Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Youths Around The World See Meagre Opportunities


“The youth bulge can become a security, economic and humanitarian worry, and even maybe a disaster, or it can become a resource for development and change.” — William Reese.

WASHINGTON, (IPS) - Although half the world’s population is under 25 years old, young people in more than two dozen countries feel that their opportunities for educational, economic and societal advancement are limited, according to new research released by IPS on Thursday.

Researchers say the results should help to drive and prioritise both public and private investment in services.

In order to assess the many factors that contribute to healthy lifestyles for youth, the International Youth Foundation (IYF) and the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), the latter a think tank, put together the Global Youth Wellbeing Index.

The index aggregates data from 30 countries, representing around 70 percent of the world’s youth population, and rates the wellbeing of youths in each country on a scale from zero to one.

“This is certainly … one of the biggest issues we’re dealing with in the world today,” Christopher Nassetta, the CEO of Hilton Worldwide, the index’s principle funder, said at the index’s launch.

“It hasn’t been an issue that really has been discussed around the world the way that, in my mind, it should be, in the sense of really getting governments, civil society and business … to really think about the issues.”

Nassetta says each of these sectors now needs to figure out not only how to attack the problems that can be associated with youth wellbeing, but also the “opportunity”.

Approximately 85 percent of youths under the age of 25 live in developing countries, in some countries comprising almost 40 percent of the total population.

Development advocates and economists suggest such numbers highlight the importance of providing such a large segment of the population with the resources necessary to drive economic growth while maintaining adequate health, security and stability.

“The youth bulge can become a security, economic and humanitarian worry, and even maybe a disaster, or it can become a resource for development and change,” said William Reese, IYF’s president.

IYF and CSIS hope that governments, civil society and businesses will use the index’s findings to better evaluate and calibrate programmes designed to buildyouth capacity.

“You can’t manage what you don’t measure,” said Nassetta. “There’s been a massive lack of transparency and data with which to make good investments, whether that’s human capital or financial capital, so the wellbeing index is the start of that.”

For instance, IYF’s Reese noted that developing countries’ heavy investment in certain sectors, like education, have yet to yield desirable results.

“[The] domains can tell us where to invest intelligently,” Reese said. “That can be the host government, but even in some of the poorest countries in the world, their largest expenditure is in education, it’s just not being well spent.”

Reese emphasised that the index is not adversarial in nature, but rather designed for countries to compare and contrast their relative strengths and weakness, and to learn from each other.

“The index will help us compare and frame some needs and look at countries as to where they’re doing better and where they have some gaps,” he said. “Then we can compare across countries – not to name and shame at all, but to look further so we invest better.”

In addition to emphasising the need for more data-driven policies, programmes and investments, many at Thursday’s unveiling of the index highlighted a key component necessary to drive those changes: youths themselves.

“If you’re talking about a post-2015 development agenda, one thing missing from that, based on a youth perspective, is the idea of what the ‘youthproblem’ is,” said Angga Dwi Martha, the 23-year-old Youth Advocate at the United Nations Population Fund.

“I think this index can give a very general identification of the problem. And then, as young people, we can [relay] this to our government, the private sector and civil society.”

Others argued that the best way to figure out “what works” to improve youth wellbeing is by actively including and engaging youths in the development process.

According to Emmanuel Jimenez, the World Bank’s director of public-sector evaluations, “We, as older people who design policy, often forget, or don’t do enough, to consult with the ultimate beneficiaries, which are young people.”

#END#

Just Musing: Is Nigeria too strong? Are Nigerians too resilient?

Eze's poem:

"I Fear for my country

That we've learnt to be strong (too strong)

To feel and just to move on

Too resilient to cry, to arise and make amends

I fear for my people

We've grown too strong to fight our demons."

Excerpts from 'dearth of a country' by Emelogu Danladi Eze






Sunday, March 30, 2014

How The Woman, Crushed Between Two Cars, Held On To Her Baby #HappyMothersDay

This is a true life story that I will always remember. After that day, my whole perspective about motherhood sprung into another level.

