Wednesday, January 6, 2016

What really happened? Date Rape of Zebra Crossing on Etisalat 2015 Flash Fiction - Toyin Ajao

Early in November 2015 Etisalat Prize for Literature released its approved 2015 Flash Fiction Short Story entries. It enabled the public through the social media to vote their preferred story after which the judges will select winners from the top voted stories.

The idea is to promote upcoming writers in Africa whose stories are unpublished. Three winners will receive the following prizes:
Winning Author
  • £1,000 cash prize.
  • High end device.
  • Published e-book promoted online and via SMS.
 Runners Up (2)
  • £500 cash prize (each)
  • High end device
Sounds very promising? There begins the exciting journey of friends rallying round ZebraCrossing, one of the entries on the Etisalat Flash Fiction. The author of this satiric piece that focused on poor service delivery, bad governance and people’s lackadaisical attitudes is Ajisafe Michael Oluwafemi.  He is a promising writer who maintains Flexing Essential Random Thoughts (FERT), an online page where his works are posted for his teeming readership. Ajisafe’s friends in Nigeria and Overseas rallied round his story creating an active support group. More than 10 friends reached over 500 online friends each to vote for Zebra Crossing. In 10 days, his story got over 3000 votes!

This is when the problem started. Etisalat prize displayed “bytes exhausted” message on his story link and the story was gone!  We contacted Etisalat to report this sudden “technical glitch”. No reply was received and neither was the story restored for another two days! When the story was finally back, we continued voting and sharing on social media resulting or over 1,900 shares on groups and individual pages (this was displayed on his link) not to mention the personal messages sent to friends. But the celebration was short lived when the story suddenly disappeared again on the same day.  Then voting closed shortly after on the 25th of November 2015. On the 28th of November, it was discovered that Zebra Crossing is totally gone from Etisalat’s webapage, replaced with “error 404” and  “this article not found” messages.

I had personally taken interest in all the 156 approved entries and voted some captivating stories alongside my friend’s entry. I know for a fact that we had the highest votes as at the time the story disappeared and I had taken screenshots of the voting details. The smartest move of the century!

Ajisafe's friends decided to contact Etisalat upon realising this new development. But our email was of course never replied. Then we decided to go on their Facebook page and on Twitter to expose this date rape experience of Zebra Crossing tagging their judges and patrons. Etisalat has initially shortlisted 50 top stories from entries that received over 2000 and less than 300 votes but the highest voted story at our last inventory was not among this list! Finally, after some 48 hours of unrelenting public outcry of many of us demanding to know what happened to Zebra Crossing on their 2015 Flash Fiction Category, Etisalat finally gave into our pressure. Etisalat replied and promised to look at the issue and give feedback. This is promising but I am not deterred to follow up. Thus, the issue did not rest there.

Etisalat thereby restored Zebra Crossing and one other story - that now made the first spot - making the list 52 instead of 50 and Zebra Crossing at number two. I looked through the updated list and I noticed another glitch.  Zebra Crossing vote history was gone and share history on Facebook and Twitter displayed zero! What? I quickly checked other stories and their votes and share history were intact! There ensued another circle of tweeting to ask why. Finally, Etisalat released a separate list showcasing the top 52 stories with voting details, authors names and stories titles. Informing the public @etisalatread that this is the list the judges are reviewing. While on their Etisalat Prize for Literature webpage, the votes and share history of all the shortlisted entries are removed.

I am a still baffled at these inconsistencies and Etisalat’s lack of transparency to tell us why in the first place we have to be having this conversation. A large telecommunication company like Etisalat cannot be having bytes issues at 3000+ votes. It sounds ridiculous and to take out a story that did well on its Flash Fiction category is suspicious to say the least.

I am therefore asking again for Etisalat to tell us the reason behind this unpleasant situation. Nobody has forced the company to give back to the society through African Literature promotion. It is a corporate responsibility that Etisalat has chosen and carrying on with this duty without hidden agenda or bias will be the way to go. If we had not had evidence to back up our claim that Etisalat is bias or has sabotaged a story, it would have gone noticed.

To put this matter to bed, it is desirable that Etisalat tells the Internet community what happened in the first place. What happened?

Toyin Ajao is a peace and conflict doctoral fellow and assistant lecturer at the University of Pretoria, South Africa. She is also an alumna of the African Leadership Centre, Nairobi, Kenya, King's College London, London, UK and Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria. Her research interests include human security, conflict transformation, citizen journalism, feminism, gender, and sexual rights.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Etisalat Prize for Literature Amended and Published the Top 52 #2015FlashFiction

Due to our public outcry on social media, Etisalat Prize for Literature has restored  #ZebraCrossing on its #2015FlashFiction category.  It is now at the top #2 after Etisalat released the list of its top 52;  now consisting of two apparently sabotaged stories! No explanation is given for why these two highly voted short stories disappeared!  Published on their Twitter  @etisalatreads is the list of the top #52 reflecting their voting details. I am at peace with that and I hope the list will be presented to the judges to make their final decision. I hope too that #ZebraCrossing wins!!!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Zebra Crossing Vote and Share History Deleted by EtisalatPrize

After the public outcry of many of us demanding to know what happened to the highest voted #ZebraCrossing #shortstory in the #2015FlastFiction of #EtisalatPrizeforLiterature, the story was restored. But the issue did not rest there.

