December 5, 2022:
Toronto, ON (December 5, 2022) – Yesterday, Giants of Africa, a not-for-profit dedicated to enriching the lives of African youth through sports, and its co-founder Masai Ujiri, vice-chairman and president of the Toronto Raptors, kicked off its two-day celebration of Nelson Mandela’s life and legacy.
Presented by Bell, the 9th annual ‘The Giant of Africa Gala’ was held at HISTORY in Toronto. This year’s gala was hosted by sports journalist and host Taylor Rooks, while two-time WNBA champion and broadcaster Candace Parker took the stage in conversation with Masai Ujiri. Former Giants of Africa camper, Tolulope Omogbehin – aka WWE professional wrestler ‘Omos’, spoke about the impact that Giants of Africa has made on his personal journey. Guests were treated to musical performances by Asa, Nigerian singer-songwriter and multi-platinum selling recording artist, and Deborah Cox, award-winning entertainer and Canadian Music Hall of Fame inductee.
“It was an honour to be among so many friends last night to celebrate the life and legacy of Nelson Mandela, a man who has had a profound impact on many and continues to inspire the next generation,” said Masai Ujiri. “Personally, Mandela has been a guiding light, inspiring me daily to try to always bring kindness and change to the world. Mandela believed in the power of sport and education and his principles and approach embody all that Giants of Africa strives to be.”
Day Two Events
Business and community leaders as well as equity, diversity and inclusion specialists will come together for action-oriented dialogue about barriers, best practices and belonging in the workplace at the second annual ‘Inclusive Leadership Forum’, in learning partnership with Canadian Tire Corporation Inc.
Closing out day two is the Giants of Africa themed Raptors Game against the Boston Celtics, with a special curated half-time show, and a post-game reception.
Giants of Africa Festival
At ‘The Giant of Africa Gala’, the foundation announced the inaugural ‘Giants of Africa Festival’ in celebration of its 20th anniversary in 2023. Taking place in August, the week-long celebration
of basketball, education, culture, and entertainment will unite more than 250 youth from 16 countries across Africa in Kigali, Rwanda. The youth will participate in a series of basketball clinics and leadership workshops designed to empower them to follow their dreams, on and off the court.
The festival will also bring together over 5,000 Rwandan youth at an International Youth Day educational forum and will host 3 public events, featuring a closing concert at the BK Arena.
For more information, visit www.GOAFestival.org
About Giants of Africa and Masai Ujiri
Vice-Chairman and President – Toronto Raptors; Co-Founder – Giants of Africa Masai Ujiri is the first and only African-born President of a professional sports franchise in North America – the National Basketball Association’s Toronto Raptors. In 2019, Masai led the Raptors to their first-ever NBA Championship and the first NBA Championship won by a team outside the United States in NBA history. Born and raised in Nigeria, with a deep passion for basketball, Masai began to pursue a career as an executive when his professional basketball career came to an early end. In 2003, Masai co-founded the Giants of Africa Foundation, based on the idea of using basketball as a means of educating and enriching the lives of African youth—both boys and girls. Giants of Africa has used sport to help empower youth to dream big, hosting basketball camps and clinics for boys and girls in 16 countries across the continent. In 2021, Giants of Africa launched the ‘Built Within’ 100-court initiative and have unveiled 20 basketball facilities in Kenya, Tanzania, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Senegal to date.