Posts Tagged ‘Technology’

Just did a short form post of this on Facebook but the matter hasn’t fully left my spirit so I thought I would come here and elaborate a little bit. I’m talking about advocacy and how some people believe (obviously erroneously) that they have a right to your beliefs and consequently social media posts.

So, someone posts about something and instead of identifying with it and moving on, or disagreeing with it and moving on, you come with, “but you did not talk about XYZ.”

For starters, this is absolute nonsense. I have very little patience for it. Nigeria is beset with so many issues everyone should be speaking about stuff, and all the time too!

Like, who has the register for what people should speak up about? Who made anyone the keeper of advocacy topics? And how does speaking (or not speaking) about one issue take away my right to speak about something else?

I am one person. I am somebody, but I am not everybody. The issues that affect me or I’m passionate about might not be the ones that awaken your activist bones. That‘s fine. The issues bothering me today might bother you tomorrow, and vice versa. That’s fine too.

This entitlement to the content people post on their personal social media profiles is silly, and the reason why Nigeria is what it is today. We talk about social media giving us a voice, yet refuse the individuality and ripple effect it affords us when we speak up. So confusing.

So we consciously or unconsciously ‘select’ people who should somehow know what we’re interested in, and talk about only those things. Otherwise, we heckle them. We outsource our civic duties and responsibilities to a select few, then cry when the monsters we’ve bred come of age. Sigh.

I read about a person who started #DistractionFreeFridays with a friend to get people to commit to driving without their devices on Fridays. We’ve seen hashtags like #SaveBagega, #NotTooYoungToRunBill, #CommonWealth4Peace, even #BBNaija. Do we tell one set of people to stop using the internet because we don’t subscribe to their hashtag? No. Live and let live. Advocate and let others do so.

You want to talk about female genital mutilation? Do it. Child marriage? Already. ‘Grasscutters’ and the other aberrations going on in the North East? Make it louder for those in the back. Audu Maikori and Elrufai’s sudden preoccupation with him? Go for it.

Whatever you want attention drawn to, start it. Gather information, and share it in ways that will resonate with people. Create a plan detailing what message you want to get out, who your target is, and what you want them to do when they’re aware of your messaging. Craft your messages in simple language, think about graphics if you can (the diversity of content is great and images are awesome as far as shareability is concerned). Sell your idea to your friends and get them to put it out for you at times when you know your audience is online, and keep posting/publishing. As it resonates with people, they’ll like, share, repost, retweet, whatever. And hopefully, they’ll take the commensurate offline action.

Here’s to your success, and leaving others to use their social media the way they want to.

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This is the second instalment of my Maiduguri trip tale. MTT. Sounds nice. Dope abbreviation. Sounds like something serious. This is serious biko. As serious as serious can get. But I digress. Part one is here. Let’s get on with it.

So! One of the first things that hit you once the announcement about the descent into Maiduguri is made and you look out the window might be that there is the Maiduguri we all hear of and the Maiduguri you meet (in person). Perfect opposition, especially if you’re besotted with foreign media reports.

It’s the red roofs and cream-colored buildings, the wide expanse of uninhabited land; it is the land itself. Green and luscious one minute, dry and scorched the next. This contrast presents itself throughout the duration of this trip exaggerated many times over by the insurgency.

Immediate thoughts on sights at the airport?

  1. Maiduguri international airport, like several international airports in Nigeria, is, unfortunately, international only in name. The absence of an arrival lounge reduced hopes for a carousel or conveyor belt to mischievous thinking. Fortunately, we didn’t have to wait too long for our bags, and it was off to our lodgings in a convoy dotted with an armed security truck in the front and at the rear.
  2. Decrepit buildings, chipped away at some corners, time, negligence, and incompetence ensuring that even the lettering on the building announcing the airport was barely visible. I confirmed the airport had never been attacked. What was the excuse for this eyesore then?

The second thing I noticed (or that hit me) was the heat. Dry, prickly heat, and yours truly was wrapped in a jalabia and head scarf. I genuinely thought I was going to have heat stroke.

So, we got into our cars and drove in a convoy to our lodgings, a place called Lake Lale Guest Inn. Here’s an idea of the sight I became accustomed to for the rest of the trip.

military

The first room I was given had bad locks and because I didn’t want any how stories starting from “while she was sleeping…” I asked and was given another room which was cleaned while I was there. Tut tut tut.