It was a busy Saturday morning. In the usual hustle and bustle of the Lagos spirit, men and women, boys and girls, whirled through nooks and crannies of Lagos- on foot, on wheels, or being chauffeured.

I saw this woman through the small opening of the "Keke-Marwa" I was riding in. I don't know why I noticed her. But I did. She was carrying a baby, maybe on their first or second outing. The mother looked elegant in her Iro and Buba lace dressing. The baby? Fresh. Though she had a shawl covering him, I could still see his face. The cuddle revealed how really new the baby was-- I'm sure he was less than three months or a little older by days to weeks.

Why is this woman stressing this baby through hectic Lagos. Stay home woman! My thoughts. I'm always pained when I see nursing mothers or pregnant women "jumping Danfo"-- rowdy public transport. Well. They must commute. Life goes on.

Back to the story. The elegantly dressed woman tried to make a quick pass through the road- away from an annoyingly parked car. You know those cars parked on busy narrow streets. But just as she made a move, another car--approaching from the same side of the road also wanted to make a quick dash through the building traffic. I really can't explain how it happened in text. But I think the driver did not look on the side of the road where she was. His attention was on his side-- avoiding those Okadas and Keke-Marwa that 'threatened' to hit his side-mirror.

He didn't see the woman with the baby. Or maybe he thought he was far from her. As she stepped out to squeeze past the other parked car, the other driver zoomed into the road. He was far enough to avoid hitting or scratching the parked vehicle but close enough to sandwich the nursing mother between the two cars.

The woman tried to scream for help. Those who saw the dilemma tried to wave down the driver. The hot blooded lad in confusion pressed down his accelerator some more. He didn't stop.

From where I was, I waved at the driver- "stop stop" but that didn't help.

So mouth agape, totally terrified, I watched the most beautiful thing I have ever seen since I was introduced to the concept of motherhood. The woman, crushed between two cars, held on to her baby. She spun and spun and spun as the car squeezed through...Holding on to her baby. I imagined the baby falling out of her grip all through the few seconds. But no such thing happened!

When the driver eventually succeeded in driving through, all he did was wave in apology. I still don't think he knew what happened-- the magnitude of the panic for those who watched on helplessly in shock. He was in a hurry, not interested in finding out what went wrong. The woman who i'm sure was in pain by now stood strong and cursed at him in yoruba language. One or two other pedestrians who saw what happened gathered around.

The knee-level of her skirt was stained. From the mark you could tell the pressure was not a friendly brush from a vehicle. I don't know where she got the strength to still stand strong.

I could still see the baby. He was still sleeping on his mother's shoulder. Oblivious of how a Mother's love has just enveloped him through what would have been a tragedy. Imagine if out of fear, panic or pain his mother had let go. I don't even want to imagine how that would have ended.

If it was a designer's bag that she was holding, she would have let go in pain. If it was a crate or two of eggs she was hawking, she would have let go and tried to rescue herself. But it was a baby. She didn't let him slip. I saw her face form in different ways to express her agony. But still she just let the moment pass, her legs can be crushed as long as her baby is fine. How she was able to hold him so firmly as she spun her way through, I cannot tell. Mothers are dynamic and strong.

God empowers mothers to be extraordinary. More women just need to step into that grace.

The life lesson I took away from the woman is: God entrusts us with children. When we become mothers, we must never let go-- no matter what life throws at us. Hold on, trust God and grow in grace.



Happy Mother's Day to all mothers who are standing strong. 
Happy Mother's Day to all mothers who did not let go. 
Happy Mother's Day to all mothers, especially to my mum.

And to us, as we learn and prepare to be ready. May God bless us with a good heart.

May we live love, always!









Foto credit: http://www.kindredcommunity.com/resources/child-rights-links/

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

@IWMF urges the Supreme Court to recognize journalists' protection against compelled disclosure of confidential sources

Washington, DC – Today, the International Women's Media Foundation (IWMF) filed an amicus curiae brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to grant Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporter James Risen’s petition seeking review of a federal appeals court ruling ordering him to reveal his confidential sources in connection with the government’s prosecution of former C.I.A. analyst Jeffrey Sterling.

