Wednesday, November 4, 2009

UK Expats Learn Nigerian Culture

Encouraging to see that first-generation Nigerians are trying to learn more about their roots. It's a great business opportunity - culture/language/cooking classes for expats en route to Nigeria, first generation Nigerians trying to discover their roots, and general public interested in learning more about the country. Hopefully, other enterprising Nigerians like Ms. Nwosu, will find more innovative ways of showcasing our culture to the outside world. Love the quote, "If you want to marry an Igbo man, you've got to know how to cook egusi soup"...really?!


UK Expats Learn Nigerian Culture - Ellen Otzen, BBC News

A tiny restaurant on a north London high street is not where you would expect to go to learn about traditional Nigerian culture.

Sandwiched between coffee shops and bowling alleys, the Nigerian Kitchen is easily missed.

But on Saturday mornings it is turned into a training school in the customs of one of Nigeria's largest ethnic groups - the Igbo.

In one corner of the room, a bespectacled teacher, Alex Tetenta, talks lengthily about Igbo political customs.

Mr Tetenta is a radio presenter and politics graduate currently writing a book on Nigerian democracy.

He is surrounded by a handful of attentive young men, all Igbo, who have grown up in London.

Michael's family hails from Abia state in south-eastern Nigeria.

He is here, he says "because learning about my own culture gives me a sense of pride, something to hold on to, instead of just the Western stuff".

At the other end of the room, the school's founder Ebere Nwosu instructs a group of women in cooking egusi soup.

Dried chicken bones sizzle in a pan of palm oil. Red pepper, bitterleaf, and ground crayfish are laid out on a large steel table.

Lack of pride

Ms Nwosu, dressed in a striking yellow traditional dress, is a legal practitioner.

She grew up in north London and says she set up the school to resolve a lack of pride in African culture.

"I think a lot of us who have migrated from Africa to the UK or the United States tend to neglect our culture and adopt that of where we are, which is wrong."

Does she think the neglect happened as newly arrived immigrants tried to assimilate?

"My father is a solicitor and my mother a social worker. Not an ounce of Igbo was spoken to us as we were growing up. They spoke it between themselves, but never spoke it to us children. We were the victims of a 'pro-education' drive," she says.

Igbo culture and what sets it apart from the surrounding Nigerian culture is stressed again and again on the course.

"Egusi soup is a very common soup amongst Nigerians. There's a way in which the Igbos prepare it in comparison to the Yoruba - we don't put as much oil in our food, and we use more vegetables," Ms Nwosu explains to her students.

Each course lasts six weeks and comprises Igbo custom, history, arts and crafts and, of course, cuisine.

"If you want to marry an Igbo man, you've got to know how to cook egusi soup. If you can't cook anything else, at least have that under your belt and you're through the door," laughs Ms Nwosu.


Igbo culture has given rise to many great names.

Olaudah Equiano, one of the most prominent Africans involved in the British movement for the abolition of the slave trade, was believed to be an Igbo.

Other famous Igbos include Nigerian writers Chinua Achebe and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, as well as British athlete Christine Ohuruogu.

Kate Njoku has been following the course for six weeks.

"I wanted to learn more about my roots and my culture. I grew up in London and I've only been to the village in Nigeria where my family comes from once, when I was very young. It's a full course that teaches the language, the arts and the history - so I thought it would be perfect for me."

But not everyone here is Nigerian. Students come from the Caribbean and southern Africa as well.

Diana is from Zimbabwe but is going out with an Igbo man.

"It's time I learned how to cook Igbo food. That's the food my boyfriend eats. We've been coming to this restaurant for two years, buying take-aways. It's best I cook from home," she says.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Africa governance prize finds no winners

Thanks for sharing this article Kome!

Not surprised at the Africa Governance Prize Committee's decision to not award the prize to any candidate this year, I really can't think of anyone who qualifies. Maybe when Rwanda's Kagame or even our dear Yar'Aadua, decides to step down, then we can have some potentials worth debating over. Thoughts on whether they got it wrong this time?


Africa governance prize finds no winners - Financial Times

Mo Ibrahim, the Sudanese telecoms magnate, will not award his $5m African leadership prize this year, a decision seen as a rebuke to the former presidents of Nigeria, South Africa and Ghana, among others.

The prize, now in its third year, is given to heads of state who rule wisely and hand over power to elected successors.

Mr Ibrahim launched the award, along with a related index on African governance, after concluding that poor governance was the biggest impediment to Africa’s development, and deciding to devote the fortune he made selling Celtel, his telecoms company, to the promotion of leadership.

