Thursday, July 30, 2009

Interview Thursday: "Nigeria is an endlessly fascinating country - perhaps the most diverse country on the planet in terms of languages alone" Jeremy

Jeremy Weate is a blogger and a consultant. His blog is dedicated to Nigerian issues, though not a Nigerian which he would have become by marriage if there is no discrimination against Nigerian women giving citizenship to their husbands, he is passionate about Nigeria and its development. Welcome on Interview Thursday Jeremy.

Can you give “Interview Thursday" a glimpse into your background?
I am from a small village near Birmingham. I studied philosophy and have a PhD from the University of Warwick. I have been consulting for the past twelve years and spent the last six living in Nigeria with my partner.

What inspires you to write about Nigeria as your blog name is "Naija blog"?
When I started my blog, there were not many Nigerian blogs around so the first name that came to my head was naijablog. I thought it might be interesting to write a diary of my time living in Nigeria. I never thought that anyone would bother reading it.

What do you think of Nigeria as a Nation?
Nigeria is an endlessly fascinating country - perhaps the most diverse country on the planet in terms of languages alone. It has the potential to lead Africa and redefine the continent's role globally. It has yet to live up to that potential.

Niger Delta crisis has being a recurrent decima, do you think the new step by the federal government in granting amnesty to the militants will help solve the problem?
No. But its a good first step.

What do you see as the lasting solution to the Niger Delta crisis?
The Niger Delta will remain a troubled area until there is infrastructure and jobs and oil bunkering is no longer possible. Without all of those three elements in place, the area will remain restive.

Do you think Nigeria changing and having selfless leaders in all quarters in the next political dispensation?
I don't see good leadership emerging. However, as with the last two to three years of Obj's second term, there is a competent group of technocrats emerging now - specifically the Finance Minister, the new CBN governor and the DG of the Budget Office. There is hope that the financial management of the nation's economy is in good hands. However, too many people in leadership positions in Nigeria are driven by greed, by ego and by a lack of ethics, sadly.

Has Jeremy come to stay permanently in Nigeria?
Nigerian women marrying foreigners cannot grant citizenship (unlike Nigerian men marrying foreign women), so it’s not easy for a foreigner to settle permanently. However, Nigeria is in my blood. I have a Nigerian family - my wife, mother-in-law, sisters-in-law and many good Nigerian friends. In at least a metaphorical sense, I will never leave Nigeria.

Can you mention 5 things to admire about Nigeria [ns] and the other 5 you wish will change?
5 things to admire:
1. Nigeria's historical cultures - the power and depth of the culture I am most familiar with - the Yoruba - never ceases to hold my awe and respect, and the mystery of the Nok civilisation and what exactly Sungbo Eredo was all about..
2. The landscapes of Nigeria - from tropical forest to savannah and sahel - Nigeria has a fantastic range of environments and many undiscovered places, such as the tallest mountain - Gangirwal (the mountain of death) - which we climbed a year or so ago.
3. The can-do spirit of the people. Many Nigerians hustle a living without power or water and still manage to make something of their lives.
4. Fela. Fela is a major draw for foreigners interested in Nigeria. Despite his flaws, he will always be admired for his revolutionary spirit, inspiring music and sexy dancers.
5. The Nigerian Diaspora around the world is showing what Nigerians can do in the proverbial 'enabling environment'. Some of the most interesting cultural output (literature, music, art) is being generated by Nigerians away from home.
5 things to change:
1. The obvious stuff must come first. Think what Nigeria could do if only there were more electricity! Ditto for water, roads etc. Nigeria should look to one of its greatest assets - the sunshine - for smart-grid power solutions. A key immediate issue is to sort out the refineries and then end the fuel subsidy (in that order). Sorting out the refineries means letting the private sector in for full ownership and management
2. Agricultural and industrial development. Before the oil came, Nigeria's economy was based on a regional balance of groundnuts, palm oil, rubber and cocoa. Key here is to ensure that value-added product refinement takes place in country, rather than raw materials being exported overseas as basic commodities with low value. Beyond agriculture, Nigeria needs to redevelop key industry sectors, such as financial services, textiles, IT. There needs to be a clear policy to roll out affordable broadband internet across the country once WACS and Main1 submarine cables get hooked up to Nigeria next year.
3. Investment in education. The education system in Nigeria has collapsed, and the government continues to place a low-budgetary priority on funding it (less than 2% of govt expenditure in this years budget). Compare and contrast with other African countries, such as Ghana, which spends between 15 and 20% of its annual budget on education. The situation in the North is dire if you look at the statistics.
4. Outside of all this development stuff, the issue is leadership. There is way too much oga-syndrome on every level - leaders who do not delegate authority, take courageous decisions and indulge in nepotism rather than resist patronage pressures. Nigerian organisations are often a triumph of ego over process. This has to change if organisational dysfunction is to be avoided.
5. A re-assessment of the pre-colonial past of Nigeria. So much has been de-valued and confused in the rush to adopt Western belief systems and values.

Thanks for your time ad these wonderful insights!
Thanks - I enjoyed answering these questions!


