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".