Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Reading On: The Years

Started Virginia Woolf's The Years a few days ago. I'm not quite on 1-book-a-day. Must cram in all other sorts of fun activity and sleep in my break afterall.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Vacation Reading: Marrying Anita

Aaaah, it's good to be on holiday and to be under no compulsion to get-up early or to work - though strangely enough, I find myself doing both anyway.

I just finished the first book of my vacation, Marrying Anita by Anita Jain. Many years ago after visiting India, I developed a strong interest in Indian literature and read everything I came across. It's been a while since I read anything by an author from the sub-continent.

The title of Jain's book is chicklit-ish, but I decided to buy it anyway, intrigued in reading about her perspective and experiences on finding the right partner. Well, it was certainly an interesting and easy read, as Ms. Jain is a good writer with a wry sense of humour. However, is she serious about finding a husband? No, I don't think so! It was painful and increasingly tiresome to read about her drinking, getting stoned and her sexual escapades. Never have I seen such shooting ones' self in the foot.

All the classic signs of not really wanting a relationship are here: sabotaging promising relationships; lusting after unavailable men; behaving inappropriately while on dates (e.g drinking herself blind).

I don't expect to like the characters in the books I'm reading. In fact it's usually more interesting (though often torturous) when I don't. However, it's more painful when I know that someone actually behaved in this way/said these things that are making me cringe in shame.

Okay, bring on the next book.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Ross School of Business Information Session Lagos, Nigeria

For prospective MBA students:

You are cordially invited to attend an information session for prospective MBA students of Stephen M Ross School of Business - University of Michigan in Lagos, Nigeria. Please join our current student ambassadors, and local alumni who will share information about the Ross School of Business MBA program.

This student-led event provides an opportunity to gain insights into a typical day in the life of a Ross MBA student as well as to ask questions about the curriculum, MAP, the Ross Leadership Initiative, student activities, and career development while meeting and mingling with members of the greater Ross community

The Ross MBA is currently #5 position in Business Week MBA rankings and continues to provide leadership in thought and action.

Where: Eko le Meridien, Adetokunbo Ademola Street, Victoria Island, Lagos, Nigeria
When: Tuesday, December 29, 2009 (7:00 – 9:00 p.m.)

Register online.

Goriola Erogbogbo (MBA Candidate, Class of 2011), gorieros@umich.edu

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Books & Conversation: Teju Cole & Toni Kan

Teju Cole and Toni talk books and Lagos - this crazy city that we all love to hate.

Teju Cole is a writer and photographer currently based in Brooklyn. His writing has appeared in various journals in Nigeria and the US. Every Day is for the Thief is his first novel.

Toni Kan is an award winning poet, essayist and short story writer. He is one of Nigeria's most anthologised young poets and short story writers. Most recently, Kan won the NDDC Ken Saro Wiwa prize for his collection Nights of the Creaking Bed.

RSVP on the Facebook event page.

When: Saturday, 19th December 2009 (4PM)
Where: Quintessence, Falomo Shopping Centre, Awolowo Road, Ikoyi, Lagos

Friday, December 11, 2009

Social Sector Management Program

As part of the Transformational Leadership Program (TLP), The Coca-Cola
Foundation, through the Africa-America Institute is providing scholarships for NGOs and Entrepreneurs in Nigeria to attend a certificate program in Social Sector Management. The TLP will help organizations and entrepreneurs in the social space operate more sustainably and create more value to the society.

This is open for NGOs and entrepreneurs operating in the following sectors: Health,
Water Management, Education & Entrepreneurship.

Click on the flier to enlarge or visit eds.com.ng for more information. The deadline is January 29, 2010.

Job Opportunity: Researchers for Mapping Case Studies of Transparency, Accountability, and Civic Engagement Technology Projects‏ (Global Voices)

Interesting work opportunity with Global Voices. See below for more information.


Beginning on Monday, January 11 2010, Global Voices will begin a three-month research mapping of transparency, accountability, and civic engagement technology projects and specifically are seeking:

Latin America - 2 researchers
Sub-Saharan Africa - 2 researchers
South East Asia - 1 researcher
South Asia - 1 researcher
China - 1 researcher
Central & Eastern Europe - 1 researcher

Job Description:
From January to April 2010, each regional researcher is expected to produce four case studies over 12 weeks and facilitate a total of two online discussions - blog posts - over 4 weeks. Each regional researcher will be paid $800 per month for a total of $2,400. We also have some money in our budget to bring the most active researchers to the 2010 Global Voices summit in order to present their findings on a panel.

In addition to the regional researchers, we are also able to offer a small honorarium ($200) to eight reviewers who leave comments that evaluate the case studies and blog posts published by the researchers.

Examples of such projects include www.mzalendo.com which makes information more accessible from the proceedings of the Kenya's parliament; www.congressoaberto.com.br, which uses official data published by government agencies to encourage the public to engage more closely with the Brazilian legislature; and ishki.com/ which aims to involve citizens from the Middle East in developing solutions to civic problems. We want to know what other projects exist, what challenges they are encountering, and what can be done to better support their work.

These case studies will be published on a separate website that uses the same platform as threatened.globalvoicesonline.org. Each case study should include a Skype interview with a representative from the project. Those Skype interviews will be recorded and excerpts will be published to the website to serve as a weekly podcast.

If you are interested in working on this project as a regional researcher or as a reviewer please let me know as soon as possible. If you know of someone who is the perfect fit for this project please put me in touch with him/her. If you are interested in the regional researcher position please respond (off list) with answers to these questions: 1) What is your experience and interest in the field of transparency, accountability, and civic engagement? 2) Why do you want to be involved in this project?



David Sasaki | outreach@globalvoicesonline.org
Director of Rising Voices
gtalk: osopecoso | skype: elosopecoso

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Call for Concept Notes: Radio, Convergence and Development in Africa

Deadline: January 8, 2010

Carleton University’s Centre for Media and Transitional Societies (CMTS), in collaboration with Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC), is pleased to launch a call for concept notes, in French or English, outlining proposed research examining the impact of convergence between traditional radio and new information and communications technologies (ICTs) in sub-Saharan Africa.

For full details on the research competition, the call for concept notes and the submission process, please visit the project website at www.cmts-cmst.org.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Moving Forward in the Fight Against Gender Violence

As we wrap-up this year’s 16 Days Campaign against gender violence, it’s important to identify steps to advance this cause.

Last Friday’s march to protest the rape and murder of youth corper Grace Ushang was an excellent step in raising awareness about not only this incident, but all the other thousands of assaults that take place daily and go unreported. Efforts like this also provide a space for women and advocates against gender violence to get together, support each other and propose progressive measures.

At the march and vigil, protestors made the following recommendations:
- To take measures to guarantee the safety and personal security of youth corps members and indeed all women and girls who remain vulnerable due to impunity amongst perpetrators in Nigeria;
- To pass the Bill on Violence Against Women presented to the House of Representatives since April 2002;
- To adopt and pass the Harmonised Bill on Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Bill 2008 presented to the Senate through its Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters in July 2008;
- Appropriate funds to facilitate the establishment and equipping of units in all divisional posts of the Nigeria Police Force to enhance the investigation and prosecution of cases of violence against women, thereby enhancing accountability and access to justice for women who suffer abuses in private and public spaces;
- Commit a full scale investigation to bring the killers of Grace Ushang to justice.

The last is crucial, because after the initial outcry, the incidences fade from the public’s memory and justice is either intolerably slow in coming or permanently deferred. Last year’s attack of Uzoma Okere by a naval rating is a perfect case in point. Thankfully though, the court case is still in process, despite delay tactics from the defendants’ lawyers.