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The blogHer worthy Experience- My Chicago Trip

Hey peeps, I missed you all and I am sorry for my inability to do my blog rounds for now. I got back yesterday from the life changing 2009 BlogHer conference in Chicago. I was gone for 6 days out of which 4 of those days were spent flying! This happened as I mentioned that I would be flying to Kenya again.


It's kinda painful that I have to cut short my trip and no visit to my friends in the states but I met the tall, pretty and strong Tigeress. Even though our meeting was short, it was worth it. Nice to meet you girl...

The blogher conference was a great experience for me, it was my first time in the United State of America and it was an enthralling experience meeting change makers, the makers of change makers, those wonderful women that know the importance of living a fulfilling and happy lives while helping others to achieve the same. It was indeed a blessing to meet the BlogHer founders; the 3 Super women that concieved and gave birth to BlogHer.com. It's being 5 industrious and rewarding years for Elisa Camahort Page, Jory Des Jardins and Lisa Stone for bringing together community of women who blog, for making others grow and for creating incredible opportunities for others.

I was delighted to finally meet the other awesome International Activists, Cristina from Bolivia, Pilirani from Malawi and Annie from India. It was even of a greater inspiration at our session when listening to these women speak, when feeling all the changes they are making, when listening to how similar some of our stories are.


I leave for Nairobi tonight. Inside of me is more determination to do more and make more contributions to the world...

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Interview Thursday: "The movie Roots gave insight to blacks around the world into what it meant to have been kidnapped, sold" Ms. Catwalq

She is so talented that she gathered some of blogsphere talented writers together to participate in the stories on 14thandserenity blog. I am impatiently waiting for thise damsel first movie as I believe she will go places and make a lot of differences in the movie industry. I present Ms. Catwalq!

You are a movie critic, where do you get this desire from?

I am not sure I would call myself a critic. I am an aspiring filmmaker and because I have no formal training, what I know about film and filmmaking is from watching others, selecting what elements I like and what elements I don't.

You are into productions, can you give us some details of what your work entails?
Bani Productions, is still in the development stages. It is intended to be a production company with projects for stage, television and cinema.

What can you say about Nollywood?
A lot and not much at all. I don't work within the industry so I am not that much of an authority on how it runs as a business machine or as an artistic medium. The industry's development and growth mirrors in so many ways the way things are in the country. Survival is the motivating factor, no one can afford to have artistic flair unless they can figure out how to make it commercially viable. I believe that to crack the Nollywood code, its mechanisms will have to be rewritten to suit your project's needs. The ideas that I have don't currently have a place in the market, so I am going to have to create a market of my own. Because Nollywood is still building its structure, there is opportunity for this to happen as long as one is willing to put in the work.
Do you see yourself producing movies in Nigeria any time soon?
Of course...why do you think I do what I do? Just wait...a little bit longer....

How will you be able to change the face of Nigeria Movie Industries, espcially with their discriminatory stories of women?
There are discriminatory stories about women because women who know otherwise are not doing anything about it. If you read my blogs, I am sure you would have deciphered where I stand on women's issues and rights. The only way to change the way things are viewed will be to put out an alternate view. I also realise that I will not only be working to change the outlook of the men but most especially the women. Go to any of the popular blogs written by Nigerian women, assess the material and the responses of the female commenters and if you don't break your ribs laughing, you will most likely develop a depression-induced headache.
All I plan to do is offer an alternate point of view. I know that I am not the only female that thinks the way that I do and so, my stories are and will be for those who either think like me, would like something else to think about or are trying to figure out what kinds of thoughts to have.
You are the originator of 14thanserenity, do you intend writing books, novels in the future?
The funny thing is that I started blogging because my first manuscript was rejected by every agent I sent it to. Having been blogging for four years, I do see that it was a ridiculous effort and have since honed other writing skills. I am working on alot of projects, so we shall see.

What can we expect from you in the creative business in the next 5 years?
Whatever is allowed to happen. I am taking each day as it comes but I intend for Bani Productions to be a much more recognisable name.

