I have a daughter and I want the world that she goes on to grow up in to be a leveled playing field,” he said. “And so, those are the issues that are close to me and hopefully I’ll have the opportunity to do my part.”

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