Tuesday, December 30, 2008

My 2009

I used to avidly read the advice columns in newspapers when I was in primary school. Since then, I've grown to dislike the 'advice' they give that comes from a strongly conservative and traditional perspective. And a lot of the suggestions they give are just plain stupid.

I love to read Dear Margo and Dear Abby. I love their no B.S, pull-no-punches approach to advice giving. They make life seem so simple and I realise how many problems are self-inflicted or aggravated by our inability to honestly assess a situation and take a decisive step. Yes, I am very guilty of this myself, so in the spirit of new beginnings, 2009 is my year of honesty, frankness and simplicity.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Appeal of the Web



Source

Women in Web 2.0

This is a November 2008 article in Fast Company by Saabira Chaudhuri, on influential women in web 2.0. It's a U.S-centric list, but an interesting observation is that a significant number of women in I.T. do not come from a techie background. On this list and from women I know personally, degrees in varied degrees like languages, arts and the social sciences feature prominently.

A common trajectory is to have to learn a particular tool in order to get specific tasks done, which leads to an interest in other tools or a desire to learn more to be more efficient. For many women, I believe, getting things done efficiently and effectively, is a priority because the reality is that we are forced to wear many hats in our lives.

Another observation from this article is the hostile reactions it generated from some men, prompting another write-up, Sexist, Sexist and More Sexist, by Ms. Chaudhuri.

She asks where these feelings come from and concludes that the anonymity which the Web offers allows people to say whatever they truly think. And the fact is that, as we know only too well, sexism is alive and well.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

WeMedia Competitions


There are 2 exciting competitions for aspiring social entrepreneurs being run by WeMedia.

The first, ReImagine Media offers the opportunity to win up to $50,000 in seed funding. Sponsored by WeMedia and Ashoka's Changemakers, they are searching for the best new ideas for inspiring a better world through media and technology. These could be either business or non-profit venture ideas.

Learn more and apply at the Changemaker's website. You can also review the competition.

The second, PitchIt offers up to $25,000 in seed capital to the owner of an innovative idea to build a better world through media and technology.
Finalists will be invited to pitch their ideas at next February's WeMedia conference, an annual conference that brings together leaders and ideas shaping media, business, communication, technology, education and participation in the connected society.

Learn more about PitchIt.

Deadline for both is January 21, 2009, 6PM EST.

December Farafina Event

For people who missed last Saturday's Farafina event.

Friday, December 19, 2008

BlogHer '09 International Activist BlogHer Scholarship

So many great programs around. This one is the BlogHer International Activist Scholarship Program.

This scholarship will bring 5 activist women bloggers from around the world to the BlogHer '09 Conference in July 2009 in Chicago, U.S. to present their work.

If you or someone you know is a woman blogger, outside the United States, blogging to raise awareness, consciousness or funding to change their community, region, country or the world, then please nominate yourself or such a blogger to win one of these five scholarships.

Scholarship winner will receive:
# A full 2-day conference pass to BlogHer'09
# Round trip airfare to and from Chicago, IL for the BlogHer '09 annual conference
# 3 nights stay at the Chicago Sheraton during the conference
# The opportunity to present their work during a session at BlogHer '09

The Criteria:
If you review the nomination form you'll see that we're asking you to describe not only the mission of the blog/blogger and how they are affecting change In Real Life, but also how they could benefit from their BlogHer experience.

The deadline is January 31, 2009.

The Origins of Human Hair

Bella Naija features a story on U.K. pop princess Jamelia's investigation into where human hair weaves and wigs come from. I'll give you 1 guess.

Okay, trite remarks aside, the article was interesting. By the end of it, Jameila vows never to wear any hair piece made from actual human hair, because much of the human hair trade involves exploitation of the hair donors - including under-paying for the hair, and getting the hair from supposed cultural practices (Not all human hair trade involves exploitation, mind you).

Some of the commenters believed that since hair grows back, it's no big deal. It's particularly not that serious because many of these women are South Asian and "their hair grows faster than ours." Hmmm, exploitation is exploitation.

I can understand the appeal of weaves: within a couple of hours (and without making any drastic changes to your own hair), you can have a dramatic makeover. What's not to love? However, when it stems from the desire for a more Euro-centric look to the denigration of your natural roots, that does bother me.

A few weeks ago, I made a change from my normal braided look and fixed a human hair weave. The change was great. The tautness all over my head was not. The wispy strands that kept getting into my mouth were most definitely not. Even worse was the heat at the back of my neck (Ore, how smart was it to get a long, heavy weave in this wilting December heat?). However, with hair, we take the good with the bad. After all, as that popular mantra goes: "beauty is pain."

What really spooked me was seeing a long grey strand of hair framing my face. That really brought it home to me that this was someone's real hair. All along, "human hair" to me was little more than a clinical-sounding term, which I could disassociate from being someone's real hair. Does that make any sense?

Then I thought about who this woman was, whose hair I was wearing; and the circumstances under which she gave this hair. I tend to think that there's much more to life than what we see on the surface. Hair is just hair is just hair? I don't know.

Blogging Positively

Here's a Google map showing HIV + bloggers, caretakers and related resources.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Modern Love

I wanted to share Modern Love, one of my favourite columns, published in the New York Times about love and dating in .... what else? .... the modern world.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Kids Vision: Photographic Works by Children

I went to Terrakulture to see Death and the King's Horseman. As usual, I went to the gallery on the 1st floor of the main building to see what was new.

What was new was Kids Vision, an photography exhibition by children which started from Dec 10th and was ending today (the 14th). Lucky for me, I thought! I love photography exhibitions and I am especially interested in seeing how young people view the world.

The exhibition was organised by African Child Development Initiative (ACDI), a new NGO with a vision "to promote lasting improvements in the lives of local under privileged children." This exhibition was the result of a two-part project, where children from a private school in Ikoyi (Lagos Preparatory School) and from a disadvantaged school in Iwaya (Premier Foundation School) were taught the fundamentals of photography and then given cameras to take pictures based on some specific themes: My friends; My family; My home; My school; and Myself. The second part of this project involved giving 200 children disposable cameras to capture images of "their Lagos."

This reminds me of a documentary I watched a few years ago that chronicled a project very similar to this, but which was set in a Calcutta slum. I can't remember the name now, but it won an Academy award for the best foreign film, or was it best documentary (is there such a category?). Well, I'm sure it'll come to me later.

The photographs ranged from the fun, the witty to the poignant and the fascinating. And while I might have expected the subjects or the approach to somehow indicate that the pictures were taken by a child, I have to say that this wasn't the case for me. I think some people (young or old) just have an interesting way of viewing the world and this is reflected in their photographs. And so there were the fair share of photos that made me stop and look closer.

My only grouse was that some of the photos appeared to have been printed out with a regular office printer on copier paper, and so the beauty of the photograph was somewhat diminished. There was however a beautifully printed coffee table book available for purchase. My only other complaint is that I discovered this exhibition too late to let people know about it.

Visit ACDI's website at www.theacdi.org for more info.

NB: Okay, the film whose name I couldn't remember is called Born into Brothels.

Theatre@Terra in December - Death & the King's Horseman



This December's offering is Death and the King's Horseman

Where? Terra Kulture, Tiamiyu Savage St, Victoria Island
When? 3PM & 6PM (Every Sunday in December)

For tickets and inquiries, call 0702 836 7228, 0808 123 9477 or e-mail laspapi@yahoo.com.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Why I Hate Salons

I went to the salon this week to get my hair braided. And I was reminded of all the reasons I hate to go to salons.

This was my 3rd visit within a month, which is unheard of for me, as I prefer to have the stylist come to the house to my hair. Also, I hate the long hours of sitting in uncomfortable positions that doing your hair requires, so I try to do this as infrequently as possible. This means keeping a style for as long as I can get away with.

This week I went to take out a weave that I had put in about 10 days before. This was my first weave since 1996. Let's just say that I am not a big fan of weaves. I can appreciate a well-done weave on someone else, but I feel very artificial with them on me. The Indian curl, which I liked from afar was a logistical nightmare for me; from tangles and knots that required constant brushing to be kept at bay and flyaway strands that kept straying into my mouth. Then I hadn't bargained for the heat at the back of my neck.

Anyway, so I decided to take out the weave and return to the familiar terrain of braids. The weave specialist took out the weave, washed, steamed and blew-dry my hair. As she dried my hair by sections, my hair swelled from a short wet mop to a formidable billowy cotton ball. I think this must have scared off the other stylists, because the lady who was supposed to braid my hair feigned off with an excuse that I didn't quite get. The next lady kept stealing glances at my hair and mumbled that she would be right over as soon as she had finished with the head she was working on. She never did come over.