It’s important that each of us thinks about how we can help eliminate violence against women. For a start, supporting bills and other legal instruments that seek to provide additional protection to women is a good start. We can participate in events and gatherings like the vigil and march in honour of Grace Ushang and mobilize others to do the same, as our physical presence – especially in large numbers – shows solidarity and makes a greater impact than we imagine. We can individually challenge thinking and cultural mores that permit violence against women through discussion and action.

It’s not always easy, especially within cultural contexts that view these issues of violence benignly or even actively encourage them. We might not all think ourselves capable of ‘putting ourselves out there’ but perhaps you could find small but important actions to take. The struggle to eliminate gender violence requires all our efforts and should not be left to those considered the ‘heavyweights’ of women’s rights. This is a continuous struggle and should not be consigned merely to these 16 days of each year.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Photographic Exhibition: '101 Reasons NOT to Visit Lagos'

(Click image to enlarge)

The Ben Enwonwu Foundation cordially invites you to RE: 101 Reasons NOT to Visit Lagos, a photographic exhibition and visual commentary on modern Lagos by Olayinka Oluwakuse III.

Where: Wednesday December 9, 2009 (5PM prompt)
Where: The Civic Center, Ozumba Mbadiwe Road, Victoria Island, Lagos

Peace Vigil for Late Grace Ushang

The horrendous rape and murder of youth corper Grace Ushang in September shocked and angered the nation. Ms. Ushang was abducted and raped to death by a gang of men in Maiduguri, Borno allegedly because they were offended by her wearing trousers (which happens to be the uniform of youth corpers).

This is another example of violence against women that is so pervasive in our society. Rather than condemning and addressing the violence, the blame is often shifted to the victims. In this case, the Director-General of the National Youth Service Corps urged youth corpers to 'take their personal security seriously.'

In other cases, the victims are accused of dressing in a provocative way that would only naturally attract unwanted male attention. In 2008 the chairperson of the Nigerian Senate's Committee on Women, Senator Ufot Ekaette, introduced a bill in the Senate to prohibit 'indecent dressing'. The bill covers any female above 14 years wearing a dress that exposes 'her breast, lap, stomach and waist ... and any part of her body from two inches below her shoulders downwards to the knee.' The bill would invite the both the police and citizens to pounce on women perceived to be indecently dressed. In a nation where unfair on-the-spot justice is routinely meted out, the opportunities for abuse of this bill are too horrific to imagine.

In honour of the late Grace Ushang, the Nigerian Feminist Forum is organising a march and vigil tomorrow (Dec 4).

When: Friday, 4th December, 2009 (2PM)
Where: Agindingbi Senior Grammar, Agindingbi off Lateef Jakande Road, Ikeja, Lagos

Learn more and the Grace Ushang Foundation and read the invitation letter to the vigil below:


Dear All,

In the spirit of solidarity and support for the family of late Grace Ushang -(the Youth Corper raped and killed while properly dressed in her NYSC uniform in Maiduguri, Borno State) the Nigerian Feminist Forum (NFF) is organising a peace vigil and a march to speak up and speak out against violence against women and the indecent dressing bill.

I urge you all to attend this event to show your support for the cause and your belief in the fact that NO INDIVIDUAL HAS THE EXCUSE TO RAPE A WOMAN ON ACCOUNT OF HER DRESSING.

Venue: Agindingbi Senior Grammar, Agindingbi off Lateef Jakande Road, Ikeja Lagos

Time: 2pm prompt
Date: Friday, 4th December, 2009

Dress Code: Black
Also come along with a candle stick
Bring family, friends and loved ones

I thank you all and look forward to marching with my sisters and brothers in solidarity.

Amy Oyekunle
Executive Director, KIND

Monday, November 30, 2009

Shingai & Me

The braids are coming out after a grand total of 3 weeks. Normally I have them in for as long as I can get away with, but for some reason, I'm itching to get this load off my head. Maybe it's the heat or perhaps I've braided my hair one too many times this year.

Anyway, thankfully I am not fussing about what my next style will be or what my 'Christmas hair' will look like. With more knowledge and fellow naturals whose hair I can admire, this year has seen me explore more options. At the same time, I think I've developed a signature style, which is different from my signature dos in the years past.

This change in style has in part been due to the singer Shingai Shoniwa. She has gotten a lot of attention on some hair blogs this year, but I first saw her earlier this year when the group she's a part of - The Noisettes - had a single Don't Upset the Rhythm playing everywhere in the U.K. Her hair is a similar texture to mine and she wears it long, though from some photos I've seen that she's not averse to incorporating extensions in some of her looks.

I paid particular attention because of her natural hair and the way she wears it, which is in a very laissez faire, casual way. The less-schooled would be tempted to think she rolled out of bed and forgot to do her hair, but I know better. The earthiness of her pompadours and puffs belies the careful sculpting and pinning that must have taken place.

I do have to say that some of her styles are not for the faint of heart. Some might even say that they fit better into the pages of magazines and the ultra-glam life of celebrities, since no one expects them to be 'normal' looking anyway. Well, I suppose being natural is not for the faint of heart either.

Introduced to this new option, I've made best friends of my bobby pins, clips and bands to twist, mould and secure my hair into new and interesting styles. These rarely take more than 15 minutes. I'm happy and I think my hair's happy too.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A Tug of War

I have been reading about Jane Fonda and the end of her marriage to Ted Turner. At the time, it was widely alleged that the cause of the break-up was her newly-found faith (she became a born-again Christian in 2001; he has been reported to be anti-religion). Both she and Ted Turner have since said that the main problem was a lack of communication and not religion. He said he was upset that she didn't talk to him about it, while she has claimed that she feared that he would talk her out of it if she had.

I understand what it's like to have faith so young and fragile that you worry that the slightest attack will completely snuff it out. So you try to protect it and stay away from negative influences as much as possible.

However, Ted and Jane would not be the first couple with almost diametrically opposing perspectives (in 1 or more areas) who have successfully lived together (or at least appeared to do so), so what makes the difference? Is it having shared values that transcend a particular faith? Openness and communication? Flexibility? Plenty of humour? Or something else? I suspect that it probably comes down to a mixture of the above.

My musings are not just in reference to faith; it could relate to attitudes to life (e.g. Adventurous & Risk-Taker vs. Fearful & Cautious); political views (e.g. Liberal vs. Conservative); values (e.g. Feminist vs. Patriarchal).

And this brings me to the next point: where do you place the person who has views that would ordinarily be considered conflicting? For instance, being a Christian and a feminist? At a conference last year, I was reminded that as feminists we need to embrace all women into the movement irrespective of individual situations, abilities and sexual orientations. As a Christian, certainly not all things are acceptable. I've always been a big proponent of safe sex for people who are sexually-active and not married. As a Christian, pre-marital sex is a definite no-no. I have always felt strongly that a couple should be equal partners in their relationship. However, while men and women have equal standing in God's kingdom, within the family unit, the man is the designated head. So, this leads to another set of internal wranglings and I suspect these will go on for me for a while.

As a naturally introspective person, I am constantly analysing and questioning. I believe it was Socrates who declared that the "unexamined life is not worth living", and while I agree that digging below the surface is important to do, it is also very tiring.

So what to do? Live a life governed by one set of rules so that there will be no contradictions in any of your views? Be or partner only with people who share all your fundamental values, so there is no push and pull? So many more questions added to my already full head......

