Posts Tagged ‘Islamic state’

Sorry for the break in transmission with this story, there were things like work and my birthday to get through!! Whoop!

Right! So part four now,  (because I know you’ve read one, two, and three), I’ll be reproducing the Roundtable proper. First off, there was so much knowledge in the room, and I know I asked myself more than once how I was that privileged to be in the room with the calibre of people there!

My amazement under control, there were quick introductions and a first word that elicited comments like “as we think of futures and foresight/fore sighting we must not forget where we are coming from and where we are now”.

Foresight is super important because it helps create policies that cater to eventualities; helps governments be better prepared to handle anything that comes their way and leave an easier tomorrow for the ones coming after them.

We talked about the key trends Africa should be focusing on and their potential effects on individual countries, and the continent. We also discussed the role of business, entrepreneurship, the potentials with industrialization, and what exactly we’re doing with donors and their monies.

Totally fascinating discussion, and for me was an eye-opener into the reason why we got some themes to write on that I thought weren’t for ‘today’. It was also really interesting listening to the different perspectives and how issues feed into each other, whether they be across countries, regions, or even the continent.

Here’s a video from the day that might help put things in perspective…

And there was this too!

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There’s also a storify you can catch up with here as well – https://storify.com/FFDAfrica/foesight-for-development-round-table

There was a quick tea break and we were back discussing. Can I just say that the organization of the event was spot on? So down to the folders we received, you could see the painstaking effort that went into making everything look feel spotless.

Here’s the thing. Africa needs to look inwards, within its local spaces for answers to its problems rather than backing each other and looking to institutions they think care about them but in truth are just looking out for themselves. (An Igbo proverb says you cannot use someone else’s eyes to see).

There’s a lot about Foresight for Development that will interest you, and you, and you, and I encourage you to visit the website, and get an education. And thank me later!

And you can search our hashtag #SAMPNODE if you just want to catch up on the conversation for the day. I know I was tweeting a lot.

Long day over, we moved to a cocktail by the pool, and then on to dinner. Here’s what I had, and we got another helping of brownies and fresh custard. Bliss.

Next morning Ruth and I went to Sandton City Mall, and first off, we took pictures, which I suddenly cannot find. So annoying! Like I know they are in a folder on my computer but I can’t for the life of me remember what folder! Sigh…

Then we went in and bought a few things. We had to rush cos we both had flights to catch; she to Uganda, and I to Abuja via Addis Ababa. I’m keen to visit South Africa again, and this time go to Soweto; I hear there are stark disparities between the posh Morningside/Sandton areas and Soweto and the other inner communities. I’d also like to attend a concert, I’ve fallen in love with a number of South African gospel choirs and I can’t wait to hear them!

We made it to the airport just in time; Ruth had to run for her flight, and I had just enough time to decide I wasn’t going to waste my money on the overpriced items at the Duty Free stores or change the rands I had back to dollars because it just seemed like a proper rip off. I’ll spend it another time biko.

Was very unfortunate to sit beside a really smelly man, but he didn’t talk to me and I distracted myself sufficiently with all the movies I watched so that wasn’t too bad.

We got to Addis ok, and glory be to God I was put in another hotel! Panorama hotel was lovely! There was WIFI, the room was clean, smelling really nice (I really do have a thing for scents and smells), and I had a wonderful shower. I slept very well.

The food however, was still rubbish, leading me to think that what Ethiopians have in beauty/figures, they lack in foods and preparation of meals. But maybe it’s just me, and the places I’ve eaten/had to eat in so far.

I did something interesting while I was waiting for the flight, passport watching. I would look at passports of everyone who passed by me trying to figure out what their own ‘green’ was (there are apparently a lot of African countries with ‘green’ passports). That was fun to do.

Next morning, hopped back on a plane, and in a few hours, I was back in Nigeria. I think I was too tired on this flight to make any notes, so I just ate, and slept. And was grateful for the gift of writing, and the opportunity to write, and oh-so profitably.

That’s it, SA Chronicle done!

So, have you been following the story?

Part one is here,

and

Part two is here.

You’re welcome!! Now, let’s get on with part three!

Hello Johannesburg! Na wa… First thing? There was a certain coldness I saw with the officials at the airport, seriously. I can’t explain, and I don’t want to sound prejudiced to all the stories I’d heard about the place, but there was that coldness I noticed.