Are there any female writer or actor that have inspired or impressed you with their work?
I have been inspired by many different people over the years and the list is evolving as my tastes and skills are evolving. When I was little, I tried to write like Enid Blyton because that was what I read alot of. Then when I was in my early teens, it was Judith Mcnaught, Amanda Quick and a host of other female romance writers because that was what I read alot of. Alot of female bloggers have also entertained me and influenced my work: Waffarian, Allied, Jola Naibi, Wordsbody, to name a few This is not to say I read exclusively stories by women but your question only asked about the females. With film, I like many actresses from around the world. If I were to start naming them, I would have to go by country and that would take me a long time. I follow the director's more, since that is my destination. I would like to be able to make the hard hitting, controversial movies like Deepak Mehta, presented with the visual spectacle and seduction of Mira Nair and relevant like Amaka Igwe.
Do you think film is a powerful instrument in changing mentality and addressing social issues.
Film is probably the most powerful instrument there is. The movie " Birth of a Nation" was a powerful instrument for presenting the black man as an animal to be reigned in by the Klu Klux Klan and the latter as a respectable organisation whose goal was the preservation of America way of life. Most especially it depicted the white woman as a thing to be protected from the amorous and unwanted advances of the Negro. Till today, the idea still persists that the white woman is a thing of coveted beauty. You can google the KKK for stories of what they have perpetrated, the Jim Crow laws and what blacks have had to endure in the United States. The movie Roots gave insight to blacks around the world into what it meant to have been kidnapped, sold and transported into slavery for the African. Coming To America, gave the African American the belief that their history was one descended from a monarchy. Film is a visual representation of a story and most people believe what they see. Before, Jenifa, most people were not saying, "I gats to be bigs" but now they are. Most people still refer to the actor's Ego Boyo and Bimbo Manuel as Anne Hastrup and Nduka, respectively. Why? Because those are the characters they played on the tv series, Checkmate. And most likely, no one knows the names of Yoruba film actors and actresses because they go by the name of the character that launched their career. So when someone argues that we don't need movies for more than pure entertainment, I chuckle at their naivete. How do they not realise that many aspects of their lives are influenced by what they see enacted on screen.Most people expect certain actions and reactions because they have seen it on screen. The X men don't exist (or at least, that is what I am told) but if I were to say mutant, you would know what to imagine. With film, you present a "reality" and that is always the first step to asking the questions that make a change.
Any advice or suggestion on how to have more vitual images to address social issues?
I think when I start doing so, I will be better able to answer this question. For today, I have my blog, my folders on my computer and my ever creative mind.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Chicago and Kenya Marathon


I am beginning the marathon tonight as I leave for Chicago for the so much planned for and awaited BlogHer conference where I will be speaking as one of the International Activists Scholarship winners.

I had looked forward to an week extra in Chicago but this has being cut short as I am leaving immediately after the conference for an interview in Kenya. This face to face Interview in Nairobi will finalise my participation at the 2009/2010 Peace and Security for African Women Fellowship that start in London in October of this year.




I have got a lot to prepare for within the little time at my disposal as I will have to be back for the 2nd Girls' Technology Camp for secondary school students, a program of Women's Technology Empowerement Centre which will take place in August. I look forward to this empowering camp for girls.

So, my bags are ready but my dollars not, let me hurry and finalise everything.... Will miss you all but I am with you all. I will try and update at the conference but if not, I shall give you all the necessary update when I am back. Wish me luck and safest trip!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Varieties; mothers of diversity: A blog Review

This is a review of blogs submitted to Nigerianstalk by Standtall. Enjoy.

Blogsphere has provided a great opportunity for all of us to bring to the table, different views, ideas, projects or passion. It is a wonderful thing to get here and see different bloggers talking about what they are passionate about. The change they wish to see, the fun they want to transfer to others, the problems they want resolved, entertainment, and music…

Blogging has blessed me in so many ways; it has helped me discover talents, change makers, and it also helped me to be updated on what is going on around the world. Some of the bloggers that I read theirs posts regularly are doing enormous job of transforming the blogsphere which in effect will affect the world at large.

Sokari is a publisher at http://www.blacklooks.org/ , visit to her blogs clearly tells you this is an activist and she is good at what she does. She is a human right fighter without discrimination in her purpose, she believes the right of the LGTBI people, children rights and women’s rights should be respected and promoted. She relentlessly talks about the need for African development with a strong focus on Nigeria.

Naija Blog is one informative blog I like to visit as he exudes the confidence of someone that is current and have a lot to say about what is going on especially in Nigeria; it was shocking to discover that the owner of the blog is white. There always up to date information about political situations in Nigeria, Art and Culture, event promotion and any other contemporary issues.

Vera Ezimora who recently started a “talk radio” is a lady I admire her work. She talks about her personal life; she brings to the table her day to day experience in a less serious way and with a dramatic tone. She is a darling of a lot of bloggers with nothing less than 50 comments per post and series of phone calls from other bloggers to her. This is a lady that will turn tragedy to comic in a way that it will not lose it true meaning but you wont feel so bad reading it. She is gifted, she is truly Nigerian and she is someone I am proud of her work.

Solomonsydelle runs 2 blogs, one focuses on her family life as a mother of 3 and she uses the blog to seek advice for people that are in one fix or the other. She calls the advice column “Talk To The Easier Crew- TTTEC” Her second blog focuses on development issues mostly from Nigeria aspect; she brings development update on political issues in Nigeria, Leadership, Niger Delta crisis etc. Her Nigeriancuriosity blog has bring in the top 10 for a long time on Afrigator while her solomonsydelle blog still tops 20.

Sugarbelly: this is an entrepreneur, she owns her t-shirt lines and her blog talks about different issues that might be considered controversial but very relevant. She defends Nigeria where necessary, she critics where necessary and she is not afraid to speak her mind. I love the confidence of this blogger and her bold ways.

Linda Ikeji’s blog just like Bella Naija's blog is a total package, you find undiluted and detailed information on entertainment, fashion and other contemporary issues on her blog. I often wonder if she leaves on the internet as I can’t beat the rate at which she gathers information and shares it.