By the way, I am always interested in finding out about women who are both Christian and Feminist, so I'm pleased to see that Jane Fonda has a blog. I'm going to check it out, though from a cursory review it looks like she she's more comfortable sharing about her activism and professional life than her faith.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Funding Nonprofits

There has to be a better way! I'm writing a funding proposal and have been trying to write this proposal for the last month. I don't think I have it in me anymore to spend days on what will turn out to be yet another unsuccessful proposal. I have decided that next year, I will turn to more innovative ways of raising money for the nonprofit organisation, which I run.

There will be less time chained to my desk slaving away on yet another proposal! There will be more out-of-the-box thinking on how to generate revenue! There has to be a better way!

11th Lagos Book and Art Festival

The 11th Lagos Book and Art Festival is holding November 13 – 15, 2009 at the National Theatre Complex, Iganmu Lagos.

The Festival will feature exhibition by Bookshops, Publishers, Libraries and "freelance" individual exhibitors; a huge Art Fair featuring a variety of works by galleries, art-dealers and individual artists; live music, dance, drama and live performances.

Friday, November 13 will feature events such as Mentoring Kids by Eugenia Abu at 11 am, followed by Children Craft Workshops, Play Groups and Performances. The final stage of the Book Trek: the Quest for the Most Literate Student holds at 2pm and will involve the review and the discussion of various books.

Saturday, November 14 will kickoff with Conversation: Lagos in the Imagination (3) with extensive references to Isi Joy Bewaji’s Eko Dialogue, Tejo Cole’s One Day is For The Thief, Odia Ofeimun’s Lagos of the Poets and Sefi Atta’s Swallow. There will be a Publishers Roundtable: Why I Publish What I Publish from 2pm to 4pm. Festival Party celebrating Segun Sofowote@70, Frank Okonta@70, Sammy Olagbaju@70, Tunji Oyelana@70, Mahmoud Ali Balogun@50, Nobert Young@50, Afolabi Adesanya@50, George Uffot@50, Edmund Enaibe@50, Kunle Adeyemi@50 will start at 5pm with music by Fatai Rolling Dollar.

Sunday, November 15 will open with a Youth Conference: Creativity and Empowerment, featuring a panel of young creative artists and art managers; convened by Positive Development Foundation and Youth Bank. Art Stampede will come up at 1pm.

Telephone: Toyin Akinosho 0805.762.2415 and Kafayat Quadri 0702.902.5583

Email: stampedecorang@gmail.com

Check the CORA blog for more information.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Test post from phone
Sent from my BlackBerry wireless device from MTN

Sunday, November 01, 2009

A Single Girl's Guide to Dating

This is hilarious. When you think there's been no progress made in gender relations, things like this make you realise that it used to be so much worse. But depending on where you are, some of these rules are still very much in effect.
"A lady should know how to behave on a date...and we've got you covered: follow these 13 steps from the February 1938 issue of Click Photo-Parade magazine and you'll have men falling all over you."

Book Reading: Sarah Ladipo Manyika

Cassava Republic Press is pleased to announce a new voice in Nigerian literature: Sarah Ladipo Manyika and her debut novel In Dependence. Sarah, a resident of California, is visiting Nigeria this November to promote her book, which will be available nationwide from December. Sarah spent much of her childhood in Jos, Plateau State, but has lived in Kenya, France, and England. She currently teaches literature at San Francisco State University.

There will be two book readings in Lagos and Abuja.

Lagos Venue: Quintessence, Falomo Shopping Centre, Awolowo Road, Ikoyi
Time: 4.00pm
Date: Sat 7th November 2009

Abuja Venue: Pen & Pages, Plot 79, Ademola Adetokunbo Crescent, White House, Wuse 11
Time: 5.30pm
Date: Tues 10th November 2009

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

'October Rain' Art Exhibition

For art lovers:
The Society of Nigerian Artists Lagos cordially invites you to its 11th annual juried art exhibition, October Rain 2009.
The exhibition will open on Saturday 17th October 2009 at 4.00 pm at the National Museum, Onikan, Lagos, and continues until Thursday 22nd October 2009.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Job Opportunity: Specialist in Social Development and Gender

This is a position that some of you might be interested in:
A social development and gender specialist for the DFID-funded Education Support Sector in Nigeria programme. The position is based in Abuja and is for 18 months initially. This opportunity will suit someone with at least five years' field experience.
See the AWID website for more information.

Grant Opportunity: Women in Technology

Apply for the Systers' Pass it On grant to support programmes that encourage women in computing. The Systers is an initiative of the Anita Borg Institute for Women & Technology and is a fantastic online resource, which provides a support and resource network for technical women.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009


My favourite type of shopping is the incidental kind, when you're just browsing and then you stumble across gems that you had not previously known that you wanted, but now that you, are extremely excited to own.

This happened to me today when I went to Borders to browse the books. The first interesting book I happened upon was Betsy Was a Junior/Betsy and Joe by Maud Hart Lovelace. This series appears to be the early 1900s' version of the Sweet Valley High books that I used to read, following the heroine Betsy as she grows up. After speaking with a shop assistant, who it turned out was reading one of the books, I also got Betsy and the Great World/Betsy's Wedding.

I read the synopsis at the back of one of the books and fell in love:
Betsy's Wedding: When Betsy's boat docks in New York, Joe is waiting there . . . with a ring! But she's going to learn that marriage isn't all candlelight, roses, and kisses. There's also cooking, ironing, cleaning, and budgeting— and will she be able to find time to forge a writing career?
So, women had the same issues to deal with back then....

Then, I found Not That Kind of Girl by Carlene Bauer about a woman questioning the values that she was brought-up with.

The last discovery was Marrying Anita by Anita Jain about an Indian-American woman's search for a husband, which leads her to India.

I haven't read any of these books yet and am looking forward to getting into them - as I always am. And of course, once I get home, and Real Life takes over, who knows when I actually shall... But my constant vow is to make the time...

The Return of Corrine Bailey Rae

Corrine Bailey Rae is back with a new album after the tragic death of her husband Stephen Rae last year of an accidental overdose of methadone and alcohol.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing

I was at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing in Tucson, Arizona and it was a wonderful event. It was great to be surrounded by so many techie women.
The Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing is a series of conferences designed to bring the research and career interests of women in computing to the forefront.
I was awarded the Change Agent Award along with 2 other African women (1 from Nigeria and 1 from Kenya).

I have to say that I haven't enjoyed a conference as much as this one in a long time. I was re-energised and 're-inspired' for my work.

Review notes from the conference on the GHC blog and the Twitter updates.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Genesis House: Call for Volunteers

Genesis House is a shelter for women, established by Freedom Foundation, to provide decent accommodation and the chance for rehabilitation and reformation to displaced, homeless women including former commercial sex workers. The initiative is designed to proffer an effective and lasting solution to the alarming and growing trend of prostitution among young females in Nigeria, especially in Lagos state. Genesis House recently became a safety net to Nigerian deportees from Italy.

Despite the effort of the NAPTIP Agency, various international bodies and NGO's to create awareness of the risk and exposures faced by repartees' as well as provide support to them, it has become obvious that the fight against this societal degradation is still a running battle which we at Freedom Foundation will continue to fight.

Would you like to get involved at Genesis House? Do you know a young woman who is in trouble? Are you interested in supporting Genesis House with either cash or in-kind contributions?

Please contact Genesis House at:
Genesis House Women's Shelter
Freedom Foundation Office
Nurses House
43 Afribank Street
Victoria Island, Lagos
+234 1 461.3565 or +234 808.589.0825

Independence vs. Submission

Interesting article on Bella Naija pondering how women can be both independent and submissive.