The story was restored but in the exchange between #EtisalatPrize and me or through its twitter handle @etisalatreads, no tangible explanation was given on why a popular story on their page disappeared from the final top 50 list!

Something fishy is going on. I am convinced now because before the #ZebraCrossing #DateRape outcry, the top 50 stories have all the numbers of votes and their share aggregates on Facebook, Twitter and Google+. But now, the voting detail is gone!

The story is now 52. Meaning there is one other story affected in this #daterape. Now with no voting detail, how do the judges gauge the public receptions of these stories? Now what is left are details of Facebook, Twitter and Google+ shares. Every other story now has those details except #ZebraCrossing with its 1900+ Facebook, 35+ Twitter and 12+ Google shares as at the time of its disappearance.

This is becoming more interesting because it seems that EtisalatPrize deliberately sabotage #ZebraCrossing. But why?

Why has this continued even in their effort to right this wrong due to our public outcry? I ask EtisalatPrize to please be very transparent and trustworthy by displaying all the voting and share history of all the top 52 stories on the #2015FlashFiction.

Recent Display of Voting and Share History

Previous Display of Voting and Share History (second to last screenshot)

Etisalat Eliminated Zebra Crossing Highest Voted Short Story on Etisalat #2015FlashFiction

Dear Etisalat Prize for Literature Coordinator, 
we are reaching out again to seek clarification and justification for abruptly eliminating Zebra Crossing with the highest numbers of voters from the 2015 Flash Fiction Competition. Thus:

We, the undersigned demand to know from Etisalat Prize for Literature why Zebra Crossing by Ajisafe Michael Oluwafemi #2015FlashFiction short story link was displaying "error 404" and why with its highest votes of 3000+ did not make the 50 top stories just released yesterday! Stories that amassed 2000+ to 200+ votes made it but not Zebra Crossing! What happened?

Ajisafe Michael Oluwafemi is a promising writer who maintains Flexing Essential Random Thoughts (FERT); an online page where his works are posted for his teeming readership.

A number of us, his friends, were excited about his being shortlisted for the Etisalat prize and created a loose and active support team that shared the link to the story via social media, and encouraged friends to read Zebra Crossing and vote for it if they liked it. We were very excited to watch endorsements for Zebra Crossing grow, exceeding our expectations by amassing over 3,000 votes; the highest on the 2015 Flash Fiction Category! You must then understand our confusion when the article's link started responding with 'bytes were exhausted", "error 404" and "this article not found" messages. Now followed by a complete exclusion of this story in the top 50!!!

We've tried to contact Etisalat via emails and no response is received. Neither are we getting any response via Twitter nor Facebook.

The Etisalat Prize for Literature chose to include the online platform in its short stories decision but why disregard the wish of the same online platform by not reckoning with their votes? This is not about winning but about fairness and transparency!

We demand to know what is going on!!!

See screenshots of evidence for more that 3000+ and 1800 FB share.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

This is goodbye to my blog!

I don't know how I feel about this but it is for a good cause. I have decided to close this blog not because I have run out of ideas or I am no longer interested in women and social issues but I have to make a crucial decision. I still remain a blogger and an activist. But at this point in my life, I am transitioning into the academia. I started my PhD a few weeks ago at the university of Pretoria. I will be focusing on the roles of citizen journalism in conflict transformation in Zimbabwe, looking at public perceptions. I have a research work on the sexual minority discrimination and the draconian law passed recently in Nigeria to "jail the gays". I want to work on getting this published. Now,  I have three years of commitment to contribute to knowledge in the field of peace and conflict in Africa by taking a multidisciplinary approach and fill the dearth of knowledge in social media and conflict transformation. I will be lecturing too while at it.
This is a new and exciting journey that will require my consciousness, awareness and mindfulness on this quest. When I get a hang of this, I will fuse my activism with academia and I want to be a researcher and a lecturer with a difference. At least, in the next four years or so, I want to make meaning and continue to think of best approaches to finding sustainable solutions to human security challenges in Africa. I have nurtured and loved this blog for six years. I have met wonderful people, I have developed good friendship with amazing people and we have generated practical ideas of change together and to some, we have fought on principles and values. I have won two international awards with this very blog just writing from my heart. Also, two Naija blogger awards for best use of activism and most likely to become a talk show-host. I say thanks to you all for sticking with me; with my grammatical errors and outstanding contributions. Interview Thursday is a series that I will never forget as it was straight-forward honest opinions from the members of the Blogshere that I interviewed on serious issues and personal issues. I thank you all.

