Monday, March 31, 2008

Make we join hands... make Nigeria better! (not quite sure why that NTA theme song came to mind)

As the merry month of March comes to an end, we hope you've enjoyed tAB's positive focus on the goings-on in our dear country. It's been slightly challenging to focus solely on the positives but it's been a great exercise for us to celebrate some of the great initiatives underway. There were quite a couple of things we didn't get to talk about (including the recently launched Lagos Bus Rapid Transit system; Duet Victoire Africa Index Fund, the first sub-Saharan African index tracking fund; the African Leadership Academy (NOT Oprah's!!), among others) but from now on, we'll try harder to maintain a healthy balance in our mood/tone.

Ok, so this may not make most people go WOW, but hey, Talib Kweli riding an okada on the streets of lagos is definitely not an everyday occurence; so for this and many other reasons, we hope you enjoy his Hostile Gospel video.

Totally unrelated but a friend (thanks Jide!) shared this clip the other day and we thought it was pretty interesting (you've probably seen this before). Minister Louis Farrakhan is the acting head of the Nation of Islam (a religious and social/political organization with the self-proclaimed goal of resurrecting the Spiritual, mental, social, and economic condition of the black man and woman of America) and is well-known as an advocate for African American interests and a critic of American society.

While there are some eyebrow-raising ("let's help them") phrases in this clip, you've got to admire how Farrakhan shuts down Wallace's nonchalant, non-factbased blanket statement about corruption in Nigeria. If Wallace at least backed up his initial statement with some Transparency International figures or some other data (e.g. what other countries has he covered?), he would have had some grounding for his over-ambitious claims.

Note: This is not to say that we don't acknowledge the fact that Nigeria is ranked 30-sth on the list of most corrupt countries in the world. However, i can think back to not so long ago when we and our brother, Pakistan, we ranked the most corrupt countries in the world, and now we don't feature in the top 10 list anymore. So yes, progress has been made and we certainly still have a long way to go.

P.S: Long overdue on tAB's part but check out this great review of the Vagina Monologues on Funmi Iyanda's blog. It seems it lived up to all the hype aferall.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

I believe the children are our future...

ok, so Whitney's not exactly the role model of the year these days but....

This one's very near and dear to tAB. Check out The IMPACT Initiative's website and email if you've got any ideas or would like to get involved in some way. At the moment, they're currently working on planning the next youth forum and trying to organize an event for university undergraduates in Nigeria (possibly a career explorer program or a career fair) so watch this space.

Mentoring pupils for leadership positions - By Mudiaga Affe (Punch Newspaper)
Published: Friday, 11 Jan 2008

Exposing youths to various educational opportunities at an early stage may just be the spring board that will prepare them into leadership positions in the country.
At the second Annual Youth Forum in Lagos last Friday, pupils from various secondary schools in the state converged for a mentoring programme aimed at redirecting their focus towards assuming leadership roles in their various fields of endeavour.
The Founder and Chief Executive Officer of the IMPACT initiative, Ms Jemine Rewane, noted that, "The current resource constraint of the Nigerian education system and the dearth of organisations providing academic guidance, professional support and forums to encourage community activism do not encourage youths to tap into their leadership potential early. The earlier youth are able to do this, the greater their impact in their communities will be. It is this impact that is required to take our nation a step further to create a better Nigeria."

IMPACT is a newly established organisation focused on leadership development and maximising an individual's capacity to contribute to the community.

According to her, "Our vision is to help develop a Nigeria full of motivated individuals willing to maximise opportunities for themselves and their fellow citizens, to improve the quality of life for all, hence allowing our great country to achieve its true potential." As part of measures aimed at achieving this goal, IMPACT she said, is poised to substantially increase the impact that our youth have on their respective communities as well as reduce the number of Nigerians who are forced to settle for mediocre circumstances because of poor planning or guidance.

Already, there are existing approaches to this problem, one of which is LEAP Africa, a non-profit organisation offering programmes targeted at youths who will develop into leaders to spearhead Africa's drive towards sustainable development.
The LEAP Youth Leadership program offers exceptional youth activities and training programmes in cities across Nigeria targeted at building their leadership skills.

Another is Junior Achievement, a non-profit organisation that seeks to educate and inspire young people to value free enterprise, business and economics to improve the quality of their lives. Junior Achievement Nigeria (JAN) offers High School programmes which help students make informed, intelligent decisions about their future, and fosters skills that will be highly useful in the business world.