Harvard & IDRC Conference on ICT4Development

Follow the Communication and Human Development: The Freedom Connection? conference taking place today, and organised by Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet & Society and Canada's International Development Research Centre (IDRC).

Speakers include world-renowned thinkers and writers: Amartya Sen, Michael Spence, Yochai Benkler, Clotilde Fonseca

Follow the conversations:
Free and open to the public: Live video and audio-only streams will be available starting at 19:00 (EST) with archived video available after the event

**Ethan Zuckerman and Jen Brea of Global Voices will be live-blogging

Discussion: Ask a question via Berkman's live Question Tool, or join in an IRC conversation (IRC client, e.g., Chatzilla for Firefox, required)

Optional RSVP via Facebook or Upcoming

Twitter: #idrc09

Learn more about the conference: cyber.law.harvard.edu/events/2009/09/idrc

Toni Kan in conversation with Doreen Baingana

Cassava Republic in association with CORA presents:
Two award winning writers, Toni Kan (Nigerian) author of Nights of the Creaking Bed and Doreen Baingana (Ugandan), author of Tropical Fish will talk about Eros and Desire in both their work and in African writing.

Increasingly, contemporary African fiction explores aspects of everyday life as a theme, including the previously taboo areas of love and sex. What does this mean for the changing nature of African literature and African society? Do books such as Nights of the Creaking Bed and Tropical Fish represent a more progressive and open relationship to African realities?

All this and more will be explored in what will prove to be a fascinating dialogue between West and East Africa.

Date: Tuesday, 29th September 2009
Time: 4pm
Venue: Quintessence, Falomo Shopping Centre, Awolowo Road, Ikoyi, Lagos

Space for only 45 people, so prompt arrival is highly recommended.

Theatre @ Terra: The Tarzan Monologues

The male response to the Vagina Monologues? Or the world through the eyes of men?

Well, check it out
Money; Women; Sex; Erectile Dysfunction; Sexual Abuse; Religion; Pressure; Sterility; Virginity; Infant Mortality; Job Loss; Relationships; Age; Marriage; Infidelity;

Written and directed by Wole Oguntokun

Featuring Bimbo Manuel, Frank Edoho, Kunle Adeyoola, Denrele Edun, O.C. Ukeje, Paul
Alumona, Precious Anyanwu, Kanayo Okani

Where: Venue- Terra Kulture- Every Sunday in October (Adults Only)
Time: 3pm and 6pm
Cost: N2,000

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Writer Edwidge Danticat Wins MacArthur Foundation Prize

Haitian writer Edwidge Danticat has won the MacArthur Foundation 'Genius Award', which comes with it $500,0000 for the winner.

Read the full story: www.miamiherald.com/news/americas/haiti/story/1245126.html

Danticat is one of 24 winners of this year's fellowship, which seeks to reward "creative genius and potential."

Last year's winners included Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Sleeping and Reading

What a productive evening I had yesterday. After being dead tired for the whole week and finding myself less-than-productive at work, I made good on my promise to get an early night's rest by actually doing so.

As soon as I got home, I pulled down the window blinds and climbed into bed and slept for the next 4 hours, after which I woke-up and finished Moral Disorder by Margaret Atwood.

I have to say that, aside by the fact that Margaret Atwood is the author, the other thing that drew me to this book is the title. I felt slightly (and rather proudly) reckless carrying a book with me entitled "Moral Disorder."

Friday, September 18, 2009

Photography Exhibition: Mothers of Africa

This takes place over the weekend (Saturday, September 19) at the Goethe Institute, 4PM.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Clean Eating

If you are into (or more accurately, trying to get into) healthier eating like myself, you might like the Clean Eating website, which promotes eating natural foods and "lean and light recipes" (I love that).

Planning in going to the gym this evening, but I'm dead tired and have been all day (when will this indiscipline of routinely sleeping well after midnight stop?). I want to try a strength-training class, which starts at 7PM. This class starts when I'm leaving the gym, so I was planning on working a bit late so that I can get to the gym in time for this class.

We'll see how that goes ....

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Issue of Marriage

I discovered this lady's blog earlier this year - I'm not sure if I blogged about her already.

She has given herself a year to find her husband. Starting from this January, Neenah (that's her name) has thrown herself into a committed schedule of dating and introductions through speed dating, blind dates, online dating, and going to all the places where the men are (sports games, church, etc.). So far, she hasn't found her Mr. Right but it has been interesting reading her journey.

In this post, she shares her experiences speed dating. As someone who does not do vulnerability and intimacy very well, I commend her courage in opening up herself to the world. She set up the website and blog to not only share her dating travails with the world, but more importantly to provide a forum for her to meet more men (you can schedule dates with her or recommend someone) and get direction and guidance from the public.

If she doesn't meet her husband this year, Neenah plans on taking a break from dating in next year. And you all know that is when she'll meet him, right?

On a slightly different but related note, I caught a segment on Today on STV this morning before I left for work. A lady was promoting her NGO which she set up to provide marriage counselling to young married women. It's great for women to have spaces for advice and support, but the mantra being promoted was the same old thing we hear: women must learn to submit to their husbands (what happened to the part about submitting to each other?); choose an undemanding career so that you have more time for your family; divorce is unacceptable in all conditions (though separation for a period is fine until you come to your senses and return to your husband). Ack! I can't get into it all. I don't have that kind of energy anymore....

Oluronbi: The Musical

This play starrs Ireti Doyle, Yinka Davis, Omawumi, Nikki Laoye, Waje, Hafiz Oyetoro, Toba Gold, Dr. Frabz and Utibe.

Where: Agip Hall, MUSON Centre, Lagos

When: Saturday, September 19, 2009 (2PM & 5PM)

How Much: N6,000.00

For more info, check www.aboriginal-productions.com, info@aboriginal-productions.com, 0702.338.9642, 0802.379.9842.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A Perspective on Contemporary Nigerian Photography

This is an exhibition on contemporary Nigeria by Nigerian photographers, including: Sunmi Smart-Cole, Don Barber, Kelechi Amadi-Obi, TY Bello and Mudi Yahaya.

Where: Omenka Gallery, The Ben Enwonwu Foundation, 24 Ikoyi Crescent, Ikoyi, Lagos

When: Opening is on Friday, September 25 at 5PM. The exhibition ends on Saturday, September 26

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Essence Appears To Be Lost

I have written frequently about my love-hate relationship with U.S. Essence magazine. I started reading it when I was in England and was thirsty for images that looked like me. I stumbled across Essence in March or April of 1997 (the issue with Toni Braxton on the cover). The magazine was much thinner than the bumper issues of Marie Claire, SHE and Cosmopolitan that I was used to reading at the time, but I loved poring over the beautiful images of black women.

Maybe I have been romanticizing the content of the magazine, but it seems like there is a lot less weighty material contained within its pages these days. While women’s magazines are generally considered to be light reading with themes revolving around fashion, relationships, body image and sex, the last couple of years seem to have seen a recycling of the same articles but with different titles and the names changed. So, we now have an endless stream of articles about dressing to accentuate our best bits, finding the man of our dreams, losing weight and staying healthy and whipping up a meal in minutes (the August issue included such a tired and flogged-to-death issue of why black women hate on each other).

In each issue, we also get to find out what men’s thoughts on what qualities they like in women, what they like to see women wearing in bed and out of it, how we can better please them in bed and so on. So even though the magazine’s slogan is “Where the Black Woman Comes First”, it doesn’t always feel that way to me.