Freeflowingflorida [FFF] started another blog this year, the focus of her new blog is to invite contributors that can share their life experience with others. Different stories had being told on the varied experience of the pregnant women from the horse mouth. You will be struck with what is being like to have a new life growing inside you, the pain, the joy and all. I love this initiative of hers. With time as I believe, there will be more personal experiences that are in no way related to pregnancy to be shared at her new blog.

Ore is an old blogger like Sokari, Solomonsydelle and Naija blog, what fascinate me about her blog is the dynamic way she blends art, natural hair, feminism with her moving back to Nigeria experience. Her tips and curiosity about natural hair and who else keeps it in Nigeria is a catch.

Ms. Catwalq is a film critic and producer. She often does a review of movies in one of her 2 blogs, discovering new films to get down with or the ones not to waste time with, makes visiting her blog interesting. She was one of the fiction writers at 14thandserenity.

I am usually fascinated by the inspiration I get from Aloted, Jaycee , Rita and Writefreak. These 4 blogs make you want to love God, they make you want to bask in His glory at all time.

What makes all these blogs unique is the fact that their focuses vary and it helps in having different things to read, the flavour it brings, the dimension of it all makes me want to click these blogs and get their updates.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

IT'S OUR ANNIVERSARY




Just taking a moment to say a happy anniversary to Standtall and Husband. It's being 2 years of friendship, companionship, partnership and love. Happy anniversary dude! Let's dance to friendship.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Interview Thursday: "The makoko project was just to shed light on the living conditions of some people in Lagos State" - Linda Ikeji

When you get to this damsel's blog you are filled with contemporary and entertainment issues. She is an ex-model and entrepreneur. This tough, determined and intellgient woman is going places and I have no doubt that she will make a huge difference in the world. Linda Ikeji, the brave, shares with us on Interview Thursday about her passion for development and entrepreneurship.
Who is Linda Ikeji?
Linda Ikeji is a 28yr old ex model and entrepreneur. I am from Owerri, Imo Sate, from a family of seven children, the second born child. I read English at the University of Lagos, where I graduated in 05. I started modeling in 1998 and quit actively in 2005 after which I started my own business

As a blogger, what do you really wish to achieve via your blog?
What I wish to achieve with my blog is to impact on people’s lives positively. I want people to read my blog and say “I learnt a valuable lesson on her blog”. Not just from what I write but from the comments other readers drop on various issues. I want to create a fun,
exciting, learning place, where people can escape to. A place where they believe they can get the latest news and info.

You blog about women’s related issues in a way that help relate what is going on in the life of women both negative and positive, what inspire this?
I am a woman, I have women friends. We talk about issues that concern us, because it helps us understand ourselves and problems better. So whenever these issues arise, I take it to my blog to get more views, knowing full well that a lot of women can relate to and learn from such discussions.

Are you a feminist and women’s rights defender?
Yes I am. I believe in the equal rights and legal protection for women. And one day I hope to be actively involved in activism.

What can you say about women’s rights issues in Nigeria?
I think it’s better now than it was in the past. Though there are some areas where we still hope for more changes, the northern areas especially. Statistics show that child marriages have decreased and lack of girl education has increased. Mostly because of the light that
was thrown upon many years ago. There are more women in politics now than ever before. Women are heading very serious and delicate positions and doing a very good job of it. Women are speaking out now and fighting for their right which is a great thing.

You started or you are part of Makoko project, can you tell us what this project is all about?
The makoko project was just to shed light on the living conditions of some people in Lagos State, hoping that the government will do something about it. We did that story for my magazine FM&B, and most people who have seen it so far want to help. We are still working on how to help these people, because they need help.


What is the key achievement of Makoko project thus far?
Sincerely we haven’t achieved anything yet. The only thing we’ve managed to do is shed light on their plight. We are hoping something positive comes out from it. And we are still strategising...looking for ways to impact on their lives.

You recently started a tee-line with positive inspirational message written on them, who do come by this initiative?
I love inspirational words. I live by them; they encourage, inspire and motivate me. And I’ve always loved to help people with words, especially when they feel they’ve failed in life. I use inspirational words on my blog, my magazine, on facebook; still I felt I needed to
spread it more. It then occurred to me that tops and t-shirts can adequately serve as a medium to promote these positive words. So I came up with my range of t-shirts called i-tees. The aim really is to inspire people with words. Words are powerful; I’m just hoping that words people read on these tees will make a tiny difference.

How can one get the t-shirts to buy?
For now it’s strictly home and office deliveries. We are working on getting our own stores. The tops are N2, 500 only.

Apart from being a model, a blogger, and a business owner, what other adventure and business you do run and how do you rest?
I run a modeling agency, I choreograph beauty pageants and co-ordinate fashion shows. I rest a lot at weekends...I watch movies, read books and hang out with my siblings

What can we expect from this fabulous, braining, independent woman in the next 5 years?
In five years, I want to be married with kids. My magazine, t-shirt line and Indian attires will be household names. I hope to also be on TV, currently working on that.