This case is of central importance to the IWMF because it implicates the ability of journalists to maintain the confidentiality of their sources against compelled disclosure by the government. It also impacts the vital, constitutionally recognized role of a free press in ensuring the existence of an informed citizenry and a functioning democracy.

In the last five years alone, the Supreme Court has repeatedly reaffirmed the First Amendment protections for activities ranging from corporate campaign expenditures to depictions of animal cruelty, among others. But it has not considered the protections surrounding the core First Amendment functions of newsgathering and reporting in over a decade. The time to do so is now,” said Theodore J. Boutrous Jr., a partner in the law firm of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, and member of the IWMF Board of Directors.

The IWMF and its Board of Directors are particularly sensitive to the perils faced by journalists worldwide who are unable to shield the identities of their confidential sources. Gwen Lister, an IWMF Courage in Journalism Award Winner, is one such example. In the 1980s, Lister worked as a political reporter in Namibia, while it was under South African rule. In 1988, when she was four months pregnant, Lister was detained by Namibian government officials for refusing to disclose her source for a confidential document that detailed a plan to give greater powers to police and institute a state of emergency in Namibia. Lister was eventually released due to international protests.

About the IWMF. Founded in 1990 by a group of prominent U.S. women journalists, the International Women’s Media Foundation is a Washington-based organization that is dedicated to strengthening the role of women journalists worldwide. The IWMF believes the news media worldwide are not truly free and representative without the equal voice of women. The IWMF celebrates the courage of women journalists who overcome threats and oppression to speak out on global issues. The IWMF’s programs empower women journalists with the training, support and network to become leaders in the news industry.


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Lagos, The African Way of Civilisation By Ren Wan


[MING]: After two years in and out of the third largest city in the world, Rem Koolhaas called the Nigerian wen something ‘at the forefront of a globalising modernity’: “Lagos is not catching up with us. Rather, we may be catching up with Lagos.” Constantly on its insane evolution hoping to strike off the notorious reputation as one of the least liveable city, Lagos itself is a soiled, earthly dream chaser; and Ren Wan witnessed from it Civilisation in the African Way.

I regretted right at the moment as I got the visa after a gasping interrogation at the embassy. Pole-apart from what I had expected, that embassy visits were nothing more than form-filling and queues, this time to the Nigerian one ironically offered more. I got stone-cold questions, hostile attitudes, though I had every (bizarre) required documents stated on the embassy website, including an “invitation letter” signed by my Nigerian contact.

The tiny glass at the counter divided me and the well- attired gentleman with the resemblance of Nelson Mandela, who threw to me what an FBI officer would smear over a drug dealer’s face. From my actual identity to my purpose of visit to my ‘potential conspiracy’… every razor sharp question cracked from his black lips made me feel like a prisoner without cuffs, or a smuggler who tried to get into the American border. “Good People. Great Country” This tagline on a poster at the door came into my sight as a wry joke.

“You will see why he has that attitude.” said a British- Indian merchant who was there to collect his visa, because few Chinese girls go to the country alone who aren’t going to meet her Nigerian lover. It was going to be his third visit to Lagos this year. I revealed the purpose of my visit, as a desperate attempt to relieve my pre-travel paranoia. “Good luck, and it is indeed a place for a good story.” The statement was supported by another guy present, a native Nigerian who came to extend his visa in Hong Kong. He was a young black guy in his late twenties, who happily showed me a picture of his Chinese wife and his kids. Lagos is a metropolis, I felt pride between his words, everyone in Nigeria wants to be in the past two years. And his statement was not without supporters.

As the most populous city in Nigeria, Lagos was indeed a name often seen on international press in the recent years. “A global city” was a united answer I had heard. It was a time right after the bomb attack in Abuja, people said the capital was no comparison to this “merely less-developed” megacity. They called it an economic centre of the largest country in West Africa, a cultural hub with great lifestyle despite the notorious title as the world’s third least liveable city by the Economist Intelligence Unit. It is the future
Hong Kong of Africa, Onno Ruhl, country head for the World Bank said to TIME last year. But I did not see any similarities (or potential ones) with my homeland. I saw a bizarre sovereignty of African civilisation.