Eventually, a third lady came over and started on my hair. She worked fast. Then, a second lady came to join her and this was when my annoyance began. As she worked, she complained about my hair being too hard to braid. Initially I kept on reading my book, but at a point I had to ask her why she was experiencing so much difficulty when the first lady apparently wasn't. She responded that she didn't know.

We went on. After about 20 minutes the complaints continued and then I asked her to leave the hair if it was too tough for her. She didn't of course but I really wish she had.

I can't believe how basic customer service principles are so lacking. I mean common sense alone would suggest that it's not a good idea to piss off the client.

And on top of that, the idea that our hair in its natural state should be avoided at all costs ...... Let me not run the risk of sounding like a broken record, because these are not new laments for me.

Well, the braids turned out beautifully and I've been getting a lot of compliments on them. However, in the future I'm definitely not going to sacrifice my peace of mind for a beautiful head of (fake) hair.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Farafine Magazine Event




I'm late with this, as it's been all over the internet already. Click the image to see a bigger version.

Check out the blog, The Farafinist: http://thefarafinist.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

WAXAL Blogging Africa Awards

The WAXAL Blogging Africa Awards are an initiative of Panos Institute of West Africa with the partnership of Highway Africa.

WAXAL (pronounced WA-HAL) means “speak” in Wolof (Senegalese language) and the word captures the essence of the evolution of the worldwide web as a platform for conversation and for the raising of marginalized voices.

For this first edition, the WAXAL Awards will seek to recognize the production of blogs by people working as journalists (from all kind of
media: print, online, radio, TV) and by African organizations working to favour the production of alternative information and citizen expression.

3 categories have been chosen: Best French-speaking Journalist Blog; Best English-speaking Journalist Blog; Best Citizen Journalist Blog produced by an African Organization.

Each winner of the first two categories will receive a cash sum of F CFA 1,000,000 (about 2,000 USD). The organization winner of the third category will receive a cash sum of F CFA 2,000,000 (about USD 4,000).

All the blogs showing a good quality will also be promoted.

Nomination Deadline: 7 December 2008

For more details on conditions of submission of entries, see:
www.highwayafrica.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=53

Oxford Internet Institute Summer Doctoral Programme 2009 - Applications

The Oxford Internet Institute is now accepting applications for its OII Summer Doctoral Programme 2009, to be hosted this year by their partners at the Creative Industries Faculty at Queensland University of Technology (QUT) in Brisbane, Australia.

More info below:

********

OII SDP2009: Brisbane (6-17 July, 2009)
www.oii.ox.ac.uk/teaching/sdp/

The programme aims to stretch the thinking of all students on a range of issues, to provide valuable advice and support for students' thesis research, and to establish a peer network of excellent young researchers. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the thematic focus this year will be on 'Creativity, Innovation and the Internet': our partners on the SDP since 2003, the Creative Industries Faculty is at the forefront of pioneering international research initiatives in creative industries policy, applied creative industries research, digital media design, and the creative and performing arts.

As in previous years, the programme will involve daily research seminars and panel sessions given by leading academics, with students having the opportunity to present their research to their peers in informal seminars. Break-out sessions will allow groups to focus more narrowly on research questions of mutual interest, and time is made available for individual research and informal contact with tutors and fellow students.

Email sdp@oii.ox.ac.uk for more information.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

World AIDS Day Film Screening

Another event.

Film director and producer, Lisa Russell invites to the online screening of a film of hers that profiles AIDS activists from Burkina Faso, Uganda, Nigeria and Zambia. It has a well received run on U.S. T.V. network PBS this past summer.

To watch, tune into SnagFilms anytime on Monday, December 1.

For more info, visit her Facebook Invite: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=36013480781.

**************

Lisa's latest project, Myth of the Motherland, is described by her as follows:

"MYTH OF THE MOTHERLAND is intended to address myths and stereotypes about Africa and Africans. Following the creative writing journey of young spoken word poets from NYC--who are armed with notebooks and video cameras--MYTH OF THE MOTHERLAND intends to give "the mic" to African scholars, writers, poets/griots, entrepreneurs and others in order for them to tell their own stories, in their own words."

You can also visit her blog: www.lisarussellfilm.blogspot.com.

World AIDS Day Live Chat

To commemorate World AIDS Day, Rising Voices will be hosting a live chat on Wednesday, December 3rd at 3 p.m. Nairobi time (which I believe is 1pm, Nigerian time):

Read more:

The chat will be facilitated by Serina Kalande and Daudi Were and the discussion will build on a similar chat that Serina and Daudi organized back in April of this year which asked the following question: "how can citizen media be used to supplement and improve the mainstream media's coverage of the AIDS epidemic?

This chat will start out focusing on two Rising Voices grantee projects, REPACTED in Nakuru, Kenya and AIDS Rights Congo based in Brazzaville. We will learn how both organizations have implemented blogging and video outreach programs to spread awareness about their initiatives in AIDS prevention and advocating for the rights of HIV-positive individuals.

Other discussion topics include: What are the factors to weigh when HIV-positive bloggers go public about their status? How can blogging support networks form online? What about online forums? What are other new media tools, such as mapping mashups, that can be used effectively?

If there are other topics that you would like to discuss during the chat, please respond with your ideas. I hope that as many of you as possible can make it.

As a primer to the conversation I encourage you all to take a look at a recent post written by Juliana Rincón on Global Voices about AIDS awareness through video. Especially fascinating is a video podcast produced by QAFBeijing, which interviews South African grand justice Edwin Cameron, the country's only government official who has gone public about his HIV status.

Friday, November 28, 2008

New Finds!!!

See Jane Compute, a blog by an assistant professor in a computing field. So far, so funny. Was I a clueless student, like some of hers? I don't think so!!!

Jhumpa Lahiri on NPR talking about her struggle to feel American. Like the Americans would say, "I love me some Jhumpa Lahiri".

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Ushahidi - Tech in the hands of the people

As we continue to explore the role of ICT - and the Internet, in particular - in fighting against violence against women, it's interesting to read about a woman who is using these tools to report violence.

Ory Okolloh, one of the co-founders of Ushahidi, a mash-up used by Kenyans to report the post-election violence and which has since been used in the DRC, is featured in this Forbes article.

Day 1 - 16 Days of Activism against Violence against Women

Take Back The Tech

Day 1 of the 16 days of activism against VAW. Take Back the Tech is running their annual campaign, with activities planned for each day. They are fairly easy to do. Please join in.

Visit TBTT for more information on today's action.

Let me use this opportunity to showcase a project I learnt about at last week's AWID Forum: the Cyber-Quilting Experiment.

What is cyber-quilting? It's a creative way to use internet-based technologies to network social justice organisations, to enable them share resources and work together. This is something that is taking place quite frequently by many groups and individuals already, but I liked the term 'cyber-quilting.' It really seemed to symbolise the symbiotic process of learning, teaching and cooperation that takes place online. Let's see how we can use our email, blogs, websites and social networking site accounts to speak out or do something about violence against women.



technorati tags:


Sunday, November 23, 2008

Updates

- I'm back home and enjoying catching up on sleep.

- I can't believe that we're so close to Christmas and the end of the year. I went to Ikota Shopping Complex on Friday and was momentarily taken aback by the number of shops with Christmas decorations and selling Christmas cards. I can feel harmattan in the air, with the heat and dust. Also, I noticed that there are more ants towards the end of the year. And they're usually trying to climb all over me.

- I took out my recent kinky twists (my signature do) and thinking about my 'Christmas do.' The Christmas do is a fairly new concept for me; never having distinguished between hair styles at any other time of the year. It's time for something completely different.

- I'll be getting the latest season of my beloved favourite show The Wire. And to get ready, I'm re-watching season 4. I'm giddy with anticipation.

- I've been very dedicated with my return to book-reading. I recently finished an anthology of stories about women written by men called We-men (edited by Nduka Otiono and E.C. Osondu), and started Cinnamon Gardens by Shyam Selvadurai. It's a collection of stories set in Sri Lanka, a country that hasn't featured in much of my reading.

- After the FTX workshop, I'm really psyched about learning more about free and open source software, particularly Drupal and Linux. So I guess that will be on my to-do list for 2009.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Ghetto Radio

Ghetto Radio (which consists of the Ghetto Radio station in Nairobi and through the website) set up to reveal the fuller picture of ghetto life and culture by being a channel through which ghetto inhabitants, artists as well as regular inhabitants of slums and ghettos, can tell their own stories (through music, graffiti, blogs, comments, news items, stories, poetry, etc.).

Monday, November 17, 2008

Tack Back the Tech Blogathon




Join the Take Back the Tech campaign against violence against women.