Any advice for youth, women, men and especially young girls out there?
Keep working, don’t give up on your dreams no matter how difficult it seems. Believe in yourself and your dreams. Don’t listen too much to negative comments. Do everything you want to do and don’t care how you look doing it or who disapproves. Work hard, be dedicated to your
job, be nice to people, don’t create enemies, it serves no purpose. And above all, go to God whenever you’re confused and need guidance. Prayer is the key.

N.B: All Images were taking from Linda's Blog.

Monday, July 13, 2009

13 going on 31

It's my birthday, it's also Downtheaisle, Wole Soyinka, 2 of my god sons, my friend Ayo and my older Friend Sherifat's birthday! I say happy birthday to us all. Your girl, Standtall is a July 13 baby and she is going on 31, yay she is already is but she feels like a very matured 13 year old.


10 years ago, I was preparing for my 21st birthday at Obafemi Awolowo University but I had it ruined when the cult guys struck. The school was thrown into pandemonium 3 days before and it lasted all year as we never got over the killings. It was to be the only one celebrated for me in that manner as I was the chairperson of Mozambique Hall and my friends and well wishers wanted this to happen but it never did.


The journey to this stage of my life has being worth it, though I would have wanted some things to be different, I just give glory to God for everthing. I am happy that I am, in my own way contributing to a better and changed world. Off I go to Muson Centre for Wole Soyinka's programme. May be I can meet him this year, this is being my dream for over 5 years. LG: Happy birthday in advance, tomorrow is your day and I want you to enjoy every bit of it and remember what you owe me! Downtheaisle: where is the party at? Have fun my lady!

Friday, July 10, 2009

In memory of the O.A.U 5: It's being 10 years!

10 years ago at Obafemi Awolowo University we woke up as we normally did and were ready to go about our various business for the day. Our daily routine include attending lectures, facing one struggle or the other, fighting for the rights of students, studying, gisting with friends or just do "God knows what" in harmless ways. But the night of this day, this very day was different, we anticipated seeing corner lovers, hanging out in different spots, reading, sleeping but what we never anticipated was waking up to find out that the whole school had changed.

We never anticipated that our sleep or other midnight activities would be interrupted but oh it was! The cult devils struck! They were sent to school by their parents or guardians for a better future but they were more interested in demonic activities than that which their parents intended. They came calling in our cult-free but full of students' unionism, activism school.

They did not leave without leaving a terrible mark. They killed us, they killed our promising, brilliant, inoccent students. The terminated prematurely the lives of George Yemi Iwilade a.k.a Africa ( Secretary General of the union at the time), Tunde Oke- Africa's roomate and follower, Yemi Ajiteru [ an extra year student], Eviano Kelemu { a medical student} and Efe Ekpede( that was sleeping and not aware of any trouble). Yes, they did this! They killed our students and plunged us into sorrow and darkness.

10 years had gone by but it felt like yesterday, the memory of that midnight, the memory of what the cult boys robbed us of has never left our memories. I still wished it was a Nollywood movie or some joke but it's being 10 years of reality and reminiscence.
Your murderers were never caught nor punished. The case dragged on and was never resolved but one thing is sure, Karma is just at the door of those that could not give live but are delighted in taking it. They have got destruction waiting at every corner they turn but to you, the O.A.U 5; I say CONTINUE TO REST IN PERFECT PEACE. You are missed GEORGE, TUNDE, YEMI, EVIANO AND EFE.

For further reading on the attack click on this post by Lolade Adewuyi.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

IN JUST A DAY

My heart pounded so much I felt it would burst.
My ears flip flapping like my cats' in anticipation.
I lost all concentrations, in just a day for a news
I thought would come.
Good or bad I needed so anxiously to hear.
I waited from dawn to but it did not come.

In just a day, I waited so much to hear my phone ring,
it did ring many times too many but not from the caller
I so much awaited.

A lot could change in a day,
a lot could be lost or gain in a day,
But finally I was relieved, when the news came.
It was good in did and now I know where I stand.

I was inspired to write this poem after waiting impatiently all day yesterday for a news regarding the Peace and Security fellowship for African Women that I was short listed for.
I wanted to know if I made it to the last stage of the interview that will be conducted in Kenya.
I waited all day but the news came and I did make it! I will have to cut short my Chicago trip for Nairobi. I will give you all the details later. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

"I am Aunty Mary"

Are you in anyway familiar with the argument of "we need not westernize this or that, we need to know we are Africans". And with all the talk of ' not westernizing' this or that, I realise that a lot of us are comfortable with the idea of getting respect at all cost by having people add either "brother, sister, aunty, uncle, Mrs, Mr, Dr, Chief" to our names and failure to do so make those people disrespectful to us.

I am really wondering how we would be addressing ourselves if we really stick to our own very languages be it Hausa, Igbo or Yoruba to mention a few. Are will still going to find prefixes like "sister, brother...." to add to the names of people that are considered to be older than we are when we address them? Haven't "brother' sister, uncle, aunty' lose thier true meaning? A niece of mine whom I called "aunty Kemi" because she is older came to Nigeria for her wedding in 2001, she came with her white friends and one of them was confused and had to ask " Kemi, this is a huge family, are all these people your relatives?". Unfortunately, none of those people were related in anyway but the norm, that it was carried the day. 