We were to have a team debrief at 8:30 pm. I had been warned that the restaurant was a bit slow but I forgot meaning that the chicken and chips I ordered weren’t ready before our meeting. By the time the meeting was done, I got back to my room and asked for the food. It was brought and the rest I captured on twitter.

borno-2016

Anyway, I ate it like that, spoke to Tata and my folks, and slept off, grateful for safety, a roof over my head, and the privilege to be on the delegation to a place I had only heard about. A few mosquitoes, but nothing the airconditioning wouldn’t handle. Or so I thought.

The evening and the morning, the first day. Tomorrow? Bama.

“We cannot become what we need to be by remaining what we are.” Max De Pree

Just some quick thoughts about the New Year, what we want to do/be/achieve and how quite a number of us erroneously believe that wanting a thing (even bad enough) is all it takes for us to do/be/achieve that thing.

I found this quote yesterday in the course of fulfilling a committment to an organization and it literally jumped out at me. How do you want to see different if you don’t do different? My dad says it’s insanity to plant corn and pray to reap strawberries. Lol. But really. Think about it.

*Let’s not be like the Nigerian government who want to increase the quantity of rice in the country and decide the best place to plant the rice is on rocks. Without irrigation or watering of any kind, fertilizers, nothing. Yet the plan is to increase the quantity of rice for everyone. Sigh.

So do you need to change a habit, eat better (read as less, lol), sleep for longer (or less), get a hobby (or hubby – gosh I’m so silly); do you need to get closer to God, hit some milestones at work, be a better friend/partner/parent, make money so good you’re not swayed by any of the exchange rates in Nigeria at the moment? Nice!

So, what’s the plan? What are the concrete steps to getting there? In a conversation very early this year I figured I have close to no knowledge of project management and it is something that can smoothen the processes for a number of things I am involved with. So, off I went to register for a course, classes start in a bit.

There are a couple other things I need to work on, sort out, and be better at, and we’re on the road to that. Amen to God’s help and strength, and grace to stay the course.

So, away from me, what are you doing? Better yet, what are you doing different?

Happy New Year.

Sometimes we plan things and they don’t go as we plan – fact of life. Other times we don’t plan things, and they happen – another fact of life. Any other variations to this statement? Don’t think so. 

I’ve got five voices to grace the blog this month, and I’m most grateful to them for taking the time to chronicle their year for you, my glorious readers. Meanwhile, 2017 has to be better, I must write more! Gosh! I miss it!

We kick off the series with a personal friend of mine, Ehimen. He is dependable, a lover of God, and has the most gorgeous wife! God bless you for writing in Mr Wordsmith!

Appreciating the value of Today while it is today

Many men would rather wear a luxury timepiece on their wrists than wear their emotions on their sleeves, especially if those emotions are powerful enough to make them cry. Well, I’ve learned to do both and as someone jocularly noted recently, look well put together while at it. He was referring to the fact that I cried at my own wedding –an occasion for which I was suitably attired, complete with a finely-crafted wristwatch peeking out from under the sleeve of my tuxedo- but I somehow managed to avoid the pictures of me crying going viral, unlike another gentleman who also got married in 2016 and cried like a baby at his wedding.

Why did I cry at my wedding? It wasn’t only because of the profundity of starting to learn the awesome mystery that marriage is, nor was it only because my wife is the walking exemplar of the word “beautiful”. It wasn’t only because my entire lifetime flashed before me in an instant and I was grateful to GOD for the many times He saved me from death. It wasn’t only because I remembered my father who died when I was nine-and-a-half years old and left me in a world where I was told (a bit too early) to “be a man for your younger ones”. Those are small contributors to the whole truth. The whole truth is at that time, my body, soul and spirit sent commands to my eyes to produce tears and I didn’t know how to not yield. I am human.

Men who shy away from being emotional often miss the privilege of having Father Time and Mother Nature tell them what time it is better than any man-made time-telling device ever can. I received a sobering reminder of this truth just a few days before I composed this. The routine of everyday life had stealthily crept into my marriage. You see, “the two shall become one” promise of marriage doesn’t happen instantaneously and can take gruelling work. My wife and I were just sheathing our swords from killing a giant marauder so the lovey-dovey “I love you’s” weren’t being exchanged with the gusto we started off with. I hadn’t done anything major to honour her in public in a long time, which was counter to what I’d learned that good women deserve. I subscribe to this truth King Lemuel’s mother told him about virtuous women:

“Her husband brags about her and says, “There are many good women but you are the best!” Give her the reward she deserves. Praise her in public for what she has done.”

