Monday, December 29, 2008

An English Youth's Perspective of Nigerian Youth

"We cannot always build the future for our nation but we can build our youth for the future" says Franklin Delano Roosevelt. A British youth once shared his perspective about the Nigerian youth and his hope for the future of Nigeria. Young Joe knew for over half a year ago that he was going to be working in Nigeria as a volunteer, but up until his arrival he had misconceptions about the country, one of which is that Nigeria was a desperate and undeveloped place than it really is. He was surprised to see so many cars and the big buildings in town. He had expected to see many hungry and homeless people on the streets.
As time went on, Joe learnt first-hand that Nigeria is actually a rich country. "it has so many valuable resources and is self-sustaining, it is just poorly led…I am referring to corruption and selfishness from those highly placed members of government and society" he said.

"Those keeping people under thumb need to be challenged. Corrupt officials need to know that they cannot get away with depriving millions with their greed. They need to be asked provocative questions like: why are there so many millionaires in a country that is perceived to be poor? Why are kids eating from refuse dump when there are so many mansions?
I feel strongly for the youths here because I am aware of their passion for achieving things in life. It is aggravating knowing most can’t because of other people’s greed. I hope someday soon, people will not stand for it any longer and create such pressure on those in charge to reform." he added.

But while we are hoping for this reform, what can we as youths do to effect change? Joe says: "Youths in Nigeria absolutely need good education. They are the foundation upon which Nigeria will soon depend, if you keep them struggling on and on, Nigeria will be struck in a rut. I want to see Nigeria become the first world country it could easily be. I hope the youths here equally have good opportunities."

Year 2009 is just a few days away with its opportunities. For many, it a much awaited new begining to dream again, or a continous pursuit of success, desire to serve and be relevant. But whatever Year 2009 means to you, be optimistic, live postively in a way that builds yourself as well as others up. Don't settle for the blame game, decide to contribute to building your future. Don't limit your destiny to lack of material things. The gap between the rich and poor in Nigeria is huge, whatever side you find yourself, decide to succeed despite the odds. Don't let the world move on without you. Have faith, work hard and like Barack Obama, have an audacious hope to achieve the impossible. Above all, stay Connected to God and see your value appreciated. Happy New Year Nigerian Youths!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

VOLUNTEERISM VS MATERIALISM

What is volunteerism? It is simply defined by dictionary.com as the policy or practice of volunteering one's time or talents for charitable, educational, or other worthwhile activities, especially in one's community while materialism is a desire for wealth or the preoccupation with or emphasis on material objects, comforts, and considerations, with a disinterest in or rejection of spiritual, intellectual, or cultural values.

Volunteering is about giving. According to Mr. Yemi Oshilaja, the country director of Hope Worldwide, “Your heart must go before your tummy or pocket …a volunteer is someone who is fully engaged but at the same time able to offer themselves to help mankind.” In his opening remark during the December 5th International Volunteers Day event organized by GIVE Network, Mr. Oshilaja said that volunteers are the key to solving the Development issues in our country no matter the amount of money available. He also urged the media to write more about volunteering effort in Nigeria so that many more people will join the trend.

Indeed the culture of volunteering should be encouraged at all levels. It is one of the tools that can effectively curb the sudden quest for materialism in our society. Volunteerism gives you the opportunity to give while materialism only makes you want to take. Volunteerism ask how can I offer help while materialism ask what is in it for me. Volunteerism reminds you of the needs of others and how significantly you can impact lives by taking action. Materialism reminds you of your needs and how much you must acquire more things at the expense of others. Volunteerism builds a better world because it breeds care and support while materialism pulls our world apart because it breeds greed and envy.

In a world that is being faced by numerous global challenges such as global warming, global food crisis, global financial crisis and all other global phenomenon deeply rooted in local causes, it is imperative for everyone to embrace the volunteering culture. Positive volunteer efforts that will contribute immensely to national development starts by just giving a little of yourself- give appreciation, give encouragement, give enthusiasm, give ideas, give time etc.

As it is being advocated for Entrepreneurship to be added to our academic curriculum, I will like to also advocate for volunteerism to be encouraged in all institutions- individual, corporate, government etc. There is so much to gain by giving a little of yourself and time. According to Roger Carr of www.everydaygiving.com, volunteering gives you an opportunity to make new friends, build personal and professional contacts, build your self-esteem and self-confidence, develop new skills, explore career opportunities, add experience to your resume, improve your health, have fun and make a difference. See your world through a new eye, identify the volunteer opportunity that is right for you, make a positive impact and expand your world by doing everyday things in a positive way- go volunteer!

SOME MEN IN MY LIFE...

This Yuletide season gives us the special opportunity to appreciate everyone who knowingly or unknowingly impacts our lives positively in every ramification. No man stands so straight, says the Knights of Pythagoras, as when he stoops to help a boy (or girl). I thank God for these men and women who live as positive role models in a corrupt and perverse world. Do you have a list of people whom you will like to appreciate specially too? Aside my brothers, male friends, lecturers/teachers etc., there are special men in my life whose chaste impact has set my success in motion.

One of them is Pastor Tunde Bakare whose radical opposition to corruption and commitment to rebuild the fallen walls of Nigeria serves as an unwavering inspiration to me. His contagious passion for God shaped my faith too. In my quest to make a difference, I stumbled into Temidayo Israel . This young man gave me the first opportunity in his youth group to get my hands dirty and stand up to be counted. Dayo inspired my award-winning poem “I surrender”. Talking about poems, Philip G. Bell played the unique role of giving me a rare opportunity on a global platform to become a published poet at no cost. He simply said to me “Pay it forward”. As if to explain this, God sent my way Tunde Rosanwo who exemplified that paying it forward is as simple as when you share resources or pass useful links to others without glorifying yourself in it.

How many men still consider the least qualified with the chaste intention of helping them up the ladder of success? Well, Mr. Kayode Akintola does. He gave me an opportunity to serve in a big way, which has changed me forever. These men looked beyond my inadequacies and showed me the “how to”, the platform to learn and the opportunity to be productive. Mr. Lekan Otufodunrin is one of the most passionate mentors I can look up to any day, he helped direct my focus! There is also Mr. Victor Akinpelu (my Boss), who keeps giving me task bigger than me (I think). It is a delight to be stretched beyond limit. It expands your worth and world. And the list of these kind hearted and inspiring men goes on…in their dynamic ways, they live their lives so positively that they inspire others to be more.

Thus, can I count my blessings this Christmas without mentioning these faithful men who shape the world by planting trees under whose shade they do not expect to selfishly sit? William Arthur Ward says, “Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it”, so this special note is written with a sense of merry alacrity befitting the season to express my gratitude. I can no other word say but thank you Sir, and thank you Sir. May God bless you all.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

THE PRISON BREAK

For the love of God and humanity, my colleague, Kat Macleaod and I set off on an exciting adventure, one of those one will class as ordinary with a little extra, i.e. “extraordinary”. This adventure found us sitting in the office of the controller of Prison with a handwritten proposal to set up two recreational clubs with the inmates.

As usual, as it is with in most offices in Nigeria, we had to wait and wait outside the Controller's office while someone struggled with the bureaucracy. We watched the guards clad in tight, big, black boot that go half way up their calf, billowing green trousers, a rope over their shoulder and a tight belt containing spray or gun, shining their boots. To keep the harmattan away, one young guard carefully spent a few minutes rubbing his lips with lip gloss, for a split second, he looked very vulnerable just like the rest of us. It was an interesting sight.

Finally, the Controller came out and shouted “why have you kept them waiting?” to one of the guards. He took us to his office and read the letter. “Yes, I definitely approve this…!” This receptive and encouraging response gave us a sense of importance and gingered us for the task ahead.

The following weeks saw us working closely with the Prison guards, the inmates and other volunteers who shared our passion to reach out for those who seems cut off from the rest of the society! At the end of our 6-weeks activities in Jos Prison, all the 700 inmates and selected local guest assembled in the yard to watch the informative and educative drama performed by the male inmates. The 9 women, 8 of whom were still waiting trial were also granted a rare permission to enter the male dominated yard to watch the drama. While we busied with the men drama club, our volunteers-friends worked with the women on different skill acquisition trainings such as candle-making, soap-making etc.

Our aim was to empower everyone in Jos Prison with new skills and HIV and AIDS awareness so that their life can be different in days to come. Some of the Prisoners have been serving time for over 20years so it was vital they are equipped with the knowledge about HIV and AIDS, to protect themselves and others while in Prison and afterwards.

