“Sports Can Be A Transformative Method Of Helping To Foster Peace” | NBA Africa Adds Forest Whitaker To Investors

Image Credit: Twitter @SprungOnSports screen shot

As the NBA continues to develop its interest in Africa, the league announced that “The Godfather of Harlem” star Forest Whitaker joined NBA Africa as a strategic investor.

“I’m thrilled to become a strategic investor in NBA Africa as it plans to grow basketball’s presence across the continent,” said Whitaker in a statement.

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The Whitaker Touch

Whitaker is an American actor, producer, director, humanitarian and activist. He also is a Golden Globe, British Academy Film Award, two Screen Actors Guild Awards winner.

He also won a 2006 Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of former Uganda president Idi Amin in the British historical drama “The Last King of Scotland.”

“The game of basketball is incredibly inspirational, and my decade working in Africa has shown me how sports can be a transformative method of helping to foster peace, as well as an economic engine for socioeconomic development in areas of conflict. I deeply believe in the league’s commitment to youth empowerment and am so excited to work alongside the NBA Africa family.”

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For Whitaker, it is an extension of his activism, especially on the continent of Africa. For the NBA, it is a continuation of the league’s all-star line-up of supporters, such as former President Barack Obama, who joined NBA Africa in July as a strategic partner.

Whitaker is the CEO of the Whitaker Peace & Development Initiative, a nonprofit organization that aims to promote the values of peace, reconciliation and social development within communities that have been impacted by conflict and violence.

Through WPDI, Whitaker has developed the Youth Peacemaker Network, a global peacebuilding network with hubs in South Africa, South Sudan, Uganda, Mexico and the U.S., which will soon expand to the Democratic Republic of Congo and France.

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Prioritizing Africa

WPDI is active in sports through its Peace Through Sports program, which combines sports practice and tournaments with workshops and events aimed at disseminating values of tolerance, nonviolence and respect for human rights.

“We are delighted to welcome Dambisa and Forest to the NBA Africa family,” said NBA Africa CEO Victor Williams. “They are both accomplished humanitarians whose expertise, resources and guidance will add tremendous value to our existing investor group. We thank them for their commitment and belief in our efforts to use basketball as an economic growth engine and as a vehicle to positively impact the lives of youth across the continent.”

NBA Africa conducts the NBA’s business in Africa, including the Basketball Africa League. BAL features the top-12 club teams from 12 African countries and will tip-off its second season in March 2022.

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The NBA’s Strategic Play

Additional strategic investors in NBA Africa include former NBA players Junior Bridgeman, Luol Deng (South Sudan), Grant Hill, Ian Mahinmi (France; ties to Benin), Dikembe Mutombo (the Democratic Republic of the Congo) and Joakim Noah (links to Cameroon).

The NBA has a decades’-long history in Africa and opened its African headquarters in Johannesburg in 2010.

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Since then, the league’s efforts on the continent have focused on increasing access to basketball and the NBA through social responsibility, grassroots and elite development, media distribution, corporate partnerships, NBA Africa Games, the launch of the BAL and more.

Now Whitaker adds his star power into the African basketball evolution.

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Rhett Butler is a Boxing Writer Association of America Journalist, Play-By-Play Commentator, Combat Sports Insider, and Former Mixed Martial Arts and Boxing Promoter. The New York City native honed his skills at various news outlets including but not limited to: TIME Magazine, Money Magazine, CNN's Wolf Blitzer Reports, and more. Rhett hosts the PRITTY Left Hook podcast, a polarizing combat sports insider's take featuring the world's biggest names.