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 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.

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