"We want to take over the blogosphere for 16 days.

ka-BLOG! is a 16-day blog fest for the Take Back the Tech Campaign. It is open to anyone and everyone - girls, boys, everyone beyond and more -- who wants to share their thoughts, write poetry and prose, post graphics / pictures, rant, rave, heckle, make snide remarks, stick their tongue out at violence against women, and how online communications can exacerbate or help eliminate VAW.

If you are blogging, don't forget to tag your posts so we can aggregate them on this site, and amplify your voice!"


Learn more about the campaign.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Tech-Savvy Obama Presidency

Everyone loves Obama, it seems. In particular, everyone it seems is impressed by the tech-savviness of his campaign. I think I've heard it mentioned in every single plenary here at the AWID Forum.

Guardian explores his use of information technology on his campaign and in his presidency - starting with the launch of his weekly broadcast via YouTube to the American public.

FTX & AWID

It's been a little while. But the last 10 days have been rather busy. I feel so lame saying that, because it feels like I'm *always* saying that. Okay, well they have. I've been away at 2 events; the first being the Feminist Technology Exchange and the second being the Association for Women's Rights in Development (AWID) Forum, both in Cape Town.

FTX was a 3-day workshop exploring feminist practices and politics of using technology. So what does that mean in plain English? You can think of it as ways to use existing tools to further women's rights. Yours truly was a trainer on the social networking track and that was fun and inspiring. Since it was an exchange, the model was not so much as a lecture-type format but a sharing of experiences, resources and practices all round.

AWID has been a wonderful experience. I've been wanting to attend it for the last 6 years and finally I'm excited to be here. It's been a packed 3 days, so far. And as with some conferences I've been to, there's a lot to pick from. My one grouse is that the really fabulous sessions are all packed in the mornings and I have to struggle to choose which one to go to. Then in the afternoon, there's nothing I want to go to. Since I am not a trainer, I have been able to relax a bit. My presentation is tomorrow morning, so hoping that goes well. It's the last day of the conference, which could be good or not. People will be tired and 'conferenced out.' Many will want to sleep in or even better go shopping or sight-seeing.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Update: Uzoma Okere

An update on Uzoma Okere, the lady beaten by the naval ratings. Read the article in Punch.

Other bloggers have taken up this story, including No Limit and Funmi Iyanda.

There's also a Facebook group set-up to seek redress, Petition for Justice: Uzoma Okere. There's another one, New Naija, to discuss steps for a better Nigeria, including the Uzoma Okere incident.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

So who will protect us from the people who should be protecting us?

A friend, I, called me yesterday and sent me a text about a colleague of her family member being beaten and stripped naked. I didn't have any more information. However today, she sent me a text to Google the name "Harry Arogundade." In the meantime, another friend, A, called me to ask if I had heard about the lady who was beaten up. I could only think back to the info from I.

So, I checked online and found the story on the Punch website. The victim, a lady Uzoma Okere, was dragged out of her car by the "boys" of naval rear admiral Arogundade, beaten and her clothes torn for allegedly not moving fast enough out of the way of the rear admiral's convoy.

This is one of the aspects of life in Nigeria that irks and angers one: this "big-man" syndrome and flexing of muscles. The police and military convoys, which demand that cars manned by civilians leap out of the path, are an utter bane in the life of Lagosians, where the endless traffic jams with cars lines in tight succession on all sides makes this inconvenient, not to mention impossible many times.

Apparently the lady Uzoma was blamed for holding on to the men as they beat her with a horse whip and the butts of their guns.

More info on The Village Square and a video on CNN iReport.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Theatre in Lagos

It's good to see more people taking an interest in the arts. I went to see The Lion and the Jewel at Terra Kulture today. And it was refreshing to see more than 10 people in the audience. Theatre@Terra has gradually gained in momentum since its inception a little over a year ago. However, I remember the early days when there could be 5 people in the audience. I guess what we lacked in numbers, we tried to make-up in terms of audience reaction.

At today's 3PM performance there were about 33 people (yes, I counted) and I am sure there were even more people at the 6PM showing because I think that tends to get more of a crowd.

Although the numbers might not appear worth jumping over the moon for; particularly for the director and producer who have slaved to pull the production together, I think it is somewhat encouraging. Especially considering the numbers of people I know who have any interest in the theatre.

Last Sunday I went to see Aluta & Osusu Owo, a dance-drama production by the Crown Troupe of Africa at Studio 868. Crowne Troupe used to perform the Bukateria series every 3rd Sunday of the month at Terra Kulture, before Theatre@Terra took over. I wasn't sure what happened to them, but a friend told me that they have been performing at the National Theatre for a while. Now they are extending their performances for the island crowd at Studio 868 (on Bishop Aboyade Street, VI). This takes place every last Sunday of the month (I believe) at 3PM and 5PM.

I really enjoyed it last week. Although both featuring strong elements of music and dance, the Crowne Troupe's production is very different from what you will see at Theatre@Terra. CT features skits and shorter pieces as opposed to one story. The pieces are intended to be a witty and sometimes sarcastic commentary on life in Nigeria. The performances also featured the folk music group Nefertiti, as well as a troupe of children dancers and drummers called Footprints.

There were not many people at the show though - maybe 10 (and I have a feeling most were family and friends of the performers). I suppose it takes time to build up some momentum. Word-of-mouth seems to be the most powerful way to draw people to a show, so I'm telling you to go if you can. I'll put up the dates of the next shows.

Arts Events

This is for the art lovers ....

Kaleidoscopes
New works by Moyo Ogundipe @ Terra Kulture Art Gallery, Tiamiyu Savage Street, VI, Lagos
Date: Nov 1-6 2008

MUSON 2008 Festival

The Divorce (a play)
Date: Sat, Nov 8 2008
Venue: AGIP Recital Hall, MUSON Centre, Onikan, Lagos
Time: 3:00PM, 6:00PM
Gate Fee: N500 (students), N1,000 (everyone else)

Choral Concert
The MUSON Festival Choir, conducted by Emeka Nwokedi, will be performing excerpts from Mass in B minor by J.S. Bach and Choral Africana
Date: Sun, Nov 16 2008
Venue: AGIP Recital Hall, MUSON Centre, Onikan, Lagos
Time: 6:00PM
Gate Fee: N500 (students), N1,000 (everyone else)

Saturday, November 01, 2008

My Reading Updates

I finished a book today!!!! You don't know what a big deal that is for me these days. For me, it's blogworthy! Although, now that I think about it, I do feel like I recently completed another book..... What was that?

Okay, I remember now. It was The 'Girl Entrepreneurs' by Ibukun Awosika. I'll write about that soon. A few minutes ago I finished Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri. Although I'm a fan of her work, I hesitated before buying this book, because I thought "Short stories! Again?

I thoroughly enjoyed The Namesake and was hoping that her next book would be a novel. However, some of the stories in UE were almost novel-like in scale and atmosphere - if that makes any sense; especially Hema and Kaushik, which makes up half the book. I'll write more about it later.

I attended a book reading today, though I should say "attended" with inverted commas, because really I arrived at the end of what appeared to be a vigorous discussion. However, I was just in time to talk with the author of the day, Ekene Onu, who wrote the book The Mrs. Club. I met her once back-in-the-day in Boston. I also used to read her e-zine, Nouveau Africana, which I looked forward to with almost the same degree of anticipation that I awaited my monthly Essence.

She recognised my face and I told her that we had met in Boston. Then, she asked me if I was Ore of Ore's Notes? I love it when that happens, because it's always so unexpected. She told me that she loves my blog and reads it regularly. Well, well, that was rather nice, because I tend to forget that a few people check in on this blog from time to time. I typically feel like I'm talking to myself. Anyway, she wrote a cool note in my copy of The Mrs. Club, which will be the next book on my list.

National ICT Youth Rally – Nov 7, 2008

The 2008 edition of the National ICT Youth Rally is scheduled to hold on Friday, November 7, 2008, at the National Stadium, Surulere in Lagos. The theme is "Nigerian Youth: Plugging into the ICT Revolution".

The National ICT Youth Rally is the principal gathering by and for the Nigerian youths for the purpose of bridging the digital divide. It offers a unique opportunity for brainstorming, sharing of ideas, interaction, mentoring and display of ICT projects/works by young people in the country.

Activities at the National ICT Youth Rally 2008 include the finals of the ICT Quiz Contest, ICT debate, SMS competition, workshop/special project exhibition, scholarship/sponsorship opportunities and special guest appearance from Nollywood and the music industry.

Ernest Ndukwe, executive Vice Chairman, NCC, is billed to deliver the keynote address while Prince Ademola Adeniji-Adele, commissioner for Youth, Sports and Social Development, Lagos State, a seasoned technocrat and youth development enthusiast would serve as chief host.

Read more about the event.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Do We Still Need Telecentres?