Students at the IMPACT Youth Forum, who were drawn from Corona Secondary School, Christ the Cornerstone School, CMS Grammar School, Dowen College, International School, Lagos, King's College, Lagoon Secondary School, Oxbridge College, Igbobi College, St. Gregory's College, Holy Child College, Victoria Island Secondary School, among others, expressed optimism that the programme would mentor them into a vantage leadership position.

A pupil of Methodist Girls High School, Yaba, Esther Afolayan, expressed optimism that the programme would address students' areas of deficiency, "There are lots of things happening in our community that youths are not aware of. So, this is a very good initiative. Personally, it has given me so many ideas of things that youths are supposed to do in their present generation."
Another pupil of Methodist Boys High School, Victoria Island, Michael Abuaja-Chinonso, expressed joy that through the programme, he had been able to double his academic challenges to attain leadership skills..."Through this medium, my concentration in my academics will improve because there is nothing than making the decision which you have always wanted to pursue and make it real. So, I really think my choices in life will systematically bring more opportunities my way in life," he said.
Oh, Doja, the other blog you were asking about...well now you know. It isn't really active yet but once it is, it'll be open to the public and will let you know.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

PlayPump System = Child Labor?

The post below is from Wadami of Thanks Dammie! It's definitely an interesting take on what seems a well-meaning concept/idea, and we would love to hear your thoughts...

The PlayPump system is a new movement to bring cleaner water to sub-saharan Africa. PlayPumps International’s mission is to help improve the lives of children and their families by providing easy access to clean drinking water, enhancing public health, and offering play equipment to millions across Africa.

PlayPumps International is an NGO registered in South Africa as well as a sister 501(c) 3 organization in the U.S. and by 2010 they will have carried out their mission by installing 4,000 PlayPump® water systems in 10 countries across sub-Saharan Africa

How do they intend to achieve this? By building "Merry - go - rounds" that children will play on whilst simultaneously pumping water from the ground.

The project has begun in a few parts of sub-saharan Africa, where girls are responsible for fulfilling the jobs of water carriers. The girls are usually late for school, often having to join the boys later on in the day because they are expected to carry water back from springs and lakes. The PlayPump system aims to involve all kids in the process, and hopefully improve education opportunities for the young female population.

Watch the National Geographic feature on Play Pumps:

This will definitely be beneficial to developing countries in Africa and worldwide, but it has been brought to my attention that there are possibilities of child labour/abuse because of what has been called "the movement's deceptive nature".

So now we ask, is there really potential for this project to open the door to child labour issues, where children are made to "work" to provide their villages with water? Are they not just being saved the time it would take for them to trek the distance to fetch water, and at the same time, being given the opportunity to play? Could a follow-up headline sometime in 2009 read: "Children forced into manual labour to pump water in rural Africa"?

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

10,000 Women

Thanks to Kome for sharing this!

Launched by Goldman Sachs, 10,000 Women is a significant new initiative that will:

• Increase the number of underserved women receiving a business and management education
• Improve the quality and capacity of business and management education around the world

The initiative has six components:
10,000 Women Over Five Years Will Receive a Business and Management Education:
Over the next five years, GS will support partnerships with universities and development organizations that will lead to 10,000 women receiving a business and management education. The initial partnerships will fund business and management education certificates in countries around the world. These innovative certificate programs are pragmatic, flexible and shorter term and will help open doors for thousands of women whose financial and practical circumstances prevent them from ever receiving a traditional business education. These programs will provide women with the opportunity to develop specific skills, such as drafting a business plan, accounting, public speaking, marketing, management and accessing capital. There will also be a select number of MBA and BA scholarships funded.

Build Quality and Capacity Through Global Business Sister School Partnerships: To strengthen the quality and capacity of business schools in developing nations, GS will support new partnerships between business schools and universities in the US and Europe and business schools in developing and emerging economies. Through these partnerships, the schools will collaborate to train professors, exchange faculty, develop curriculum and create local case study material.

Establish Mentoring and Post-Graduation Support for Women Entrepreneurs: In addition to funding tuition for business and management education, 10,000 Women will seek to establish mentoring and networking channels for women and to encourage career development opportunities that will extend the benefits of the program beyond the classroom, leveraging the overall impact of their educational experience.