A few nights ago I tiptoed out of bed and went to post on Facebook in appreciation of my wife. If I pulled it off right, it would almost be the equivalent of sending her flowers at work. By the time she saw my post, it was past noon and I wasn’t even at home. However, her appreciation of my romantic effort was muted as we found out that morning that someone very close to us had just died. While my wife was in tears and my mouth was agape in shock, I realized that at the very same time that I was putting up a picture and celebrating my wife on Facebook, we lost someone dear who we’d been procrastinating calling to appreciate. In fact, as I was rifling through the pictures on my computer to pick the one I eventually used to celebrate my wife, I saw some pictures of the now deceased and was contemplating sending them to her, not knowing she had just left this world. Every like and comment we got on that Facebook post was a jarring reminder to love each other and make the most of every moment as we’re not promised the next.

So to those who hide their love and appreciation of others while waiting for the perfect time, this is your wake-up call. Don’t just add this lesson to your “New Year Resolutions for 2017” list; start it now! One thing I’m deliberately doing right now is pouring out my heart into all that I do so that I can be the best version of myself while I have the time to do so. I’m working on a project aimed at reducing the impact of hate speech online and offline in Nigeria so that as a nation we don’t repeat the mistakes that led to the horrific genocide that happened in Rwanda in 1994. That’s my way of showing love to people and helping them stay alive to love others.

A sad thing it is when the sun sets on our lives and those of our loved ones because we failed to seize the day while it was day.

_dsc3345

Thank you for writing in Peter, here’s to a fabulous holiday and an ever greater new year!

 

So the US election campaigns started about 18 months ago, and I’ll be honest and say I was largely uninterested in the debates, rallies, etc. until very recently. Of course there were the very many days the world was jolted by any of the inappropriate (inappropriate here also meaning scary, unacceptable, criminal, etc.) utterances from Republican Candidate Donald Trump either during rallies, interviews, in the locker room, pretty much everywhere. On those days I would be forced to catch up on the outrage, but that would be all.
Not because I don’t care who the next leader of the free world is, not because I don’t see the incredible importance and leap it would be for a woman to become the next president of the United States, but because my people say that “when a man’s house is on fire he does not bother about the fufu he had on the stove.” There was (still is) just too much “what on earth is going on with my Nigeria” going on to focus on what’s happening in the pond an entire continent away.
TV ads forced me to care. Stickers, posters, heck even conversations a little too animated forced me to join the US Election frenzy. With or without my consent, I’ve had to actively follow.
So, I’ve been in the US for the past 4 weeks now and the excitement/apprehension/tension is palpable. Not the Nigerian flavor of ‘we’re voting for x and y not because we know what they will offer but because our leader says to’, but the ‘we’ve listened to both (major) candidates, know their history and believe overwhelmingly that x is better than y’. Or maybe even that x is the lesser of the two evils, whatever personal reasons.  
It reinforced a thought that led to this tweet“Dear #Nigeria, when we’re done climaxing over the #USElection rallies, our candidates MUST debate in 2019. Anything else is unacceptable.”
I believe that tweet with all my heart, and I hope you, Nigerian, tax-paying, voter card-wielding, pledge-reciting, daughter or son of the soil who has followed the US Elections has been reacquainted with a love for oratory, a respect for facts and figures, an appreciation for the media (and the 2016 expression of the Social Responsibility and Hypodermic Needle theories), and a renewed belief in yourself as a citizen whose vote is worth more than screaming rallies without any substance.
Anything less than debates with concrete plans, economic policies that can be argued for or against, and interventions that directly impact the lives of Nigerians is unacceptable. No more platitudes, no more empty promises, no more roaring rhetoric. 
Our state and national representatives must clearly articulate their plans for us, the people they represent. We cannot applaud the levels of transparency we’ve seen in this election and be content with declarations of assets that end up being as vague as they are untrue.
We must elect representatives who will not subvert but uphold the Constitution, and indeed open up the black hole that the National Assembly budget currently is!
Sigh. Deep breath Chioma. Moving on.
I’ve also thought very deliberately about how technology has been deployed for these elections. I’m not referring to diaspora voting which ensures citizens all over the world are not disenfranchised, and sounds like a brilliant idea till you remember that Nigeria has not come close to perfecting our local, physical processes yet. We cannot guarantee votes cast by human beings we can see and touch (’see and touch’ excluding the era when we had Jamie Foxx and Michael Jackson on the list of accredited voters); yet we’re currently fascinated with diaspora votes. Maybe add that to the things we will blame next for inconclusive elections?
Anyway, I was referring to citizen-centered technology. Technology deployed to make voter education and the voting process as seamless and inclusive as possible. First from the government with the listings/helplines on social and traditional media, to parties and politicians constantly reminding the electorate why, how, and where to vote;  broadcast media and state-specific voting information, to the digital titans deploying doodles, stickers, and other ‘make it cool to vote’ paraphernalia for the electorate to perform their civic duty. No stomach infrastructure, sharing of rice, or bread, or corn; no ridiculous photos where fancy wristwatches meet extreme poverty, none of that mess. 
Anyway, it all ends in the next 24 hours. Those who didn’t already vote have until 8pm to get counted, with a collation and announcement devoid of candlelight, midnight miracles, meme-worthy drama, or any funny business. Governance should also start in earnest immediately after the swearing-in, not 9 months after. 
Quite frankly, these elections rank high on the list of things Americans should be ashamed of – the blatant mudslinging, disrespect for candidates/American History/the American people; the divisive nature of the campaign, the hate it’s inspired, ugh. Shameful.
However, for us, there is a lot to be learned, and I hope we’ve all been taking notes. 2019 is coming. 
PS: Originally published on Huffington Post