Anyway, so when it got to my turn I walked up to the officer and said why I was in the country and that I was leaving in 48 hours. He asked a few questions about my visa and while I was rolling my eyes (in my mind), I noticed some guy trying to explain away his life to another officer and the officer repeatedly saying, “ I don’ believe you, I don’t believe you will leave.” No the young man wasn’t Nigerian; his accent was from a region (in Africa) I won’t mention because I couldn’t see his passport so I’m not sure.

As I took my passport back and walked away, I wondered if they would bounce him, and what fine his country would have to pay. And then I thought about a world so equal (or close to equal) that people could come and go as they pleased. Sigh.

Got my suitcase and the driver was waiting. His name is/was Max, and he gave us quite the tour as we drove to 20 West, Morningside, somewhere in Sandton. Benefit of hindsight, I wouldn’t have changed so much money for a 48 hour trip; now I have to find/squeeze another trip to SA to spend it. I’ll explain this sentence later.

On the way, we listened to radio, and at some point a song came on which I heard for the first time in San Antonio last Christmas. Guess what I did? I rang my cousin Chuma so he could hear the song! Lol! Such a laugh.

20 West is beautiful. Repeat after me, 20 West is beautiful. It’s both a hotel and self-catered apartments, and somehow, because my room was given out by mistake, I was upgraded to a self-catered apartment. Thank Jesus for mistakes that turn out to be blessings. Somebody shout halleluyah!

I went upstairs, and after oohing and aahing over the place, I took pictures! Want to see? Of course you do!

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All of this and I’m just here for two days? Please, amen to another trip already!!

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I gushed about the view so much I forgot to take a picture! Lol…

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Err, my photography skills were not up to the point of getting everything in this room. I missed the shower (left the toilet bowl out intentionally though, nothing special there biko)

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Then I hid my #FitFam uniform in a closet and ordered the juiciest burger I’ve had in a bit, complete with an extra helping of avocado. And a hot chocolate ( I know, I can’t be helped). And then I went to sleep. Peaceful sleep.

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Look at all that cheese… get in there!!

 

Woke up a couple hours later, caught up with Ruth Aine (who I first met in Germany in july 0f 2014), and after I spoke to friends and family, had a shower, watched a bit of TV, it was dinner time.

All about the Braai

Truth is, I would have passed up on dinner if Ruth didn’t mention we were having a “braai”which is the local name for a barbecue of sorts of different types of meats. So if I said, ‘I want to braai it’, I could easily have said ‘I want to barbecue it’.

Unfortunately, we were a bit disappointed. The meats weren’t super tender/exciting, and there weren’t enough options for it to really qualify.

Even the potatoes weren't all that...

Even the potatoes weren’t all that… Ah. Sausage was lovely…

But, the corn was super tasty ( we had a lot of corn), and Benjamin Mipanghi, the Food and Bar Supervisor said yes to our request for fresh custard for our brownies. That was lovely!!

You can never go wrong with fresh custard!

You can never go wrong with fresh custard!

He also told me about a local dish I know I’m going to try when next I’m in South Africa; it’s called papa and mogudu, which is a maize meal and beef/tripe/offals stew. Even though I’m not one for offals (you’ll never find me in line for ‘assorted’ meat), I’m looking forward to trying this one. Really looking forward.

Dinner over, it was back in the room for a bit more work, a bit more TV, and then bed. Not before I took this incredible picture (if I must say so myself) of the view of the pool from my floor. Incredible.

Incredible.

Incredible.

Good night everyone, come back for part four soon!!

Right! So two days ago we started on the prep and the trip to South Africa via Addis Ababa for Foresight for Development’s Africa Roundtable. Of the options I was given for travel, I chose Ethiopian Airlines because I wanted the stopover story…

Good idea or not? We’re about to find out!

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

We got into Addis about 8pm, and I was starving! We had to fill out forms with our seat numbers, country of departure, etc. thanks to Ebola, and then it was time to retrieve my luggage and find the bus which would take me to the hotel I’d been allocated.

Apparently, the name of the hotel was, ‘Ethiopia’. Turned out to be horrible. Jesus Christ! The WIFI only worked in the reception, the porter was rude, the food was (I cannot explain), and the room? On and on and on, I could complain for days, and you know I’m not exactly finicky. Kai.