Work with Leading Research and Women’s Development Organizations: Many outstanding
organizations are working on the ground to give girls, young women and potential entrepreneurs a sense of their future potential. 10,000 Women will work with these organizations to better understand the local challenges these girls and women must overcome so more of them can ultimately realize their potential through access to greater economic opportunity.

Develop Partnerships in the United States to Help Disadvantaged Women: As part of 10,000 Women, Goldman Sachs will establish parallel programs and partnerships to provide more business and management education for disadvantaged women in the United States.

Commit $100 Million in Addition to the Time and Dedication of Goldman Sachs People: Goldman Sachs will commit $100 million over the next five years to 10,000 Women. In addition, the people of Goldman Sachs will contribute their time and expertise through classroom instruction and mentoring.

PARTNERSHIP WITH PAN-AFRICAN UNIVERSITY, NIGERIA- is projected to educate 250 Nigerian women over 5 years. It will:

􀂃 Expand well-established 5-month certificate program at the Enterprise Development Services (EDS) that uses a hands-on case study approach to develop core skills of women owners of small and medium-sized businesses, such as sales and marketing, strategies for growth and writing a business plan.

􀂃 Goldman Sachs will provide scholarships for additional women, expanding access to those who would otherwise be unable to afford the tuition.

10,000 WOMEN KEY BIOGRAPHIES - I've only highlighted the African names on the list

Peter Bamkole is the Director of Enterprise Development Services at the Pan-African University of Nigeria. EDS provides support and capacity-building services to small- and medium-scale businesses. Mr. Bamkole was previously a member of upper management at the Lagos State Water Company and was at Elf Oil Nigeria.

Ronke Fetuga, Nigeria
Ronke Fetuga is the Managing Director of Florence & Lambard, a publishing company in Lagos.

Eucharia Nwabuike, Nigeria
Eucharia Nwabuike is the owner and manager of Lagos-based Kontinental Foods, a maker of dairy products and fruit juices.

Tonia Overmeyer, University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business Director, Raymond Ackerman Academy of Entrepreneurial Development
Tonia Overmeyer is the Director of the Raymond Ackerman Academy of Entrepreneurial Development in the University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business. She holds a bachelor’s degree and MBA from the University of Cape Town.

Jeanne d’Arc Mujawamariya, Minister of Education, Rwanda
Jeanne d’Arc Mujawamariya is the Minister of Education in Rwanda. Most recently, she served as Minister of State for Primary and Secondary Education and Minister of State for Higher Education. Prior to her government positions, She earned a BSc from People’s Friendship University of Russia and an MSc in chemistry from Moscow State University. She was awarded a Ph.D. in chemistry and physics from the Indian Institute of Technology (Roorkee).

Also check out NigerianCuriosity and Pyoo Wata's respective blogs as they've shone the spotlight on the WOW element of the Samuel Peter win last weekend.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

"Things that make you go wow" Celebration

Thanks to NigerianCuriosity for this great idea!


Hello fellow Naija bloggers,

I hope this finds you well. This note finds me at the thawing point of another bout of prolonged frustration with the state of the nation and all things wrong ("not as right as they should be") with Naija. Hence, the idea to take a forced vacation from blogging about my usual tirade of issues/problems in the country. I would like to enlist your help in celebrating the positives in/around/about Nigeria in the coming week (or 2). Be it tales from Nigerians at home (private or public sector) making note-worthy accomplishments that affect Nigerian lives positively, or Nigerians in the diaspora doing amazing projects that affect nigeria, or a local/state government achievement in the past year that went unblogged about... If it's positive and "makes you go wow", then blog about it and share it with the rest of us. I've been trying and i guess not knowing where to look has made me a bit nervous about being able to sustain this for a whole month, which is the yardstick i've set myself, but i have faith that there are tonnes of things out there going uncelebrated and i would greatly appreciate your help in learning about some of them. I thank you in advance and look forward to seeing what we can all come up with. If you do decide to blog about it, pls shoot a "reply-all" to this note* so that we can all know when to direct others to your blog for some positive/"feel good" reading.

Thanks a bunch and stay blessed!