Here's an article based on a report commissioned by the Association for Progressive Communications (APC). The report, written by wireless expert Ian Howard, explores sustainable ICT and the need for wireless internet access for development (W4D).

The article "Rural communication: Is there still a need for telecentres now that there are mobile phones?" is also available in French and Spanish.

Fellowship Opportunity @ Stanford

The Center for African Studies at Stanford University requests applications for the African Leadership and Economic Development Fellowship.

Fellows will receive training in economic development from the Ford Dorsey Program in International Policy Studies. Two fellowships will be offered. Awards will support tuition for this two-year master’s degree. A stipend will be included to help cover housing, books and other expenses. Upon graduation, fellows will be expected to return to their respective countries of origin where they will take leadership positions and make significant contributions to their country’s economic challenges.

Eligibility: To be considered for this fellowship, all applicants must be from Africa. They must be admitted to the Master of Arts program in International Policy Studies. Applicants must possess strong academic records and demonstrate commitment to economic development in Africa. We especially welcome applications from women.

How to Apply: Visit http://ips.stanford.edu for details on how to apply to the Ford Dorsey Program in International Policy Studies at Stanford University.

African Women Bloggers

Looking for information online can be so difficult. It's so easy to get sidetracked with one thing on the other. Reading the Technorati report, I decided to check the page for my blog there and saw that Ore's Notes was listed among Afrigator's top 45 female African bloggers (and just one of 3 blogs by Nigerian women).

Of course, this is drawn from blogs listed on Afrigator (Afrigator is an African social media aggregator), which is dominated by South African blogs (I used it last year to search for blogs by African women).

One good thing from this discovery is finding some new blogs to peruse.

Technorati State of the Blogosphere 2008 Report



I'm reading up about the use of blogging to build, promote and sustain social movements - particularly among women's groups. It's hard to find truly concrete examples of the use of blogging to do this and what I have found is anecdotal (nice, but if you have examples, please forward them to me0.

I am reading Technorati's 2008 State of the Blogosphere report. Their findings are not so surprising.

On a global level:

  • Two-thirds are male
  • 50% are 18-34
  • More affluent and educated than the general population
    • 70% have college degrees
    • Four in ten have an annual household income of $75K+
    • One in four have an annual household income of $100K+
  • 44% are parents

48% of bloggers live on North America; 27% in Europe; 13% in Asia; 7% in South America; 3% in Australia; and a measly less than 1% in Africa.

Of course, this is based on who responded to their survey, and so is not necessarily a true reflection of the actual number of bloggers.

However, if these figures are anything to go by, then blogging emerges as a still elitist activity and you can understand why blogging is having limited real effects particularly in Africa and among women.

The Future Awards: Nominations Extended

The Future Awards is a celebration of young people by young people. The event was recently launched at Studio 868 with nominations formally declared open. Judges for this year include Mo Abudu (Moments with Mo), Bolanle Austen-Peters (Terra Kulture), Siene Allwell-Brown (Nigeria LNG), with Dr. Reuben Abati remaining as the Chair.

The original deadline for nominations has been extended until at least Nov 10th, so if you know of any inspiring and accomplished young man or woman (ages 18 to 31, I believe), please send them in via the website, www.thefuturenigeria.com.

The winners will be unveiled at the awards ceremony on the 18th of January, 2009, in Lagos .

I met Emilia Asim-Ita, the Future's PR Director online and am yet to meet her. I finally saw what she looks like when she appeared on Today with STV. She now hosts a segment on books and reviewed Madeline Albright's autobiography. This morning, she appeared with the Future's Operation Director, Adebola Williams talking about the event.

I'm so glad that celebrations like this are emerging, where we are finally learning to appreciate young people more, especially in a culture that *still* believes that young people should be seen and not heard - despite so much evidence that we are capable of so much.

10th Lagos Book and Art Festival

Theme: Literacy and the Global Knowledge Society

Date: November 7-9, 2008

Venue: Exhibition Hall, National Theatre, Iganmu, Lagos

Key Literary Events: Panel Discussions, Dialogues, Conversations, Arthouse Parties

Details on www.lagosbookartfestival.com; or visit the CORA secretariat at 95 Bode Thomas Street, Surulere, Lagos; or contact Toyin (0805.762.2415) or Jummai (0802.368.3651).

I attended last year and it was fun. The panel discussion I attended (the topic was on Diaspora writing) was on was hugely entertaining with the speakers passionately defending their points of view. There were also lots of stands to browse. And in my great tradition, I bought books that I still haven't read yet.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Oxford Internet Institute: MSc in Social Science of the Internet

The Oxford Internet Institute (OII) has announced its new Masters program in Social Science of the Internet. See below for more info:

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We are delighted to announce that the application process for our new MSc in Social Science of the Internet is now open. The first application deadline for the course is 21 November 2008 (for start in October 2009). The next deadlines are: 23 January 2009 / 13 March 2009. The same deadlines apply to our DPhil course in Information, Communication and the Social Sciences.

We are seeking applications from outstanding candidates, who have already achieved excellence in their chosen field and who display deep intellectual and practical curiosity about the many social aspects of ICTs. Further information about these courses, including course structure and reading lists, potential funding for students, and application process, are available at: http://www.oii.ox.ac.uk/teaching/

Best wishes,
Dr Victoria Nash
Director of Graduate Studies
http://www.oii.ox.ac.uk/teaching/

'Be Bold' Podcast: Social Entrepreneurship

If you've heard the term "social entrepreneurship" and are unclear what it means; or if you have heard the term and are thinking about related career options, here is a podcast that you might want to check out.

I haven't listened to it yet (my currently highly unsatisfactory internet service won't permit me to), but Echoing Green, the organisation behind this podcast, are great supporters of social entrepreneurs (infact it's all they do), so it can't be half-bad. If you are able to listen to it, please share your feedback. It'll be much appreciated.

Internet Woes

My internet access has been so patchy this past week that reading and responding to emails has been virtually impossible. Seeing as it would take on average 7 minutes to open an email (IF I was lucky), I only selected those emails that appeared to be absolutely important. Btw, this is the Visafone that I just got hooked up with. My Starcomms connection at work has been just as bad (and it's usually the worse one). Then, my Dad's 21st Century was also not working, so I assumed it was a general problem. Until a friend mentioned that MTN's 3G service is working just fine. Hmmmm......

Anyway, FINALLY after only 1 week of being virtually offline, I find my service seemingly working okay (at 1.25am, thank you very much)! I called Visafone's customer service to harass them anyway for good measure. The lady I spoke with said they are "experiencing some downtime." Whatever that means. However she was sure that "it would be working soon." Again, whatever. I asked her if their customers would be compensated for a week of service paid for, with no service received. She said that she was sure that "they would do their best."

I hope this week is a better one, internet-wise.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Gbenga Sesan is Awarded an Ashoka Fellowship

It's a season of winning for Nigerians. I just had to share this great piece of news. Gbenga Sesan, executive director of Paradigm Initiative Nigeria (PIN), one-time IT youth ambassador and ardent ICT champion has been honoured with an Ashoka fellowship.

Ashoka is a global organisation that supports leading social entrepreneurs in the work they do to make the world a better place. Fellows are selected following a rigorous screening process and become part of a prestigious group of changemakers.

Congrats Gbenga on this incredible achievement.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

What a Day

What a day! Most of it was spent sitting in a car in traffic. I can honestly say that I got almost not work done today. There was crazy traffic on the mainland; really bad traffic on the way from the mainland to the island; and crippingly slow traffic on the island. I really don't know what else to say. And Lagosians lamenting about the traffic feels as cliched as British people talking about their weather. I ended theday in the gym and worked harder than I have in a while, so I feel less stressed and ready to take on the rest of the week.

Here's a series called Nigerian Women Speak Out on the PBS website. It's rather old, but still makes for some interesting reading. Interviews include Hauwa Ibrahim and Chris Anyanwu.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Chimamanda Wins MacArthur Genius Grant

Old news now. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was awarded a 'genius grant' from the MacArthur Foundation. The fellowship, which comes with a grant of $500,000 spread over the next 5 years, is awarded annually to "support individuals across all disciplines who show exceptional merit and promise of continued creative work".

More info is available on the Guardian and MacArthur Foundation websites.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Atrracting Women to FOSS

It's been a busy blog morning. I was sent this article entitled Ten Easy Ways to Attract Women to your Free Software Project. It explores the ways in which women are discouraged from participating and contributing more to free and open software software (FOSS) projects. It has implications and useful knowledge for projects beyond FOSS and makes for good reading.