Essence has stated a commitment to see African-American woman more financially-secure and independent and consequently each issue features the ‘Work & Wealth’ section devoted to saving, earning more income and making your money work for you. But while we’re learning to accumulate wealth, the cost of the clothes featured in the fashion spreads doesn’t exactly encourage financially-prudent behaviour. Notwithstanding, I still enjoy reading about the women profiled in this section and picking-up career tips from this section.

Each issue features one major celebrity interview, which – unlike the more exploratory character pieces of publications like Vanity Fair – are puff pieces kissing the said subject’s ass. I can’t remember when last any of these interviews told me something I didn’t already know about the star.

The August issue featured leading man Idris Elba on the cover. Although I was a huge fan of The Wire and Mr. Elba’s acting skills, I did not enjoy the article in anyway. I already knew going in that nothing new would be revealed to me. However, I was hoping that the ride would be pleasant enough. Instead, we were treated to a 6-page spread all though which the writer drooled over the – admittedly handsome – actor and counted the number of their future children. Even when we were reading about his experiences talking to young British children about the evils of drugs or his now iconic role of Stringer Bell, we are doing this through the writer’s clearly star-struck eyes. The constant references to his sexiness, alpha male masculinity and great body quickly get old, even for a fan like myself.

I am always bothered when I read articles about women that focus more on their physical appearance than anything else. However, I found this reverse case equally offensive perhaps even more, because a similar article by a man, which played-up her good looks, lingering on the swell of her breasts and her ample behind, would not have been received so eagerly by many women.

So if I have so many complaints, why do I keep reading it you might ask? Well, I continue to have the hope with each issue that THIS will be the gem that I’ve been longing for with the thoughtful and inspiring articles that stay with me for months to come.

I realize that it is impossible to ask one magazine to be so many things to so many different types of women, but I can’t see that most would complain at the inclusion of a few more hard-hitting articles that really dig deep into women’s experiences and thoughts on the economy, politics and culture.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Good Hair

I saw the link to this New York Times article about natural hair on Black Girl with Long Hair (BGLH).

Like her, I am also a bit sceptical when I see mainstream media try to write about natural hair, mostly because they either never get it right or because it doesn't say anything that I don't already know. But then again, these articles aren't targeted at people like me, who are die-hard nappies.

What this article does is to explore the debates for and against wearing hair naturally.

For includes (according to people interviewed): Means you have a higher degree of self-acceptance and self-love

Against: You're more likely to fit in or be accepted by the conservative establishment

Comedian Chris Rock has a documentary coming out called Good Hair exploring the whole 'good' and 'bad' hair debate, which looks good. See the trailer.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Do You Have An Afro?

Since I have been too lazy/busy to make proper posts, I'll content myself with sharing links.

Titled Do You Have an Afro, this is a collection of afros taken by New York photographer, Errol.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Female Genital Cutting

This is an interesting article on female genital mutilation or female genital cutting on NEXT: www.234next.com/csp/cms/sites/Next/News/National/5440715-147/story.csp.

For the life of me, I still cannot get my head around why and how this could be considered acceptable.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Natural Hair Meet Up

Sent by a friend. This is being organised by Miss Frizzy of Leave in The Kinks.

The meeting is open to all naturals, guys, girls, wannabe naturals, transitioners and those that are just curious about chemical-free hair.

Date: August 15th 2009
Location: News Café or the Icecream Factory, Lagos, Nigeria (TBD closer to the time)
Time: 2pm
RSVP: missfizz87@gmail.com

Find out more from the LITK blog.

Famous Naturals

If it seems like my last few posts have been Chimamanda-dominated, that's purely coincidence. I read this fabulous interview with Chimamanda. What caught my eye was of course the photos of her hair. How I love to see Nigerian naturals; particularly those who wear their hair long.

Great quote: The attitude we have about hair is that we have come to think a certain texture of hair is bad. It's a value we have placed on hair.

The author is a "feminist and self-professed hair fundamentalist."

Monday, July 20, 2009

Chimamanda Book Reading, Lagos

The recent reading by writer Chimamanda Adichie sounds like it was a lot of fun, judging from this article in NEXT.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Digital Bridge Institute organises ICT and NGO Forum

I was invited to participate yesterday in a forum organised by the Digital Bridge Institute in conjunction with Harvard University's Berkman Center for Internet and Society, Georgia Tech University and the MacArthur Foundation.

The meeting started on Tuesday, but the first two days were limited to MacArthur grantees and some close colleagues of Harvard and Georgia Tech. On Thursday, the forum was opened up to heads of up to 100 Nigerian NGOs.

It was my first time at the Institute and I was impressed by how smoothly the registration process proceeded (unlike a certain IT regulatory body's meeting, which I attended recently). And also unlike many other meetings, it started (almost) on time.

The objective of the day's meeting was to explore the ways in which NGOs can employ ICTs to work more efficiently. Colin Maclay of the Berkman Center kicked off the day with a review of the Information & Communication Technology for Development (ICT4D) field. He outlined that he found this area interesting because:
- ICTs are a catalyst for change;
- ICTs offer innovative approaches to change;
- ICTs distribute and decentralise power

As a result, people become the drivers of change because they are the experts on their local issues. This means that it is important for NGOs to learn to engage with the technology available, rather than defer to 'experts' and 'consultants.'

His recommendations for NGOs seeking to use ICTs included:
- Adopting a wider mindset i.e. rethinking how we do our work
- Collaboration between and within sectors, because problems can be tacked from different angles
- Meetings of leadership and working towards consensus. This includes not being afraid to step-up to leadership positions.
- Dialogue and experimentation to see what tools work and to learn from past failures
- looking at how ICTs can be adapted to local needs

Ethan Zukerman (also of Berkman) gave a rousing and engaging presentation on web 2.0 tools and how they were designed to enable non-techies contribute content to the Internet. While this means, that a lot of the content will be fun and light-hearted or 'silly' stuff, that is no indictment on the tools. The user-friendliness of these tools means that can be as easily appropriated for more serious change-making. Examples are the use of Google Earth to track the movements of the Tunisian presidential jet as it carried the First Lady around the world on shopping expeditions; Fixmystreet.com; Ushahidi; Vote Report India.

Key questions to think about for NGOs are:
- How do NGOs get everyone paying attention and watching? (especially using new technologies like blogs, social networking sites; Twitter; bridge blogs)
- How can NGOs filter (to identify what voices should be heard) and amplify (to ensure people hear about it) content?
- How do NGOs use the technology to talk to different audiences? (think online vs. offline audiences; using local languages; using personal stories)

Next up, came the presentations by the Nigerian IT Development Agency (NITDA) and Galaxy Backbone reps. I probably shouldn't slag either of these off too much, as I might want to seek funding from them at some point (see my Twitter feed for more info).

Next, Eric Osiakwan (of africanelections.org), Juliana Rotich (of Ushahidi) and Ethan Zukerman spoke about various uses of new technologies in promoting political participation.

Things got a bit hot when Wale Goodluck (Corporate Services Executive of MTN Nigeria) took the floor. He raced through a presentation on MTN Foundation's community service projects and took questions afterwards. These ranged from angry diatribes about the network's poor service to complaints about unsuccessful grant applications. Others lobbed accusations of Goodluck's inaccessibility to NGOs outside of forums such as these. All through, Goodluck's face was immobile, but I have to say that he responded to these questions and criticisms with good humour.

Fantusam Foundation, the Kafanchan-based NGO which started operations in 1996 in response to the local needs of financial empowerment and has since grown into a thriving organisation was held up as a model for other NGOs seeking to do development work. Although Fantsuam started off with 1 laptop, it has now adopted an integrated approach to development by offering ICT training, ISP services, micro-finance, health awareness and education programmes.

