Celebrating an illustrious African Hero

This tribute, by WACSI, was in recognition of the contribution that I am making to the continent with support from good samaritans that I am meeting along the journey. The announcement on the award was made on January 19, 2021.

Many are called but few are chosen. This popular adage encapsulates the recognition bestowed upon Carl Manlan, Chief Operating Officer of the Ecobank Foundation, for his relentless efforts to ‘move the needle of human progress’ on the African continent.

The Ivorian was recently named the Frontline Hero of the year 2020 by the African Silent Heroes Award jury, an honour that was highly contested by reputable men and women who made remarkable strides in the fight against COVID-19. This award reminds Manlan of the value each and everyone can contribute to efforts to shape a more prosperous continent and the world at large.

“The award recognises the contribution of many good Samaritans that I met along the way. Each one has been generous with their time, advice, lessons, and their willingness to challenge my thinking. It also means that the work of learning is incomplete. And ultimately, it means that the belief that my children and their generation will live in a better continent is taking shape for us, by us and for the world,” he says.

The Frontline Heroes Award, championed by the Africa Silent Heroes Foundation rewards Africans who over the years, quietly and repeatedly execute extraordinary community development philanthropy within their African communities.

It is no surprise that Manlan emerged winner of the award in his category. His ceaseless contributions to the health sector cannot go unnoticed. His critical writings that build awareness, shape thinking and inform better healthcare policies on the continent are some of the silent strides Manlan silently and tirelessly makes on the continent.

“I have written extensively on the issues at hand in the health sector as well as their ramifications to the development agenda. One of my favourite pieces is my collaboration with the Spokesperson of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission as we put forward the work on which Africans continue to build to advance the only agenda that matters to Africa: human progress,” he explains.

“I find myself in a position where I contributed to a Pan-African’s bank work in malaria and non-communicable diseases (NCDs). Specifically, working with SMEs to redefine how CEOs engage with their communities in the fight against malaria. In addition, turning the outcome of a staff survey into a three-year program where each staff member and their network know that they can take a step against NCDs,” Manlan humbly enumerates some of the engagements that earned him this recognition. His expertise was put at the service of Africans as resources were galvanized to curb the spread of the deadly COVID-19 virus on the continent.

“In these times of transition, I was fortunate to work with continental leaders in the fight against COVID-19 both at Speak Up Africa and Africa CDC to allow any African citizen and member of the diaspora to contribute to the continental effort,” the ingenious Board member of the West Africa Civil Society Institute explains.

A versatile economist whom all Ivorians are proud of for raising the country’s flag high, Manlan attributes his passion for making contributions to improve the health sector on the continent to the robust foundations laid in him by his parents.

“I was very fortunate to observe my parents’ dedication to public service and improving African health systems. They made me understand that transformation starts and ends with health. So, to be able to continue what they have started is a blessing. They were health professionals and their passion for saving lives stayed with me,” Manlan alludes.

It is widely known that more is expected from him whom much is given. This resonates with Manlan. Spurred by this award, he is poised to work in tandem with other stakeholders to make more wins for the African health sector in the years ahead.

“The award reminds me that I have to find more Africans that are willing and able to do what it takes to tell the next generation, in their eyes, that we did all that we could to move the needle of human progress,” he emphasizes.

Recognising the gruesome health challenges facing the African continent, Manlan makes an urgent plea for all Africans to take the necessary basic actions to overcome these challenges plaguing the health and wellbeing of our people and continent. Particularly given the COVID-19 pandemic that is badly staring at us, Manlan appeals that:

“Prevention is the best cure. It takes awareness, discipline, and solidarity for better health. Awareness of the things to do to avoid infection is critical. Furthermore, the discipline to stay healthy within constraints and finally the solidarity that breaks artificial social barriers as COVID-19 reminded us that it affects anyone who may be caught off guard in the prevention fight.