Africa takes centre stageIt was scientifically proven that humankind evolved from black skin; which means black is the origin to all skin colours the civilised world represents to date. That means the black clan gave birth to all fruits civilisation has given us – from the art of fine dining to state-of- the-art technologies. While we from this part of the world are blessed with surplus of materials far beyond satisfaction of our basic necessity, this vast piece of land was once victimised under absurd Slavism, and is still the last runner on the racecourse of civilisation. But like a famous African proverb said, until the lion has his or her own storyteller, the hunter will always have the best part of the story; the face of Africa only has a western narrative.

At a seminar stage, Andrew Mwenda, a Ugandan journalist, once called for a new look at Africa. “Africa has immense opportunities that never navigate through the web of despair and helplessness that the Western media largely presents to its audience,” he said with determination. “As a consequence, the Western view of Africa’s economic dilemma is framed wrongly. The wrong framing is a product of thinking that Africa is a place of despair.” Truism stays with him. G.W. Fredrich Hegel, 18th century German philosopher, once declared with ignorant arrogance that Africa was not part of world history because the black had no individuality. Google stories on African and one will find besides wild getaways the missing of basic sanitation infrastructures, bony hands begging for succor, Somali pirates, kidnaps of Westerners, brutal and helpless scenes from Congo and Blood Diamond.

But as the continent, blessed with abundant natural resources and enviable landscapes, slowly gets rid of the third world status – only 33 remain the least developed category to date; we have seen on the global stage inspirers and change-makers from the ‘wild land’. In 2007, TED organised an Africa-themed event with insightful talks by such significant figures as William Kamkwamba, who invented a windmill to generate electricity for his poor community at the age of 14. Seyi Oyseola built a solar-powered mobile hospital. Last year, we applauded to three African Nobel laureates. In an Africa-themed exhibition at Kiasma in Finland, photographer Baudouin Mouanda tastefully captured African chic. This part of the world actually rocks.

Global city in a great country?Autumn heat was still steaming the city airport. Black gentlemen, looking spick and span in his suits, effortlessly made his way through the crowd of puzzled foreign visitors into a rusty yellow cab and disappeared into the vast megacity. Welcome to Lagos, the Centre of Excellence – the stately neon light box was losing its glow to the everyday blackouts. Nothing but the word ‘chaos’ was valid.
Those close to the authority fashioned diplomatic affability to just-landed Chinese investors, humbled themselves to push their guests’ luggage through the Customs counters, and happily received monetary rewards from the yellow hands. By exchanging merely basic hellos and all that jazz, policemen outside the airport helped your vehicle stop for a few bucks in return.“This is the way how things work here,” William Lui, a food factory owner from Hong Kong, whom I luckily ran into at the airport, said as he settled me in his car. Lui after that offered me his transportation throughout my stay, because cab drivers might take ‘white people’ – it was a black or white world, no yellow – to shaded alleys and rob them. Not only ‘white people’, my local photographer assured me. He wouldn’t ask for directions at night as well. Besides the local market cramped with cars and pedestrians, shops and restaurants had armed guards stationed at the gate. There was no such thing as ‘window shopping’ and ‘menu checking’. Furious traffic jam happened every morning and evening and it is almost a daily routine to be stuck in the middle of the chaos of roads and have your itinerary naturally cancelled. One night I was forced to cancel my dinner appointment because I stayed on the roads for four hours. What Fela Kuti, Nigeria’s national pride and music mogul from Lagos, once sang in ‘Go Slow’ in 1972 – Lorry dey for your front // Tipa dey for your back // Motorcycle dey for your left o // Taxi-moto dey for your right // Helicopter dey fly fly for your top o – is still the best depiction of its everyday cityscape.

More. One step on Bar Beach, the city’s beautiful white sand public beach, and you would be asked to pay, whilst many others set their own stalls on sand as bars and restaurants. The “magnificent architectural masterpiece” Lagosians prided themselves on, is the National Theatre with a musty odour. The city’s biggest shopping mall is the size of our community centre. Hawker stalls creeping along roads did not really expect customers. Recent news in Daily Times Nigeria mentioned a study that revealed 22% of Lagos drivers tested positive to drugs like cocaine and marijuana. And this is what they called a great country and a global city.