Our resounding achievement at the Jos Prison was made possible by the support of the Controller of Prisons and other officials, as well as the inmates and our volunteer friends, who were willing to look beyond our young age and sex, to contribute our quota to the community. The idea was sustained through the power of collaboration driven by passion. All we know is that a seed was planted in Jos Prison to grow. Here I am telling the jenniferized version of our experience as once told by Kat. The future is bright for all who dare to leap by faith.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

THIS IS SCAM AND THAT IS SCAM (2)

So as we were saying, have you noticed how skilled these scammers are? They are prolific writers, they are creative…they will excel if they channel this skill to feature story telling and other positive business! Why can’t they just see the potentials they have? Perhaps, they are too obsessed with the mission of scamming people, reaping where they have not sown, to concentrate on these good qualities! Are these yahoo-yahoo boys really ahead of every effort made to curb internet fraud in Nigeria? What is the latest development being put in place by stakeholders to control this trend and make yahoo-yahoo less attractive to those involved?



Ambassador Gbenga Sesan, Executive Director of Paradigm Initiative Nigeria (PIN) bailed me out with his rich response to my many questions! I sent him an email to ask: Do you think the increasing rate at which youth are engaging in cyber fraud a.k.a yahooyahoo can be eradicated? If yes, how? Are there any NEW and EFFECTIVE measures being put in place to curb this corruption?



“While I may not want to use the word "eradication" for yahoo-yahoo, I think it can be "curbed" like other crime. Reduced. made not so attractive. So, yes. How? There are the legal and technical solutions which will both punish the act and make it almost impossible to commit the crime without being adequately "rewarded." But there's a strong need for a socio-economic approach. That explains why I chose to start the Internet Safety, Security and Privacy Initiative for Nigeria (www.pinigeria.org/isspin) and we're working on the second phase now. Phase I made noise about the problem but phase II will involve a sticker campaign, musical collabos against cybercrime (if you will, the opposite of "Yahooze" and "Maga Don Pay").

Also critical is the re-training of repenting cybercriminals to make them a successful example when talking to present cybercriminals. With positive peer pressure, we can dissuade many from the act... and I bet you know this is a major issue so it won't leave us tomorrow.” He replied.



Indeed, this will not leave us tomorrow. But it will leave! With such undiluted initiative by PIN and of course our collective efforts, we can together make scam business, especially yahoo-yahoo less attractive in all ramifications!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

THIS IS SCAM AND THAT IS SCAM

I have always wondered how people fall victim of internet scam even when it is glaring that it is a scam. Recently, I discovered three factors in play: Greed, naivety and desperation. Last week, my colleague received an email from someone who made an outrageous promise to sponsor him and any six of his friends to an event in the USA. By the way, my friend neither have a knowledge about this event in question nor did he ever apply in the past. What a divine favor he thought and off he ran to send his personal details and that of his two friends to the organizers.

"This is a scam. Before you know it, they will be asking for traveling processing fees" I said to him. But he thought otherwise. Remembering that the internet that has opened rooms for such junkie activities also provide answers sometimes, I logged on to Google to search for the organization in question and I was not disappointed about what I found. The poorly built website of this so-called World Youth Organizations for Human Welfare "http://www.gyofhw.co.cc/" only further increased my suspicion and then another link on Google linked me to an article by the Law offices of Thomas Gross (a public service committed to fighting internet fraud, 419s and other scams) with a screaming headline "SCAM EMAIL ALERT, Exposing internet fraud and scam". They published a list of all the emails sent out by "WORLD YOUTH ORGANIZATION FOR HUMAN WELFARE" in the past. Perhaps, someone has been trailing their activities and decided to build a counter website, an effective way of kicking them out of their fraudulent activities.

I was sorry that I had to be the one to tell my friend the bad news, his newly found jackpot was actually a scam. I couldn't bear the disappointment on his face, but then, it was better than have him crying pain in future of being ripped off by some smart dude a.k.a yahoo-yahoo boys. It is amazing that these youths (an oldies) no longer only settle on interrupting our emails with all manners of proposal and scams, they have actually gone a step further to build websites and flaunt non-existing charity organizations which they now use as a model to rip-off others. Well, who is falling for it? Desperate, naive or greedy dudes like my friend.

Are these yahoo-yahoo boys really ahead of every efforts made by EFCC to curb internet fraud in Nigeria? What is the latest development being put in place by stakeholders to curb this trend and make yahoo-yahoo less attractive to those involved? Don't miss the part 2 of this article!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

GO BLOG IT!

The Cyber Café manager couldn’t comprehend the sudden rush for internet access. He didn’t hide his suspicion, he kept monitoring the computers in use as we clicked “tap, tap, tap” on the keyboard. The minutes ran into hours as other customers waiting to take turns on the systems shuffled their feet impatiently at the background. For us, we were just getting started. Out of curiosity than anything else, Mr. Manager tapped me on my shoulder and asked “what are you people doing online?”, referring to about 50% of my classmates that have bombard his Cyber Café. “Oh, it is called blogging Sir. It is part of a new course we are taking in school and we have all come to complete an assignment”. I replied cheerfully, my attention drifting between the blog page, the ticket timer that seems to be on the run and the Manager who suddenly seems interested in the Blogging Syndrome.

Basically, Blogging is a way of keeping an online journal or diary for sharing information and ideas with other people. According to Blogger.com, "A blog is a personal diary. A daily pulpit. A collaborative space. A political soapbox. A breaking-news outlet. A collection of links. Your own private thoughts. Memos to the world." A Blog can contain text, audio, images and video etc.

The Blogging culture which evolved from the idea of keeping an online diary, today, has metamorphosed into providing a platform for commentary or news on a particular subject etc. “I personally see the emergence of a new blogging industry that the corporate world will want to associate with. It will give so much credibility that at some point, blogging will become a source of living for many bloggers”. Writes Olugbenga Aijota, in his notes about the Nigerian Bloggers Conference held in Lagos recently. Blogging comes with variety of benefits which ranges from the opportunity to have a personal platform to be heard, share ideas with others, make money through advert on your pages (it is the popularity of your blog that will determine this), build a network etc.

The first blog that inspired me to become a blogger was www.artihonrao.net, an online poetry blog forum created by Arti Honrao, an Indian writer. But while browsing on the internet one day, I stumbled into Funmi Iyanda’s Blog www.fiyanda.blogspot.com. Funmi’s down-to-earth approach to blogging leaves you yearning for more. I have visited other blogs, including www.gardenersdaughter.blogspot.com. Like the name suggests, this blog is strictly a forum for the Mexican Telenovela out there. It contains the full story/snippets of all the Mexican soap operas showing on AIT. It was created by Philomena Ojikutu who simply describes herself as a Work-at-Home-Mum (WAHM).

But you don’t have to be a WAHM to be an active blogger. Blogging culture is open to everyone irrespective of age, sex or location. If you have something to say, a picture or video to share, and the ability to update them regularly, then you have a global platform- go blog it now! Visit www.youthmakingchange.blogspot.com

SUNRISE SUNRISE

Guest writer: Beatrice Kay

It feels so good, well mornings now feel good especially since Third Mainland Bridge re-opened. I am seated on the bus, heading for the day’s work and enjoying the view of the sunrise over the ocean. I bring out my camera to capture the scene. DJ Manny's Good Morning Nigeria show on Cool FM is playing. I’m also reading a book I intend to use as Book of The Month for my employers’ website. But my mind wanders away as a result of the inspirations I’m getting: from the book, the radio and the view from Third Mainland Bridge. Am I really in Nigeria? It felt like a trip from Cardiff to London, the Peace, the Trees, and then the orderliness; everyone in their own little world, shutting you out with their earphones. Then the bus is gliding on its own special lane. Nigeria? Lagos?

At CMS, a beautiful bay with lights, where you can walk and see the sea is nearing completion; I like the view plus a BRT stops right there so you can park your car and ride to the bay. I remember a week ago at the old Toll Gate BRT’s park and ride bus station; a banker seated next to me brought out his laptop and began browsing the net, thanks to wireless ISPs, I was tempted to bring out my mobile, light weighted official laptop to work as well but I still wasn't convinced. You mean you can now use a laptop in a bus in Lagos without it being snatched at gun-point? The one you don't show they take, how much more the one you flash? You mean all the passengers on the bus have good jobs; there are no robbers or pick pockets on? Glad the bus service has made that difficult.

So here I am, loving the view, the prospects, the ride, the glide, the strides, I am on longest the bridge in Africa. I started from the mainland, am off to the Island which boasts of beautiful sights, buildings, abodes of international standards. In Lagos we have started a journey. Governor Fashola tells me what I see is just the beginning, it will be a Mega City! Yippee! Hopefully we will soon get to the promise land, we won’t complain of the developments, think other things matter more, and hope other pressing matters are looked into by those elected or selected, and we won’t be ungrateful spending many years getting to the Mega city.

Norah Jones’ Sunrise inspired this title, her albums, Come Away with Me and Feels Like Home which won 8Grammys and earned her a place on Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world in 2004 all came singing to me as I wrote. There are possibilities at Sunrise. Yesterday ended last night. In the words of Asa, ‘Ojumo Ti Mo’ and so am I feeling the Sunrise in the new Lagos. Happy Independence Month Nigerian Youths! There’s hope!

