My guest today on THE ENRICHMENT HOUR, LIVE from PARIS, is MICHAEL KIRTLEY, journalist, photographer, filmmaker, TV personality, author, environmental activist, NGO Founder, International Communications Advisor.

Raised in Kentucky, Michael has spent much of his adult life in Europe and Africa, where at the age of twenty he was one of the first Americans to hitchhike (twice) across the Sahara Desert. Often selected to the Who’s Who of International Photojournalists, he has written and photographed many feature stories for such publications as National Geographic, Newsweek, Time, Newsweek, Life, Stern, Géo, and Paris-Match. These articles covered subjects in Europe, Africa, and various other regions of the Muslim world.
Michael has interviewed dozens of government leaders, among them South African President Nelson Mandela, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, French President Francois Mitterrand,
King Hussein of Jordan, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, Syrian President Hafez Al-Assad, President Felix Houphouet-Boigny of Ivory Coast, and Senegalese presidents Leopold Senghor, Abdou Diouf, and Abdoulaye Wade.
He recently helped produce the feature movie OKA!, filmed on location in the equatorial rain forest of Central African Republic, and released to high praise in 2012 in the United States. Most of the actors in OKA were Bayaka pygmies, who were trained in the craft of acting by the production team.
His current activities include producing and directing the trendsetting crowd-sourced World Memory Film Project, a major documentary film project against xenophobia and mass atrocities, created together with internet and film enthusiasts around the world. The WMFP is supported by the United Nations and other international institutions, as well as several Hollywood personalities. Michael is also developing a ground-breaking television program on personal adventure and directing a documentary on traditional religion in West Africa.
With his significant background in television, Michael was a reporter and then director of WGRB-TV, a regional television station in America, where he developed and hosted his own weekly show. Over the years, he has been called on to be a commentator on various TV networks in America, including NBC, CNBC, and CNN. Today he is regularly invited as a current events commentator on France 24, based in Paris, France.
In 2003 Michael created and hosted Meet The Ambassadors, among the all-time most popular televised special events on the American TV network CSPAN. A first-ever town meeting between an American audience and five ambassadors from the Arab World (Egypt, Morocco, Bahrain, Sudan, and the Arab League), this three-hour program was broadcast live across America and drew an audience of 420,000 viewers, a record for the year on CSPAN.
Michael has often served as communications advisor to leaders in Africa, most notably to the Moroccan Royal Palace, to President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal, and to the Benin presidency, when he helped create the first World Festival of Voodoo Cultures in Ouidah, in 1992. He was also Special Advisor to the President of Saint Catharine University.
In the aftermath of September 11, 2001, Michael founded the very successful organization The Friendship Caravan to nurture understanding among people of diverse cultures. In recent years, he initiated many exchanges between Americans and the people of the Arab World. He is also co-founder of Amman Imman: Water Is Life, an American NGO that builds permanent water sources and creates other development efforts for tens of thousands of inhabitants in the Sahel who suffer from persistent drought on the frontlines of global climate change .
Michael has initiated and helped organize several major media events that attracted millions of followers on international TV and through the World Wide Web. Among these are:
Earth Day Morocco 2010, the first-ever nationwide celebration of the environment in an Arab or African country. As part of Earth Day International, it was followed by a worldwide TV audience of more than twenty million (with the participation of many leaders from Europe, South America, America, and Africa), and stimulated significant change in environmental policy at the Moroccan government level. It led to accords with Europe to create a solar energy network in the Sahara.
The Friendship Caravan, a multi-state event near Washington, DC bringing together political, diplomatic, civic, religious, and student leaders from many nations, to promote world friendship and dialogue among civilizations. The Caravan attracted a media audience estimated at 8 million worldwide in 2003.
Friendship Fest Morocco, a two-year rock festival in Marrakech, Morocco. Including well-known Christian and Muslim music groups, the event attracted 80,000 people the first year in 2005, and 200,000 the next year in 2006.
In 1988 he founded The America To Africa Society (ATA) to create media events that counterbalance negative stereotypes about Africa with positive information about its people and culture. At its peak ATA had offices in seven countries, including Morocco, Senegal, France, Luxembourg, and the USA. Its main event, The Peace Caravan, proposed creating a worldwide sounding board for peacebuilding between civilizations. Unfortunately this six-month media extravaganza on camelback across North Africa, from Morocco to Israel, was cut short by the outbreak of the Gulf War.
In 1989 Michael created the first-ever live radio call-in show between the continent of Africa and the USA, in Marrakech, Morocco. For three hours listeners from all over America called in with their diverse questions on Moroccan society, to government and civil society leaders of the Kingdom. In 2003, Michael created a series of videoconferences between schoolchildren in America and their counterparts in the Gulf nations.
Michael recently finished his first novel, The Lakmy Tale, a fantasy adventure story to be published in 2016.
Over the years, he has been interviewed dozens of times in European, American, Arab, and African media. He is a regular political commentator on France 24, specializing in questions relating to international terrorism and politics in America, in the Arab World, and in Africa. He is an International Honorary Rotarian and a Sloan Scholar at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). In 1999 he earned his degree in Psychology from Amherst College, Amherst, MA.
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