I once asked a woman what her name was after I told her my first name, she replied by telling me that her name was "aunty Mary". Then again another woman, who told me her name was " Mama Funmi" What?! So here is the thing, we have, a long time ago thrown the real meaning of those nouns/appellations used as prefixes into the stream and we use them the way we deem fit as a mark of honour and respect for people that are older than us. But I still wonder in Nigeria with different ethnic groups, howelse could we have addressed those older than us if "brother or sister" isn't borrowed or misused? Could we have communicated without the discord of who is disrespecting who or without pointing out who is older than who because of a mere prefix?  

The issue of adding "aunty, uncle , brother, sister" to a name often course a big problem in western part of Nigeria because anyone that is a year or 2 older than you must have some sort of appellations added to their names and failure to do so means you are disrespectful. This is even extended to marriage whereby you can't call your husband by his first name but he can call you by yours! And if you dare {well not in my marriage} to do so infront of his relatives, you are ready to learn some lesssons. Seriously, is this what respect is all about? I think is the way you address people when you talk to them by not making your tone rude or your body language arrogant that matters but not by what you add infront of their names. It's so bad that some kids don't even know thier parents first names than the fact that they are just "daddy and mummy". Are we not exagerrating everything here? 

I nearly got into that madness of people adding "aunty" or "sister" to my name before, thank God for logic and objectivity, I don't think that is how I am respected. I am respected by respecting others. I am respected by knowing how to talk and how to compose myself. But seriously, does the norm of people add "aunty", "uncle", "Brother", "sister" or you forcing them to do so worth the hazzle? 
Good Nite Michael!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Chicago here she comes for 2009 BlogHer Conference.

Early this year, Archiwiz alongside other fatanstic bloggers nominated me for BlogHer International Activists Scholarship and I was chosen! It felt good to know that one's work/contribution is appreciated and recognised. And I am grateful to those who nominated me. Yes, I am.

The conference will take place in Chicago, Illinois this Month from July 23rd to 26th to be precise and all arrangement has being made for my trip by BlogHer team. Standtall has the privilege of visiting the United State of America for the first time and with a 2 year business visa.

I will have the opportunity of meeting 4 other female activists from Bolivia, Bahrain, India and Malawi respectively. I am so excited to have my work and passion listened to and questions asked while I will be able to learn from other activists and hope for future collaborations. I am preparing and hoping for this conference to have an unforgettable impact on me.

Here is a few information as posted on BlogHer webpage on the activists that will be participating in this huge and famous conference with me:

Pilirani Semu-Banda, Malawi, publisher at http://pilirani.blogspot.com
Blog Mission: According to Pilirani's nominator, this blog's mission is: "To bring awareness and change to Malawi's social and economical problems. Some development projects have been kick-started based on stories published on the blog, including the improvement of monitoring programs to get rid of child labour in the tobacco industry and an increase of treatment to women suffering from fistula."

Annie Zaidi, India, publisher at http://www.anniezaidi.com
Blog Mission: The self-stated mission of this blog is "to use writing to force people to rethink positions or examine established ideas, and to break stereotypes about certain communities or groups based on gender, religion or race. It takes, by and large, a non-judgmental stance on most issues, and it seeks to raise questions as part of a genuine attempt at understanding human society and its structures. This is a crucial aspect of journalism, but an aspect that is increasingly overshadowed by the necessity of creating drama around each piece of news, and the mad scramble for exclusivity and one-upmanship between media organisations."

Cristina Quisbert, Bolivia, publisher at http://boliviaon.blogspot.com
Blog Mission: According to Cristina's nominator: "The mission of this blog is to strive to show indigenous communities as a source of pride. There are a lot of misconceptions about indigenous people, and Cristina shows a more personal side and uses her own voice to represent other members of indigenous communities in the Bolivian Altiplano. Cristina is a bridge blogger, allowing fellow Bolivians who may not identify themselves as a member of an indgenous community, to interact and learn about indigenous communities in another region of the country. By also writing a blog in English, she is able to reach a much wider audience and show another side of life in El Alto, Bolivia."

Esra'a Alshafei Bahrain, publisher at www.mideastyouth.com will not be attending for this year again as she had other engagement which should could not but attend to hence her inability to attend the conference. She might attend next year.
On to something else, my blog featured in Tell Magazine and the article was written by Lolade Adewuyi. I was informed by a friend a week after the article was written by a friend. Thank God I found it online. The journalist though a blogger himself did not mention he wrote about my blog. Thanks for finding my blog news worthy Lolade.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Interview Thursday:"No one tried to help me when I was raped.I tried to reach out to my best friend at the time but she completely backed off"- Adaeze

