Posts Tagged ‘African Development Bank’

Do you know what the ‘veil of ignorance’ is?

It’s a theory advanced by Philosopher John Rawls that strives for fairness, justice, and absolute neutrality in governance.

Rawls ‘Theory of Justice’, now one of the primary texts in political philosophy says, “no one knows his place in society, his class, position or social status, nor does he know his fortune in the distribution of natural assets and abilities, his intelligence and strength, and the like”.

Big grammar to the side, imagine you had to create laws for Nigeria, like create a new social contract we’d all have to abide by. Applying the theory of the veil of ignorance means that you would remove (or at least try to remove) all your personal prejudices – no knowledge of your sex, race, nationality, individual tastes and leanings – meaning that your laws/contract will be for a class of people who are all free, rational, and morally equal.

Ignorance of self, however difficult, is essential, and every good leader must remove himself from the equation when making laws, presiding over issues, or meting out punishments for wrongdoing otherwise our natural biases kick in, and we… make a mess of things.

This was one of the theories we had to get through in this workshop, and it made me think, a lot!

Away from the serious stuff, here are a few other things I learned on this trip. So, here, I don’t I opened doors more than thrice or so. There’s always someone (a guy) to open a door! And it wasn’t just workers at the hotel or anything, pretty much everywhere we went, guys just opened doors, and held them open! Was really nice to see. Chivalry isn’t dead now, is it?

Another thing? French. I mean it’s like duh, what else would be spoken in a francophone country but dang! There’s pretty much nothing else! I learned French in 2007 (actually have a diploma in the language), and I have a darling mother who is fluent (actually worked as a translator for a church a while ago) but somehow, English swallowed it up, and all my plans to take an intensive course have remained plans.

Anyway, the morning of our first session, I needed to iron a blouse so I rang reception and asked for laundry service. The voice on the other end said, “d’accord”, which is ‘okay’ and so I thought someone would show up. Twenty minutes later, I rang back and regurgitating all the French I remembered, said I needed to iron my blouse. Someone was at my door in two minutes!

Therefore, throughout the time I was there, it was French o. Like, my mom would have been proud, and thoroughly amused. I remember when she used to speak French to me; I’d reply in English and she’d say I wasn’t helping myself. Well!!

And then the guys fluent in both languages? Sexy. Seriously, I’m going to take a class (or classes), and bring myself up to speed biko. It’s a matter of national importance at this point!

How could I forget that the day we went to the market we had boiled corn and it was incredible? Oh so incredible that we had to take pictures of ourselves eating it in the streets!!

From left to right, there's Gambia, Liberia, South Africa, and Nigeria represented in the corn fest! Love it!

From left to right, there’s Gambia, Liberia, South Africa, and Nigeria represented in the corn fest! Love it!

IMG_20150610_170300

See my side eye with the corn… Lol…

What else? There are eggs in pretty much every meal, and on sale in every shop. For example, when we went to the little market there were guys selling airtime, and eggs. Who does that? Lol. But you have to give it to them with their foods though, top of the line! Go easy on their chili though, they don’t play!

Currency. The naira is of greater value than the CFA, and the best way for me to describe it was I withdrew 60, 000CFA using my GTB card, and just about N22, 000 was taken from my account (including charges). Of course a dollar is circa 500CFA.

What else? Ahh! So when I went for the Nigerian Leadership Initiative FLS (Future Leaders Seminar) at the end of May, my roomie said she lived in Abidjan! So, I got in touch, and she came with tow of her colleagues to take me out!

We ended up at a Reggae lounge in the heart of town… Great, live music, and incredible energy. It was a mix of ‘bougie’, expatriates, and locals, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Ivoirians party/hang out a bit differently like Nigerians, especially in their spending habits on outings. For instance, you can buy a half bottle of spirits, wines, or aperitifs. It was so nice to see, cause in Nigeria, what!! You must spend your life’s savings (and maybe even take a loan) to keep up with the Joneses when you hang out, and apparently in most places you can’t take out any bottles of their extremely over priced drinks! Thank you roomie for a great evening!

IMAG0310

Selfie this, selfie that!! I love this shirt! So much history, so much love in it!

IMG-20150613-WA0003

Roomie!!! I have to come back, and soon!!

And then, the morning we were going to leave, the lot of us on the first trip to the airport took tons of photos! Want to see? (not like you have a choice, lol)

2015-06-11 22.49.09

Ndole (green), chili (orangey), lamb, duck, rice (white)

IMAG0316

From left to right – Nigeria, Togo, Djibouti, Benin Republic, moi, and Senegal!

IMAG0322 IMAG0328

Ah well, good things come to an end, and I’m writing this from the comfort and familiarity of my room, after eating lunch and playing with my darling nephew. I’m grateful as always for safe travels, for strength (trust me sometimes travelling isn’t the easiest thing), and of course, God’s great favor/grace that qualifies me for these trips/events.

Abidjan was real. Too real! Guess where I’m going next?