Check out my posts on feminism, women's rights, gender, equality, children rights, poems and my love for cats along side interview Thursday. You can also check out my contribution to Free2Run blog on women in political leadership. I will be back but perhaps in a new blog with combination of themes that will speak to my growth and development as well as love for what I continue to do. I love you all!

Friday, October 18, 2013

The Rainbow Intersection; Dialogue about Race, Culture and Sexuality

Please, do not miss this event if you are in the UK as Ade Adeniji and Bisi Alimi look at the issue of Race, Culture and Sexuality in this Black History Month event...

Saturday, October 5, 2013

RETHINKING AFRICA: Where is your Dignity (Omoluabi) Africans? By OBK

Where is your Dignity (Omoluabi) Africans?

Some Africans dislike that part of history that told how their fathers fell from grace to the grass to sandy soil For this, they shy away from debates. Africans that chose to degrade their fathers and make mockery of their Ancestors are like muddy waters, their vision are unclear, never afraid to analyze and engage them, you'll find out that they are shallow.

I also give kudos to the White man. Those that venture into athe unknown and became my fathers captors for a successful expedition. The battles that captured trade and commerce, culture and tradition and the image of God of my fathers. I Acknowledge it. This might be the only way to learn and detox yourself of hate against innocent White men. However, we can not learn alone how to socially integrate with the white communities without economy independence and development of our own communities and science to preserve our unique way of life.

Economy independence is the war we have to fight. Within our communities and against imperialism and economy enslavement by the western world. If we lose this battle, Africans would remain in slavery forever.

A wise man is always learning from his mistakes. If our ancestors were once a slave. It is your duty to know and learn from their error. So that what befell them will not be your portion. Beware of those who claimed your fore fathers worship lesser gods. Protect your household from your brothers that hides behind Christianity, Islam and Atheism to camouflage their self hate for everything African.

Any religion or ideology that teaches you that you are sons and daughters of savages. It is an oppressive tool or it is you that has misunderstood what it teaches.

Know this about your brothers who pride themselves on modernism and false platform of progress. They will tell you they don't have a race, that they are citizen of the world. But they are quick to flash their red and blue passport.Take Pictures in front of Buckingham palace and the Statue of Liberty. And proclaim their new citizenship.

When did the British stopped being a gentlemen due to the inter connectivity of the world through the World Wide Web (WWW)? When did American stopped being cowboys because of the sudden rise of China? Only African men and women wants to be everything else but an African. As if their African identity stopped them from been a resident of this earth.

To justify their anti African stands. They will quote white supremacist. That killed, raped and loot their inheritance. Why would an African want other Africans to accept the definition of Sir Lord Lugard of the Niger area people now called Nigerians today? How can African elders want wise young Africans with unlimited pride in their culture and tradition; take them seriously if they continue to use the description of P.W. Botha to qualify Africans?

Why is the so called African elite, would even attempt to defend such description of Africans? Why do we allow the world to call us the, 'third world?" When our natural resources developed everywhere else but Africa. Why do we pride ourself how well we have adapted to foreign cultures but not how well we have developed and evolved culturally and scientifically? Only a crab rejoices about the size of his stomach and buttocks, looks at everything with humongous pair of eyeball's but without a head.

If the eyes are well rested, one would see the tip ones nose. To you, the Monkey might look ugly, but that is the jewel in the eyes of the Monkeys mother. When push comes to shove. The world has a name for you. It does not matter the color of your passport or your present citizenship.
The world is not blind or ignorant about where you came from. Why is it so difficult for you to accept that fact?

I would not lie to you it has not been easy. At the same time I love me for me. I am a Yoruba African. A Yorubian by birth from Oyo Ile. I have no problem accepting every good and bad of my people. I have no shame in telling you the greatness of my ancestors. And part of my culture and tradition I wished never existed. Why would you think I should be furious when you call me, "Afrocentric?" It could be the same reason why Europeans are Eurocentric. Just saying.

Even if you find me across the Atlantic Ocean. I would not change but grow old and frail into a better 'Omoluabi.' Don't get me wrong. Africa can not survive in isolation. At the same time, Africans can not be respected in this modern world as a perfect caricature others. We have to stop believing in the independence of Africa that was documented and thought in our schools. In reality, Africa is still a plantation. She can never be free until you liberate yourself from the invisible shackles of economy slavery.

Odua Balogun Kakanfo (OBK).
My Passion, my focus, the change that I want to see in the world - is my propellent factor.

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