Google's Project 10 to the 100th

Social Enterpreneurship seems to be very in right now. Google has launched Project 10 100 (pronounced "Project 10 to the 100th", aka "googol" - what should have been the company's name), which is a call for ideas to change the world, in the hope of helping as many people as possible. They are committing up to $10 million (USD) to fund 5 ideas.

This should be a big idea which a huge reach. Read more and apply.

Mothering on SATC Deconstructed

I just read an interesting analysis of Sex and the City's Miranda's journey to motherhood in S&F Online. Anyone who has watched the series will probably have been flabbergasted that it was Miranda, the most cynical of the quartet, who first became a mother as well as a caretaker for an elderly parent (her husband Steve's mother) by the end of the show. This article explains how mothering does not necessarily come easily to all women, unlike is portrayed in society and popular culture, but is often a process of learning, practice, coming to terms with how much your life will have to change and continuous renegotiating of priorities in life. Very different from the easy, carefree images of the "yummy mummy."

There are also essays on The Sopranos. I recently finished watching the whole show, from seasons 1 to 6 (it only took me about a year) and wanted to write something about it, but the ideas are just swirling in my head and it's hard to articulate what I want to say yet.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Deenie

Thrown down memory lane after listening to the Judy Blume interview, I brought out a copy of Deenie, which I bought sometime last year in a fit of nostalgia and which I had not yet read. I took it with me to the salon today and read the whole thing. Granted, it's a very, very easy read. And although I am not dealing with many of the issues in the book (anymore or ever), I still related with some other aspects, like the family dynamics and the questions that adolescents have about life.

I remember when I read my first JB book, I wondered how she managed to capture so well what it was like to be a child. Somehow, we grow up and forget. I was still struck by that reading the book today.

Moving Back

In the last few months, I've read a number of articles on Nigeria's 'brain gain'/'reverse brain drain'/repatriation, or whatever you want to call the process of Nigerians moving back home from foreign shores. Here's another one.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

My Love for Judy B.

Growing up, I loved reading books by Judy Blume and listening to her talk about her books brought back sweet memories of lying curled up on my bed reading the days away.

She's probably best known for Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret., which I still remember for Margaret and her friend's chest-increasing exercises and the chant that went along with it; "I must, I must, I must increase my bust." ROFL!

However, my favourite book of her's, by far and away, was Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself. I loved Sally's vivid imagination, which saw her making-up stories about the people around her; imagining their lives to be something very different from what it was. That's something I did too, so I really identified with her. It's a really long time since I read the book and I've long lost my copy of it, so I'm fuzzy on much of the story now.

As an aside, I've found that sometimes when I'm not reading as much as I would like, listening to interviews of the authors can leave me feeling almost as satisfied as if I had just read their books. Almost, kind of, though not quite. Especially when you come across nuggets of wisdom from the author that so powerfully speaks to something in your life (this could be writing related or not).

Judy Blume mentioned that "Sometimes, the more you know, the more you feel the critic on your shoulder, or the censor on your shoulder, the less well you are going to be able to get inside and write what matters...... It's better when you don't know anything. It's better when you are fresh and spontaneous and don't know ..."

I think how true this is in so many situations in life. Preparedness is key, but frequently when we know so much about a project we're planning on embarking upon - especially about the challenges involved - we tend to limit our belief in what we can do and chastise ourselves to "be realistic." And when you really think about it, many of the exciting and innovative things in this world have come out of minds that were being totally 'unrealistic' and perhaps 'naive' according to the standards and expectations of the world.

Dance Drama: Crown Troupe of Africa

Crown Troupe of Africa poster

Crown Troupe will be performing Exodus and Monkey Post, a dance-drama this Sunday (September 28) at Studio 868 (Plot 868, Bishop Aboyade Cole, VI) with 2 showings at 3pm and 5pm - prompt! (according to the poster).

Crown Troupe used to perform every 3rd Sunday at Terrakulture, but I haven't seen them there in a long while so it was nice to hear that they are still very much performing.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Keeping at It

It's somewhat comforting to see that other bloggers neglect their blogs from time to time, but are inspired to continue by reading or hearing about other blogs.

Read notes from the Nigerian Bloggers Conference on Gbenga's blog.

Thanks, ST for awarding me a Certified Honest Blogger award. I'll do my bit to pass it on.

2008 Digital Media and Learning Competition

Some of you might be interested:

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The second HASTAC/MacArthur Digital Media and Learning Competition is now open!

Awards will be made in two categories:

1. Innovation in Participatory Learning Awards support large-scale digital learning projects. Awards will range from $30,000-$250,000.

This year we are piloting international eligibility for our Innovation Award and will be accepting submissions from primary applicants in Canada, People's Republic of China, India, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands,Nigeria, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the United States; collaborators can befrom anywhere in the world.

2. Young Innovator Awards are targeted at U.S. applicants aged 18-25 year olds and awards range between $5,000-$30,000.

(You can find out about last year's winners at hub.dmlcompetition.net/)

Full information at: www.dmlcompetition.net.

Participatory learning is defined broadly: using new digital media for sharing ideas or planning, designing, implementing, or just discussing ideas and goals together.

Application Deadline: October 15, 2008

Friday, September 19, 2008

Call for Abstracts - Agenda Journal

Call for abstracts below:

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Agenda has been at the forefront of feminist publishing in South Africa for 20 years. The journal raises debate around women’s rights and gender issues. The journal encourages critical thinking, debate and social activism and strengthens the capacity of women and men to challenge gender discrimination and injustices.

January 2009's issue will focus on Community Media.

This journal issue aims to put a spotlight on gender issues within all forms of community media – print, radio, TV and internet as well as citizen journalism and blogging. We want to investigate if community media face similar gender issues to commercial, government and mainstream media, e.g. with regard to gender stereotyping, women’s under-representation in decision-making positions and women’s voices in the news.

Articles should debate social, economic or legal pressures of women working in community media as well as legal provisions that protect against gender discrimination in community media. We also welcome case studies and best practice examples.

Contributions may also discuss one or more of the following questions:
- What are women’s potential and challenges in community media?
- What is the importance of gender equality, awareness and sensitivity for balanced and democratic community media?
- How do community media address gender issues differently from mainstream media?
- Community radio – a women’s medium?
- How to effectively use community media as a tool to promote women’s decision-making roles and political participation?

We invite contributors from all over the African continent and other developing countries to write on the above-mentioned topics from either a research or an activism perspective.

Abstracts and contributions must be written in English language and a style accessible to a wide audience. Please submit abstracts to guest editor Kristin Palitza, kristin@iburst.co.za.

All abstract submissions must:
* Specify the specific key area you would like to write on;
* Count 200-300 words;
* Include contact details: your name, institution/organisation, telephone, email and the country in which you reside/country of origin.

Deadline: 1 October 2008.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Useful Blogging Tools

For the longest time, I've been meaning to add a link to my blog to allow people subscribe to it. While I'm sure many people use blog aggregators and readers to keep up with new posts, it's always nice if the blog owners make it that much easier for their readers.

Well, Hash of White African has posted on useful tools to incorporate to your blog. That gave me the incentive to finally add those links. If you're using the newer layouts and templates on Blogger, adding these options is very easy; however if you're using one of the older templates, you'll have to copy and paste the code into your template. Not that difficult, but enough steps to deter the lazier among us. ;-)

Monday, September 15, 2008

Exhibition at the Goethe

This morning I saw a clip about an artist who has/had an exhibition at the Goethe Institute. Her first name is Furo, but I didn't catch her last name.

The thing that captured my interest about her work was when she described her work as feminist. Her work, a mixture of paintings and installation art, depicted and raised questions about, among other things, Nigerian women's lives including patriarchy, subjugation, double standards and gender stereotypes. I was impressed.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

That Feminist Label

I was reading today's papers and came across an interview in Punch with the director of Gender and Development Action (GADA), Ada Agina-Ude.

It was interesting because when asked if she's a feminist, she answered "an equivocal yes." This is very rare because even when women are passionate about women's rights, it seems that they still shy away from the title of "feminist." It's one thing not to declare yourself to be something if you really don't understand what it's all about; however it seems that all too often, women retreat behind that excuse of not wanting to be put in a box or wear a label.

Hmmm, I think - rightly or wrongly - we all tend to put ourselves and others into certain boxes. And just because you wear the label "feminist" doesn't mean that is all you are.

Ms. Agina-Ude explained that "feminism comes in different hues and colours", but that whatever strand of feminism they believed in, they shared a common goal of "improving the lives of women, having women participate fully in every aspect of life, bridging the gap in various spheres of development and empowering women."

Friday, September 12, 2008

Visafone Trial

Moved to Visafone last week, or was it the week before? It has been pretty good, I have to say. The service was supposed to be activated a few hours after paying at the Visafone shop, but that didn't happen causing me to wonder whether I had made a horrible mistake dumping my beloved Netcom.

