A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the urgent need for young people in Nigeria to get off their backs and do something if we would be able to rewrite the script of the horror movie Nigeria is almost holding auditions for! When I wrote that, we were still reeling from the shock of the Independence Day blasts, still trying to clip shut our mouths gaping in awe of the Ibru heist, and of course we were re-enacting Inception with Mr. President (since he no longer wants to be called C-in-C), MEND, Jomo Gbomo, Cynthia White, and ‘man of the hour’, Henry Okah.
In the midst of this hullabaloo, the judiciary kicked Segun Oni out as governor of Ekiti State (almost three and a half years after the elections but that is a different matter) and installed the rightful winner, Dr. Kayode Fayemi. If I’m correct he brings to five (so far) the number of states that will have separate elections (Anambra, Ondo, Ekiti, Rivers, and Edo) but again that’s a different matter.
Again of course there was the surprise and celebration with Nigerians doing great at the ‘mock’ Olympics held in India, and then shame and embarrassment when a couple of them were stripped of their medals for testing positive to performance enhancing drugs.
Still on sports, Amos Adamu just had to be captured on camera negotiating/accepting a bribe; reminds me of the folk tale about the tortoise who kept stealing and one day fell into the trap set for him by the villagers and got his hands stuck to the items he was stealing.
In other news, Chidinma won MTN’s Project Fame, the 2nd season of GLO’s Naija Sings (pronounced Niger Sings for reasons I cannot fathom) is airing, Nigerian Idols is new and currently airing (with a great crop of judges if you asked me) and rumours have it that Zain’s Don’t Forget the Lyrics will be revived soon. That leaves us with Nigeria’s Got Talent, X (or N) Factor, and Making the Band to be adapted for our audience. Calling at Etisalat, Starcomms, Visaphone, Multilinks? NITEL? Oya show yourselves o!
Still on the bright side, our own Uti Nwachukwu won Big Brother Africa All Stars; and got the hefty sum of 200, 000 dollars for his troubles. Never mind that Mr. President (in his wisdom) congratulated Uti on his Facebook page, conveniently ignoring all the issues above (screaming for his attention); never mind that all of ‘us’ are uploading pictures we have with Uti even if it’s the ones we took with him when we were in diapers, never mind!
The very interesting thing for me about Uti’s win is that it showed me (and proved to some) that there’s nothing we cannot achieve if we come together, pool our resources (time, energy, ideas, and finances) and work towards it. Today, I’m calling/asking for your support, ideas, time and energy and I’ll tell you for what in a minute.
In January 2007 I watched the movie Akeelah and The Bee and apart from thoroughly enjoying the movie, I was amazed that I didn’t know a good number of words the kids were spelling (its ok if you felt that way too). That day I thought to myself, ‘if I (with the level and standard of education I’ve had) cannot spell those words, what is the hope of the indigent child in a Local Education Authority school who sits on the floor in an unroofed class, doesn’t wear socks, is taught English in vernacular, and is rushing home to go hawk wares for his parents every day after school? Truth is, they don’t stand a chance.
That day, I started writing what I am sharing with you now (fully aware of the risks of putting an idea out there). I need to do something, and because I am not in government, I will do what I can do, with your help. The plan is to give these kids two books to read every month (storybooks/novels) commensurate to their ages and current knowledge level. On the last Saturday of every month, we meet with the kids, discuss what they’ve read, go over difficult words, lessons learnt (if any), etc. More importantly we will play (till we sweat), eat (a lot), and generally do things that kids love to do.
Long term plan of this will be to get corporate organizations, families, individuals (anyone who can) to pick kids from the club and sponsor them up to tertiary level but with a catch: tuition is only paid to the schools even though a stipend will/might be given and the child stands to forfeit the sponsorship if their grades drop below a certain level at any time or if they get on the wrong side of the law.
The aim is to give these kids a start by improving their word power, occupy their time positively, and expose them to worthy role models (you and me, the volunteers).
Three years and loads of notes later, this dream is still burning strong and that’s why I’m talking to you. I’m currently taking an enterprise course in my postgraduate class and using this dream as my project idea because I feel very passionate about it and because by putting it through rigorous testing here, I can research and find the best way to run this.
The first part of that research is what I’ve done now; put the idea out for you to sample. What is the first step? Who do we need to talk to, where should this start from? What are the strengths and opportunities, weaknesses and threats with this idea? What stumbling blocks do you already see? Where do we source volunteers? Would you volunteer for this project? Who can we collaborate with? Who’s already doing something like this?
Where do we find the books? What part of the country should we start from? Will cultures and religions influence/affect this in any way?
To sum it up, what say ye?
P: S – the rights of this author are reserved.
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