The Circle of life

Last week was a very exciting one for me, most especially because I came first in the 1st Omololu Falobi Foundation Essay Competition organized for all Mass Communication students in Lagos State and its environ. When I heard the good news, I was ecstatic and thankful to God for such a rare achievement. It even showed off in the pictures we took at the event, my smile was from ear to ear, had I a tail I would have wag it too. However, amidst all the congratulatory messages, I felt upset and wished I could give back the award, just to have Mr. Omololu Falobi back to life. But in reality is it possible?

Why did someone take him away from his family? Why did someone want such a vivacious young man who was so resourceful to our Nation dead? Omololu Falobi lived and he lived well. He did not tiptoe through life or blame others for the troubles in the world, instead he took action to effect a change. He had such a clear vision to create a better-informed society and contribute to the emergence of a HIV free population. Inspired by a local cause that set in motion a global vision, he dreamt a dream from which others can dream. He was an innovative leader who led by example. He was an active Social Entrepreneur committed to working for a positive change until that night his body was riddled with bullets by men of the underworld.

Driven by a desire greater than personal comfort, Omololu Falobi left his footprint in the sand of history. His vision lives on to posterity. It is left for us all to pay it forward in this circle of life! We can't afford to tail in the race by God's grace! Remember the movie ‘The Lion King’? Its soundtrack “Circle of life” by Elton John has inspiring lyrics that I love to hum every now and then:

From the day we arrive on the planet
And blinking, step into the sun
There's more to be seen than can ever be seen
More to do than can ever be done
Some say eat or be eaten
Some say live and let live
But all are agreed as they join the stampede
You should never take more than you give
In the circle of life
It's the wheel of fortune
It's the leap of faith
It's the band of hope
Till we find our place
On the path unwinding
In the circle, the circle of life
Some of us fall by the wayside
And some of us soar to the stars
And some of us sail through our troubles
And some have to live with the scars
There's far too much to take in here
More to find than can ever be found
But the sun rolling high through the sapphire sky
Keeps great and small on the endless round
On the path unwinding...
In the circle, circle of life.

OBAMANIAC BY DEFAULT!

On the brink of history as the world watched, Americans trudged out to cast their vote. Knowing I couldn’t vote in the USA , I settled for cheerleading instead “It is alright, It is okay, He is gonna make it to White House anyway!” Eleven hours later, an SMS from a friend in far away Massachusetts woke me up in the early hours of Wednesday morning- “He Won! Obama won! New Hope New USA!” and a few seconds later, a beep from a friend in nearby Ogudu, “He got it. Obama did it. God did it!” and then another from Apapa, “A change has come, as Senator Barack Obama made history in America and the world, nothing is impossible for change is constant and inevitable…”

Propelled by the positive texts, I crawled out of bed in excitement. My eyes fell on the book I had read the night before- the biography of Martin Luther King Jnr. by Amy Pastan. The story of a life that made 2008 change in USA possible gave me a fresh perspective of Obama’s hope and song of change. The Martyr, Martin Luther King Jnr. paid the price over 40 years ago that made Obama’s victory so certain, he groomed the fertile soil for Obama’s dream to grow.

King lived for one thing- doing God’s will. He expressed this in his nonviolent movement to end segregation and its likes in USA. He was an ordinary man who did extraordinary things for change. His words, deeds and passion empowered others; he bridged the gap for generations to come. He would have been 79years this year, probably alive to witness this massive change but he was assassinated by only God knows who 40 years ago! But still his dream lived and the cause he advocated for paid off again through Obama’s victory.

Looking back now at the just concluded US election, it was worth being Obamaddicted for change, thank God hope did not fail. Are we not Obamafied, I mean satisfied by the result? King would be smiling now, at Obama’s courage and victory. He might have also foreseen this in his mountaintop journey. He said in one of his speech “I must confess my friends; the road ahead will not always be smooth. There will still be rocky places of frustration and meandering points of bewilderment. There will be inevitable setbacks here and there…moments when the buoyancy of hope will be transformed into the fatigue of despair. Our dream will sometimes be shattered and our ethereal hopes blasted…difficult and painful as it is, we must walk on in the days ahead with an audacious faith in the future.”

The future is here, whether the world is ready for it or not, America's first Black President emerged last night. Congratulations President Barak Obama a.k.a Uncle Oby (as Dayo Israel puts it) and Vice President Joe Biden. Like Martin Luther King Jnr., your audacity has rekindled hope in many, to dare to dream the impossible!

SOME LESSONS FROM BARACK OBAMA TO NIGERIAN YOUTHS

The politics, intrigues, activism and oratory of Senator Barack Obama and the 21 months of campaigns comes with so many lifelong lessons. I no longer see myself as a youth at a disadvantage after seeing how Obama broke the norms to emerge as the 44th President elect of USA . I now see myself as a black young adult who will rule in any part of the world or excel in anything I set my heart to do! Yes We Can! Obama has changed the phenomenon; the beacon of Change has come to us in Africa .

Determination, Spirit of Sportsmanship, Audacity of Hope, Setting higher goals, Testament of Hand Work, Optimism, faith in God, Enduring Passion, Values, Vision, Team work and Energy were some of the key values that contributed to Obama’s victory. He was so determined to win the election, even despite high level of criticism and humiliation as a black young adult. In his speech, he said “the road will be long, our climb will be steep, we may not get there in one year but American, I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there”. Gordon Brown, British Prime Minister, said that Obama ran an inspirational campaign, energizing politics with his progressive values and his vision for the future. What are our vision, energy and values for the future as young people in Nigeria ?

The youths in the USA voted for Obama in overwhelming numbers because they understood the power of positive change. It is time for young people in Nigeria to tell politicians that we are not for political gangsterism rather that we are committed to absolute change and back up our commitment with positive action. E.g. by refusing to dance to the drums of corrupt politicians and their likes.

Above all, what position do we have for God in all our dealings of life, socially, politically, materially, emotionally, etc.? Nigeria is said to be the most religious country in the world, but do we really have anything to show for our faith? We need to step up so that even our opponents will testify to it. Just as Senator McCain’s speech to congratulate Obama was titled ‘Godspeed to the man who will be my president’. Do you know that every speech of a US president ends with: Thank You, God bless you and may God bless the United States of America? Let put God first in whatever we do in life and see our progress as a nation take up a Godspeed! Change is in YOU. No more excuse for failure!

Mayowa Adeniran
Development News Organization

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

THE CIRCLE OF LIFE

Elton John Circle Of Life Lyrics:

From the day we arrive on the planet
And blinking, step into the sun
There's more to be seen than can ever be seen
More to do than can ever be done
Some say eat or be eaten
Some say live and let live
But all are agreed as they join the stampede
You should never take more than you give
In the circle of lifeIt's the wheel of fortune
It's the leap of faith
It's the band of hope
Till we find our place
On the path unwinding
In the circle, the circle of life
Some of us fall by the wayside
And some of us soar to the stars
And some of us sail through our troubles
And some have to live with the scars
There's far too much to take in here
More to find than can ever be found
But the sun rolling high through the sapphire sky
Keeps great and small on the endless round
On the path unwinding...
In the circle,
circle of life.