Gbenga Sesan (of Paradigm Initiative Nigeria and Ajegunle.org) and Y.Z. Yau (of the Centre for IT and Development - CITAD) talked about applications of IT to education and health.

The day was capped off with guidance on finding donor funding. This was led by Adam Thompson of the University of California - Santa Cruz and John Bracken of MacArthur Foundation. MacArthur does have a presence in Nigeria, though their programme focus is on Reproductive Health and Human Rights.

Hard truth #1: They turn down 90% of the applications they receive.
Hard truth #2: Most of the NGOs in the room are too small to qualify for funding from the big foundations like Ford
Hard truth #3: There will unlikely be that one big funder who takes care of all your expenses. More likely, you will have to develop multiple income streams and seek ways to offer products or services for a fee.

A member of the audience shared that he ran his organisation for 8 years out of his pocket before being approached by a funder. Bottomline in his opinion: other NGOs need to be willing to do this too.

Ethan Zukerman has detailed posts on his blog and maybe I should just have linked to those instead of writing this lengthy epistle: Post 1; Post 2; Post 3:.

Friday, July 10, 2009

This & That. Plus Chimamanda Adichie Events

I have woefully neglected this blog. I really cannot believe that it's been close to a month since I last posted. And I am not really sure that I could tell you what I was doing in that time that prevented me from blogging. Well, I can, but it just doesn't sound very impressive to tell it.

There were countless arts events that I wanted to announce and blog about, but many have passed. Alas!
So, looking forward....

This Saturday (July 11) at 4PM, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie will be reading from her latest book the Thing Around Your Neck at the Silverbird Galleria, Victoria Island, Lagos. I read it a few months ago and it was a tight collection of stories, which deftly wove the immigrant experience with tales of being on the outside. I have also attended a book reading with Ms. Adichie in January 2007 when Half of a Yellow Sun came out and it was a rich and enlightening afternoon for me.

If you are a budding writer, then perhaps you will want to apply for the Farafina Trust Creative Writing Workshop to be held in September 17 - 16, 2009. The workshop will feature Chimamanda along with fellow writers Binyananga Wainaina, Nathan Englander, Jackie Kay and Zoe Heller.

To apply, send an e-mail to udonandu2009@gmail.com (subject should read 'workshop Application'). The body of the e-mail should contain:
- Applicant's Name
- Applicant's Address
- A few sentences about applicant
- A writing sample of between 200 to 800 words (fiction or non-fiction)

Deadline: July 30, 2009

See nbplc.com/newsdetails3.php?action=viewnews&n=35 for more info.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Rediscovering Music: Lenny Williams

I just got a new stereo and haven't been able to connect my iPod to it yet, because it uses a different cable from the last one.

So, instead of having the luxury of listening to my favourite songs from my iPod, I have been forced to listen to entire albums. I don't do this anymore, except for in the car and when I buy a new album (but then I quickly transfer my favourite songs to my iPod).

The surprising thing is that I have been discovering songs on my albums that I somehow overlooked.

First case in point: I have had Lenny Williams' Spark of Love album for at least 6 years and somehow never managed to make it past 'Cause I Love You and Changes.

Now, I've gotten to really listen to and like Half Past Love, I Still Reach Out, Midnight Girl, Think What We Have, You Got Me Running, Freefall (Into Love) and Shoo Doo Fu Fu Ooh!

This I am embarrassed to say is almost the entire album. That is the thing about the best song being the first song. Sometimes you just don't get to the rest of the album.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Coil Review

A natural hair resource, which I just discovered: the Coil Review.
The Coil Review is your smart and trusted resource for natural coily and
curly textured hair. It offers access to information and inspiration while
putting the spotlight on natural beauty. All this love - for you natural beauties, with natural hair.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Blogging: A Tougher Job Than We Think?

The intro blurb to this article about blogging asked why blogs have a higher failure rate than restaurants. Hmmm, interesting question, I thought. The article explores the challenges of blogging - including how you deal with blogging even when you think no one is reading i.e. "If no one reads your blog, does it really exist?"

This is a problem that many bloggers will face at some point, or more realistically, will continue to deal with as long as they blog.

Many of us, if we are completely honest with ourselves, start to blog filled with the highest aspirations for our blog and the type of followership we expect to nurture, as well as the ways in which we hope to influence the world. What we don't often bargain with is that almost every other blog starts with the same degree of ambition and setting our blog aside takes a great amount of work. In fact to run a really engaging blog could be tantamount to a full-time job what with time to think of topics to blog about, time to live a little so that you have new experiences to share, time to do some research to make your posts sound a bit more informed, time to actually write these posts, and let's not forget the time to respond to commenters on your blog as well as going round other blogs to drop comments there (the online equivalent of networking).

Let's face it: it's incredibly hard work! I shared my own challenges in this earlier post in Nov 2007.

Many of bloggers start out with enthusiasm, but relatively few bloggers find that they can sustain this effort (a 2008 survey by Technorati, which runs a search engine for blogs revealed a whooping 95 percent of abandoned blogs).

Some bloggers who hang in there for the long haul might find their writing style evolving over time (this will almost certainly happen) and maybe choose to reveal less about themselves (I blogged about this in Dec 2006 when I started to be aware of my changing blog personality).

I love how the article ends with the blogger confessing to her continued high expectations from her blog. Frankly, I don't see how you can blog without having bucket-loads of optimism and hope.

Twittering: An Update

I started Twittering close to a year ago and reported at the time that that I didn't really see what the point was. I sensed it might make more sense doing it from a mobile device, rather than having to go online via my computer.

Then this February, I signed up for twe2.com, which allowed me to received direct messages on my mobile phone from my twitter friends. This brought the whole experience a little bit closer to me, although I was slightly frustrated at not being able to sent 'tweets' from my phone. Although there is a UK number listed on the Twitter website that users in Africa can apparently send their tweets to, this has so far not worked for me. Maybe, Nigerians are not welcome for this service ......

Then, finally yesterday I downloaded TwitterBerry, which is a BlackBerry application that enables users to sent tweets from their BlackBerry. At last, this seems like it might start to work for me.

To help make more sense of the micro-blogging tool and especially to understand how it can be used for activism and advocacy, check out DigiActive's Guide to Twitter for Activists.

Then to top things off, we have our own Nigerian version, NaijaPulse, which is great because you get to connect with Nigerian twitterers?/tweeters? In addition you can update your Twitter and Facebook profiles from NaijaPulse.

Monday, June 08, 2009

A Different Path to Love

Graphic by Christopher Silas Nea
In a twist on the popular concept of "First comes love, then comes marriage.....", this is an essay on an arranged marriage in the New York Times.

Photo credit: Christopher Silas Neal

Rebecca Walker: How my mother's fanatical views tore us apart

The women's rights movement and feminism has brought many positive changes over the last 100 years in varying degrees around the world, however it's had its fair share of criticsm.

Here, Rebecca Walker, daughter of acclaimed writer and women's rights activist Alice Walker shares her story of growing up with a 'rabid feminist' as a mother.

Exhibiting You

Do you want to share something special about yourself with the world? If you do, then perhaps you'll consider submitting something for the International Museum of Women (IMOW)'s Exhibiting You online exhibition.

Read more:
From January to September 2009, I.M.O.W. is Exhibiting You! As the museum prepares to debut a new online exhibition in October 2009, the I.M.O.W. Web site is showcasing the talents of our global online community.

We're looking for submissions that relate to I.M.O.W.'s mission to value the lives of women around the world.

