It’s obvious Nachilala Nkombo has an abiding passion for Africa. Born and raised in Livingstone, Zambia, Nkombo’s interest in development work was influenced by the 1980s when there was a lot of rhetoric in the media about the importance of a free Africa.
“South Africa was the last on the fight for freedom back then, so from time to time, our town would get bombed and the reason why South Africa was bombing us was because we were supporting the freedom fighters. So it got me to develop a sort of consciousness early on in terms of commitment to social justice and understanding our history and how as African people we had equal rights and capabilities contrary to what the system at the time was telling us,” says Nkombo.
Her fight for social justice has seen Nkombo travel all over the world with a commitment to improve the lives of the underprivileged and the poor.
“I took the belief that we as Africans can change the world. When I was growing up, my role models at the time were politicians because they were doing great things and they were leading on big projects that were changing the communities.”
After university, Nkombo’s first role was an internship position in the United States with the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.
“It was like an organization focusing on human rights and it looked at areas where human rights were violated a lot, like the Middle East. Internally, we were challenging corporate personhood laws. In America, corporates had the same rights as individuals. And we were challenging this because there was no way a human being that was finite can compete with a corporate whose resources are never-ending.”
Then came her role with an American non-governmental organization back in Africa.
The role was to be part of the team going to set up the program in Africa and she was responsible for the pan-African women and youth program, which also had an element connecting with the United Nations.
“We developed curricula for young people in Africa that were leaders and we trained about 300 young activists from different parts of Africa who were already making a difference,” she says.
Nkombo’s continued passion for development work has led her to Denmark and Germany and today as the Executive Director of ONE Africa, her fight to combat social injustice wages on.
“As the ONE campaign, we have a plan that outlines the policy priorities that we are going to focus on in the next four years to deliver our mission that is to contribute to the end of extreme poverty and disease. My responsibility is two-fold, to lead the team in Africa to come up with strategies to deliver campaigns and advocacy that actually work in Africa but also my responsibility feeds into the global strategy so that what we are thinking about globally actually works and is relevant in Africa,” says Nkombo.
The organization has expanded their work in recent months and has teamed up with the Dangote Foundation (spearheaded by Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote) to spread their work on advocacy in Nigeria. Nkombo believes making a stance to end social injustice is a mandate for all Africans and it is only by pulling together as one, that we can truly impact the future generation.