Media and HIV/AIDS among youths in Nigeria

Youths are stakeholders in the future of every society. To be able to live up to this responsibility, they must be empowered with basic life skills of which include being media literate. Media literacy is the ability to process information that is reliable and useful to their well-being and the well being of others.
The 21st century youth in Nigeria must have the competent ability to access and interprete messages from various forms of media. It is such literacy that will enable the media effectively permeate the society and positively influence the behaviour of youths around HIV & AIDS.
The factors that place youths at risk of being infected with HIV stem from different socio-economic and cultural conditions they live in such as poverty, poor educations, unemployment, social isolation etc.
Majority of these youths live with the virus and do not know while others do no have access to accurate information on how to protect themselves and others. Often, the subject is treated among youths with suspicion, the little information at their disposal most times turn out to be inaccurate.
People living with HIV face stigma and discrimination as these youths try to deal with their fears about the virus by ridiculing those infected. Others deny the existence of HIV and thus embrace a fearful silence; all these constitute a negative attitude that encourages the spread of HIV among youths.
In the absence of any known scientific cure, to manage the spread of HIV, youth friendly education resources can help create awareness to promote attitude change. Phyllis Kanki, Director, AIDS Preventions Initiative in Nigeria (APIN) in her contribution to the book “HIV/AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa” noted that the media have been identified as an important tool in health intervention programmes.
Through the media, the silence, spiral of denial, ignorance, stigma and discrimination associated with HIV & AIDS can be mitigated to promote a positive behavior change among youths.
Recognising the potential of the media in curbing the spread of HIV & AIDS, former Secretary-General of the United Nations once said “…Broadcast media have tremendous reach and influence, particularly on young people, who represent the future and who are the key to any successful fight against HIV & AIDS.
We must seek to engage these powerful organizations as full partners in the fight to halt the pandemic through awareness, prevention and education”.
The media can thus be referred to as a vehicle through which information is disseminated from a source to a heterogeneous audience simultaneously.
The Nigerian media has made impact in curbing the spread of HIV & AIDS in the society through its various information dissemination programmes. News coverage in the local newspapers over the years has been on the increase. Various radio and television drama and talk shows have adapted HIV & AIDS as a theme of discourse. However, these roles are limited to merely raising awareness. According to MC Quail in 1994, it is clear that information acquisition could occur without changes in behavior.
Thus it is not surprising that although the media coverage of HIV & AIDS has raised awareness, yet low knowledge of the preventive and treatment measures has contributed to young people engaging in behaviour that put them at risk of being HIV infected.
The media’s effort in curbing the spread of HIV & AIDS and promoting positive behaviour among youths is often hindered by lack of awareness and misconceptions.
To overcome these limitations, it is important for the media to re-prioritise its primary functions of “to inform”, “to entertain”, “to persuade”, and “to educate”, with greater emphasis on the “to educate” function around HIV & AIDS.
It is a popular saying that education is the vaccine against, thus, media Education can help curb the spread of HIV and promote positive behaviour among Nigerian Youths by raising awareness about preventive and treatment measures and reducing stigma and discrimination.
Through their intervention programmes, negative behaviour among youths, which includes hostility, denial, ignorance, stigmatisation, discrimination etc., will be replaced by positive behaviour such as sympathy, acceptance, accurate knowledge, care and support for people infected and affected by HIV & AIDS. This will facilitate the process for the emergence of a HIV-free youth population for National development.
The modern media such as the internet, television, radio, newspapers, books, etc, as well as traditional media such as murals, folktales, town crier, village square meetings, festivals etc indeed has essential impact in promoting positive behaviour around HIV/AIDS among youths in Nigeria.

Written by Jennifer Ehiadimen
•This is an abridged version of the winning entry of the 1st Omololu Falobi Foundation Essay Competition.
http://www.vanguardngr.com/content/view/20318/80/

Sunday, October 19, 2008

UNITED BY FOOTBALL!

Some people think football is a matter of life and death but it is sure more serious than that. Until now, I never really shared the same passion others have about football. In a nutshell, I am not a football fan. Do not get me wrong, I watch the sport, but not with the same aggression as I see my friends exhibit towards the poor thing. I mean, I could never really understand how people will sit week-in, week-out watching the same thing with so much enthusiasm. Well, perhaps I was turned into a mere spectator after reading gory tales of how people with high emotions stab themselves over mere sports and football clubs- it starts with just an argument you know.

However, I now have a change of mind towards the suppose “passion for football”. To many, football is just a game, but to me, I think it is more than that. Recently, during the last Lagos State Local Government election to be precise, my colleague, Akinwale Kasali and I decided to “monitor” the election, the response from voters etc as part of our responsibility as the Press. We needed to move from one local poll to another but there was no transport. Thus we decided to hitch-hike. But who will give some strangers a ride with the quiet atmosphere created by the “stay at home” order of the government?

There we stood, waving down different cars and bikes/okadas that whizzed past us without a second glance. Then at the point of almost giving up, a car screeched to a halt in front of us and my colleague yelled “Gunners for life”. Aha, the driver understood that language. In we hopped and the short ride that lasted for about fifteen minutes was spent by the duo discussing sports. “How did you know him?” I asked my colleague after alighting. “Oh we played football together a few weeks back”. Interestingly, he neither knew his name nor any other information. It was just their shared passion in football that connected them and of course granted us the free ride and thus contributed to the success of our assignment.

Will you believe that on our way back we were again given a free ride by another person, a total stranger, whom my football-driven friend knew from playing football in his friend’s neighborhood? Now that is some experience I will never forget. We can all be united by football without necessarily allowing all the high emotions or demons of the sport to drive us into stabbing ourselves to extinction. From this experience, I now believe that there is more to football than we see on the surface. As Joe Namath of American football Hall of Fame quarterback says “Football is an honest game. It's true to life. It's a game about sharing. Football is a team game. So is life”.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

COFFEE IN ONE HAND, AN ENERGY DRINK IN THE OTHER


Lately, I have been thinking a lot about Coffee. I am not a fan of the beverage but somehow, my thoughts have been revolving around this drink. I do not know if it is because my friend made a funny statement about her idea of balance diet being a mug of coffee in both hands. And I wonder, will it be an instant coffee or a home-made one? What is the difference? In an sms reply, my colleague whom I expect to be a coffee-addict said the basic difference between a home-made coffee and an instant-coffee like this: “… homemade one I guess will be richer while the instant is the ‘wuruwuru’ made by coffee machine whatever…” This certainly does sound like someone who does coffee? Dissatisfied, I went on the global library to enrich my knowledge on the subject and founds some real interesting facts!

Instant coffee resulted from many attempts that was made in the past to make coffee making process more palatable and less of a difficult task. Instant coffee refers to beverage derived from a brewed coffee beans but the lowest quality beans are often used for its production unlike the home-made conventional coffee. In spite of this flaw, more people actually prefer going for the instant coffee. I mean, who does not like the easy and faster means? Instant coffee is quicker because it dissolves in hot water instantly. You can regulate its quantity by the amount you put and store up the rest. However, it loses flavor and other essentials from long storage, thus it cannot stand the test of time!

At this point, I must clarify that my thoughts around coffee is not in the literary sense. Most of us these days are almost caught up in this characteristic of instant coffee- our society seems to thrive on the spirit of “instant” and “wuruwuru” these days, thanks to technological innovation and corruption. This is seen in the way people pay their way instead of paying the price of going through the conventional way of getting a life!

Driven by a “now now” attitude, we so much despise the patience of going through a process, and often opt for the easier way or creating one when unavailable… should I give examples? Well, perhaps in the subsequent rejoinder. All the same like the instant coffee, this life style looses its flavor, lack the real qualities and cannot stand the test of time! We revitalize ourselves with all the energy drink and dive into it the race again, the pursuit of short cut. Ironically, excess of energy drinks will probably have the same effect just as instant-coffee does! In life, the coffee bean is the most important ingredient of a quality coffee. Thus, it is important to abide by the simple law of nature and healthy production that requires us to cultivate our coffee in the tedious, worthwhile process- no short cut!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

A LETTER TO OUR TEACHERS

Dear Teachers,

Today, all over the world, you are being celebrated for the role you play in nurturing and guiding us through the life-long process of learning. Dr. Myles Munroe in his book “The Principles and Power of Vision” wrote: No achievement in life is without the help of known and unknown individuals who have contributed to our lives. You are known individuals who certainly have helped us achieve the gift of literacy.

You are an inspiration. Your determination to make hard things easy to learn is praiseworthy. You understand well the role to teach and do not condemn or judge your students’ inadequacies. You are our angels in disguise and your reward which they say is in Heaven is revealed here on Earth when you see a once written-off child you work hard to train become a productive member of the society. What can be more rewarding or exciting? The oxford dictionary defines a teacher as someone whose job is teaching, especially in a school. To teach means give lessons, to educate, to cause to learn and understand, to inspire, to help someone in self-improvement, to impart knowledge etc. it is a full-weight responsibility you take up so passionately! In the words of Ralp Waldo Emerson, “a teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops”.

You are life-shapers, change makers and Nation builders. Yet your contribution is often times underrated. You have been buffeted by different wave of challenges in the course of your profession (e.g. poor working condition), however, your resilience is what is keeping the Nigerian Education system together! What kind of Primary School, High School, and Colleges/Universities would we have without you?

October 5 is set aside every year to remind the government (who you taught too) and everyone the important role of teachers and the need to improve your working condition and status. It is also a day set aside to celebrate you and say thank you! Recognizing how much you matter, we appreciate your commitment and competence in building the Nation. After all, it is he who builds the youths that builds the future of a Nation.

Dis generation shout out perpetual congratulations to our dear teachers, the passionate men and women out there, for making simple things look extra-ordinary, for making hard subjects simple, for broadening our horizon, for imparting knowledge, for building a competent generation and for being committed teachers- for indeed you matter!

As you build other people’s children in truth and love, May your own not be neglected. Happy World Teachers' Day!

May God Bless you all.

Jennifer Ehidiamen
-Active global citizen, committed to working for a positive change!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

PEACE IN ACTION!