Submit your work for consideration and share your art, creative writing, journalism, music, audio, photography, video and animation with a global audience.

We'll post new stories on a regular basis and announce Museum Picks in our email newsletter. Submissions that receive the highest star ratings and the most views will also be listed as the most popular stories.

Check the IMOW website for more info.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Job Opportunity: Co-ordinator, Nigerian Feminist Forum

The Nigerian Feminist Forum is looking to hire a capable Co-ordinator Intern to work in the NFF secretariat. Read below for more info:

The co-ordinator will begin the process of chasing up all the things we are supposed to do but have fallen by the wayside, also begin our preparation for the 2010 conference. Must be able to WRITE.

Interested candidates, please send CV's to me. Pass this to your networks. Must be willing to learn, laugh and work all at the same time and very willing to mentor a young one. Must live in Lagos. No issues please. Okay.


Iheoma Obibi
Executive Director (Alliance for Africa) & ASHOKA Fellow

Thursday, June 04, 2009

The 3rd Annual Season of Wole Soyinka

As Wole Soyinka turns 75, Theatre@Terra presents its 3rd Annual Season of Wole Soyinka.

When: Every Sunday in June and July
Time: 3pm & 6pm
Cost: N2000
Where: Terra Kulture, Tiamiyu Savage St, Victoria Island, Lagos

- The Lion and The Jewel- June 7 & June 14
- Death and The King's Horsemen- June 21 & June 28
- Madmen and Specialists - July 5 & July 12
- Kongi's Harvest - July 19 & 26

Produced by Wole Oguntokun

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Revolutionary Road

As an ardent film lover, I thank God for Silverbird and Genesis Deluxe Cinemas. However, their film selections tend to cling firmly to the mainstream. So when I travel I try to watch the types of films that I know won’t be on offer here.

One of the films that I’ve enjoyed the most this year definitely has to be Revolutionary Road. Even if you haven’t seen it, you must surely have heard about it. Yes, that same Revolutionary Road from which actress Kate Winslet generated so much buzz this year, not to mention a slew of award nominations.

Revolutionary Road chronicles the journey into despair of April Wheeler, an aspiring actress who ends up as a dissatisfied housewife in suburban Connecticut. At the start of their relationship, she and her husband Frank share so many dreams of how exciting and different their lives will be. In the end, they realise that they are just like everyone else.

This is definitely a universal story, because I remember when I was much younger and dreaming about how radical my life would be. As people grow older, they start to ask themselves “So, is this it? Is this what the rest of my life will be like?”

For Frank, he goes to work (albeit to a job he’s bored by) and has career advancement prospects to distract him and give him hope of a better life. For April, she has the house, her two children and her husband to take care of, but (due to a combination of a lack of talent and consensual focus of priorities) no career. And she feels that for all her grand dreams and plans, her life has become empty and typical.

I remember thinking at the time I watched it that the film’s ending was theatrical and over the top, but at the end of the day, this story captures the quiet desperation of many women in 1950s U.S.A (and I’m sure today) as they sought to reconcile their unhappiness with their empty days while living out what is considered to be the ‘dream life.’

Read a review of the film on Women and Hollywood.

Tolu Ogunlesi wins Guardian Orange First Words Competition

Congrats to writer Tolu Ogunlesi for winning the Guardian Orange First Words Compeition.

Read more about the award from the Guardian website and learn what judge Kate Mosse had to say about his piece.

Great job, Tolu!

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

The Nigerian Woman: Modern, Empowered and Unequal

Every once in a while I read a very insightful or inspiring article in the Nigerian media.

In his column last week - Modern, empowered and unequal - Babatunde Ahonsi puzzled over the fact that although Nigerian women have come a long way in terms of education, exposure and career, they do not all seem to be aware of the power that this brings them and thus encouraging the idea of female inferiority. He writes:

Conscious of her failure to provide leadership to the womenfolk as a whole, she often blames her tolerance of men’s unjust and irresponsible behaviours towards her on tradition, religion, and the need to protect her children’s welfare.

But how else is social change initiated if not through positive deviance? It is when a determined few among the oppressed stake all their privileges within the status quo by working actively to undermine it, that the group as a whole eventually enjoys a better life.

Ahonsi urges educated and economically empowered women to make a stronger push for the rights of all women, especially on behalf of her less empowered female counterpart.

I thoroughly agree with this and this does not mean carrying placards and marching to Alausa. We can find alternative methods to keep these issues at the forefront of people's minds like discussing them in our personal networks, identifying ways to challenge cases of discrimination against women, blogging about it, calling in to relevant radio programs, writing to newspapers and joining advocacy groups.

Friday, May 15, 2009

World Information Society Day 2009

May 17 is World Information Society Day. To understand its significance in history, it is important to journey back 144 years ago. That same day in 1865, the first International Telegraph Convention was signed and the International Telegraph Union (the second-oldest international organization in existence) was established. That same institution became the International Telecommunications Union in 1947 – the same year that the transistor was first demonstrated, with the solid-state computer soon to follow. Since 1969, May 17 has been celebrated as the World Telecommunication Day. Thirty-seven years later, following the World Summit on the Information Society, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution which identifies 17 May as World Information Society Day. The day is intended to remind the world of the vision of the World Summit on the Information Society, which promised to build “a people-centred, inclusive and development-oriented information society” based on fundamental human rights. According to the UN resolution, the Day will "help to raise awareness of the possibilities that the use of the Internet and other information and communication technologies (ICTs) can bring to societies and economies, as well as of ways to bridge the digital divide".

The Nigerian telecommunications industry – which started with the postal system – is now over 100 years old, but it was only in 1999 that the National Policy on Telecommunications was launched. A National Policy on Information Technology followed in 2001, along with the establishment of the National Information Technology Development Agency, under the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology. Fortunately, Nigeria’s participation in the World Summit on the Information Society process helped shed more light on the need for Nigeria to benefit from the undeniable convergence that has brought Information Technology, telecommunications and content together for good. At about the same period in Nigeria’s history, a telecommunication revolution was born – with the number of telephone lines growing from 450,000 in 2000 to over 14 million lines in 2005, and now 66.6 million, thanks to independent regulation through the Nigerian Communications Commission, private sector participation, broadened competition, and consumer spending. Many benefits have come to the Nigerian Information Society since then, including a rapid rise in the number of Internet users from 200,000 in 2000 to 10 million today! Many of these users are also contributing to the growth of local content on the World Wide Web, which was previously lacking in content from Nigeria. The private sector and civil society (including the media) also continue to add immense value, using varied models to work towards the task of bridging the digital divide.

Building a strong and vibrant information society that is accessible to all Nigerians is at the heart of W.TEC and PIN’s work. The Women’s Technology Empowerment Centre (W.TEC) is a Nigerian non-governmental organization helping to empower Nigerian girls and women socially and economically using ICTs. This is done through technology literacy training, technology-based projects, mentoring, work placement and research. Paradigm Initiative Nigeria (PIN) is a social enterprise that connects young people – especially those in underserved communities – with the opportunities that ICTs provide. We do this through our Ajegunle.org initiative, Information Society research, capacity building sessions for youth across Nigeria and the Internet Safety, Security and Privacy Initiative for Nigeria, among others. PIN’s program graduates have gone on to demonstrate the impact of ICTs on their small-scale businesses and through inspiring career progress!