* Either email me at or drop your "blog faithfuls" a comment about your post so that we know you've put something up and can check it out.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

100 Nigerian Universities To Become Digital Campuses

As promised, more things that make you go "wow!". I met Nam almost 2 years ago while he was a Reuters Digital Fellow at Stanford. I remember the first time I heard about this mammoth project and thought, wow, is he serious? A network of Digital campuses in Nigeria when we're still grappling with basic NEPA problems? Well, eighteen months later, Nam is hard at work in Abuja making steady progress on the ICE network . Watch this space.

Coming to a campus near you.

ICE network is a broadband wireless network initiative that will transform 100 Nigerian universities into digital campuses by connecting them to each other and to the world. The digital campuses will serve as hubs for digital cities whose success will fuel a regional rollout. This affordable community-driven infrastructure/content play is sustained by a scalable subscription business model.
The venture is being developed in partnership with Cisco Systems (the world's largest networking company), NeGSt Global (Nigeria's eGovernment process managers), and other leading global ICT partners. With local and international patners, icenetwork is building virgin internet capacity in the emerging markets — the next frontier for IP-related business people — by first interconnecting 1.5 million subscribers in 100 higher-education campuses in Nigeria. Icenetwork will expand services to communities around the campuses and provide broadband voice, video, data, internet, and multi-media services to more than 10 million on-campus and off-campus subscribers in Nigeria and sub-sahara Africa over the next 5 years.
Users will also be able to browse the web, share and create applications and content, do research, and interact with those on other networks in other regions and continents.
To get involved in ICE as an investor, donor, business developer, or technical assistor, please email Founder, Nam Mokwunye, at

Saturday, March 1, 2008

New Month, New Theme

Sorry for the hiatus folks - i've been very ill but i'm back (THANK GOD). To be honest, the absence hasn't only been due to illness (30%) and general work craziness (70%), it's also been due to a general lack of positivity about my homeland (100%)...(yes, i missed that addition class in pre-K). I won't go on the usual tirade of how so many things are not right with Nigeria at the moment. Nope, we're not going there, not this month.

In honour of the merry month of March (yeah, i made that up, i'm a March baby so i'm allowed), all posts this month (i'll try my best to make sure there are more than 4 ;)) will be about positive things going on in the country/continent - Things that make you go YAY! I talk as if i actually know what i'm going to write about - nope, no clue. But if i don't find the positive stuff (which i'm hoping you guys will send my way -, even if it's just a name and where i can find more info about it), then i won't write. C'est simple. Happy March people!


The Vagina Monologues Coming to Nigeria

This play has been performed in Nigeria for a few years now but I believe (please correct me if i'm wrong) that this is the first time a nigerianized version will be performed, with monologues written by and for nigerian women. The play always gets people talking but I am so pleased that this time, it's been written for your average Nigerian to relate to. This is a great initiative being funded by several organizations in Nigeria, and I hope this will not only spur the dialogue on ending violence against women but will also continue to raise the standards and general appreciation of the arts & entertainment industry in Nigeria.

Vagina Monologues again - By Sunday Ojeme (PUNCH Newspapers)

The Kudirat Initiative for Democracy, with support from the Catholic Organisation for Relief and Development Aid based in Netherlands, has announced that the Nigerian version of the controversial Eve Ensler’s play, The Vagina Monologues, will be held this year.

Through this version, KIND, in collaboration with Project Alert on Violence Against Women, Media Concern for Women and Children, Civil Liberties Organisation, and the Ajegunle Community Project, intends to draw more attention to the plight of many women in the society.

“Two cosmopolitan cities, Abuja and Lagos, have been selected as the venues for the play with the premiere performance taking place in Abuja,” the organisers add.

As with previous editions of the show, this year’s edition will reflect the traumatic plight of many women in Nigeria. It will focus on themes such as rape, battery, incest, female genital mutilation sexual slavery and emotional repression. CEO of Jason Vision Productions, Wole Oguntokun, has been chosen to direct this year’s production.

According to KIND’s Programme Manager, Amy Oyekunle “The Nigerian monologues will be a unique experience and a must-see. This year, we have a collection of over 150 women telling their stories. Some of these stories are humorous; some are sober but all very real.

With Wole Oguntokun directing the play, it will be interesting to see the male perspective to women issues.’

The Monologues are parts of the contributing efforts of the V-Day celebrations taking place in Africa.

"V Monologues" opens in Abuja on March 6th and will also be showing in Lagos on the 12th, 13th, 19th and 20th.