Raissa Malu

Nothing like a "Dream Team"

I was reading Jim Collins' book Good to Great and as the pages went by, I had an irresistible desire to share my experience during Science and Technology Week (before the 3rd episode of Nuclear History in Africa 😉).

It was chapter 3 of the book, First Who,Then What, which shows the importance of starting by gathering the best team, that induced me to write this post. Not that Science and Technology Week is an "excellent institution" in the same way as the companies described in this book, but the adventure remains interesting to share.

Science and Technology Week is an event that the non-profit association Investing In people has been organizing every year since 2014 in the Democratic Republic of Congo with the Ministry of Primary, Secondary and Vocational Education. The 6th edition was held from 20th to 25th April.

Reaching the general public

This project aims to promote science and technology to young people and the general public. Why? First, because it's fun 😊, and second, because technical and scientific skills are very useful for developing a nation. You will discover the activities offered on the website. Here, I would like to put the spotlight on the team that sets all this.

The idea of a large-scale event came to me when I attended the first edition of the National Dictation organized in June 2013 by the General Inspectorate of Primary, Secondary and Vocational Education. I remember being amazed by the pupils of the 6th Primary from all the educational provinces of the country who were welcomed by the Inspector General, Mr Michel Djamba, in the four national languages, Lingala, Ciluba, Swahili and Kikongo.

From dictation to science

It was wonderful to hear these children answer heartily, by language group, to the traditionnal greetings. If the Ministry was capable of such an organization for dictation, it could just as easily do it for science!

They accepted the challenge. All that remained was to find the teammates who would also agree to "get on the bus". They came to me almost naturally.

The Scientific Director

Our first "Avengers" (allow me this analogy 😉) is Dora Muanda, Scientific Director of Science and Technology Week. Dora was one of my physics students when she was studying medicine in Namur, Belgium. Dora dreams like me and lends herself to "all the delusions" if they can help create a better world. Specialized in Didactics of Science and a high school teacher, she knows how to speak and inspire young people. She is passionate and professional.

As soon as I told her about the project, she replied with a big smile: "Let's go!", knowing that it was a voluntary work and that we should bring ourselves devices for the experiments. Every year, at every edition, Dora shows the same enthusiasm when I present her with "my crazy new ideas" 😊

The press

The second one in the team is Michel Muyembi. Our two families, Muyembi and Malu, have been friends since our early childhood. Michel has always volunteered his help during my first prospecting trips to Kinshasa. For the project, we needed someone who could take care of the technique, moderate the conferences and manage the local press, Michel's skills.

A multi-entrepreneur

It was after having moved heaven and earth that Serge Mbay entered the adventure (it was apparently difficult to meet me at the time. LOL!). Dr Serge Mbay (he is a physician by training) publishes a magazine, RDC Logos, which tells a different story about the Democratic Republic of Congo, its history, its cultures and its personalities, the well-known and (especially) the lesser-known. With his NGO Elongo Elonga, he also develops several activities in the field of health and agriculture.

In addition to that, he is Managing Director of a major money transfer company. I often wonder where Serge finds the energy and time to do all his activities ("He probably doesn't sleep at night", Madi would tell 😊).

Exhibitors' managers

At the time, Serge wanted to meet me to dedicate an issue of RDC Logos to the late Prof. Dr. Ir Félix Malu Wa Kalenga, my father. To his point of view, this could not be done without the agreement and contribution of the biological family.

The meeting finally took place during one of my prospecting trips to Kinshasa. While discussing this special issue, Serge spontaneously offered his help for the Science and Technology Week (1st edition). The project was perfectly in line with the actions it was carrying out.

He proposed his team and network for the exhibition part. "Please, jump on the bus!" And since then, every year, he has organized the exhibitors' part with a masterful hand.

An all-terrain advisor

The fourth "Avengers" is my great friend, Prof. Madimba Kadima-Nzuji, PhD in Law. Madi, as we call him, is the friend of all fights, of all adventures, big and small (we would certainly choose the "science fiction" style to tell them all 😊). It is thanks to him that I write and publish (Thank you Madi!).

For Science and Technology Week, he advises on presentations, reports, communication, public relations and conferences. We also run the event's social networks together.

An efficient assistant

Gaby Muanda (no, Gaby and Dora are not related) joined the team after the 3rd edition, recommended by Serge. He described him as a willing man, in whom we could trust and who could validly support him on the exhibitor side. We joyfully welcomed Gaby and entrusted him with the tasks of assistant.

An American Congolese

I am particularly proud to present our sixth "Avengers", our "Black Panther" (perhaps I should say "Leopard"!), Prof. Dr. Jonathan Mboyo Esole, Congolese mathematical genius and Next Einstein Forum Fellow (2017-2019). I had already tried to get Jonathan at the first editions of Science and Technology Week when I was told that there was a fellow countryman who was brilliant at Harvard in mathematics. At that time, he had not replied or received my request to connect to LinkedIn.

It is through the Next Einstein Forum that we have come closer. We discovered that we had many common relationships. It was amazing that we missed each other so much over the years! Jonathan is our ears, eyes and arm to and from abroad. He identifies opportunities. He weaves the links, traces the paths and builds the bridges... "No doubt, we're building Wakanda in D. R. C."

The conductor

The next one also has a beautiful story he likes to tell. When he heard about Science and Technology Week (1st edition), he found the project so great that he promised himself that someday, somehow, he would contribute himself. The opportunity presented itself six years later. He is Elikia Sabwe, a multi-entrepreneur and event specialist.

For the 6th edition, I wanted a "conductor" able to manage an event that would offer a unique experience every day in a different place. 20,000 visitors were expected if everyone would answer to the invitation. Elikia took up this challenge with panache and we confirmed it in the team with a round of applause.

The graphics designer

I saved you the best for last. The last "Avengers" is the one with "the greatest powers". As always with these, he remains discreet "at the back of the bus" and reveals himself at the right time. This is Mike Tuluka, our graphic designer. Posters and visual communication : it is him. Mike knows how to render into images what is barely conceived in my mind.

As you can see, each of my "Avengers" has its "own film" in which he/she is the hero or heroine. But once a year, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, they gather and put "their superpowers" at the service of a project, an adventure that exceeds them and in which they believe.

The ambition of the project

To paraphrase Jim Collins, the strength of Science and Technology Week is that in the team, "everyone knows how to transform their personal ambition into the ambition of the project". Some may think it's probably because we're making some money. I'll disappoint them, but no. Most of us are volunteers.

Jim Collins says it so well: "The best elements want to help build something great." "In teams that strive for excellence, you need people who are willing to unite behind a project regardless of their immediate interests. If not, you need to review the team!"

"Avengers, rally!"

Science is fun, join us!

This post was first published on LinkedIn. It has been translated in English by Afriscitech.

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