This year, W.TEC and PIN wish to commemorate the World Information Society Day by appreciating ongoing initiatives in various sectors and calling on all stakeholders (government, private sector, civil society, media, individuals, etc) to act faster on efforts that will improve Nigeria’s opportunity to maximise the benefits of the Information Society. Please join us to spread the message, “Nigeria’s Information Society is making progress but we call on stakeholders to act faster. Our ‘20:2020’ vision depends on our ICT prowess!” on May 17 by:
- Lending us your Twitter or Facebook status message;
- Changing your email signature to reflect this message;
- Sending this article to 5 friends;
- Discussing the impact of ICTs in your life with friends and family;
- Volunteering for a non-profit ICT initiative before the next WISD anniversary.

Ore (for W.TEC) & 'Gbenga Sesan (for PIN)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Photo by Maciej Dakowicz(© Maciej Dakowicz)

PulseWire has a great article on 10 Ways to Give to Women and Girls, which neatly highlights ways to support work towards women's issues.

The article starts off with an unsettling reality: that although investing in women has been widely acknowledged as an effective way to address many global problems, social initiatives that focus on women actually receive less than 7% of all philanthropic funding worldwide. It is particularly worse for start-up and grassroots organisations who work very closely with their local communities and who are not on the radar of many big funders.

Another sad reality (not really discussed here) is that many social initiatives struggle to implement a huge mission and are not adept or have the time and resources to publicise their work. So, they continue to work under challenging circumstances and continue to experience difficulties in raising the requisite funding.

PulseWire's suggestions for supporting women's work includes:

  • Align your checkbook to your inner compass: Think about the problems that you are most passionate about and identify and support organisations that are doing work that speaks to your heart
  • Get to the grassroots: Look for organisations that work closely with local communities, who are not necessarily the high-powered NGOs that companies are clamouring to fund, and explore how you can help their work
  • Give directly: Bypass intermediary charities that allocate your donations to a number of projects. Instead get to know individuals or organisations on a personal level and identify what type of help you can offer, e.g. a women's shelter that needs old clothes and books.
  • Aggregate your giving power: Form a 'giving circle' with some friends, colleagues or family members and pool your resources together
  • Give multi-year: Make a pledge to donate a certain amount every year for the next 3 years. These types of long-term support are often more helpful that one-off donations.
  • Be a bridge: If you can link other donors and volunteers to your favourite cause, then by all means DO IT!!!!!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Toni Kan on Bella Naija

The writer Toni Kan interviewed on Bella Naija.

What I Learnt this Weekend

Being Brazen has a column which she calls "10 Things I Learnt this Weekend." I certainly picked up on a few new things over the last 2 weekends.

Last weekend, a friend came up to me in church and told me how much she liked the fact that I wear my natural hair out - as opposed to tucked away in braids or extensions. I do wear braids from time to time, but this year had made a decision to stay away from them for the rest of the year, because of the weakening effect that they have on my hairline; not to mention that persistent itchiness I experience when I have extensions in.

This weekend I received some more compliments on my hair, so it made me realise that it's important to stay true to yourself - even when it feels like no else appreciates these things about you. If you get compliments that's icing on the cake, but at least you're not handing over your happiness and control over your choices to others.

In this post on Black Girl with Long Hair explores a young woman's challenges with staying natural. I think most women who wear their hair natural would relate.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Friday, May 08, 2009

BlogHer Activist Winners

Congrats to Standtall who has been selected as one of 5 activist bloggers around the world to attend the BlogHer Conference in Chicago this July.

BlogHer is an online community of women bloggers from all over the world and this conference is their yearly meet-up. It promises to be a great event and has been SOLD OUT for months. Standtall won for her activism work through her blog The Activist.

Read more about the BlogHer scholarship for activists.

The Wire

It's been a while since I've written about The Wire, mainly because I've watched all the seasons now. And then, it moved from being an underground fav to a more mainstream level of popularity. So, it feels like everybody know knows about and loves The Wire.

There is an entire page of resources (articles, interviews, profiles, etc) about The Wire on the U.K Guardian website. It's a great catalogue for any fan of the show as well as newcomers.

It also includes a recent interview with actor Idris Elba, who has seen his star rise in the wake of the popularity brought him by the show. The latest is for the film Obsessed, which has been both a box office hit and critical disaster.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

What a Girl Wants & Hotel du Lac

I am so happy to have finished What a Girl Wants in a respectably short period of time. I was looking forward to enjoy the book as a fun bit of Christian chicklit. I found the lead character's attitude to foreigners slightly xenophobic (her constant derogatory remarks about Taiwan, which she had to visit on business). This was slightly off-putting, but acknowledging that a book's literary worth is usually not determined by how likable its characters are, I soldiered on.

So, what does a girl want? To do God's will in her life. The book ended with our heroine encircled in her hero's arms engaging in a passionate display of long held-back affection.

So, now I am on to Hotel du Lac by Anita Brookner. I first read about Anita Brookner a couple of months ago and thought immediately that I'd like her books.

I picked Hotel du Lac, because quite frankly the storyline sounds riveting and it was not of intimidating size. So far so good. It's described on the back cover as a "Smashing love story". I am yet to get to this part of the book, but so far it's been a sharply observed character study, which I quite like.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Natural Hair Blogs

I've been discovering many great natural hair resources, which are sparking up my renewed love affair with my hair.

Black Girl with Long Hair is one. I was most excited to find this blog because she posts pictures of styled natural hair and profiles women who are doing interesting things with their hair.

Naturally Scandalous is another. She's locing her hair now, but the archives contain posts about her natural hair journey.

Okay, so it's just 2 blogs for now. They are both keeping very busy.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

9 Writers, 4 Cities: The Book Tour

There's so much happening in the Nigerian book space lately (Toni Kan book reading a few weeks ago, Sefi Atta book reading about a couple of months ago, the launch of a collection of poems by Abioye Taiwo two weeks ago) and I am excited this!!!!! This is despite struggling to finish the 'fairly slim' book I started a couple of weeks ago. Anyway, never mind my slowness; it should not be mistaken for disinterest.

From May to June, we have the pleasure of seeing nine writers on a book tour that will take them to 4 cities across Nigeria. 9 Writers, 4 Cities: The Book Tour is a series of book readings, book signings and discussions.

The participating writers are: Odia Ofeimun (poet and author of The Poet Lied), Toni Kan (author of Nights of a Creaking Bed), Lindsay Barrett (journalist, poet and author of several books, including Song for Mumu), Jumoke Verissimo (author of I am Memory), Tade Ipadeola (a lawyer and author of the poetry collection A Sign of Times), Joy Isi Bewaji (author of Eko Dialogue), Eghosa Imasuen (medical doctor and author of To Saint Patrick), A. Igoni Barrett (managing editor of Farafina magazine and author of From Caves of Rotten Teeth) and Bimbo Adelakun (journalist and author of Under the Brown Rusted Roofs).

The schedule is as follows:

2 May: Lagos, 2—7 pm, African Artists Foundation, No 54, Raymond Njoku Street, Ikoyi

6 June: Ibadan, 2—5 pm, Cambridge House, 20, Joop Berkhout Crescent, Onireke

17 May: Lagos, 2—7 pm, at The Palms Shopping Mall, Lekki

23 May: Benin, 2—5 pm, The Hexagon, 2A Golf Course Rd

6 June: Lagos, 2—5 pm, African Artists Foundation, No 54, Raymond Njoku Street, Ikoyi

Admission to all events is free. Signed copies of the participating writers’ books will be available for sale at all the venues on the day of each event.

The 6-week tour will be covered on the Farafina magazine blog while audio and video recordings of each reading will be placed on Switched On as podcasts. Dada Books, Daylight Media, The Palms, Planet One Television and August Media are also media partners on this project.

For further information, call 0706.114.1232, or email auggustmedia@gmail.com