Imagine taking an elevator ride (which takes only a couple of minutes) and you strike up a conversation with a stranger who suddenly ask you to define peace, how will you define it? Well, you might be interested in finding out how a group of youths in Akute community will be defining Peace today. Inspired by the renowned primatologist Jane Goodall, Ph.D., DBE— Youths Advocate for Change and friends of Roots and Shoots USA, will celebrate the International Day of Peace today at Deluxe Pacesetter College, Ajuwon Akute (the border between Lagos and Ogun state). This event will feature Film show, Music, Discussion, Networking, Peace Declaration, and Fly Giant Dove!

The purpose of the day as stated in UN General Assembly resolution of 1981: “…is to devote a specific time to concentrate the efforts of the United Nations and its members States as well as of the whole mankind, to promoting the ideals of peace and giving positive evidence of their commitment to peace in all viable ways…The international day of Peace should be devoted to commemorating and strengthening the ideals of Peace within and among all nations and people”.

A UN Messenger of Peace since 2002, Dr. Goodall encourage Roots & Shoots members and individuals to promote peace in their communities and around the globe. Roots & Shoots members and friends craft Giant Peace Dove Puppets from reused materials and fly the Doves in their communities to symbolize their commitment to peace. In past years, Giant Peace Dove Puppets have flown in almost 100 countries in city parks, backyards, convention centers and even refugee camps.

Held high by young hands, the Doves have spread their wings everywhere including the Coliseum in Rome, a monastery in Mongolia, the base of Mount Fuji, the peak of Mount Kilimanjaro and this year at the plains of Akute! “With the Peace Doves, we remind everyone of the truth they sometimes forget, that peace is possible. We celebrate all that is free and noble…we celebrate all that so many people have done throughout the year, and will do next year to create a better world,” said Dr. Goodall.

Peace is what you and I can sustain. It is not just the absence of tension but also the presence of justice in all ramifications. With respect, dialogue and understanding, peace can reign in our homes, community and nation. The first step is to make a commitment to be at peace with yourself. We should all come together to renew our commitment to promote peace in our community as the first giant dove in Nigeria fly high held by hopeful hands.

For more information about the Roots & Shoot Day of Peace event visit http://www.rootsandshoots.org/campaigns/dove or contact Adeola Ogunlade, Youths Advocate for Change: 08083127847. Happy International Day of Peace- One Love, One Peace, One World!

Friday, September 19, 2008

THE FUTURE OF THIS GENERATION –A Wake Up Call for Nigerian Youth Home and Abroad



I’m sure that you have all read through three guest writers on ‘ DIS GENERATION’ page managed by amiable Jennifer, for the past weeks; Temidayo Israel-abdulai, Isikwenu Oghenefego and Jessica Rimington all discussed one thematic focus which is FUTURE and YOUNG PEOPLE .


I want to share an excerpt from an address that was delivered by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered at Oberlin College on June 1965, Ohio entitled ‘Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution’ he shared the story of Rip Van Winkle; the things that we usually remember about this story that is -Rip went up into mountain for his long sleep, when he went up, the sign had a picture of king George iii of England, when he come down, years later, the sign had a picture of George Washington, the first president of the United States. When Rip looked up at the picture of George Washington he was completely lost; he knew not who he was. This reveals to us that he slept through a REVOLUTION.


Revolution! That is my focus, the three guest writers talked about the issue of future generation without sounding the word revolution which I believe as only solution to under-youth development in our country. Dayo Israel , a young Nigerian I respected so much, talked about “My Hope for Future Generation” I could remember vividly in one of my meeting with him in Lagos , I said that we need to bring down our commitment and passion to grassroots so that young citizens there would understand those developmental issues and participate.


Isikwenu Oghenefego said that many young people have lost hope in this country- Why? Those countries they ran to had their own turbulent period and through socio-political-economic revolution they are smiling today. What am advocating for is in support of what Jessica Rimington of One World Youth Project talked about “The future’s Future” in her context she encouraged connectivity of ideas and frowned at social inequality, believe me my fellow young Nigerians the concept of egalitarianism should be encouraged among Nigerian youth home and abroad and our coming together-‘the synergy’ is the key.


My wake up call to all Nigeria youth on a final note is in accordance to what an elder statement, politician and journalist of higher repute Chief MCK Ajuluchuwa of blessed memory said “… I foresee a revolution, may be after my life time, a great revolution arising from the youths, a violent revolution not a peaceful one, where all the tyrants, all thieves of public fund will be slaughtered like in the RUSSIAN REVOLUTION of 1917 .


Never allow it to be said that you are SILENT ONLOOKERS, DETACHED SPECTATORS but you are involved participant in the struggle to make social revolution a reality, a revolution without violent in Nigeria .


By Guest Witer on Dis Generation, THE NATION Newspaper (sundays):

MAYOWA Adeniran A youth- development Journalist with Youngstars Foundation, Jos Executive Officer, African Youth Television Network, (AYTV)

Friday, September 12, 2008

GO ASK ALICE!

Do you know enough about your health and sexuality to help you stay in good shape and out of trouble? It is no longer news that where providing comprehensive information is concern, some parents and teachers still find the task difficult. Thus, they only tell us what they want us to hear and sweep the rest under carpet until the media rescue us from our state of deprivation!

Talking about the media, despite the junks on the internet, there are some outstanding websites that are taking the lead in providing useful information that can be accessed free of charge by anyone. I stumbled on one of such wonders of the Internet recently, actually I heard about the link in a programme organized by MTV Base Youths Are Talking. The facilitator simply said, “…Check out www.goaskalice.com…”. The name alone is enough to spur anyone into action. I was intrigued by the resourcefulness of the website.
Basically, Go Ask Alice is an interactive website that is created to provide reliable, accurate, accessible and culturally competent information to help readers make responsible decisions about their health. You can “Go Ask Alice” questions on relationship, emotional health, alcohol, drugs, fitness and nutrition, sexual health and other general sexuality and social issues.

I actually posted a question to Alice (don’t ask me what question) but was disappointed when I did not receive an instant response as expected. This is because all questions and responses have to undergo a review process in order to ensure a qualitative and accurate response is given. When you submit a question, Alice checks her archives to know if similar queries have been addressed in the past and if it has, you are directed to the page prior to getting a response to your question.

Go Ask Alice, which is supported by a team of Columbia University Health educators, health professionals, research experts and health related organizations world-wide, can be accessed free of charge by students, parents, teachers, other professionals, the elderly, and everyone! Some interesting features on the website are: Questions and Answers of the week, Go Ask Alice Archive and Ask Alice (this gives you an opportunity to submit a question). However, Go Ask Alice is not created to address all issues because there are questions that should be better directed at “go see your professional doctor or counselor”.

“I am afraid to tell my mum I am pregnant”, “Should I tell my friend I am attracted to him?”, “Is social smoking really bad for me?”, “dining out effect on health”, “confused about HIV statistics” etc. are some of the issues I read up from the archives. It is amazing how much you can learn from this professional website. So whether you want to do some armchair psychoanalysis, learn by reading the diverse issues raised by others, or ask a question of your own, Go Ask Alice and get a fresh perspective to help you stay well informed and healthy!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

PHONE DATING EXCESSES OR CRISIS?

On a lighter note, I will love to share with you my friend’s phone dating dilemma…in his own words “…so that no guy ever falls into the same pit that I did”. And yeah, I am sure ladies can learn from this too since mobile phone has become a critical tool needed to hopefully negotiate, build and keep an intimate relationship, a new added value of GSM!He writes: A couple of week ago, a certain number was constantly flashing me, so I decided to send a text to know who it was.

The 1st call came through at exactly 12 midnight. If I had known it was some phony call, I wouldn't have picked it up because I have a standing rule that every person that does midnight calls is nothing but a damn cheap-skate.Unfortunately for me I did pick it and lo' and behold on the line was the most beautiful female voice I have ever heard, believe you me, it so beautiful that she would make you pee in your pants. So we did get talking while I still trying to know how she got my number. Before long that became no issue, all that mattered was talking to this chic. I was stuck on her. I called her about 5 times a day and she did same, telling me that if she doesn't talk to me in an hour, she's not satisfied. My male instinct kicked in and got me excited!

After her exams, instead of going home she decided to come to Lagos . I should have got a cue of what was to come when she asked if I wasn’t interested in seeing her. She got to Lagos on a Friday night; my expectation was stake high, hoping to see a beautiful damsel that would totally knock my socks out. But my expectation crashed to debris, leaving me blank, as I tried to convince myself that the person in front of me wasn’t the girl I have been talking to, considering the fact that she told me that on a beauty scale of 1 to 10, she was an 8 but what was standing before me short of a 6.

The next couple of minutes got me thinking about how to ditch this girl. She was every thing that I don’t want in a woman- fat, too spiritual, the whole anchelada. I later found her hanging with my friend whom I think gave her my number, and she asked me to come see her. To avoid her suspecting on my plans to ditch her I paid her a visit that Saturday. After all said and done she simply refused to get the silent message... Girl Get a life! Well to cut the story short, she left for school this morning and I haven't called her. I do hope that she don’t call me or remember me. Like I said before screw free call and phone dating. What do you think?