Lagosians, souls of the cityTemitayo, a young Nigerian writer in her mid- twenties, showed me her article about her homeland, ‘The Lagos Devil, she called it. It reminds me of a woman in labour, groaning and screaming curses at her husband and the gods that made the seed fertile. She wrote with paradoxical affection. Love, anxiety, anger, and fear all rolled in one ball, I feel for Lagos, but, unlike the pregnant woman who delivers a child; I don’t know what Lagos will bring forth!


With a majority of the cityscape barred behind guarded high walls, roads became the only mirror of the city, its people – and they call themselves Lagosians – its only soul. Despite the broken roads, incomplete infrastructures, and the everyday blackouts, Lagos nurtures the most notable spirits humanity would celebrate. Enthusiasm has its best glow under the silver sky of the fuel-clogged city. Without much left by their ancestors, a local journalist friend Jennifer Ehidiamen told me, Lagos is up to the making of the young generations. “Those before you must have worked really hard to make sure your generation enjoy a good country. That is what most Nigerians are doing,” she said. “Most young Nigerians are working hard and dreaming more, so that the next generation will not go through the same hardship. So it is like a seed one generation sow for the next to reap and nurture for posterity. If old generations in Nigeria had kept this in perspective, we would have been spoilt too.”

Positivity does rule this place. The ‘World’s Happiest Place’ sign soaring at the airport, as a Guardian journalist once recalled, may have its point. An international survey revealed that Nigeria’s positivity index was 70, whilst UK had a tragic -44.

Will Anderson, who did a documentary on Lagos, said Lagosians never see themselves as victims; they are tireless aspirers. Hawkers wandering around the streets may not have good business, but they were rewarded with laughter and chats with neighbours. A young gentleman who arranged my interview with a governor, owned an I.T company, while he was actively developing the emerging movie scene of Nigeria. We call it Nollywood, he said and immediately jumped to ask about the popularity of websites like YouTube in China. I marvelled at his packed schedule and the speed of his tapping on his Blackberry. “Because the city has high unemployment and bad traffic, going freelance is a mainstream,” he said. “You find entrepreneur on every street.”

Children whose family could not afford their education were satisfied with fierce football games on abandoned space with bare feet. Learning that I was from Asia, one kid came to me and asked with excitement how much more advanced China is than Nigeria. My answer might be a disappointment, yet he said with pride: we are almost there.While signs of a developed place in our world are about infrastructures, destination landmarks and civil services; the way Lagos defines civilisation is hedonism and naively bold visions. Like what Nigerian scholar Michael Eucheruo wrote in his book Victorian Lagos, this is an out-and-out international city like Amsterdam and Paris. Albeit the shortage of infrastructure, Lagos is thriving as a cultural and economic hub in West Africa. The tireless operation of the oil mine right next to the city’s main bridge strikes as a hope for future. Like Rem Koolhaas said in 2005 in Lagos Wide and Close, this place does not reflect despair, it is in fact where the civilisation heads to – the aspiration to build a better place.




Monday, March 24, 2014

LIFESTYLE: 20 Things You Need To Do Before You Are 30

Tea Break: #20thingsYouNeedToDoBefore30 by Pst Akomaye Ugar of HoneySpring Church

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Camara Mohamed, Slum2School Volunteer, Shares Experience On Taking Education To Underserved Communities In Nigeria