He intended the prize, which he has no say over, would stir debate on governance. This year it has, on cue.

Thabo Mbeki, the former South African president, Olusegun Obasanjo, Nigeria’s leader between 1999 and 2007, and John Kufuor of Ghana were all eligible, having stood down within the past three years.

The decision not to reward them was made by a panel including Kofi Annan, the former United Nations secretary-general, Salim Ahmed Salim, former chairman of the Organisation of African Unity, Mary Robinson, Ireland’s former president, and Mohamed ElBaradei, the outgoing director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

On Monday, Mr Ibrahim said people could draw their own conclusions about the decision.

In a statement, the prize committee “welcomed the progress made on governance in some African countries while noting with concern recent setbacks in other countries”. It added that after an “in-depth review the prize committee could not select a winner”.

The three main candidates played prominent roles mediating conflicts and building pan-continental institutions. They were far more influential on the international stage than previous winners, Festus Mogae of Botswana and Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique.

However, Mr Mbeki and Mr Obasanjo were divisive figures at home, with the former Nigerian leader losing the battle against corruption and sacrificing credibility with a last-minute attempt to prolong his rule. Mr Mbeki drew fierce criticism for his controversial stance on the HIV/Aids crisis.

Mr Kufuor was considered by supporters at home and abroad to be the obvious winner after presiding over a rare peaceful transfer of power to his party’s opponents. However, in recent months his record has come under scrutiny and there are growing concerns about Ghana’s role as a conduit for cocaine during his tenure.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

“In most sub-Saharan African countries, only 5 percent to 10 percent of the population is at the top of the income pyramid”

Interesting statistic on the number of "rich" in Nigeria (in red below) Nigeria, it's less than 0.1%. And of course, shout out to Arise for showcasing African Style on the international scene.

Putting African Style on the Page


Sub-Saharan Africa doesn’t bring to mind the image of a woman with perfectly manicured nails flipping through glossy magazines in search of the latest handbag or celebrity haircut. Yet such women are there, and in far greater numbers than the media’s portrayal of Africa might suggest.

In wealthy neighborhoods of Lagos; Nairobi; Luanda, Angola; Dakar, Senegal, and the like, ladies of leisure, successful businesswomen and aspirational middle-income housewives make up an attractive demographic that, in the past, relied on international fashion magazines for style and beauty information.

But in the past few years, while Condé Nast, Hearst and Hachette Filipacchi were expanding throughout Asia, Eastern Europe and the Middle East, a handful of African publishers was busy staking claims to this publishing territory. The result has been a wave of new glossies, like Arise, Haute, Helm and True Love, that put an African spin on fashion.

“Honestly, upwardly mobile African readers are crying out for this magazine,” says Helen Jennings, editor of Arise, a monthly style title started late last year by the Nigerian media tycoon Nduka Obaigbena, who also owns the country’s leading newspaper, This Day. “Because the local magazines aren’t as high end or progressive, and no other international titles speak directly to an African readership, Arise has really caused a stir.”

Arise occupies a unique position among magazines in English-speaking Africa as it alone packages both pan-African and global content, producing a provocative blend that Ms. Jennings calls “afropolitan.”

With a reported circulation of about 60,000 and averaging about 140 pages a month, the magazine is distributed to seven other African countries and around Europe and North America. In its no-expense-spared fashion shoots, clothes by African designers are paired with global brands like Yves Saint Laurent, Loewe and Ralph Lauren using popular black international models like Oluchi Onweagba and Rahma Mohamed.

But Arise’s embrace of glamour and celebrity is tempered by a nod to the underground and an appreciation of irreverent reportage. A recent issue included a saucy exposé of African WAGs (the British acronym for wives and girlfriends of soccer players) that appeared alongside quirky items about Ugandan skateboarders, a multimedia prodigy from Ivory Coast and the leather-wearing biker subculture that grew up in Soweto after apartheid.

African publishing has progressed in recent decades, but some major obstacles to real success still exist, including isolation from key business partners and underdeveloped distribution networks.

Literacy rates are still appallingly low in many sub-Saharan countries, but parts of the population with enough disposable income to afford magazines and some of the advertised products have much better literacy rates than the national averages. And in Nigeria and Kenya, which have become regional centers for publishing, literacy is better than 70 percent and 80 percent, respectively.

Africa’s pockets of wealth also are often buried in gloomy macro statistics.

“In most sub-Saharan African countries, only 5 percent to 10 percent of the population is at the top of the income pyramid,” said Sakina Balde, an analyst for Africa and the Middle East at the market research firm Euromonitor International. “While this might seem insignificant, in highly populated countries like Nigeria, for example, it represents a large number of individuals.”

