Forest Whitaker played a basketball player in the inspirational film Hurricane Season, but he’s now taking his passion for the sport to new heights. According to AfroTech’s Ngozi Nwanji, the Godfather of Harlem hero recently accepted a position as a strategic investor in NBA Africa alongside famed economist Dr. Dambisa Moyo. Whitaker and Moyo hope that through expanding the league, they would be able to boost “economic growth across the African continent.”
“I’m thrilled to become a strategic investor in NBA Africa as it plans to grow basketball’s presence across the continent,” Whitaker shared in a brief press statement.
“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 socio-economic 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.”
Whitaker and Moyo are the most recent investors to join the burgeoning venture. Former NBA players Junior Bridgeman, Grant Hill, Joakim Noah, Dikembe Mutombo, and Luol Deng were among the first to invest in NBA Africa. Former President Barack Obama has also become a strategic partner of NBA Africa. Obama’s duty in this position is to expand the league’s social responsibility efforts across Africa.
“President Obama will help advance the league’s social responsibility efforts across the continent, including programs and partnerships that support greater gender equality and economic inclusion. In this capacity, President Obama will have a minority equity stake in the new venture, which over time he intends to use to fund Obama Foundation youth and leadership programs across Africa.”
“The NBA has always been a great ambassador for the United States—using the game to create deeper connections around the world, and in Africa, basketball has the power to promote opportunity, wellness, equality, and empowerment across the continent,” Obama said.
“By investing in communities, promoting gender equality, and cultivating the love of the game of basketball, I believe that NBA Africa can make a difference for so many of Africa’s young people.”
NBA Africa is in charge of the NBA’s corporate affairs and interests in Africa. The recently founded Basketball Africa League (BAL), which features the best 12 basketball teams from 12 African countries, is one example. The BAL will begin its second season next year, in March 2022.
The NBA announced the formation of NBA Africa in May.