She is poised and elegant with a dream of making a huge impact in her generation. Her rape experience did not deter her from thinking and believing in herself and in others, though traumatized, she has heaed. I am happy to have Admirable Adaeze share with us on "Interview Thursday"
Tell us about your origin and your love for Nigeria.
My origin is complicated, to say the least. There are so many mixes in there that I can’t keep track.I have Jewish, Hispanic, French and Scandinavian blood in me to name a few. I grew up in Norway, my mother grew up in the US, Netherlands, France and England, and we always travelled a lot. I’ve always been viewed as a foreigner wherever I go. People can never determine where I’m really from and I've gotten the weirdest suggestions..some people think I'm carribean, others think I'm brazilian, others think I'm arab, lol. I believe all my experiences and the fact I do not have a single place to call “home”, has given me a unique perspective on culture and nationality.
I’ve learnt how to view people for who they are and never let religion and nationality cloud my judgement. I think it’s also made me very open-minded and humble. I tend to see people’s common ground rather than their differences and I am always everyone’s conflict-solver. Where other people see problems I see possibilities. My love for Nigeria stems from the fact that I feel it is the first place I’ve ever stayed that really received me with open arms. I feel at home there and take it as my home now. Sure, there are downsides like there is in every country, but I have met so many loving, strong and amazing people. People are warm and alive and in touch. I love that. I can only pray that the political future of Nigeria is better than the past, so the full potential of her people can really be tapped into.

What is marriage to you?
Hmm.. Ideologically a marriage should be a journey between two individuals. They should both keep their individual identities but also have a third identity of "us". Being unified is incredibly important to me.
Marriage is not a perfect dance on roses, but a journey. It's about growing together in parallel curve. It's about respecting each other equally. It’s about rediscovering yourself on another level and learn from each other. Discover your weaknesses and strengths and know how to come strong where your spouse comes weak. No one is born with a built-in manual on how to succeed in a relationship. Life is never easy for anyone, but your marriage should be that safe haven where all the worst trouble goes away. Your spouse should be the person you want to come to whenever you get too tired to keep up the facade for everyone else. Marriage can be a journey of patience, but should be balanced with sense.

Though marriage, relationship and its expectations defer from culture to culture and some people feel respect is when you feel subservient to your spouse, do you agree with this and if not, what is respect to you?The way I interpret the word subservient my answer is no, I do not think subservience is equivalent to respect. To me subservience is abject obedience. My husband will never benefit from me lying to myself about my own opinions only to “agree” with his. Respect is a lot of things. There are many fine nuances. In marriage, respect is accepting that your spouse may not agree with you on absolutely everything. Respect is allowing your spouse to be themselves and do things they need to do for themselves even if you do not understand. All with sense of course. Respect is restraining and controlling yourself if you’re about to lose control out of frustration or anger. Respect is making something important to you just because it’s important to your spouse. Respect for your spouse is also respect for yourself.In my marriage I’ve found out that it has to do with standing my ground on things that are extremely important to me. If I didn’t do that, my husband would lose me. By losing me I mean, the woman he knows as his wife would no longer exist. He fell in love with my originality and individuality. I can’t bargain on my principles. However, this does not mean I will never let him “win”. If something is very important to him and I disagree, I’ll bail, as long as it doesn’t go against my core principles. I expect him to do the same. If not – my flexibility would be reduced. Luckily that’s never happened with me. If my man had opinions against my core principles we’d never get married in the first place, no be so? Respect is also about talking in a nice manner to one another even in the heat of an argument. True respect to me is also when you are willing to set your own views aside and honestly consider the other persons point of view.


Domestic violence is a big issue world over, though it's more prevalent in some countries than the other, what is your view about domestic violence?
Domestic violence is a problem that persists in all countries regardless of class, religion and ethnic borders. A common denominator is that statistically, chances are that most of the cases of domestic violence are not even recorded. It’s incredibly common. I think that it stems from a various number of problems. People don’t learn how to communicate well enough, especially men who are not used to talking about their feelings. Men without good role models (read: absent or violent fathers) but also women who never learnt their worth. I guess domestic abuse can also be more accepted in certain cultures and in these cases that acceptance is a huge contributor.


Do you think the victim, mostly women is to be blame for any kind of abuse they receive from their spouse?A woman is never to blame for abuse. Never. Although I completely understand why women end up staying with abusing spouses, unfortunately THEY are as adults responsible for choosing to stay in the relationship. It’s their job to be strong and protect their children if they have to, and get away. I think unfortunately, sometimes women unknowingly enable men to be more violent because they show them no consequences for their actions. But every case of domestic abuse is different. It’s not always a woman CAN do anything at all. I know what it’s like to be afraid of a man and I do not blame women for being too terrified. I think it’s impossible to give one straight answer to this question. Sometimes women need to stop kidding themselves and stand up, other times they are left powerless. That is why we need to fight this in all local communities


What are ways to prevent domestic violence?First: DISCLOSURE. We all need to talk about it. Secondly, we need to bring the men into the discussion. Women need to stop discussing this alone. Men need to join the battle for their sisters, mothers and daughters and stop thinking that this is not their battle to fight just because they themselves aren’t abusive. We need to create a zero-tolerance for domestic abuse and make it less taboo for men to be open about their problems. I think abusing men coming out to talk about their issues could help others. We need to understand what’s going on within them too. This is where all our non-abusive brothers can help out. We need to create awareness and educate everyone on the terrible long term effects domestic abuse has on everyone in the family. We also need to do damage control on children who has lived/lives in abusive homes.