**wink**

PS: The links to the first three in this series are here, here, and here!

 

So, today was day one of the Regional Training Workshop in Civic Education on elections and governance organized by MINDS.

I started an abs challenge this morning, bestie and I; sides are burning seriously but I see cropped tops in my future so werk! As in near future!

I forgot to mention that yesterday; we went to a little market in the town. For me, it was absolutely necessary, for a number of reasons. One, I needed cash and two, I needed an adapter! Let’s start with needing money. Before I left Abuja, I thought the dollars I had in a bag were ‘reasonable’, it was the morning I was supposed to leave I realized it was like $150, and then lots of $1 bills! And of course there was too much going on with the yellow card I was looking for, etc. to hazard going to the bank to get some more.

Then I got to Addis and because they’ve buried my umbilical cord in the perfumes section of their Duty Free stores, I spent all but $9 there! Why I didn’t pay with my card I still cannot explain satisfactorily to myself, but bottom line is I got to Abidjan with the princely sum of $9! About the adapter, I have like three of the Cote D’Ivoire friendly ones back in Abuja, I remember reading the logistics note that specified what adapters to bring, but in my wisdom and uniqueness, I had to bring the one from South Africa! Sigh. I can’t be any more special.

By the way, I feel like ‘okrika’ (second hand clothing) is big business here; either that or this market had a healthy helping of sellers. we bought some delicious boiled corn too, and we took incredible pictures eating corn on the streets of Abidjan! Can’t find the photos now, still looking!

Here’s something else – the time difference yesterday was crazy sha! In Addis I was two hours behind Nigeria, in Cotonu it was one hour ahead of Addis, and here in Abidjan it’s one hour behind Nigeria. I’ve given up on my devices giving me different times and am now content with just asking when I need to know the time.

Back to today, their tea cups in this hotel are an aberration. Kai! What is this?

Look at the size of the tea cup compared to a tumbler or bottle... Sigh...

Look at the size of the tea-cup compared to a tumbler or bottle… Sigh…

And they’re not just for espressos or anything, this is what we had for tea as well! For people like me who love a nice brew of like three teas, it was just super frustrating. Arrgh!

On to happier things! We were told they had a surprise guest for us, and interestingly, first place my mind went to was that Nelson Mandela was coming through (he founded this), then I remembered he’d passed, and then I wasn’t really excited about whoever it was. Till the facilitator, Cecile (that’s a very nice name by the way) said we had to stand up when the person came in, she was really excited, etc.

Turned out our surprise guest was Mr Donald Kabureka, former Finance Minister in Rwanda and outgoing Africa Development Bank boss. He sat opposite us in a swivel chair (interesting point to note because as he answered questions he would sway from side to side, lol) and the question and answer session started.

Here are a few things he said

* Being young doesn’t confer on us any special legitimacy or entitlements but responsibilities based on the very things we use to feel entitled; age, strength, and numbers.

*Young people the world over have reversed John F. Kennedy’s saying – it is all about what the country/world can put into our hands rather than what we can do for our countries/the world.

*Technology means that whether it is a discussion about climate change, terrorism, agriculture, etc, young people no longer think in the context of their countries alone anymore. Thoughts and intending actions are global.

*Youth participation in politics must not necessarily be about electing/appointing young people into positions of power; there’s a lot more to it.

Interesting fact from the discussion about economies in Africa and leadership – 92% of Tunisians own their own homes. So, only 8% are renting. Incredible!!

Personal thoughts about the man? Obviously after 10 years of leading Africa’s premier bank and interacting/negotiating with Heads of States on a daily, you must have pretty much seen everything there is to see, right? Perhaps that was the reason for the hint of a little too much confidence he wore, I don’t know.

In answer to a question about ADB creating jobs for young Africans (I swear I cringed as this person was mouthing the very words), Mr Kabureka said, “jobs are not created by the ADB, or the EU, or any of those bodies. They are created by the public/private sector, with the government providing the enabling environment for those businesses to thrive.”

The 'Anglophone group' working on a class task... Ghana, Nigeria, Gambia, Cameroon, Liberia, and Sierra Leone represented!

The ‘Anglophone group’ working on a class task… Ghana, Nigeria, Gambia, Cameroon, Liberia, and Sierra Leone represented!

Then he talked about the Africa Guarantee Fund Bank which provides funding for entrepreneurs with better rates than regular banks. He also said the ADB had periodic grants people could access, details on their website.

Back to his thoughts on leadership, he said there were three qualities any leader had to have.

1. They must have abilities (not necessarily acquired through formal education, but an expandable mind is everything)

2. A set of values.

3. Moral courage to make ‘hard’ decisions.

Of course there was time to talk about his achievements as ADB boss in the past ten years 🙂 and he mentioned the bank had spent $27bn in 10 years on infrastructure on the continent. This figure according to him is 40 times more than had been spent on infrastructure before his time.