I took my laptop back to the shop the next day and after a few calls, it was up and running. And since then, it's been really good. Much faster than the Netcom, it appears (I have the Gold account) and portable. The portability is actually the nicest thing about Visafone, as Netcom came with a bulky modem that had to be almost constantly plugged into the a socket. Although it should have been able to retain its charge for up to 3 hours, I had never found this to be the case and so was always tied to one spot.

Monday, September 01, 2008

The Death of Twitter in Africa

In July, I blogged about starting to use Twitter and not really seeing the point in it. I expressed some hope that once I started twittering from my mobile phone, then the opportunities and ease for sharing and receiving updates or 'tweets' would become more obvious.

Alas, I never got around to doing that and then I just read on White African's blog (yes, the 2nd link to his blog in as many days) that Twitter has cancelled its SMS service in Africa. My first thought was that "Well, it was just another tool for me to keep on top of anyway, so no big loss there."

White African shares some of the benefits of having a "one-to-many" messaging service and links to Soyapi Mumba's blog where he shares some of the benefits to Africa. These are some good points he raises in, especially for a continent where mobile phone use is far more prevalent than internet use.

One thing I always wondered about was the cost. Was it free to tweet from your mobile phone or does the user have to pay the cost of the SMS? I am guessing that they did, in which case it would have been a deterrent for many people.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Ory Okolloh: The Making of an African Activist

Erik Hersman (of the White African blog) shared this link on the Ushahidi Facebook group.

The Kenyan lawyer-blogger-activist Ory Okolloh talks at the 2007 TED Global conference in Tanzania about growing up in Kenya, her work as an activist, lawyer and blogger and what drives her in the work that she does. Aside from being more community-minded and thinking about the role that we can play in uplifting our community, she talks about using the power of blogs and other Internet tools to share our stories so that we don't find people telling them inaccurately for us.

How's Visaphone?

My sporadic blogging has been in part due to my lack of Internet access. I am thinking of trying out Visaphone and I'd love to hear some feedback from people who are currently using or have used Visaphone.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

An Expensive Dinner

Interesting article by Reuben Abati on the N2.5 million per table fund-raising dinner held in US presidential candidate, Barack Obama: The N100 million dinner for Obama.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

About Bats and Rats

I went to see Dark Knight, the 3rd installment in the Batman series, last night. I went to City Mall, because the previous Saturday I had tried to see it at Silverbird only to find it sold out. I'm not too keen on the crowds of Silverbird either, so I thought "Why not try City Mall? I've never actually been to see a film there, although I go there from time to time because of its proximity to my office.

One of the bigest pluses about City Mall is the availability of parking. You never really have to drive round in circles looking for somewhere to park your car; or maneuvere uncomfortably to park somewhere where your car is teetering dangerously close to an open gutter or straddling the median.

Then, there is the general absence of a crowd, which quite frankly is not really a good thing for a shopping mall; the increasing number of boarded-up shop spaces each time I visit an evidence of this. First, Cafe Verrgnano (sp?) moved out and then the Wrangler store and two others whose names I do not know. However, if you do not enjoy having to swim through a sea of people, then this is perfect.

Problem number 1 yesterday was the film that was supposed to start at 8.15pm turned out to be 8.30pm. Not too big a deal in itself, until we strolled up to the hall to be asked to wait until the film before finished. 30 minutes later we were still waiting. When we were finally allowed in, I immediately noticed the bare-bones interior of the hall. Yes, I admit - I have been spoilt by the relatively plush decor of Silverbird and NuMetro cinemas.

I reasoned all this is why City Mall charges N800 per film, while SB charges N1,500.

Problem number 2: The hall was freezing. What the hell? Despite enduring five frigid New England winters, I hate the cold and get cold very easily. My friend offered that I might feel better when the hall filled up. Unfortunately, this never happened. We remained the 7 or so people all through the film.

When I could not take it anymore, I went out to ask the staff to turn down the AC. The only thing was Where on earth were they?

No where in sight. I spotted a security guard and asked him.

- They've gone.

- Gone where?

He shrugged.

- Dey don go home.

- WHAT? All of them?

He shrugged again.

- It's very cold. Who can turn down the AC?

He shrugged (again).

I returned to the still freezing hall. I met a lady standing near the doors, wrapped in her headtie. She too, apparently, was cold. I told her there was no one outside. Her companion joined her and they both left the hall.

About 20 minutes later, the hall started to get noticeably warmer.

Thank God! Now, let me enjoy this film.

Problem number 3: About 15 minutes later, three people seated some way in front of us leapt from their seats in visible alarm. The man among them fled from the hall.

WTH is going on? My mind went immediately to creatures of the creepy and crawly variety.

From the moment we had entered the hall, I had heard a rustling sound coming from the wall near us and kept glancing in that direction to figure out what it was. Not seeing anything, I had assumed that it was the crackling of a faulty speaker. Now, I stared harder and more frequently to figure it out. And eventually I did when I saw a huge RAT crawling on the wall near the speaker.

I gave a muffled scream and alerted my friend who had neither heard nor seen anything. Jeez!! I ordered us to move our seats closer to the screen, where I perched at the edge of the seat glancing around me the whole time.

Hearing another rustle on the right side of me, I turned to see ANOTHER rat.

Seriously, WTH!!!!!!!!

We moved again until we were almost clambering into the screen to join the cast of the film. By this time, Dark Knight had totally lost me. Clutching my bag in my lap, with my butt barely on the seat, I was ready to run at even the minutest rustling sound.

And the film dragged on and on. [Spoiler Alert!!!] They caught the Joker, they put him in a cell. They transferred him to the interrogation room. A policeman came back from the dead to cross-examine him. No dice. Batman had a go at him. Again, no dice. The Joker escaped.

Will this damn film just END already!!!!! Was that something moving on the floor? Okay, no. I'm imagining things.

Batman performed some technical wizardry to tap into all the city's mobile phones simultaneously. It looked and sounded pretty chaotic to me, but I'm a mere mortal. He was able to pick out one particular conversation that helped him track down the Joker.

He fought through floors of armed bad guys(?) to get to the Joker. He got to him eventually. They fought. The Joker had him pinned to the floor. Then Batman was on top. Batman had the Joker just where he wanted him. And then, he spared his life!!!!

Okay, I'm no advocate for violence; okay, maybe a little. But, the film just felt too long and I wanted a speedy, conclusive finale and my mind was elsewhere by that time.

So, when the screen went black and all the lights in the hall went off before the film had ended, I really didn't care anymore.

So, Ore's verdict at the end of the day? The film was actually quite enjoyable. Heath Leadger's Joker is completely different from Jack Nicholson's portrayal, which seemed more like an evil party clown to Ledger's twisted, schizophrenic monster.

The film, like many these days, was TOO LONG!

When you see it, please go to a comfortable cinema with no rats. Needless to say, that was my first and last time watching a film at City Mall.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Random Thoughts on Reading

In the spirit of my anniversary, I got to re-reading old posts. It's funny. It almost feels like some of those were made in another lifetime. I used to write book reviews!!!!! I'll try to recapture some of that old joie de vivre that I seemed to exhibit back then.

I have been a very lazy reader of late; only managing to read the chick lit that I used to so despise and books related to my work.

So, right now I just finished Lucy Sullivan is Getting Married by Marian Keyes (probably THE queen of chick lit). And I am currently reading Forces for Good: The Six Practices of High-Impact Nonprofits by Leslie R. Crutchfield & Heather McLeod Grant.

The Marian Keyes book, to be perfectly candid, was NOT great. It was a good laugh in some parts. But Lucy Sullivan is one of those extremely tiresome characters who grates on your nerves with her chronic poor self esteem, which causes her to make questionable choices in men (What? Like so many of us? No, not quite. Her's is to the max).

I had to suffer through interminable chapters of her being "in love" with a total loser, who anyone could see was a scrounger who only came round for sex or money or food (or frequently all three). I had to flip impatiently through the pages until she FINALLY came to her senses. It was all very painful for me.

So why didn't I just fling the stupid book out of the window? Well, I've started a lot of books in the past that I never finished, often because I thought the book unworthy of my time. Well, that works sometimes; after all, life is just too short to spend time voluntarily doing something you're not enjoying (though, a popular school of thought believes that suffering builds character). But, over the years, I decided that I was leaving too many books unread and would save that for when a book was truly, truly bad. Besides, after you've spent money on the book, the least you can do is to finish it.

I have a brand new Marian Keyes to get started on and this one actually looks quite promising. It's called This Charming Man.

My other new book reading rule is to read one book at a time. I typically do not follow this rule and in the past and result is about half a dozen partially read books. When I absolutely need to read more than one book simultaneously (which is still all the time), I read books of very different genres or types. This usually takes the form of 1 'fun' book and 1 'work' book.