Volunteerism and philanthropy is one of the 21st century global strategies to solve problems around the United Nations Post-2015 Millennium Development Goals. At a time when the quest for youth development and the need for leadership is at its peak, being a volunteer for developmental projects provide the unique learning experience and grooming ground for personal growth and making social impact. It is my chief recommendation for students’ co-curricular activities as well as a platform for professionals to position themselves as socially responsible individuals. From my experience, volunteering was the biggest step I took to getting closer to my personal aspirations in life, and it has been the most fulfilling and rewarding impact and contribution I have made in my society. 
 I indicated interest in being a Slum2School Volunteer in 2012 after Otto Orondaam’s speech about the Founding and future of the NGO at Lagos NYSC Passing out ceremony. It was a unique opportunity to direct my energy and time towards such a developmental and youth driven initiative. S2S was just a few months old at the time, but I had no doubt about her prospect for growth and impact, based on all volunteers’ commitment. 
 Conspicuously, since that period, Slum-to-School Africa has provided educational scholarships for over 650 underprivileged children and renovated two rural schools. We have also organized over 20 community programmes. 
 My first task was to commit my time like every other volunteer even though we received no monetary reward. Our passion did and still supersedes the thirst for compensation for all the time we spend. This was for me the true meaning of volunteering - following through a course until the end, without any iota of doubt that time and energy spent is helping to positively impact other people’s lives. A cause larger than oneself. 
 I volunteered with the primary aim of just helping and contributing to an urgent cause, unknown to me at the time, the benefits that came with being a volunteer. I was an undergraduate struggling with the scarcity of time and commitment to my grades; it was very tempting to attribute volunteering to a waste of time. The challenges however brought along so many learning opportunities I would perhaps never have gained otherwise. Working under pressure to meet deadlines and time management was a skill I am grateful to have acquired through volunteering. A skill applicable to my career till date, which I believe is same for most volunteers. We had to be spontaneous, think on our feet, always finding ways to meet up with impromptu meetings and tasks. 
Volunteering for Slum2School improved my problem solving skills. I was delighted to join the crop of young leaders who rather than complain, found ways to make things work. This made me become more compassionate and more optimistic than ever before, even though the intensity of the problems we face were and are still very glaring to us.

 My most memorable volunteer experience in August 2013 also was a test of my resolve. Being one of the 17 volunteers that travelled on water for about two hours to get to a rural community on the outskirts of Lagos and walking in swamps for another 45 minutes to get to another community, hitherto, was a challenge I would have deemed unfit to be part of. The drive and passion to provide educational opportunities to remote areas superseded our own personal comforts. I built skills around organizing, logistics, coordinating and in fact learning to live and work with different people in a condition that really demanded the highest level of people skills. 
 As a member of the sales team for Slum2School, selling the idea of the project improved my sales and networking skills. From a pool of 1,300 applicants from 190 countries, I was one of the 40 youths selected to present various developmental projects they were working on. This was a unique global opportunity and it was highly fulfilling that all our volunteer works were being recognized and appreciated globally. The One Young World Summit in South Africa was attended by global leaders like Kofi Annan, Winnie Mandela, Richard Branson, Arianna Huffington and many others. It was an amazing feeling to realise that amongst the countless projects in 190 countries, Slum 2 School was recognised to be one of the best. 
 Africa CEO of Standard Chartered Bank was impressed by my speech and our work at S2S. She invited me to share our ideas with a dozen global CEOs, resulting to a donation and increasing our NGOs monetary value. I also got the unique opportunity to meet Aliko Dangote, the richest and most influential black, through the contacts I made on this platform. 
 Volunteering for Slum 2 School therefore gave me the unique opportunity to be a global advocate for education. An achievement that may not come around if one remained in their comfort zones. Recruiters and various institutions are becoming more attracted to youths who have volunteered and made a lot of positive impacts around the world. With rising global challenges, problems and opportunities, the importance and necessity of volunteerism to make social impact can never be overemphasised. It is indeed an antidote to many global problems such as lack of access to education which Slum 2 School volunteers have been tenaciously working to provide across board. I believe very strongly that anyone seeking to be part of this global change makers has definitely chosen to make one of the toughest and best choices. 
 Best wishes to every present and potential young leader.

Admin's note: Will you like to volunteer with Slum2School? Then visit: http://slumtoschool.org for more information!

Recommended Reading: Half a Loaf & a Bakery: Learning by Doing Before Graduation- FREE DOWNLOAD- scribd.com/doc/210221423/Half-A-Loaf-A-Bakery-by-Jennifer-Ehidiamen-and-Funso-Bukoye