You are passionate about women's human rights, what steps are you taking to contribute your qoutas?So far I have not been able to do as much as I want to, but I am a young woman. I have plans for the future. When I finish my education and grow older I would like to start up a centre in Nigeria for abused women and their families. But I’d also like to work on disclosure as mentioned earlier. Work on a tactic to get men more involved. I think that will be harder because Nigeria as a whole is still such a male-dominated country. But we have to start from somewhere. My mother’s best friend has worked with violent men and rehabilitation for many years – I think I am going to ask her for advice! Another way I keep working on contributing with my quotas is motivating all women around me to know their rights and their worth. All of this can not be stressed enough.


There have being a lot of criticism on feminism work as well as the women's right defenders, do you think the movement is unnecessary that there is nothing to fight for?Absolutely not. The whole world, including all the “developed” countries still have a long way to go. I have been privileged to grow up in a country with a huge focus on equality. Still, here we have problems to fix. We need more equal salary, we need more respect for a woman’s wish to have a family and not let that result in any repercussions career- or job wise. More importantly, other parts of the world have a long way to go in recognising women's rights. Women deserve to not be viewed as only a vessel to carry children into the world. I say this because I know even today, a woman who for example is infertile will be looked down upon. Her husband might go and find another woman to bear children. I don’t think this is right. It’s hard enough for a woman to suffer the loss of fertility. Women also need to become more dominant in leaderships positions both politically and on the private market so that they can fight for better practices and laws concerning women’s rights.


What does culture mean to you?
Big question! Culture means to me…a pattern of belief and behaviour, a set of values and social practices, combined with language, music and art. It is incredibly important to maintain the wonderful diversity we have on earth. First of all, lack of diversity is boring. Secondly, we would probably lose some perspective as we would have no one to compare ourselves against. It’s important to have perspective so one can criticize aspects of culture that needs improvement. The dominant way is not always the best way. There are things I like about western culture, but western culture also lacks some very important features that for example a typical culture for a less developed country has. Examples of this are caring for the elders and family values. We all need to get off our high horse to learn from each other and get the best of both worlds. That is what I have always viewed my intercultural marriage to be- we get to take the best from each others cultures, blend them into one lovely mix.


In any cuture, do you think there are necessary things to keep or expunge, can you identify them?I think language is incredibly important to keep. . Language is important because language is the link to your culture and your forefathers. There are certain things that could only best be said in your own language. If we allow English language to completely dominate the entire world, their culture would take completely over (which it already has) and people lose part of their roots. When people lose their roots, they sometimes lose meaning as well. Imagine this; an Igbo family moves abroad – they don’t teach their kids Igbo and their kids don’t feel as strongly connected to their homeland as they should. When they in turn get kids – how connected will their kids be to the land of their grand-parents? Language is crucial when it comes to understanding.Any practice that doesn’t hurt anyone, I think should be kept. But old, traditional nonsensical ideas based on ignorance should of course be expunged. I think the challenge lies in combining renewal while at the same time maintaining culture. Examples of things that should be expunged is circumcision on women, marriage based on ethnicity/kinship, superstitious beliefs and practices (example ogbanje) etc etc. But there’s nothing wrong with masquerades and ancient tales being told to future generations, traditional marriage celebrations or other harmless traditions.


You recently posted a touching story of how you were raped at 14, did anyone try to help you get through the bitter experience?No one tried to help me. I tried to reach out to my best friend at the time but she completely backed off. But in everyone’s defence, there’s no how I could have gotten help because I was afraid to tell anyone. My mother, once she found out 2 years later, wanted to help but I was in so much distress at the time that I did not let her.

How can we help younger girls from getting raped?
Again, bring in the men. And bring in the women when it comes to taking responsibility in raising their children. I see so many girls getting kids for all the wrong reasons with the wrong men. They aren’t too stupid to see the man is never going to care. Often I see that they end up not caring either, however that is possible. I always look at the cute little boy and girl and wonder how they’ll end up. Every rapist has a mother and once used to be an innocent little boy. 

I am sorry you had to go through something so wicked, has this in anyway affected your feeling for men?It definitely has. I am quick to get scared. The other day my co-worker was dropping me off at the bus station, he took an alternate route and my mind started wondering if he was going to stop in some hidden area to do something to me. I felt so bad for thinking that because the man is totally innocent and good minded. For years it was easier to generalise and think everyone only wanted sex. That is still an impression I have because whenever someone hits me up it’s always about sex. It’s made me think that far more men than I thought are capable of rape. It’s made the relationship between my husband and I more difficult because of my fears and insecurities, because of my memories. It’s made me less of a dare-devil with the most trivial things like amusement parks. Anything that brings that tingly feeling of anxiousness I tend to stay away from. Mentally it’s been and still is a big battle for me to win. I used to be very confused before. The rules of my world had been turned upside down and I needed to find out again what is right and wrong. It’s easy to devalue yourself and start seeing yourself as what they see you as – just a piece of meat. But I thank God I never gave into that voice in the back of my head.
My Passion, my focus, the change that I want to see in the world - is my propellent factor.

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