Well, enough of my blah, blah, blah. I could better spend the time reading.

Three Years of Ore's Notes

Today was my blog anniversary. And yes, I feel like celebrating it because finding the time to blog has become increasingly difficult for me. At times I feel that my blogger card needs to be rescinded. No matter, I am still here - straggling slightly though I might be (in fact, look how late this post came - I barely made it on the 31st). Err .... here's hoping to a more productive blogging year ahead.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Firefox 3 - Continued

And I was really loving Firefox 3. Well, I still do on my work computer but my home computer is not liking the new version at all. And just when I had gotten hooked on the browser's ability to bring up the URL of any website that you've ever visited. And then, there is the ability to save the contents of your browsers and tabs before logging off, so that when you re-open the browser cached versions of the sites are still there. The earlier versions only do this when the browser shuts down unexpectedly.

Anyway, my home computer (w/Windows Vista) does not like this version and shows this by repeatedly shutting down the browser. :-(
So, I'm back to old Firefox version and Opera (which incidentally has a lot of the features I like about F3). :-)

Celebrities Square onTechnology

One of my favourite things to read right now is Celebrity Squares on Guardian's website. Not what is sounds like; celebrities talk about their favourite piece of technology and why they like it. Here's the latest post.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Faster Internet Soon?

According to an article in the Punch newspaper, Glo's telecom cable being laid from London to Africa will be completed next year. Hope this heralds lightening-fast internet.

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Glo's 9,500km submarine cable project ready next year – Jameel

By Jonah Iboma
Published: Wednesday, 23 Jul 2008

The 9,500-kilometre submarine telecommunications cable being laid by Globacom to connect Africa with Europe and the United States is nearing completion.

A statement on Tuesday by the company said the Group Chief Operating Officer of Globacom, Mr. Mohammed Jameel, made this disclosure in Accra, Ghana at a press conference where the GSM licence won by the company was formally presented by the country's National Communications Authority.

The submarine cable project, which is costing about $250m, will run from London to 14 West African countries, with a dedicated link to the United States. It is expected to reach Ghana by May 2009, and shortly after, Nigeria .

The completion of the project, according to Jameel, will revolutionise telecoms services on the continent, and make them truly affordable to individuals and corporate bodies.

It will also enable more services and products to be introduced by Globacom.

Jameel promised that Glo would not disappoint the people of Ghana as it would replicate its success story in Nigeria and Benin Republic by giving the people value for money.

He said Glo would start operations in Ghana by the end of the year, and hoped to hit a subscriber base of two million in two years.

According to him, in Ghana, Glo has already gone to work to make this dream a reality. This, he said, would enable many Ghanaian businesses and individuals derive maximum satisfaction from Glo's services.

He added that Glo had applied to the NCA for a 3G licence, which he was optimistic it would get soon to improve its services together with the cable connection to make bandwidth available for businesses that required it.

These, he noted, would help Glo to provide high-speed Internet connectivity, data and voice transmission.

He commended NCA for making the licence bidding process "extremely transparent" as the authority kept to the timeline for issuing the licence as advertised.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Nairobi's Rising Profile as a Technology Hotbed

Interesting article from the New York Times on Nairobi's emerging coding community. Google set-up a development office there last September, which is intended to be a testing bed for new products and ideas for the African continent.

Being in Nairobi last week, I saw many of the same access issues that plague us here in Nigeria, with many of the young ladies who I worked with, who lived outside Nairobi, not having access to computers or the Internet or the means to pay for access. However, the costs seemed much lower than in Nigeria. It was also fairly easy to go to a provider like Safaricom and buy a modem, which would provide fairly fast wireless connectivity. This could be on a pre-paid or post-paid basis.

Influential Women Bloggers

NorthxEast, a blog that explores blogging, came up with its list of the 50 most influential female bloggers. There are many great bloggers on the list, some of whom I read - including Beth Kanter (who I've worked with on a number of occassions) and Heather B. Armstrong (who gained fame/notoriety for being fired for things she had written about her co-workers on her blog).

Overall though, the list could very easily be renamed the "Fifty most influential North American female bloggers" or "Caucasian female bloggers" for all the diversity it shows. I mean, restricted access to computers and to the Internet ensures that bloggers from developing countries are still under-represented in the blogosphere, but nevertheless, if we are speaking about "influential bloggers" there are quite a few bloggers not included on the list that come to mind. Maybe I should make a list.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Random

Argh!! I'm working, though I don't want to be right now. I know, we can't always do what we want. Anyway, it's incentive to quickly finish what I'm doing so that I can do something fun with the rest of my Saturday.

I started Twittering. I still don't see what the point is, but I can see that if I owned a Blackberry, then I might get hooked on seeing what other people are doing at any given time. For now, though, the jury is still out. You can follow me if you care.

Meanwhile, BlogHer is holding their annual conference at the moment in San Fransisco. FYI, BlogHer is a blog for women bloggers all over the world. The conference features technical workshops and sessions covering a dizzying variety of topics that would be of interest to women. You also get to meet bloggers who you have long admired from afar.

Two years ago, I was offered the opportunity to attend the BlogHer conference holding in San Jose, California - all expenses paid. I was crushed that I could not go. I love trips, particularly the free variety. And I had never been to San Jose too! Well, one day.

One of the cool things about visiting a blogger conference or meeting is getting to meet your fav bloggers. There's a post on BlogHer about favourite women bloggers.

Here's a post covering a Blogher session on keeping focused on your blogging.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

So, Beauty isn't Everything

Films are very powerful and can say so much in very few words or scenes. I watched a short film day before yesterday from somewhere in Francophone Africa (I don't know the title of the film or the name of the director).

The film revolved around a man, whose name I cannot remember. Let's call him Ibn, because I think it was something like that. Ibn was a confirmed bachelor. His dear cousin, Diattou (Hey! I remember something, at least.) refused to accept this and set about finding him a wife.

Ibn told her that he wanted a wife without any flaws. She was to be perfect in everyway - in looks and manner - without even the tiniest scar on her body.

I hissed extremely loudly while watching this. "This man is a total joker! Where does he think he's going to find such a woman? And is he himself even perfect?"

And I will tell you right now that Ibn was no looker himself and didn't appear to be very be bright either. Anyway....

One day an earth-shatteringly beautiful woman appeared in the village (apologies for the cheesy superlatives, but you get the idea). No one knew where this woman came from, but she made her way to Diattou's hut and without much ado she was taken to Ibn as a wife. He was pleased to say the least that he had finally found the woman of his dreams.

One day, a little while after they had been married, she went out. To do what, I'm not sure - get some food for her husband? Go to the farm? The market? Take a bath at the river? (Just pick one)

A moor, who was known to be a chronic womaniser, spotted her and was consumed with the desire to have her. He followed her with the intentions of making his feelings known. As he got closer to her, he hid behind a tree and peeped at her just in time to see her turning into a donkey.

Startled and frightened, he took to his heels and blabbered to the first person he saw about Ibn's wife turning into a donkey. The moor must have had a reputation for being a drunkard, as well as a womaniser, because his friend treated this news with derision. Notwithstanding, the story spread around the village within hours (This part got me seriously cracking up; that people can believe a story not to be true, but spread it anyway. People!).

In due course, the story got to Diattou and to Ibn. Of course, I don't think that he really believed that his wife was a donkey, but he was thoroughly humiliated at being the centre of the village joke. At night in his hut, Ibn's wife fell at his feet crying and begging for forgiveness. Ibn held his head up in righteous anger. When he finally looked down at his wife, he saw that she had grown donkey ears. Shocked, he staggered backwards. By now, his wife had transformed into a donkey. He chased the donkey out of his hut and attempted to evict it from his compound. Well, donkeys don't always get the gist of these things, and so merely ran around in circles with Ibn following in confused pursuit.

We now cut to two ladies on another day, preparing food and gossiping. They talk about how Ibn is having a tough time managing his compound.

- Yes, oh! Afterall, managing a wife who is a donkey is no easy task.

They both laugh.

- What a fool to marry a woman who just appeared from nowhere. Nobody knows her people or anything about her.

- And what an even bigger fool to focus so much on beauty, when there are so many more important things to consider!

Nigeria Transmitted

Being out of Nigeria, you start to realise the potentially dominant influence that Nigeria can wield and sometimes does over the rest of the continent. In most cases, it's our popular culture that carries most easily to other borders via the power of Nollywood and the DSTV channel Africa Magic.