I’d like to tell a story (one that is long overdue); one that I hope will inspire you, confuse you (like it did me at some point), and more importantly open you up to do things even you thought you were unable to do. Ready?

So, I studied social media for a Master’s Degree, knew as soon as I was done that much as I loved my job at the BBC World Service Trust (now Media Action) producing the award-winning Story Story, I wanted to start a consultancy, teach people to communicate with their audiences using social media. And I did. I’ve been privileged to work for the best of the best since then.

While I was outside Nigeria, I benefited from a host of events, support groups, picked up tips and tricks, and generally enjoyed the opportunity to share knowledge, learn new stuff, stay on top. Some of these events were as particular as ‘black women in tech’, ‘black women who code’, etc.

I didn’t have that here in Nigeria, and after a while, I grumbled. And moved on. And grumbled, and moved on. I mentioned this need to my friends Fatu Ogwuche and Nana Nwachukwu once, talked about the need to hold an event/create a community of women, and still moved on. I even had a conversation with Iyin Aboyeji of Andela at Salamander Cafe and I remember him encouraging me to stick with women as against males and females for the event. Angel Adelaja of Zahara Spa popped into the cafe for a separate meeting but somehow joined our conversation and promised to support it!

One day in August 2015, I was in the office with Andy Madaki, and I said I was going to hold an event to see how many women were working in technology in Abuja, see what we could learn from each other, and how we could collaborate, and support each other. And while I was talking to him, I knew immediately that if I didn’t commit to it, I wouldn’t do it.

We talked about a name for it and for the sake of pride I won’t mention the names I came up with! By the time I was done with a concept note, Andy coined the name TechHer, and I loved it. And his designer created the logo, and I loved it too!

#TechHer

Then he showed me how to create a Google Form (I’d never had to create one before that day), and in minutes there were six questions and a link on Twitter. In 24 hours 45 women had signed up to attend. I thought, “huh? Where are we going to keep them?”

Our registration form!

At some point we had to close our registration form because we panicked! Then we opened it the next day for another 24 hours because I got inundated with emails. What a great problem to have!

I told my bestie Wumi and my sister Adaora about it; also spoke with Tolu Onile-Ere of PlayHouse Communications, my friend Blaze Otokpa of Blazing Images, etc; by this time I was looking for gifts for our fishbowl raffle. Tolu immediately said his organization would give us N20, 000 worth of data. Whoop! They were our first donors and a much-needed boost at a time when most people I’d spoken to had started disappointing me, stopped replying emails, that kind of thing. *Smile*

I was with my mom and sister in my sister’s office one day, almost pulling out my hair cos we didn’t have a venue. And then I thought, “I’ll just call Jackie Farris”. And I did, and soon as I mentioned what I wanted, she said, “sure, come have a look and tell me what room you want.” Boom! Tears of joy baby! They ended up giving us the gorgeous Exhibition Hall of the Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Center, and sound equipment too! Thank you!

My friend Nana paid the stipend for the photographer Blazing Images gave us for the day, and I’m so thankful to Nana, and to Blaze because we wouldn’t have been able to afford their services!

There were also people like Amplified Radio and HolyHill Church who livestreamed, Zahara Spa who gave us a voucher to give out, and every other group who gave us gifts to give away.

Let’s backtrack a bit now.