According to its 2008 data, there were 110,200 households in Nigeria with an annual disposable income of more than $75,000 — and last year the country’s 150 million residents spent $750.4 million on newspapers, magazines, books and stationery.

“Nigeria and Angola are both oil producers and many people made a fortune in the oil industry or through various businesses,” Ms. Balde said. “High- and middle-income earners in these countries have an insatiable desire for luxury products and this is not waning with the economic slowdown.”

Thursday, October 1, 2009

A Toast to the Plans We Made to Live Like Kings...

What can i compare you to?

A mother in whose arms I feel, "the world is my oyster"
...Countless opportunities and real impact for those who dared take the first step

A happy childhood full of hopes and dreams
...I pledged to Nigeria my country to be faithful, loyal & honest

A burnt house with ashes left behind to remember what once was
...Poverty-stricken masses who numb the sickenly rich into further greed

A fallen king whose castle was once alight with laughter and dancing
...An oppressed populace who has forgotten its founding values

A false start at the sound of the gun
...Is this what democracy brings?

49...Glory lost, history forgotten, future hangs in the balance.

Who will rewrite the sixth decade?

Take it from me...


HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY! Thanks to the Weepies for the title quote and a joint thank you to them and Shakespeare for the "what can i compare thee to" muse.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

And the Winner is....

So it seems China's about to beat Russia to the finish line for Nigeria's oil reserves, at a whopping $30bn+... And all this without the consent/ buy-in of the Nigerian people. God bless our country! Skeptics (of which there are many) doubt the benefits of this new deal with CNOOC will trickle down to the populace, and wonder whether this new regime of oil miners will be better than the last (given the Chinese' notoriety of importing their own staff into any venture they undertake). While Libya and Angola are currently pushing back on China's plans to take over more oil reserves in their countries, it is important to note that "more than $10 billion of contracts with Nigeria signed in 2006 -- including renovation of a railway, the refurbishment a refinery and the launch of a satellite -- didn't produce results." In the meantime, it looks like MEND is voicing its vote against the alleged deal.

So, what say you?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Y2Y Global Youth Conference 2009 Essay Competition

ESSAY: Youth Entrepreneurship in times of crisis
DEADLINE - September 22nd, 2009

Young people worldwide face difficult labor market prospects. Depending on the region, youth unemployment is easily 2-3 times higher than for adults. Especially in developing countries, the school-to-work transition can be a long and tedious process, during which young people leave school, become jobless and spend time moving between unemployment, inactivity and informal employment. In fact, youth have often been found to effectively act as a "buffer," absorbing shocks is proportionately during negative business cycles, but not benefiting accordingly during economic booms.

In the quest for strategies to boost employment for young people, entrepreneurship is often seen as an important means and a useful alternative for income generation. With most of the overall job creation usually stemming from small enterprises, supporting youth entrepreneurship is now often regarded as an additional way of integrating youth into the labor market and overcoming poverty. However, while it is recognized that the youth years are essential for generating ideas and acquiring the necessary experience to become a successful entrepreneur, young people themselves only make up a small share of all entrepreneurs.

The Y2Y Global Youth Conference 2009 Essay Competition invites youth to share ideas on:

What are the constraints to youth entrepreneurship in your country? Has the global crisis changed the dynamics? How can governments help young entrepreneurs to create and further develop their social and productive ventures?

Please try to answer the following questions in one consistent essay:

1. What impedes young people in your country or community to start their own business or organization? Think about the constraints in terms of socioeconomic conditions, culture, education & experience, access to finance & infrastructure, contacts & networks, and regulations. In how far are these constraints specific to youth compared to adults?

2. Did the global financial crisis reinforce some of these constraints? If yes, what are the dynamics?

3. What do you think governments can/should do to strengthen youth entrepreneurship in your country, town or local community? Think about the solutions in terms of the constraints identified above.

The Contest

Answer the question above in an essay of no more than 1500 words.

1) Winner will receive a $1,000 laptop sponsored by LAC Development Marketplace and the opportunity to be published in a World Bank working paper.

2) 2 runners-up will each receive a Y2Y bag and a copy of the film being showcased at the conference this year.

3) The best three submissions will be published on the World Bank Y2Y website.

Open to participants globally aged 18-30 (winners will need to provide proof of age)
- Essays must be submitted in English only

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Finally Tackling the Nigerian Banking Sector

Finally! The average Nigerian might just get to reap the benefits of another overhaul of the banking sector. The business model of Nigerian banks never ceases to amaze me - from faulty investments in areas they know nothing about (e.g. Oceanic Bank creating an HMO!) to aggressive short-term business lending that ends up constraining rather than stimulating SME growth. New CBN governor, Lamido Sanusi, certainly has his work cut out for him, but I'm hopeful that he will indeed be able to quell the vested interests that have run the industry for so long.