I am miles away from home, but every night I can watch a host of Nigerian films and feel like I'm still at home (afterall, virtually every other show on the channel is Nigerian). People I meet tell me all about the Nigeria they've come to know from films, which includes hateful mother-in-laws, juju, over-the-top theatrics, focus on flashy possessions, extreme wealth, extreme poverty, and the list goes on. People tell me me about our food, as conjured from descriptions in Things Fall Apart and The Concubine, books from their secondary school reading lists.

Tonight I watched an old episode of Moments with Mo on Africa Magic, featuring Adesuwa Onyenokwe. And as corny as it is to say, I felt very proud: to be Nigerian; that we have some good productions coming out of the country; that our culture is so rich and diverse.

Felistah

Felistah

Felistah! Felistah! Felistah is another busy bee - actually ALL of these ladies are super-busy.

Felistah, like some of the ladies, is combining work and school. She's studying social work and community development at the Kenya Institute of Social Work and Community Development. At the same time, she works at Fortress of Hope Africa, where she works with adolescent girls.

Their programs include Okoa Wasichana Wetu (Save the Girls), which organises trainings on reproductive health, life skills and HIV awareness. Another program is the Tumaini Safe House, which is for girls who have been victims of gender discrimination, gender-based violence, thrown out of their homes and orphans. The organisation negotiates on behalf of the young women and provides counselling for everyone involved.

In the future, Felistah looks forward to being an activist for women and human rights. In her spare time, she loves to travel and socialise. BTW, she recommends visiting Hellsgate and the Hippo Camp, both in Kenya.

Nicole

Nicole

Nicole is simply put, a powerhouse. She blows you away with her radiant and generous spirit. Nicole brims with so much confidence and energy.

Nicole is studying for a diploma in Social Work and Community Development, after which she would like to go for a degree in law. Not sure that she wants to practice law, but Nicole feels that the knowledge of law, especially in relation to how it affects women’s rights would be pertinent to her future ambitions.

Nicole combines school with her work at the Young Women’s Leadership Institute, where she is an assistant programme officer. At YWLI, she initiated the Young Mother’s Initiative, while still an intern. Now a full-time employee, she runs the initiative, which is targeted at young mothers, up to the age of 35, who come from the slums and also those who are in universities. Nicole also runs the Binti Initiative, which uses football to empower and educate girls on their sexual and reproductive rights.

Nicole is the proud mother of a 2 year and 1 month-old daughter, Angel. And becoming a mother at a fairly young age has undoubtedly been a driving force in her desire to work with young women all over the world.

Nicole is a woman of many parts. Aside from working with young women, Nicole loves to act and has starred in two plays at the Felix Theatre. She’d love to combine her future career with acting, but recognises that this might be difficult to do, given the amount of time that acting requires. Nicole learnt to swim at the age of 3 and is a certified lifeguard. She loves to dance and wants to be the best mother ever.

Caroline

Caroline

Caroline puts me to shame. I used to think I was a busy woman, but Caroline is a phenomenal multi-tasker, who appears to very efficiently keep her many balls in the air. Caroline is always dashing from from one appointment to another, but gives 101% to each thing.

Caroline has a BSc in Recreation and Leisure Management from Kenyatta University. Her first job post-grad in 2007 was at the fitness centre of the Safari Park Hotel (which I saw today, btw. VERY posh looking). After this, she worked as director of sports and fitness at a Nairobi private school, where she developed programmes for the classes. At the same time, she found time to work as a personal trainer to the rich and famous.

Now, Caroline co-owns Ideal Sports Africa, a fitness consultancy which she founded with friends. They provide training and fitness testing for companies, provide nutrition information and look for sponsorship for tournaments and local sports teams. At the same time, Caroline teaches Human Anatomy and Exercise Physiology at Transnational College. That's not all! She works for the Young Women's Leadership Institute, where she uses football as a platform to empower young women. As part of this work, she plays and coaches football three times a week.

Caroline is going to Boston, in the US this August to try out for what will be the soon-to-be established women's soccer league. I wish her all the best with that.

Sandra

Sandra

Sandy is the first of the young ladies who I would be training as a facilitator for the Blogs for African Women project who I met. Sandy appeared shy at first, looks can be deceptive because she can really talk. LOL!

She took me to the Masai market yesterday and to the memorial park built where the US Consulate used to be (before it was blown up in August 1998). It was really sweet of her to roll out of bed on a Saturday and spend what was a fairly cool and overcast day with me. She told me that I laugh like a friend of hers and my laughter makes her want to laugh too. I've been told many things about my laugh and that's one of the kindest things that's been said. LOL!!!!

Sandy is studying Development Studies in Uganda and hopes to work for a non-governmental organisation after she graduates. Eventually she would like to set-up an NGO that does work on women's empowerment, human rights, poverty, AIDS/HIV awareness and education. At the moment, she is interning with Fahamu. Sandra is obviously very dedicated to working with women, as demonstrated from her interaction with the young ladies who we have been training over the past week to use computers, blogs and social networking sites.

Book Reading: Kunle Ajibade at Jazzhole

Glendora Readings presents a book reading by author, Kunle Ajibade from his book What a Country. This events features a discussion of his book by Odia Ofeimun, Reuben Abati, Toyin Akinosho and the author.

Date: Thursday, 17 July, 2008
Time: 4PM
Venue: The Jazzhole, 168 Awolowo Road, Ikoyi, Lagos

What a Country! goes beyond the narrative aesthetics of his prison memoir, Jailed for Life: A reporter’s Prison Notes, published in February 2003, to grapple with questions of justice, popular welfare, human rights and good governance. It is eloquent and poignant. Its vision is broad, both powerfully anchored in local knowledge and robustly cosmopolitan. Its passion for the betterment of Nigeria – indeed, what a country! – is evident and infectious. Kunle Ajibade, never lets go the respect for human value, the shared space that the creativity of writers, human rights activists and pro-democracy workers – especially the leading lights, avatars and exemplars of the cause – have defended across the world at great risks to their own lives.

Kunle Ajibade attended the University of Ife , where he earned a B.A. in English and an M.A in Literature-in-English. Before he became a co-founder/publisher of The News and P.M. News, he had worked in Grant advertising as a copy writer, in Chief Abiola’s African Concord as a senior correspondent and in African Guardian as an assistant editor. In 1995 he was jailed for life because of a story published in The News magazine and was only released in 1998 when his jailer, General Sani Abacha, died. Ajibade won the 1998/1999 Feuchtwanger Fellowship to write his prison memoir, Jailed for Life: A Reporter’s Prison Notes, which was published in February 2003 by Heinemann Educational Books. The book won the first Victor Nwankwo Book of the Year Award instituted by the Nigerian Book Fair Trust.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Nairobi

I'm in Kenya at the moment for work and have been having a good time overall. Firstly, I have been enjoying the fast internet access. The organisation I am here working with warned me about the slow access. Well, their definition of "slow" is not quite the same as mine (Speakeasy tells me that my download speed is 1029 Kbps and upload 126 Kbps).

Anyway, the apartment I am staying in is pretty nice, though I was told that the street the building is on becomes a red-light district at night, but plied only by high-class prostitutes, I was assured by one of the apartment staff. Notwithstanding, his advice not to take nightly strolls by myself was somewhat redundant.

I have met some very cool and inspiring young ladies, who are brimming with intelligence, ambition and strong desires to effect positive changes in their communities. It's been both an invigorating and humbling experience, I have to say.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

World Bank - Young Professionals Program

The World Bank is currently accepting applications for its Young Professionals Program. The deadline is July 15, 2008 so if you are interested you have a little time left to get in your application.

The Young Professionals Program is a starting point for a career in the World Bank. It is designed for highly qualified and motivated young people skilled in areas relevant to the World Bank's operations such as economics, finance, education, public health, social sciences, engineering, urban planning, and natural resource management.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

The Returning Set

Each month, I hear of more and more people moving back to Nigeria from wherever they have been working or living for the last few years. This article, interestingly called "Siege of the Nigerian Expatriate" follows some people who decided to move back home, their challenges, the rewards (of course) and what happens when it all becomes a bit too much.

Google Vacancy for Nigeria

I received this from one of the mailing lists I belong to. I am not sure what the application window is though.

Google is searching for an Office Lead for its Africa Market and Business Development team. This Office Lead will be based in Lagos, Nigeria.

Google's Market and Business Development team was created to pursue
technology-driven initiatives in Africa that will have a meaningful impact
on the continent's development. Google's presence is also in Rwanda, Senegal, Ghana, Uganda and Tanzania.

The Office Lead will essentially be Google's country leader, representing
the company in all of its major business development and partnership
opportunities and serving as the voice of the Nigerian user at Google.

To learn more, visit the Google site. To apply, send a text (ASCII), PDF, Word or HTML version of your CV in English to jobs@google.com. The subject
field of your email must include "Office Lead, English Speaking West Africa
- Nigeria".