Looks lovely, but believe me, this explains the 'not all that glitters is gold' saying perfectly!

Looks lovely, but believe me, this explains the ‘not all that glitters is gold’ saying perfectly!

Kai. I’m just upset. However, I bought a really lovely satchel I want to use as a laptop bag. Paid $10 for it, and the strap cut before I left the country. Tourist behaviour I know.

Next morning I got dressed and went down for breakfast before the ride to the airport. Note that I slept hungry (two bottles of coke helped, but only a bit), so I was looking forward to a good meal.

The 'orange juice' tasted like all those concentrates we used to dilute in secondary school, only that this one had been diluted waaaaaaaay too much! Ended up eating only the bread roll (with their sexy butter).

The ‘orange juice’ tasted like all those concentrates we used to dilute in secondary school, only that this one had been diluted waaaaaaaay too much! Ended up eating only the bread roll (with their sexy butter)… The other things I didn’t understand.

Left for the airport and the entire stretch there was a heavily armed policeman (more like army if you asked me) every block or so. Seemed weird, too much policing biko. Also seemed like everyone was running in one direction or the other (in the name of #FitFam), sometimes completely unconcerned by oncoming cars or bikes. I asked someone and she said the punishment for a driver knocking anyone down (especially if the person dies) is life imprisonment. Wow. Premium placed on the lives of their citizens as far as I am concerned; don’t know that it means people shouldn’t have common sense sha.

I was also told that you’re encouraged not to invest in the country if you’re not Ethiopian. Like, it doesn’t profit you and the government will work to frustrate you out. So much for foreign investment that Nigerian leaders are always junketing about for.

Ah! Before I forget, the sun rises very early in Addis! Like really early! About 5am it felt like noon… and there were a lot of people playing footie when we went outside. Looks like a lot of interest in fitness if you asked me!

I was excited to be back at the airport and away from that horrible, horrible hotel. Please don’t ever go there if you want a good night’s rest. The plane to Johannesburg was a lot better (did I mention in the first post that my seat was dodgy) and the food was lovely. Sexy butter anyone?

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On this flight I watched Penguins of Madagascar (love it), and B is for Boy, a film in Igbo. B is for Boy was incredible, and even though I didn’t like the way it ended (felt like the writer got tired and just wrote ‘the end’ in the middle of the story), it was a good film, telling the struggles of women trying for male kids because of tradition. It was very touching, the tribulation she suffered, and reinforced for me that in a marriage, the strongest tag team is between the man and wife. Not the man and his mother. Meaning that we (myself included) have nothing (or should have nothing) to do with grown ass men who great and intelligent and gorgeous and everything else that are, still work around connected to their moms via an umbilical cord made of heavy metal. Know any such people? Sigh. Back to the movie, it was really good, I remember tearing up at some point.

We touched down, and people started clapping. I was confused. No turbulence, no incident, nothing. Why clap? I mean I’ve heard tales of people clapping on the Dubai to Lagos route but I didn’t understand this one at all! Na wa.

By the way, Ethiopian ladies are beautiful. And their hips don’t lie! Gentle reminder for me to pick up on my squats, not about to ‘carry last’ biko.

Also seems like everyone is married. I don’t think I saw any lady without a ring on her ‘wedding finger’ Not one. Hian. Pressure us small small biko; there’s already so much pressure at home. Sigh.

Part three’s up in a few days, and it’s all about Johannesburg! Don’t miss it!

 

 

I hear there was a time when jobs were plentiful. Whether white or blue or pink collared, young people were assured of some employment or the other at the end of their education or training.

I didn’t meet that. If I hadn’t heard of it, I would never have known such times existed. Interestingly, this problem isn’t the exclusive preserve of Nigeria; all around the world, countries are groaning under what should ordinarily have been a blessing: the percentage of youth amongst them.

Populations have expanded exponentially, literally taking governments by surprise. Saudi Arabia has 70% of its people under 30 and half of that number under 20. Kuwait has 60% under 25. Nigeria has 75% of its 170 million population under 35. It gets worse; 40-50% of them are unemployed.

Why?