The Magic of Margin Lending - Ayuli Jemide, This Day

The new Central Bank Governor Lamido Sanusi has come into office with a bang. First, he questions the ambitious audacity of the President’s 7-point agenda, next he insists that banks should declare fully in their books the exposure on margin lending. With the second one, he has touched a very sore spot.

About Margin Lending
Margin lending in this context refers to investment loans that Nigerian banks give to customers to enable them invest in shares purchased on the Nigerian Stock Exchange. In most cases, the approved shares, became security for the loan. These types of loans are no longer available as you will see shortly.
I recall a conversation i had with a very entreprenueral former classmate of mine about two years ago. At that time it was the fashion to borrow money from the bank to buy shares and when i told him i could never take a loan from the bank to buy shares, he said he has met people who have a low apetite for risk, but never met someone like me who has “no” apetite for risk.
These were my points as we had this heated debate:
My argument was that the capital market was so risky in Nigeria, and as i heard stories of “quick spin” return on investment of 100-300 % in months, i thought it was getting even riskier. Why? Because in many cases the business fundamentals of the company whose shares just went up did not match their growth. A company share price on the floor of the stock exchange triples (300%) in 6 months but the company itself has not grown 20% in that period. Some “dead” companies were trading on the stock exchange with such high returns whilst their factories had not produced a stitch in 3 years.
I posited futher that from a bankers perspective i wondered how a bank could finance such an investment using the shares as collateral. I was made to understand that investment gurus have said time without number that you should buy shares with money you can afford to lose. Was it not evident that anything could happen on the stock market and that the shares held as security may become worthless if the not very unlikely worse does happen?
It is usually a lending tradition to ask a customer to make a contribution to a business venture while the bank advances a counterpart funding. Not so with majority of margin loans – bankers apetite for risk had risen so high that they could fund a share purchase 100%. Then I came to the conclusion that bankers being the “wise” men that they are must know something about the Nigerian stock market that many of us are oblivious about. This genre of thinking crystallised when i heard that Bank Managing Directors had crossed lent to each other millions of Naira in margin loans. Surely there is a diamond in this rough that only a “discerning investor” can see? And indeed many creamed home to the bank and got out just in time for Christmas.

The crux
Today, it is estimated that Nigerian banks are being owed about 1.4 trillion Naira by customers who took margin loans. This is about 13% of total commercial banking assets as at 2007. Whats more? Now that the share prices (value of the share certificates) held as Security have dropped (or become more realistic?), the customers have said to the banks – go ahead and sell the shares to recover your money. Many can be therefore aptly be classified as bad or doubtful debts, or partially so if they can sell some of the shares at today’s value in a bearish market.
Given this situation the Central Bank believes that a non disclosure of these margin loans in the annual reports of the banks would have the effect of painting the banks in better light than the actual. Which in itself is deceptive to customers and shareholders. The Central Bank therefore demands a full disclosure and herein is the crux of the matter.

What next?
Several trends are bound to follow:
Firstly, there is a likelihood that many banks will suffer an even greater drop in their share price when (or if?) they actually disclose the true state of their margin loan portfolios. The demand for their shares may drop invariably!
Secondly, it is very unlikely that banks will declare huge dividends and bonuses in this season to its shareholders.
Thirdly, it is already happening that banks are calling in more of their credits and there is a credit squeeze in the market because the banks need to beef up their liquidity to cover the deep gash margin loans have left in their books.

One newspaper article concluded that “The thirst to make quick and easy money drove margin lending”. Many banks will in the days to come rework their approach to banking - moving away from the quick to the sustainable - heading back to the traditional banking culture which has a medium to long term view founded on the tradition of customer service.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

PhD Opportunities, Media, Empowerment and Democracy in East Africa

In case you are interested:

PhD Scholarships: Media, Empowerment and Democracy in East Africa

The Danish-East African research project, "People Speaking Back? Media, Empowerment and Democracy in East Africa (MEDI/e/A)", funded by the Danish Development Agency (Danida), offers two full-time PhD scholarships (36 months) starting on January 1^st 2010, using ethnographic perspectives. One will be registered as a PhD student at University of Nairobi, the other at University of Dar es Salaam.

Funding follow provisions of Kenya and Tanzania universities.

