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


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:

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)

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.