(Thanks Samuel for sharing!)

Monday, August 25, 2008

PROTECTING THE FUTURE!

“What is with the trend of having guest writers on your column?” someone asked. He was wondering if I am tired of writing so soon! My voice is not silent, I am certainly not tired of writing because it is a positive way expressing myself! But this month, I am inspired to share this platform with other young people of like-minds from different parts of the world- Dayo Israel, Jessica Rimington, Oghenefego Isikwenu. They are epitome of young leaders who will do nothing but succeed in their mission to protect the future. They understand the beauty of being youth and making positive impact. By engaging and commititng themselves, they are using their brain and heart to influence others with hope!

What happens when you loose hope? You don’t want to do anything anymore. You become a detached citadel of pessimism and even act as a barrier to the success of others. And everything stop being of real value because of your inability to achieve your goals. God forbid that our generation become shapen into a hopeless one!

The three guest writers who were featured as part of this year’s international youth day celebration did express their hope for this generation and their commitment to protect the future despite the many challenges facing our world today. We can indeed stop the earth from being driven into premature extinction if we all desist from activites that promote social inequality, man inhumanity to man, enviromental degradation, poverty etc.

It is because of the present as well as the future that we need to be more accountable and stop ourselves (not just our leaders) from squandering the resources God has blessed humanity with. Industrialization is one of the contributing factors to global warming and even at rural level, poverty is causing men to depend solely on earth to survive, thus they cut down trees to feed but leave the land they tilled for food bare and neglected.

The decisions you and I make everyday affect generations ahead. However, our passion and loyalty could be channeled towards moving things forward. We need a paradigm shift from the materialism mess we have got ourselves into by not denying the value of money i.e money is great to have if you do great things with it, but by understanding that there is only enough to meet our needs and not our greed. Protecting the future is all about sustainability. We all need to hold hands and join hearts to make the world a better place for posterity and not shatter our hope into piece.

Monday, August 18, 2008

THE FUTURE'S FUTURE (Guest writer)

An OWYP colleague from Nigeria and I were recently discussing all the societal divisions we face, all the prejudice and discrimination. We were equally frustrated with parallel situations in our parts of the world. We asked each other: Would it ever get better?
I saw a 15 year old boy freaking out once because he too saw the burden our generation faced. He was on the verge of tears because he saw it only as a burden. Yes, it is a burden in one way. But, the beautiful side of it contains a truth that is almost too overwhelming to admit to ourselves and perhaps this is why we do not yet fully own it. That this generation and the ones coming right after us have the gift and the challenge of re-imagining the world for our great-great-grand children, is there anything possibly more important and exciting?

If I had to put a theme to this I would say: curing human detachment and the precipice on which our generation finds itself resting. Though that sounds really bold, I claim no profoundness or shocking insight, only observations. Some very smart people told me that this all happened not all too long ago. That it arrived with the Industrial Revolution, the age of Colonization, and genocide of indigenous peoples. They said that we started internalizing this new story of human existence around the time we did not need to be directly connected to the land to survive. Paul Hawken says the crux of it all really comes down to oil. That once we discovered what we could use it to make, without having to use the actual energy, we spiraled fast in a direction that most now label as progress.


Our lives and world were transformed. And, it is all incredible in its own way. I can stand in Las Vegas and love it just as I can stand in the Redwoods and love it. But, it doesn't change the fact that something is wrong. If I dare venture to define what is wrong I would say: (1) Somehow in the process of so much growth, we have become detached from what it is to be human. (2)Our current ways of life are utterly unsustainable. The reason it matters is because we are pushing humanity toward a premature extinction. Our global economic system has detached us from the basic essentials of life, methods of extraction, production, consumption, and waste. This disunity allows for great injustice. According to Van Jones, "Two problems confront us: social inequality and environmental destruction. Both problems are reaching crisis points. We act as if they are separate problems, but they are linked economically, politically, and morally."


Around the globe, people are starting to do in their own ways, in their own communities what has to be done; we see this in the influx of NGOs, and even in the media's relatively new attention to "being green" and promotion of community service. Out of necessity we are going to have to literally change the world starting with the way we interact with it.


Guest Writer: Jessica Rimington,
Founder: One World Youth Project.

Monday, August 11, 2008

My faith in Nigeria, my hope for the future (Guest writer)

Many young people have lost hope in this country, so all they think of is how to leave the country; it’s quite unfortunate, but I will love you to know that you have a part to play in the rebuilding of this nation. I believe so much in Nigeria that somehow I have a way of seeing the silver lining behind the cloud. There is hope! Our fathers (THE LEADERS) have disappointed us in many ways, the hope we have left is the generation of young people whose mentality have not been entangled in the corruption that stinks all over. The wind of corruption has caught up with some young people, but we have a remnant. It is no more a hidden fact, they are everywhere, and in every sector of our economy young people are proving themselves as leaders, achievers, goal getters and good managers. The increase in civil society, international organizations and even corporate organizations concern for leadership development among young people has proven to be a step in the right direction.
This is where I get my hope from. Our present leaders did not have the opportunity to undergo leadership trainings before they took up such positions, so they just learnt on the job. The African Leadership Forum, LEAP Africa , YoungStars Foundation, Inspiro Communications and Media, UNFPA, UNDP and a lot more organizations have concentrated on leadership development programmes for young people. You may not feel the impact now, but there is hope. Let’s concentrate on building a peaceful, equitable and sustainable future for our children. Our fathers did what they could and gave us the Nigeria we now live in; you have to construct and build the Nigeria you want your children to live in and now is the time.
This is our opportunity to contribute to nation building, do not wait till you are the President, Governor, Senator or even the Counselor to make an impact. Your next door neighbour looks up to you for leadership and direction, your kid sister believes so much in you and will be devastated if you fail, what about your parents, they always believed you will be better than them; my fellow Nigerian youths, we have a lot of work to do in reconstructing the Nigeria of our dreams. I certainly cannot do it alone, I need you to make this happen; you are important! I believe we are the hope of our country, Nigeria . Stop complaining, contribute your part, I will do my part, am sure together we can achieve a Nigeria we would be proud of, we can give our children a country they will boast about.

Guest writer: Isikwenu Oghenefego, National Focal Point, Global Youth Coalition on HIV and AIDS (GYCA), Action Partner, Oxfam International Youth Partnerships (OIYP) and Coordinator, Inspiro Communications & Media (ICM).

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

My Hope for future generation by Dayo Israel (Guest writer)


I live with Hope. Hope for a better tomorrow, Hope for a Brighter Future and a Safer World. However, this hope is not just for me but also of and for the over 30 Million Young People all over the World and the Unborn Generation. It is this hope that inspires my various International travels all over the world to gather together Young Leaders in their thousands to pray for the world through the Youth on the Frontline Conference.
I’m opportune to be born in this generation that is regarded as the IPod Generation, even though we have our records of uncomplimentary achievements, I am not in anyway envious of the past generation - My Parents Generation. The generation responsible for the ills of our today’s society, with records of corruption, massacre, under development, local and foreign debt, and foreign aid dependence as a result of bad political decisions such as the Structural Adjustment Program that has enslaved the African Citizenry. From Rhodesia to Kosovo, South Africa to Cuba, Liberia to Vietnam & South Korea, Afghanistan to Iraq, our “parents generation” Leaders fought wars that they had no business fighting in the first place. Wars that made so many Families Homeless, Children Parentless and turned so many Future Leaders into Child Soldiers.
Today's challenges are daunting. Top of the list is the Climate change and AIDS Pandemic that threaten us in an interconnected world. The Free World has continued to re-colonise the developing nations through various International Policies such as Globalisation and Open Market Economy. One of such is the Economic Partnership Agreement advocated by the European Union. The Iraq war and the resurgence of Taliban, and other global terrorist networks, have made our world more menacing by the threat of nuclear proliferation. The fears of terrorism have made our skies unsafe for travel.
Faced with these new generational challenges, the youths of this generation have continued to express passion and commitment to meet even greater challenges that may come with time. We have fought unemployment through Entrepreneurial alternatives. Our Innovations have posed major breakthrough globally. With Information Technology as one of the blessings of this generation, we have been able to tackle the challenges facing effective communication and information sharing. Young People now have a voice than we did 10years ago.
My Hope for the future generation is for a World filled with Love, Peace and armoHarmHarmony. A world where Young People: Succeed in education and continue participating in learning until University Graduation.; Take part in activities that develop their resilience and the social and emotional skills they need for life, and enjoy their leisure time, making real contribution to society using their energy and dynamism; Are emotionally and physically healthy and able to cope with the demands of adolescence and becoming an adult in a safe and supportive environment. Let us arise and build, working hand in hand to make this world a better place.
Guest writer: Temidayo Israel-Abdulai, Coordinator for the Nigerian Youth in Diaspora Organisation, a TV Talk show host and Youth Evangelist.

