What is 30 Years of Service?


My father is retiring today after 30 years with ICRISAT.

My father is a complex man. He is a devoted, dedicated, and persistent man. Do not confuse his persistence with stubbornness for the two are very different. He is the kind of man who goes out of his way to do the right thing, not the easiest thing, no matter how difficult it may be.

30 years ago my father left Purdue University, nestled in the quiet town of West Lafayette, Indiana in pursuit of bettering his homeland. After 8 or so years in the U.S., many of his colleagues and professors were baffled by this wide-eyed PhD graduate’s decision. They adamantly questioned it and mistook the pride on his face for naivete. 


Grad ceremony

They said things like, why are you returning to Africa, while others are doing everything they can to come here?” and it’s 1988. You’d be wiser to stay in the U.S., get a green card and never look back.” 

But he ignored them. With my mother and two sisters in tow
(who were 7 and 1 at the time), he packed their belongings and headed for Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe was a newly independent republic, not quite like Tanzania. It was drier, landlocked, and it didn’t quite have the alpine climate of the slopes of Kilimanjaro. But it was Africa, and Africa was home. He was offered a post-doctoral fellowship with an NGO known as ICRISAT the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics. It was the beginning of a long journey towards providing food security to rural communities all over sub-Saharan Africa and East Asia. 


Spice market in India

Over the years, our family grew (hello ME), and he made that teacup-shaped country in southern Africa home. Travelling all over the globe, and becoming more familiar with countries like Cameroon, India, Niger and Laos he took his message and mission from east to west. He gave thousands of presentations about the devastating effects of drought for communities whose livelihoods depended on smallholder farmers, the overwhelming benefits (yes, I said benefits) of GMOs and testified about many other challenges and successes he had encountered firsthand in the field and through his ground-breaking laboratory research. He tirelessly reiterated the harmful effects of fossil fuel extraction, highlighting the fact that farmers in developing countries are most affected by climate change, despite having the least power to significantly impact it.


Many smallholder farmers in developing countries are women whose singular livelihoods support entire villages.

ICRISAT eventually took my father back to his home country of Tanzania where he has spent his final year with the organization. We have been proud of him every step of the way. Proud that he never abandoned his mission of feeding the world. Proud that he held onto his morals and principles throughout this journey. When the going got tough, he didn’t give up, he persevered. While he is looking forward to retirement and what is to come, I know he is emotional about the end of this chapter.


Mount Kilimanjaro

In this world that all too often celebrates what is fickle, emphasizes individualism, and prioritizes consumerism, I am immensely proud that my dad’s career has been a powerful example of what it means to truly serve others. Dr. Emmanuel Monyo has so selflessly given himself over to a simple, impactful pursuit: ensuring food for everyone. 

To learn more about ICRISAT, visit

How did we get here?

We hear it almost daily: there is no better time to be alive than right now. Whether it’s Macleans magazine, or the smooth-talking Leader of the Free World, we are being told that regardless of our race, gender or sexual orientation, it’s far better to be alive right now than at any other time in history. That being born a millennial in the West is a choice we would make again and again, if we could choose. I’m not so sure.

From the rise of Donald Trump, to Islamophobia, to Brexit, we see insurmountable racist rhetoric sweeping through Europe and North America. I find myself asking: how did we get here?

So much bloodshed, so much pain – but still – so much progress. At any other time, I might try to conjure up the hope that things are getting better, but today, we are being killed in these streets. Today, the murder of black men by police has become as commonplace and mundane as Hillary Clinton’s Benghazi hearings.

Enough is enough. Stop killing us. Black lives matter.


** Update: I have since read about the shootings of several policemen in Dallas. Violence is never the answer. Hate begets hate. Love conquers all.

Take a walk on the west side

Oh, hey! It’s been a while. A quick rundown on what’s changed and what has remained the same:



  • Relocating to Vancouver
  • Moving in with my wonderfully charming boyfriend
  • Turning 25
  • Navigating the tech scene affectionately dubbed as “Silicon Valley North”


  • Racial politics
  • Real estate woes
  • Hairdresser issues
  • Grappling with what it means to be a socialist black, twentysomething in a largely white, socially-liberal-fiscally-conservative environment


It’s been said time and again, but perhaps it bears repeating: Vancouver is breathtakingly beautiful. The tranquil mountains, lush forests and serene beaches are hauntingly picturesque.


Vancouver is comfortable. The queues are shorter, the trains and buses run without delay, the streets are quieter and for the most part things just work. I’ve discovered charming side street cafes and delectable eateries, but most astonishingly – a subtle, yet ever-present innate desire for physical activity.

You never really know where life will take you. I certainly never pictured myself living in Montreal, Manchester, London or Vancouver, but I’m starting to see that each new opportunity is a chance to add to your assortment of experiences. These experiences make up who we are and help us determine where we are going.


A Letter To My Mother

To the ones who wiped snot and cleaned vomit. Who nursed the chicken pox, braided hair and punished a thousand colds. You are the ones who fearlessly fought for more, for better, for the best. You’re the ones who selflessly decided our dreams were more important than yours: our hopes more vital, our goals more essential.

mama waterloo

You are women who were once young girls gloriously adorned with youth and favour. You were courted majestically and men showered you with praise. You had hopes and expectations for the future, but you never quite knew how they would all turn out. You married, you bore children, you created and held families together.

When push came to shove, you gave for your family. You are the women who moved to barren lands, raised teenage girls and worked thankless customer service jobs to see your children thrive. You did it with dignity, honour and relentless dedication. You celebrated their joys and you cried when they cried. When the time came,  you moved on, knowing you’d done your best.

we three girls

You are a woman who has raised three women. You are the woman who made me who I am: a morsel of who you are. You are the woman to whom I owe it all.

Happy International Women’s Day, Mom!


niagara falls mom