Then he mentioned that in a meeting with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair in 2005, Mr Blair described Africa as “the scar on the conscience of the world”.

In 2014 however, in another meeting, the same Blair said, Africa was “the most exciting continent in the world because of the opportunities available”.

K.

We took photos, Mr Kabureka left, and then it was time for tea, or lunch. Don’t really remember which. But I’m going for whatever it is, and I can’t write there!

PS: Come back for part three tomorrow.

 

Do you remember one of the songs Donkey in Shrek 1 sang? The one he was singing and when Shrek said not to, he asked if he could whistle, then hum?

If you didn’t see Shrek (why on earth), or you’ve forgotten, or you still can’t place which song I’m talking about, it’s ‘on the road again’… And it’s my special way of announcing that I’m on the road again! Not literally though, cos there are at least 3 flights on this trip.

I’m off to Abidjan to attend a workshop organized by the Mandela Institute for Development Studies (MINDS) and because putting your trust in some carriers is akin only to fetching water in a basket, I’m flying Ethiopian Airlines. Yes that means another overnight stopover in Addis Ababa, and hopefully more pleasant tales than last time.

So, as always, we start with the night before, and I didn’t get home till a few minutes to midnight because I was chasing a client who was chasing his peers so they wouldn’t change their minds about things, and people.

Nice time to segue into the inauguration of Nigeria’s 8th National Assembly on the 9th of June and the almost magical happenings that heralded the emergence of the leaders of both the upper and lower chambers.

We start from Senate President, Bukola Saraki who went from not even being in the running one night to getting elected unopposed the next morning. Let’s not forget the mysterious meeting 51 of the senators supposed to vote went to attend (which didn’t hold & now no one knows who called it)…

Then we go to the lower chambers where Femi Gbajabiamila who was already receiving congratulatory messages (everyone was that sure) lost the Speakership to Yakubu Dogara. 189 votes to 174. So close, yet didn’t happen.

Ok, we’ve digressed enough. By 8.30am, I still wasn’t sure what I’d be taking with me, and then to compound issues I didn’t remember where I dropped my Yellow Card. Hian! I panicked, I kid you not. I was so worried!

Just when I was searching my mind for anyone who worked in the ministry of health, God had mercy on me and I remembered where I left it from my March Jo’Burg trip. Thank you Lord!

Rushed through my packing, shower, and breakfast, then it was off to the airport. Made good time, and checked in without any issues.

Really? No issues Fairy GodSister? Lol… Like that was possible! So, it’s interesting but it appears our airport officials don’t know which countries we need visas for or not. Here’s why: so one of them asked me where I was headed, and I told him Addis Ababa enroute Abidjan. Then, flipping through my passport he goes “where are the visas?” Truth? I’ve done the Addis layover a couple times so I know I don’t need a visa for that. Never been to Cote d’Ivoire though, and it just hit me then that I didn’t know.

Next thing the official says I won’t be able to fly, I don’t have the visa I need, etc. Again, inner panic, outward, ‘I’m not even going to act bothered’ look. Again, it occurred to me I could Google (had to be the voice of God rescuing his silly daughter) and so I did, confirmed I didn’t need one, and promptly shut the official up. *big, wide smile*

Permit a little digression please. There’s something about knowing our rights both as a Christian and people resident on this planet. Otherwise, we will miss out on/get robbed of/be denied so much!!

Ok, so we boarded and glory be to God, my entire row was empty! Yaaaaaass! So I ate, drank the only can of coke I’m allowed, and watched Taken 3, and the modern remake of Annie.

So Taken 3 was lovely (as always) but fingers crossed this is the last in the series biko. Except they want to become the next Empire, or Scandal, and just tell us what days it will air.

I loved Annie too, can’t wait to lay my hands on the soundtrack. Can’t wait!

Got into Addis Ababa ok, and it was off to Empire Addis, a fabulous hotel not too far from the airport. Took the stairs to and from my room on the 5th floor because #FitFam, and after a bit of dinner, it was trying to get my brain to shut down so I could sleep. That didn’t happen till 2am. Sigh.

Out of the hotel and back at the airport by 8am for the onward leg to Abidjan, which is like going from Abuja to Lagos, then heading to Kaduna. Yes. But no flight from Abuja.

Ahhh. My inner lioness escaped today inside the duty free store. Everyone was queuing to pay (Addis has amazing deals on fragrances) and then this guy bounces to the front of the line. The attendants start putting his things through so I ask if the rest of us had nothing else to do. Then he says, “don’t speak to me like that, you don’t know me”. Loooool… Let’s just say, he was pleading by the time I was done defining queues and how they help us maintain order in this world.

And then I boarded. And we took off. And seven hours later, we touched down in Abidjan, where I’ve met folks from The Gambia, Liberia, South Africa, Cameroon, etc. Promises to be an exciting 48 hours of brainstorming strategies around civic engagement, participation in the electoral process, and citizens taking charge of governance. Can’t wait!