Monday, July 28, 2008

The Artic is screaming, North pole is melting!

Riddle: Where will Santa Claus move to now that the North Pole is melting away? The North Pole which is located in the middle of the Arctic Ocean, amidst waters that are almost permanently covered with constantly shifting sea ice is melting! Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations Secreatary-General urges the world to take action and make the wrong right. What is the wrong? Men have abused the environment. Knowingly or unknowingly, our activities have drastically influenced the environment which has resulted to another global Challenge! Scientific consesus on climate change is that human activity is beyond reasonable doubt the main explanation for the current rapid changes in the world's climate, with all the cut-throating inventions here and there, thanks to industrial revolution.

We have reached where are are now, and everyone is affected, including those who do not understand what climate change is all about! But how can we undo the damage? We need some prudence! "Prudence does not mean failing to accept responsibilities and postponing decisions; it means being committed to making joint decisions after pondering responsibly the road to be taken." Says Pope Benedict XVI. Actions taken now by everyone, both locally and globally will go a long way to affect future generation.

So, come August 12 International Youth Day (IYD), an annual opportunity that recognizes the youth and celebrates their achievements and pushes for their participation in all areas of society, youths from all over the world will be taking action on Climate change. The selected theme for this year’s IYD is ‘Youth and Climate Change: Time for Action’ in recognition of the fact that climate change has devastated communities and deepen the effects of poverty and hunger globally. The youths are the future, if we don’t protect the future, who else will? Back home what will you be doing? Ensure that you are not left behind in this significant and historic event. Build a synergy with local youth groups and NGOs to contribute your quota.

As part of Dis Generation’s celebration of international youth day (we still have something to celebrate!), three outstanding young people will be featuring on this column to share their hope for future generation: Dayo israel, Global Coordinator for the Nigerian Youth in Diaspora Organisation UK; Jessica Rimington, Founder, One World Youth Project, USA; and Oghenefego Isikwenu National Focal Point, Global Youth Coalition on HIV and AIDS (GYCA), Action Partner, Oxfam International Youth Partnerships (OIYP) and Coordinator, Inspiro Communications & Media (ICM), Delta State. It will be nice to know the driving force of these youth advocates despite the ill and challenges of today’s world! Do they also nurse the fear of what kind of earth their children will be born into? Do they have any hope for future generation? Their voices are very loud, so wear some earplugs or earmuffs. It promises to be an exclusive but insightful celebration of youth!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Guest columnist: NOT JUST ANOTHER BROUHAHA!

A particular piece I read in one of the Nigerian daily newspapers really stunned and shocked me for not making the bold headlines:17 KILLED IN IMMIGRATION, PRISONS RECRUITMENT. It was very annoying to read such story in a not too alarming second or third page. Such human error that cost the lives of 17 job seeking Nigerians is catastrophic enough to make the front headlines. That Nigeria has degenerated to the level where her citizens cause a stampede to get conscripted is indeed food for thought! What could have driven these honorable men to this point of madness is a question only our top fat government officials can answer.Yours sincerely was once a part of these mad march to survival when I applied to join the SSS some years back. The arena for recruitment was so choked that one could hardly move around. It was only after a call on those above 30 years of age to leave for home that the place became tolerable for a while, yes it only lasted a while, as those that left soon started to emerge afterwards with some barbers receipt and some alterations on their birth certificates. In the midst of all these brouhaha, no provision was made for any medical emergency situation. I left the recruitment ground after a whole week of insanity coming out as the next guy that would have been recruited. With pain and and a hope for the future I had stumbled out of Abuja hoping and believing that such a mishap would never take place again in my country but of course I was wrong. Wrong because I either believed too much in the recruitment exercise which in itself is futility when you are bereft of a Godfather or the keepers of the system whom I taught would make better provision next time before they think of stirring the nest of unemployed Nigerians. Some of the simple questions we need to ask ourselves as regards this ugly developments are:

1. Who organized the recruitment and what was his estimated participants

2. How much was given for the recruitment exercise and for what reasons was it intended?

3. If so much was given, was it spent judiciously to tend to emergencies e.g. availability of ambulances and doctors ,nurses and other related services adequately paid for to tend to the needs of hungry and ignorant Nigerians (as it relates to their health status mind you the state of the economy promotes such ignorance).

4. Now that the victims are dead who stands liable to be sued or held responsible?

5. If a way of compensating victims is a job offer as shown by the governor of Enugu, why wasn’t the offer made before the accident? For it shows availability of jobs not only in Enugu but also in other states if the governors care to develop their civil service. But why wait for a disaster before such offer is made?

Guest writer: Feyi Shaba, Kwara State

E-mail: feyishaba@yahoo.com

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

One world! Pictures speak volumes...






Going into unfamiliar territory will not destroy your old, comfortable world. Rather, it will expand your world, your vision, your knowledge and your possibilities. The next time you come across a road that you've never traveled -- whether it is an idea, a person, a belief system, or an actual road -- take a side trip and make your world a bigger, more interesting place.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

TRAVELING IS EDUCATION


“Going into unfamiliar territory will not destroy your old, comfortable world. Rather, it will expand your world, your vision, your knowledge and possibilities…and make your world bigger and more interesting” I love that quote because it expresses the importance on traveling in just a few words. Traveling is important. But not everyone can afford it because it takes money, time and courage.

The best education a child can ever receive is the opportunity to travel and experience a different culture. This will enable him break down any sense of ethnocentrism he might have developed as a result of being confined to his comfort zone. Most of what we read or watch on TV about other cultures or places do not really depict reality. It is like looking at the world through a window which is not the same as being there.

I used to think everything begins and ends in Lagos until I got the opportunity to visit other states only to be amazed at how big Nigeria is, not to mention our rich cultural diversity. Traveling broadens one’s horizon. The experience is usually an eye-opener for the person who travels and the places he visits. People who have never heard about your culture totally depend on you to tell them everything while at the same time learning about theirs. As a result of your interaction with them, you gain insight and understanding and this increases your cultural sensitivity and tolerance towards others, you even realize that the people are not so different from you.

Traveling is not escapism. People who travel to run away from problems only return with increased anxiety that is detriment to their health. However, a change of scenery is good, even psychologist recommends it. The experience clears your mind and transforms you in a way that you are better equipped with new ideas on how to solve the problems. It helps your discover yourself while discovering the world.

The local and international travel experiences I have has humbled me. That is another thing traveling does. It tests you, challenges your social norms and forces you to think differently about issues of life- it alters your worldview for good and sometimes leaves you silence for a while because you think more deeply and not judge things one face value. Traveling is one of the best things that can happen to anyone. It does not matter how far you travel from home- to the next village or abroad, it does not matter how you travel- by road, sea or air, the experience knocks you out, reshapes you and expand your horizon. When last did you travel? Get out of your comfort zone, experience real education that goes beyond the four walls of a classroom and redefine your identity. Like my friend say “the world is too round to sit in a corner!”. May you travel safe always.

Monday, July 07, 2008

One strike too many!

Teachers in public schools across the country have begun an indefinite strike to demand for the release of the circular containing the new Teachers Salary Structure (TSS) and once again the standard of education is being compromised as the right to education of the Nigerian child is being denied. Strike! Strike! Strike! Is that the only language we understand in this country? Is that the only action that can resolve the issues people feel need urgent attention? NLC go on strike, Petroleum workers go on strike, Transport road workers go on strike, Trade union go on strike, Doctors go on strike, Teachers go on strike and our national development is grounded to a halt. One more strike and it will be one orchestrated by Nigerian students screaming for a better standard of education.

Our teachers deserve to get salary increment for their unrelenting and profound effort in building the nation; after all it is he who builds the youths, the posterity of the Nation that builds the Nation. So as the government sort out ways to meet the demands of our teachers, they should also use the opportunity to look at ways to refurbish the standard of education in Nigeria . We need to turn a fresh page on our education system, we need a change!

The deteriorating standard of education in Nigeria overwhelms me. And like G.T the Guitar man, I sing “when am I gonna be what I wanna be? When am I gonna see what I wanna see? Time is ticking and I can’t wait no more, do dreams ever come true in this part of this world?...” but I’m not singing alone, millions of students all over Nigeria who are currently affected by the National Union of Teachers’ strike are echoing the lyric in different languages.