That was the thrust of the Abuja Hub virtual #ShapingDavos session on #ShapingWork , held on January 22, 2015, led by former Director General of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG), Mr. Frank Nweke. Themed, “Engaging Youth in Work”, this session connected the Abuja (Nigeria), Jeddah (Saudi Arabia), Orlando (United States), and Chandigarh (India) Hubs via Skype and Satellite to Davos where renowned broadcaster Nick Gowing moderated a panel featuring Omar Alghanim, Dominic Barton, and Nigeria’s own Aliko Dangote.

The discussion? Everyone agreed unemployment amongst young people was an issue even though they had several approaches to it. From a lack of futuristic thinking on the part of governments to the unemployability of youths, to the outdated curricula youth are taught with that don’t ready them to solve any of the problems in today’s ever evolving world, it seems that we have a lot of young people without a lot to do with them or to give them to do. A lot of people share this sentiment.

The rising tide of unemployment was also strongly linked to terrorism simply because idle minds are the devils playground. Perhaps to corroborate that are news reports that said some Boko Haram recruits were unemployed university graduates.

The discussion peaked with this question: “what new thinking and approaches can close the unemployment gap?

One word that resonated with me? Entrepreneurship! Young people taking hold of their destinies (and quickly too) and discarding the “give me give me” mentality, Onyeka Onwenu referred to in the local panel discussion earlier in the day.

Agreed. But can entrepreneurship exist in isolation? What’s the hope of a young graduate from a low or middle-income family who wants to start a business who cannot access a loan? Immediate costs include funds to pay for two years rent, run a generator, sustain himself, and all of this starting from zero? How about Graduate Internship Schemes (and the Federal Government through the Subsidy Reinvestment Programme rolled that out in 2013), mentorship programmes too? How about good roads, stable electricity, and other infrastructure that create the enabling environment for small and medium scale businesses to thrive or at least survive?

One of the panelists said world leaders need to react to unemployment with the urgency the Ebola Virus Disease was given. I totally agree. Another said governments must stop lip service to employment issues and truly map out interventions to drastically reduce the percentages.

I couldn’t agree more.

Another thing I was totally excited by? The talent in the room! During out networking session, I met two dentists, one farmer, one lawyer, an environmentalist, a lady who writes code (whoop), and the DJ/sound guy who is a 3rd year student at university but fends for himself by playing at events.

#ShapingDavos was a rounded, tell-it-as-it-is discussion and I can only hope that the corresponding actions are taken, and quickly too.

Originally written for and posted on the Global Shapers website.

One of my favorite past times is ‘putting forward my strong reasons’ why a thing should go one way or the other, big thanks to my father who encouraged us to ‘defend’ (used very loosely) requests, e.g. a increase in our weekly allowances. Thinking about that particular episode makes me chuckle – the intensity with which I argued you would think I was trying to get myself off death row! Those were the days…

Some would say Nigeria is on death row – the economy is as distressed as the very definition of the word, Boko Haram is FINALLY losing ground but still wreaking havoc via suicide bombers, and in the words of a friend of mine, corruption has become a ‘come one, come all’ venture. Regardless of the giant strides this government might have made across board, everything pales when lined up against insecurity.

Now, there are currently 14 people put forward by the existing political parties in Nigeria, who say they have the answers to our problems; who say we should vote them in as President and Vice-President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. From ending the Boko Haram insurgency in one month, to running an inclusive government, to banning the importation of rice, the politicians are waxing lyrical, touring states and only stopping short of promising to raise the dead in exchange for our votes.

Beyond the ruckus and rhetoric our road tours are, beyond the hoarse voices and prostituting musicians hoping from one campaign trail to the other (h/t Etcetera), what do the presidential candidates have in store for us? Beyond the cleverly crafted documents and sexy presentations, where exactly are their minds? Stripped bare, without the music, what are these candidates about?

Now, we hear the Presidential candidate for the All Progressive congress General Muhammadu Buhari has said he would not participate in the Nigeria Election Debate Group NEDG-organized debate because the component organizations have been compromised. Exact words from Garba Shehu, of the directorate of media and publicity for the APC Presidential Campaign Organization said, “The boycott was due to the “unhidden bias and campaign of calumny by some key organisers of the programme, against the corporate political interest of the party (APC) and its candidates.”

Here’s a few reasons I gleaned off Twitter at the time and why I think none of them hold any water.