When by the third day of the link being out, we had over 90 people registered, it occurred to me that this was becoming a little bigger than I’d intended it to be. That meant I needed to think. We decided to build a site and get on social media formally, and here I must thank Dimgba Kalu of Learn Code who built us a pretty website in less than 72 hours. Check on it www.techherng.com. We’re on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram too.

Where was I? The day was glorious (there’s a roundup here) –  big thank you to my dad for flying my mom in and out of Abuja to support me, to my sister who ended up staying outside the hall to pack the refreshments we got into bags, to Wumi who kept calling to encourage me, to Fatu and Nana – you girls will rule the world I promise – thank you! And to God, who placed the idea in my heart, who keeps strengthening my team and opening doors, we’re so thankful!

Since then, we’ve started a Whatsapp group where we have periodic giveaways, vote on whether Chrome is better than Mozilla’s Firefox, share opportunities, interesting stuff! We also send out periodic newsletters.

What else? On Wednesdays, we profile women in technology who are doing great things, on Thursday we teach a tech-related topic across all our social media, and on Fridays we publicise female businesses across our social media.

TechHer is hinged on three things – support, learning, and collaboration; the idea is to enable whatever women are already doing via technology, and everyday we think of new ways to achieve that. We think of going beyond the call to get women into STEM and are focused on how to keep the ones who are here; how to help them be better at things they do.

We also have to events planned in Abuja this month of November. The first starts on the 17th of November (next week Tuesday), and is ten classes on coding. There’s an entire module prepared for that; please email hello@techherng.com if you’re interested. It’s free.

We also want to teach our women to design, develop, and manage their websites themselves. That’s on the 27th of November, and is also free. Please register here.

Also, we’re planning a TechHer event for Port Harcourt this December, which I am very excited (and worried) about. I know it will come to pass, despite the odds we seem to be facing now.

So, that’s where we are, what we’re doing, and what we plan to do! From a trickle to a roar! Are you female, curious about or working in technology? You should join us! We might come to your city next!

 

Another one bites the dust…

Posted: February 9, 2014 in DAY 2 DAY
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Cory Monteith. Michael Jackson. Whitney Houston. What two things do these names have in common? Fame/wealth. Undisputed access to tons and tons of money, acclaim, all that good stuff.

The second thing is illicit drugs/death. Whatever it is they snorted, smoked, injected or inhaled, it led to their death, and very early too. Cory Monteith was 31, Michael Jackson was 50. Talk about lives being cut short.

Exactly one week ago, when I heard Philip Seymour Hoffman had been found dead on the 2nd of February with a needle still stuck in his arm and heroin (a special type called ‘Ace of Spades’) in packets around him, I was sad, then angry, then sad, and angry all over again.

Sad – he died young, he was just 46. He was very popular too, an Oscar award winner, and recently starred in Hunger Games (which by the way I have never watched and don’t think I will ever see because I don’t like fight fight).

Angry – are there not enough examples to prove that drugs are a sure way to die early?

Sad – heartbroken for his family, his wife/partner and their three young children. His parents, and the stigma of being related to the person ‘who died with a needle in his arm’.

Angry – what on earth made him go back to drugs after 23 years of being drug free? Whatever could have entered him all over again? They say his drugs could have been laced with something else. Ok, but why take them in the first place? Why?

I’m sure I could go the sad and angry route a few more times, but I won’t.

Psychologists say anything you do for 30 days becomes a habit – this man had been drug free for at least 8280 days! Then according to a report I read, he started abusing prescription pills, graduated to heroin, and then on to this substance that took his life.

I chatted with someone recently, and he told me the amount of thanks and gratitude he got because he gave him a $5 tip. 5 dollars. Reports say just weeks ago the now late Seymour withdrew $1200 from an ATM to pay for these drugs. $1200 on drugs when the next man is almost throwing a party because he was gifted 5 bucks.

Here’s another reason why I am angry – a child is attracted by the flickering light of a candle, and they want to touch it. Most times we let them because we know once it hurts them that first time, they most likely will not go back to it again. ‘Most likely’ because children have the attention span of a goldfish! Bless them.

23 years after, did he forget? Did he become so wealthy that he felt that the drugs would ‘fear/respect his money’ and not harm him? What was he thinking? The Bible says that the things that are written are unto us for examples.

Just like I wrote the ‘learn from it, don’t be it‘ post when Cory Monteith died, I’m writing again  – say NO to drugs. Say No, and mean it so much that whoever asked you before will be convinced you are not interested. You shouldn’t even be friends with such people in the first place!

RIP Philip Seymour Hoffman.

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