The rise in income inequality globally over the last few decades has been well documented with a small group of people owning the majority of wealth. Many policies have been put forward to tackle this, such as changing taxes, and generous pledges from billionaires have certainly helped.
However, throughout history, the biggest equalizer for this problem has been access to quality education. One musician who recognises this from his own upbringing is Patrick “Patoranking” Okorie, 29. He has partnered with African Leadership University to form the ALU Patoranking Scholarship offering 10 students full scholarships to study at the innovative university.
Patoranking was born in Ilaje Ebuta-Metta in Lagos, Nigeria the eldest of 5 children. His upbringing was very different from the lifestyle he lives today—“me, my Mom, Dad and siblings all shared one room,” he recalled—however, he has fond memories of his childhood stating: “Ebuta-Metta is my heart, no matter how hard it was we were still grateful for each day.”
Patoranking was well known in Ebuta-Metta for two things: one was music; the other was selling products locally with his Dad, which he started at the age of 13, anything from calendars to rat poison. However, by 17 with bigger ambitions, he decided to move to Ghana in search of a better life for him and his family. “My friends and I always used to talk about making it and wanting more,” he recalls.
Rise In Music
Whilst in Ghana, Patoranking pursued his music and also applied to the University of Cape Coast, well knowing he could not afford it but hopeful by the time enrolment came around he would have funds. Unfortunately, he did not have the funds to afford the university fees. Mentioning that “I didn’t choose music, music chose me,” he returned to Nigeria to pursue a music career full time. He managed to find some success working with smaller labels, however, many of them didn’t understand his Afro-Reggae sound, which was unique at the time and different from Afrobeats, the most popular music genre on the continent. However, his big break came when award-winning artist Timaya, who featured him on his song “Alubarika,” meaning God’s blessings, and who let Patoranking stay with him at his house. “Alubarika” was a great success and Patroanking says: “God really did bless me as that was the turning point for me and my family.”
Patoranking ALU Scholarship
Today Patoranking is well known across Africa, having accumulated over 200 million Youtube views, while his most recent album Wilmar debuted at number 5 on the global Billboard Reggae charts. However, he never lost his passion for education.
He said to himself if he was ever in the position to provide the education he could not get for young kids from areas like Ebuta-Metta, he would. Fortunately, that opportunity came up at Youth Connekt Africa last year where he met Fred Swaniker, Founder of African Leadership University (“ALU”) and a member of Time’s 100 most influential people. “I loved everything ALU represents and strives for, I also attended their Africa Leaders Network in Ghana and it was a fantastic experience, we both believe in the importance of ensuring Africa’s next generation of leaders are educated,” says Patoranking.
A few months later, they had set up the ALU Patoranking Scholarship, which will provide full scholarships to 10 students starting in the fall September 2020. The students they are looking for must be resilient, driven, innovative, creative, mission-driven and have demonstrated a positive impact in their communities and be from a lower-income background. Patoranking believes “exceptional leaders and change-makers can come from anywhere. Financial constraints should not prevent the next great African innovators from gaining the tools, skill sets and networks to bring their ideas to life.”
Applications for the program are open until March 17th and you can apply here.