  1. AIT and co are government funded, partisan, pro GEJ, etc.” What is a debate though? Isn’t it men standing behind podiums and talking? How much influence can the partisanship of the medium airing the debate have? Will any of the parties not be allowed to speak? Their microphones will be turned off mid-sentence? What exactly, in a debate that will be aired lived and probably live streamed at the same time? Do we not know that Nigerians, who are suckers for the ‘underdog/victim’ narrative, will naturally gravitate towards whoever seems to be getting a hard time during the debate?
  2. “President Goodluck Jonathan refused to debate in 2011.” This particular excuse amuses me to no end. APC runs on one word, ‘change’, implanting it in the hearts and minds of supporters and opposition alike. Yet, the plan is to walk a path only because someone else walked it four years ago. Really?

And now, three questions of my own.

  1. What is the plan for the Sambo/Osibanjo (vice-presidential candidates for the incumbent and APC respectively) debate, which seems to be the more favorable idea? Will all purportedly partisan media be banned from attending?
  2. Should current and future presidents relinquish control over the Broadcasting Organization of Nigeria so they will truly be independent? That’s an obvious yes, ditto for our electoral commission; real question is would all the presidential candidates honestly be open to doing that?
  3. Why not just pass up on the elections as well, seeing as the Independent National Electoral Commission is government-funded and therefore purportedly/potentially compromised?

Final word. Nigerians have never been this interested in the elections and the one person to whom we will entrust our lives and living for the next four years. Every party deserving of our votes should be raring to go, seeking out every opportunity to reel out their plans to take Nigeria to where we need to be.

Dear handlers, let your candidates debate.

PS – this piece was written in November 2014, but never made it to my blog. The live debate on #RubbinMinds (available here) on the 8th of March was brilliant (both the idea and the event itself), and reminded me about it.

 

PPS – Originally published on Future Challenges.

Happy International Women’s Day everyone!

Here’s to all the women doing great things (or not), who are successful (or not), who are shining lights for this generation (or not), and on and on, and on. I’m all for celebrating women but how about we celebrate them everyday? How about we show them this love everyday? Is this the day where we stop all bad behavior, pick it up on the 9th? Sigh.

I wish I felt like towing the line the world is taking with addressing just the women but I’m not in that mood. Also because as far as I know we don’t have an International Men’s Day; or do we?

Also, importantly women don’t exist on a planet by themselves, neither are we resident in countries separate from the men. So, no.

My mind is on all the young women (and men) I see hawking whatever it is they carry instead of being in school. My mind is on the young lady (not a day over 14) who I’ve seen on a number of occasions standing beside a car whenever I get home past 10pm. Twice I’ve slowed down close to them, both times the girl starts to walk away. From my rearview mirror though I see she goes back to the 2010 Toyota Camry soon as I leave them. From the way she’s dressed I can hazard she’s a street kid. I’m not sure what I should do (more like ‘if’ to be honest).

I think about the young man I saw in traffic by the Hilton on Saturday the 7th of March with feet so swollen and bright red it looked like a painting. He was covering his face, either from shame or from the scorching sun. I needed to give him some money and I nearly scratched my car to do that because he could barely stand and so I had to literally squeeze up to him on the kerb. But he didn’t need the N500 I gave him; he needs a doctor and medical attention urgently.

I think about the Chibok Girls, who have been gone from home for close to a year (kidnapped on the 14th of April 2014). I wonder how many of them have given birth now (goes without saying that a lot of them were raped; two who escaped late last year were pregnant), and how many of them are no more. I try to imagine the scariest thing I know just to attempt to put myself in their place, but I know that my scariest doesn’t come close. I think about their parents, about their friends at school, I think about the people who love them, who are praying every day for their return.

I think about women who are getting beat daily by people who once professed to love them to the moon and back, and how they can’t leave because they want to be married or their families insist they can’t deal with the shame. I wonder how a man can hit a woman with the same hands he will use to make love to her. I wonder.

These and many more were heavy on my mind this day. Do I salute women who are doing great things in their communities and in the work place? Of course! Do I have the greatest respect for women who take on difficult roles because they want better lives for their children/communities? Do I stand with women whoa are facing untold hardship? Big yes, and I could go on with the questions (and the corresponding yesses).

But, there’s a lot going on that’s wrong with our world, and I found myself spending quite a bit of time thinking about that.

And now, I will stop thinking, and go on to do the things I have lined up for today.

Happy International Women’s Day everyone. Be good to someone today.