About MEDIeA *
The overall objective of MEDI/e/A is to explore the role civil society
driven media and communication technologies potentially can have in enhancing participatory governance processes in East Africa, more specifically in Kenya and Tanzania. The core inquiry of MEDI/e/A grows from a concern about how young people are secured a role in both the local, national and regional development processes. The research project's analytical challenge is to understand the ways and means in which youth as ordinary citizens engage with such civil society driven media and communication platforms and what socio-cultural and policy related outcomes this may have.

MEDIeA comprises of a team of 4 researchers in addition to the two PhD students that are about to be contracted. In Kenya, the team consists of Associate Professor Norbert Wildermuth from University of Southern Denmark and Associate Research Professor Winnie Mitullah from University of Nairobi. In Tanzania, the team consists of Professor and Principal Investigator of MEDIeA, Thomas Tufte and Assistant Professor Datius Rweyemanu. In addition to empirical research, the MEDI/e/A project comprises of components of dissemination, capacity building and policy dialogue. The research program is hosted by /ØRECOMM - Consortium for Communication and Glocal Change /at Department of Communication, Business and Information Technologies, Roskilde University, Denmark.
Objectives of the PhD*

*It is the general objective of the announced PhD scholarships to strengthen the overall research efforts of MEDI/e/A in Kenya and
Tanzania. The PhD students are expected to provide *community based research which uncovers the synergies and communication relations between everyday life, media use, citizen engagement in social and political processes. *The announced PhD projects can be specified as follows:

*Kenya**:** *_Communication, e-participation and digital inclusion: a media ethnographic study._ See detailed description on

*Tanzania: *_Media use, citizenship and participatory governance: a
media ethnographic study in Tanzania_ See detailed description on

*Who can apply?*

We invite applications from students with an MA in social sciences or humanities and with experience in qualitative empirical research,
preferably in the field of qualitative reception studies, media
ethnography and/or participatory communication studies. Applicants should be prepared to work extended periods in the 'field', in close and prolonged cooperation with the non-governmental and community-based organisations selected as case studies by the MEDI/e/A team of senior researchers. Applicants must be able to communicate in the relevant vernacular language, besides English, as well as demonstrate the necessary 'social' abilities to do research based on a participant observation approach. Finally, it would be beneficial if applicants also have experience with survey-based, quantitative research designs or equivalent qualifications.

*Application procedure*
Deadline: 10 August 2009._

Please submit:
1. A research proposal of up to five pages
2. A curriculum vitae including list of publications
3. A writing sample/publication of 5-10.000 words
4. Official transcripts of undergraduate degree and Master's degree
5. Reference letters (optional)

Applications have to be based on the full advertisement of the specific PhD scholarship you are applying. As the descriptions both for the Kenya and Tanzania scholarship are already quite elaborate, the applicants are expected to provide their own theoretical-methodological reflection based on the initial outline as well as suggesting and justifying a research design for the actual study.
The selection will be based on both the relevant experience of the applicant and quality research proposal.

Successful candidates selected for interviews will be announced on 20 August 2009. Interviews will be conducted on 24 and 25 August at the University of Nairobi and on 1 and 2 September at University of Dar-es-Salaam. Final selection will be announced by 10 September.

Please send your application including appendices in one single pdf file to Kirsten Høffding ( ) at Roskilde University. Should you have questions regarding the content of the proposal, please contact the following: For the Kenya scholarship_: Norbert Wildermuth>
and Winnie Mitullah

For the Tanzania scholarship:_ Thomas Tufte(, offline 3-26 July) and Datius Rweyemanu(

Thanks for sharing this Whoopi!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Opportunities...The Gates Cambridge Scholarship

For those considering a return to academia during these tumultous times...

The Gates Cambridge Scholarship - Quick summary
Gates Cambridge Scholarships are full-cost awards for graduate study and research in any subject available at the University of Cambridge. A small number are also available for study towards a second undergraduate degree.
The scholarships are highly competitive and are awarded to citizens of any country outside the United Kingdom.
Scholarships are awarded on the basis of the candidate’s academic excellence, a good fit between the Scholar and the University of Cambridge, evidence of leadership potential and a commitment to improving the lives of others.
The Trust seeks to elect approximately 100 new Gates Scholars annually (although the exact number of awards may change from year to year). Approximately 40 of the 100 new scholarships each year will be awarded to US citizens.
All candidates shortlisted for a Gates Cambridge Scholarship attend a brief interview.
Decisions on awards are made on different timetables for different parts of the world. The majority of US Gates Scholars are selected in early February; Gates Scholars from all other countries are selected in mid-April.
The award of a scholarship is absolutely conditional on the student gaining admission to Cambridge through the University's regular procedures. The Gates Cambridge Trust is not able to admit students.
There are usually about 250 Gates Scholars in residence at any one time, about 100 of whom will be from the USA. While in residence, Gates Cambridge Scholars become fully integrated into the University and its Colleges and engage in full-time intensive academic work.
Upon graduation Scholars join Cambridge's widespread and influential alumni network. There are over 550 Gates Alumni spread throughout the world, all of whom are members of and are represented by the Gates Scholars' Alumni Association.
The scholarship programme is in its eighth year. Since the inaugural class of Gates Scholars in 2001, there have been 827 Gates Cambridge Scholarships from 85 different countries.