When two elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers. But if the grass suffer for too long, it withers and that will take the carer back to square one of cleaning up the after-effect! This strike will turn youths angry for being left alone to waste; they will channel their desire to be and belong into cultism or gangsterism and exchange their books for gun to derive power since education has failed to empower them. More violence then becomes the order of the day as these youths display their youthful exuberance negatively. Others simply take to street football with the hope of becoming another “JJ Okocha or Kanu” or better still indulge in ganster rap as a way of expressing themselves and for leisure and gratification, sex come into the picture. All these and many more are the mess parents, teachers, government and all stakeholders will have to clean up if the strike is not resolved soon- a very expensive rehabilitation exercise!

CHEATING THE CALENDER?

It is a few days to my birthday. For a minute, in my imagination, I’m surrounded by different date of birth and now I cannot even tell which is the right one- was I born July 1st 1987, July 1st 1985, July 1st 1984 or maybe not July at all? Phew! All this confusion must be a result of the adjusting and re-adjustment of age to suit the norm, a confusion that exists only in my head, caused by my quest for an official age!

Have you ever heard about “Official age?” do you have one? No? Well, guess that makes the two of us, or are we too naïve to adjust our age or perhaps we lack the opportunity to? Official age refers to the figure that tells how old one is on record which may not necessarily be the real age. For instance, if you are seventeen years and want to enroll for a programme that requires applicants to be at least twenty one years of age, you in this case will shoot-up your age by four or five years to qualify. However, the trend is more popular among older people who cut down their age to suit a particular course- e.g political race, job application, celebrity life etc.

In the midst of the quest to be seen as older or younger, we end up even confusing ourselves as well as others. For example, one of my classmates told me she was born in 1982 and claimed to be 3years younger than her younger sister. I was perplexed when I read in her credentials that she is 23years, the same age as her younger sister of the same mother! Are facts and figures now being calculated up-side-down? Should we not question these issues more often to be sure those who we respect as right thinking members of the society are not gradually going nuts, calculating such an important date- birth date, in a deceptive manner?

Again we blame the society for this trend. After all, for instance, if our educational system is really effective and other factors put in place as it should be, no one will have to gain admission into university at the age of twenty-one and be faced with the urge to cut down his/her age by five in order to fit into criteria of being “sweet sixteen already in Uni.” Or in order to meet up one of the pre-requisite for working in a Bank and like-minded organization after graduation.

Remember the song "Age Ain't Nothing but a Number" by Aaliyah? It features lyrics of a girl wanting to date an older boy, saying that their ages don't matter. Well, today, we are not talking about relationship and age but change of age and us! Are we really cheating the calender or our intergrity? If you are asked “How old are you?” is there any record somewhere that will contradict the figure you give? Age is a number, which ever way you turn it- up or down it will not stop you from being you because the true answer still lies within you!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

THE BULLY AND THE REST OF US!


I sat up quietly and listened. It was a few minutes past 12 midnight and I really wanted to sleep but I needed to keep my promise to stay up for this very long midnight call. On the other end of the phone was a young girl (called Tutu in this article) whom I have never met, probably not a day older than fifteen. She was being pressured to contest for a beauty pageant at school by a “senior” who seems to ever be in her shadow. The threat was that if she fails to contest, she will be severely punished by this senior and her “gang”. However, her participation in this social activity will mean hanging out a lot with the social freaks at school which will affect her studies. What should she do? Tutu’s issue is one we all know but never pay much attention to- BULLYING!
Bullying is an aggressive behavior which treats people in an overbearing, domineering or intimidating manner. Bullying is more psychological than physical, thus it does not necessarily involve any physical violence. This can be done through name calling or other verbal abuse, extortion, exclusion from activities or coercing someone to do something against her will (Such as in the case of Tutu). A bully is someone who is authoritarian, resentful, overbearing and who habitually badgers and intimidates smaller or weaker people repeatedly to boost her self esteem. Bullying is everywhere, it is not restricted to schools alone- we have Workplace bullying, online bullying etc., remember the bullying row on Big Brother show in 2007 that had Jade Goody's racist bullying of Shilpa Shetty, and recently Alex De Gale launch of foul-mouthed outburst at her housemates.
The effects of bullying can be serious and even fatal. Mona O’Moore Ph. D of the Anti-Bullying Centre, Trinity College Dublin, said, "There is a growing body of research which indicates that individuals, whether child or adult who are persistently subjected to abusive behavior are at risk of stress related illness which can sometimes lead to suicide". Victims of bullying can suffer from long term emotional and behavioral problems. People who are bullied can suffer from loneliness, depression, anxiety, which can lead to low self-esteem and increased susceptibility to illness.
The reason why Tutu called me aside being a fan of “Dis Generation” was because she wanted to talk to someone (70% of teenagers feel more comfortable talking to “someone”). Inspired by her, here is calling out for more Peer Support Programs and Trained Peer Moderators on Bullying! Bullying is a very upsetting and offensive act that must never be tolerated in silence. Have you ever been bullied? Do you know someone who is currently being bullied? Don’t just stand and do nothing, call a counselor or someone in authority for help. At least that was one of the advice I gave to my young friend. She sounded pessimistic about it though. “Ah, I’m afraid oh!” the threats of bullies sometimes discourages one from finding help but then, calling the attention of parents or teachers to take action against it will stop the bully from further abusing you and others.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

DADDY'S MAKE-OVER

Happy fathers’ day! Today is a day set aside not just to celebrate one father but to celebrate fatherhood, male parenting and honour fathers all over the world starting from the one closest to us! A father is a man, son, brother, nephew, uncle, godfather, grandfather, a role model and of course a friend! We should honour them everyday but most importantly today by giving them special gifts to appreciate them for who they are- a good father.

From their everyday activities as the head of the house to their office where they give or receive orders, fathers strive to build the nation but they are eventually shaped into persons we wish they are not. The quiet and loving dad becomes unusually agitated around the house due to the pressure from work that keeps him ever busy. They begin to loose touch with their children’s unbringing and loose touch with themselves in the rat race. Unconciously, they allow the norms to turn them into full-time money-making-machine (MMM). But all the same, they live up to their responsibility and remain our fathers- we can’t change that!

But what if you could change something about your Dad, what will it be? Here are some of the responses I received in a public poll conducted among young people on the topic “Daddy’s make-over”:
If I could make my Daddy over, I would like to take away the anger in him. I know it is not easy to be a Dad but it doesn’t mean one should be always angry.
I will want my Dad to learn to cheerish his children’s education. He needs to give his life to Christ so that all other things can be added to him.
I will like to reduce the way he complains about my dressing.
I will like to make him believe more in his children
My Popsi is stingy and cold. I will like to change that.
My father needs to be more interested in the education of his children. Right now he considers it a waste of reosources.
I will like to change my Dad into a woman
My father is always saying he does not have money and gets worked-up when I ask for money.
My Dad has taught me to be optimistic about life. I don’t want to make him over. I will like to buy him a car and change his work.
I am not in good terms with my father. He is easily influenced by other people’s opinion. This is one thing I will like to change!

It is amazing how much we want to change our father for the better. Do you think we can begin this make-over session by simply loving them the way they are and appreciating them more? For instance, 80% of the people who participated in this poll did not even know today is father’s day! Fathers are too significant for their day to be insignificant. Well, here is calling out to all father’s sons and daughters to celebrate their Dad.

WHEN IS CHANGE?

Looking at the situation in Nigeria and considering the level of corruption, it sometimes makes one to wonder if ever change would take place. Taking a case study of the just concluded Senior Secondary School Examination, it was discouraging to learn how very little our youths believe in "studying to show one's self approve". Yes, they no longer believe that they can study and pass an exam.

I remember very well standing before some students in a school, and advising them to work towards their examination with all diligence and dedication and also seal their efforts with prayers and trust in God. I actually shared my experience with them and the Joy that I got when I received my SSCE result back in 1998. I was indeed convinced that these same students who had listened with rapt attention were ready for change, to work hard and pray to achieve the best.

However, the reverse was the case. It was so disheartening to hear about the fraudulent activities and all manner of corruption that took place during the examination. What really broke my heart was seeing the same students throw caution (and their commitment to fight corruption) to the wind as they all ran to also partake in the purchase of questions and answers of the subjects they were about to write. Someone asked me “what can you do to stop them from such act?” It was so sad. The situation seemed uncontrollable. And my heart has kept asking me “will there ever be a change against corruption in our Nation, Nigeria ?”

How do we build a better society for tomorrow’s leaders who also seem to be swimming in the pool of corruption? What foundation can we build for the next generation? I wonder why a parent will look his children say to them “you are slacking and not smart at all” just because they refuse to participate in the examination malpractice. What values is such parent passing on to his child?

Change is what we willed and not what we wish for Nigeria and we will surely experience change. A lot of things will soon be revealed at all levels and those who refuse to embrace change will be left behind. We all must do the right thing at all times, no matter the cost, and pass the same values to others, especially the young ones. The time for change is now!

Guest Writer: Marcelina E.E.
marcellinae@yahoo.com