Candidates for a Gates Cambridge Scholarship:

- may be citizens of any country outside the United Kingdom.

- may apply to study any subject available at the University of Cambridge.

- must apply to pursue one of the following full-time residential courses of study:
Research leading to the PhD degree
- One-year post-graduate courses (e.g. MPhil, LLM, Diploma, MBA etc.)
- 2 year MSc degree
- Second Bachelor degree as an Affiliated Student
- MBBChir Clinical Studies

- must be admitted to Cambridge through the University's normal academic procedures. The Trust cannot admit students.

- must have a first class or high second class honours degree, or its equivalent, from a recognised university. For universities which work according to the North American pattern, candidates will be expected to have excellent transcripts with high GPA scores showing evidence of sustained achievement in study, together with the type of academic references which speak of the candidate's leadership potential, social commitment, intellectual ability and why further study at Cambridge is particularly appropriate. The Gates Cambridge Trust does not require candidates to take a GRE test, although some Departments in Cambridge may do so; candidates should check the relevant section of the Graduate Studies Prospectus.

- must be well prepared for the Cambridge course for which they are applying and must meet the academic criteria for admission specified by the University. Some courses may have particular requirements for admission, and details of these can be found in the relevant sections of the Graduate Studies Prospectus for graduate applicants, or the Undergraduate Prospectus for affiliated applicants.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Opportunities...The TED Fellows Program

A friend recommended this (Thanks Yemi!) as a worthwhile program to apply to. The TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) conferences bring together some of the most remarkable change-makers in the world on a 4-day journey of knowledge/idea exchange. Attendance at TED is by invitation only, but this fellowship program provides the opportunity to attend multiple conferences (all-expense paid) and be part of the TED community, and, with its help, amplify the impact of your own personal projects and activities. Read on...

Unexpected connections. Extraordinary insights. Powerful inspiration.

The TED Fellows program is designed to bring together young world-changers and trailblazers who have shown unusual accomplishment and exceptional courage. The program targets individuals from the Asia/Pacific region, Africa, the Caribbean, Latin America and the Middle East, though anyone from anywhere in the world, age 18 and over, is welcome to apply.

Benefits to Fellows

Attendance to one TED or TEDGlobal Conference with all expenses paid (conference, travel, room and board)
Participation in Fellows pre-conference activities
Private social networking on
Potential to speak on the TED Fellows or TED University stage
Potential to have that talk posted on
Responsibilities of Fellows

Full attendance and participation at the Conference
Submission of a post-conference report
Regular posting on the TED Fellows Blog

Additional benefits to Senior Fellows

Attendance to five additional TED and TEDGlobal Conferences with all expenses paid (travel, room and board)
Participation in five additional Senior Fellows-centered pre-conference activities
Potential to deliver a full-length talk on the main stage
Potential to have that TEDTalk posted online
Additional responsibilities of Senior Fellows

Full attendance and participation at five additional TED or TEDGlobal Conferences over three years
Submission of a post-conference report after each conference
Regular posting on the TED Fellows Blog
Hosting annual TEDTalks viewing parties for 50-100 people
Giving a talk on the TED Fellows, TED University or main TED stage

How it works: four steps
1. Candidates apply to attend one conference in either Long Beach or Oxford. Individuals can apply directly or be nominated by others. We'll also directly recruit potential Fellows and invite them to apply. Applications for TEDGlobal 2009 will open February 23, 2009. Email to be reminded when applications open. Please include your name, title, organization, email address, and country.

2. We'll choose 25 people to attend each conference as Fellows (50 per year).

3. In 2010, after the 2009 conferences, we'll choose 20 from 50 of the previous year's participants for the three-year TED Senior Fellows Program, bringing them to five additional conferences (for a total of six).

4. We'll recruit 50 new Fellows each year, resulting in 20 Senior Fellows each following year. By 2012, we'll have 50 TED Fellows annually (split between Long Beach and Oxford) and 60 concurrent Senior Fellows.

Sunday, April 26, 2009


It's incredible how many opportunities to develop your interests/talents are out there. Over the next few weeks, as i discover some of them, I will endeavour to share them with you, and I hope you can help spread the word too...

Peace and Security Fellowships for African Women

Deadline Date
April 4, 2009

As part of its Knowledge Building and Mentoring Programme, the Conflict, Security, and Development Group at King's College London together with the Africa Leadership Centre (ALC) is offering the Peace and Security Fellowships for African Women. The Fellowships bring together African women at the early stages of their career. It is intended that this project will train African women to develop a better understanding of African peace and security issues in order to increase their participation in conflict management processes and other areas of security concerns for African women.

This is a one-year Fellowship, divided into two 6-month phases. The first phase will be based at King's College London where the Fellows will attend courses on conflict, security, and development. They will also study several United Kingdom (UK) institutions working in the field of peace and security. This phase will end with a simulation seminar during which a mock conflict management situation will be practised. In the second phase, Fellows will be attached to an African regional organisation or centre of excellence to undertake practical work in the field of peace and security including peace and conflict management processes.

Successful Fellows will have the status of full-time students in the post-graduate non-degree programme at King's College London, and they will be subject to the immigration rules of the United Kingdom. The position is based for the first 6 months in London and includes financial assistance with winter clothing and book expenses. Fellows will be able to apply for University of London accommodation although they can make their own accommodation arrangements. For the second phase of the Fellowship to be based in Africa, Fellows will have a monthly stipend, exclusive of medical insurance expenses, and a one-off allowance to enable them to settle in to their respective countries. Fellows are also expected to find their own accommodation during this phase. The Fellowship is a full-time appointment and Fellows are expected to make a full-time commitment.
Application Information

Applicants should:

* be female citizens of an African country, with valid travel documents;
* have knowledge or experience of women's rights, gender, and development issues;
* be able to demonstrate a commitment to contribute to work on peace and security in Africa;
* have a relevant organisational base and be sponsored by an organisation with which they have been involved for at least two years, though exceptional candidates without such organisational ties will be given special consideration;
* have a demonstrable plan for how to utilise knowledge gained in the Fellowship upon return to their countries and organisations;
* hold a Master's degree or Bachelor's degree with an equivalent level of professional experience, though applications from women with non-academic backgrounds are encouraged; and
* be fluent in spoken and written English.

To be considered for the Fellowship please email or post the following documents to the contact below:

* letter of application detailing your relevant experience;
* supporting statement detailing why you think that this Fellowship is important and future plans for engagement with peace and security issues (no longer than 2,000 words);
* 2 letters of recommendation (to be received directly from the referees by the deadline);
* recent curriculum vitae; and
* two samples of your written work (maximum 5,000 words).

All documents should be sent in as MS Word attachments in a single email message (separate emails for the same application will not be accepted) or as a single post package. The applicant's name should be indicated at the top right hand corner of every page of all documents submitted.

Click here or here for more information about the fellowship.

Eka Ikpe
Conflict, Security and Development Group

King's College, London
Strand Bridge House
138-142 Strand
United Kingdom (UK)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Spinning it Lagos Style

Hi All, we know it's been a bit of a long while, and we're not 100% consistently back, but just thought this was quite a positive article from the Mail & Guardian to share regarding the explosion of Nigerian music and entertainment across the globe. Be it in Brooklyn, or Brixton, Gongo Aso...

Thanks Shirley for sharing this article!


New York. The queue of stylish men and women, many of whom wouldn't be out of place in a music video, snakes around the block. It looks like a typical crowd for a New York hip-hop club, come to dance to Jay-Z or Lil Wayne. But it's not, and they haven't.

In fact, inside the club there's barely an American track to be heard because this crowd isn't particularly interested in listening to American music. Instead, the majority of the tunes the DJ spins are the latest urban hits from Nigeria and the punters, mainly young Africans, are hooked on every one. It's all part of the biggest boom in Nigerian music since the 1970s, with clubs from New York to Paris to London to Nairobi playing club hits from Lagos.

This new wave of Nigerian music, which has really only begun to take hold in the last five years, is a world away from the sounds of the pioneers of that first wave of exports -- the likes of Fela Kuti and Sunny Ade -- who helped spur the growth of world music as a marketable niche product in Europe and North America.

Listen to music by contemporary Nigerian artists -- 2Face Idibia, D'Banj, P-Square, Naeto C, Ikechukwu or eLDee the Don -- and you'll hear the smooth synthesised sounds of the latest US productions. Beats are no longer provided just by talking drums, but by 808s and sequenced kick snares.

Vocals may have been processed with vocoders and other studio tools to give them that commercial, MTV urban edge. "It's untraditional," says Alex Okosi, the senior vice-president and general manager of MTV Networks Africa. "It's not your middle-aged African artist [making music for] your middle-aged European audience."

Leaning more towards hip-hop than high life, the latest breed of Nigerian artists fuse American urban sounds with Nigerian influences to great effect. "Hip-Hop and R&B -- that's the foundation of my sound," says Nigerian rapper Naeto C, who was recently named best new act at the MTV Africa awards. But even though this music uses the urban sounds of America as a launch pad, it is marked with a distinctly Nigerian stamp.

In the 1980s and 1990s, American hip-hop became the staple musical diet for an entire generation of Nigerians. American rappers flooded the air waves and young music-makers around the country began shaping their music to sound like what they heard from the likes of Biggie, Tupac or Puffy.

Many tried, unsuccessfully, to mimic the lyrics, beats and sounds of American hip-hop. Some would rap in English, not necessarily the language they were most at ease with. Others would adopt fake American accents and use slang that originated from America's inner cities but bore little semblance to the reality of modern Nigerian life.

The hyper-sexualised and materialistic nature of hip-hop was also seen to be at odds with conservative Nigerian culture and was rejected outright in the northern part of the country, which is Muslim. It is not surprising that Nigerian urban artists found themselves ridiculed as poor imitators of American hip-hop.

......Nigerian musicians are no longer trying to ape the lifestyle, culture and language of American urban artists. Switching between English, pidgin English, Yoruba and Nigerian slang as they rhyme and sing, they have realised that success depends on ensuring that their music reflects its place of origin and that it resonates, in as authentic a way as possible, with their audience.

.......So how popular is the new Nigerian music? No one really knows. Firstly, music piracy is rife in Nigeria and secondly, accurate sales figures are hard to come by. However, a distributor recently told Naeto C that his sales in 2008 hit at least three million -- and that's just in Nigeria. Those figures do not take into account the fact that Nigerian urban music is well established in the rest of Africa and has a growing fan base internationally. ElDee, meanwhile, claims to have sold 10-million records during the course of his career.

............ Indeed Naeto C isn't alone in having lived outside Nigeria -- so have eLDee the Don and singer/songwriter Asa, who released an album in the United Kingdom last year on Mike Batt's Dramtico label. Asa, who has been called a Nigerian Tracy Chapman and sings in English and Yoruba, acknowledges this mixture of influences is what defines her as an artist: "I listen to a lot of people and have been influenced by Erykah Badu, Lauryn Hill, Fela Kuti. I had the opportunity to come to Paris as an artist and I saw all this freedom of expression, colours and music everywhere -- on the metro, on the street -- stuff I didn't have back home."

But none of that would matter without some means of getting the music to its audience, which was provided when MTV Base launched in Africa in February 2005. Although it wasn't the first major music TV channel on the continent -- the influential South African music channel Channel O has been broadcasting since the early 1990s -- the introduction of MTV's glossy aesthetic had a significant impact on audio and video production standards.

Its arrival, says Ogunyemi, "has made Nigerians say, 'We need to make better videos; we need to up the ante.' It's almost like a self-fulfilling prophecy: the more you put into it the more you get out of it and that's really what's happening."

Industry observers think the Nigerian music scene could become as successful as Nollywood -- Nigeria's film industry, which is now rated as the third largest in the world. As with Nollywood, there's a ready-made global audience in the Nigerian diaspora (Nigerians make up one-fifth of all Africans in the world), as well as other Africans, and with better production values there is the increasing likelihood that some of these acts will cross over to a non-African audience. The internet, naturally, helps.

"Even if you are just targeting Nigerians [with your music], you're not just looking at Nigerians in Nigeria, you're looking at Nigerians everywhere because you can put a video up on Facebook or you can put it on YouTube," says Ogunyemi. "In the mid-1990s I used to produce an African hip-hop group based in New York and you couldn't reach people elsewhere because there weren't that many multimedia-friendly ways of reaching people."

Nowadays websites such as and are helping Nigerian music's march towards global recognition.

And elDee is hopeful the march will continue. "Nigerian music already has its uniqueness and I believe people from all sectors of the world will accept it because it is great entertainment, period." -- © Guardian News & Media 2009

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Interesting Perspective on the Size of Africa

HAPPY 2009! Thank you for sharing your views in 2008; may 2009 bring some progress across the many issues in the Motherland.

Thanks for sharing this Kome!