Sunday, April 24, 2011

Demystifying verse (An Interview on 234Next Newspaper)

Writer, journalist and youth advocacy enthusiast, Jennifer Ehidiamen, took another step towards self-achievement with the release of her second collection of poems titled ‘Preserve My Saltiness’ in February. Her first, ‘In Days to Come’, was published in 2004 by the Young Poets Society, an online poetry club. Ehidiamen, who has a column in the Sunday edition of ‘The Nation’ newspaper, called ‘Dis Generation’, was awarded the LEAP Africa Nigerian Youth Leadership Award in November 2010 for her work as an outstanding youth leader. She had a 12-month stint as a fellow at the Atlas Corps in Washington DC, USA, and is currently features editor at Celebrating Progress Africa (CP Africa), an online portal which reports progressive African news. Ehidiamen talks about her craft and career pursuits.

I am from Edo State. I attended Federal Government Girls College, Benin City briefly but returned to Lagos and completed my secondary school at Ikeja High School. After completing secondary school, I had a gap-year. I was reading a lot and I wanted to know what else I could do with my life. I figured that there’s got to be more to being young so I decided to volunteer with a friend, Dayo Israel, who used to run a youth group at Ebute Metta. We arranged summer camps. While I was involved with the group, I got to know about Journalists Against AIDS (JAAIDS), where I later did a six-month internship. This was where I learnt how to use the media for advocacy. I also got opportunity to participate in an exchange programme organised by the British Council. Shortly afterwards, I gained admission to study journalism at the Nigerian Institute of Journalism (NIJ), Lagos.

Writing has always been a passion. I was a member of the press club at my secondary school. I started out reading Wole Soyinka’s poems, also J.P. Clark and Emily Dickinson. I began writing lots of poetry and I also joined online writing clubs. In 2004, I signed up to get published by an online poetry club, Young Poets Society. That encouraged me to keep writing. I also write short stories. Hopefully, that will be my next work.

It is a collection of 52 poems written over a period of three years. Some of it is raw poetry because I live the stories I tell. Aside from this, the poems deal with political, social, personal and spiritual issues. They are all written in the narrative form. I like to write in the first person narrative. The poems are like a collection of short stories. The book is targeted at young people and the young at heart. Many believe poetry is not the ‘in thing’ for this generation because it is not a celebrated genre of literature.

However, I believe one of the ways we can reverse this is to encourage schools, especially English and Literature teachers, to pay attention to it and engage their classes in critical discussion of different types of poetry. In addition, poets and writers should organise more reading sessions. I think we should also have more poetry slam and writers’ lounge. People should not conclude that poetry is a difficult genre of literature. I tell people, for every narrative poem they read, they get a combination of short story and poetry. It is very exciting to tell stories through poems.

Development journalist
I have always wanted to be a journalist. During my internship at JAAIDS, we were offering training sessions for journalists. We would bring young people living with HIV/AIDS and journalists together for sessions on how journalists can create awareness about HIV/AIDS. That was how I first learnt about development journalism. I started thinking of a column for young people. Luckily, the editor of ‘The Nation’ newspaper, then known as ‘The Comet’, approached me with an idea similar to what I had in mind about running a column for young people. That was how I started writing the column.

Giving back
Someone once told me that young Nigerians are very lazy and I refuted it. I like working with young people at the grassroots and I created an online forum for young people to interact, where they can get opportunities to develop themselves. I also reach out to youth through my column and work with some NGOs with a focus on youth development. ‘Before Graduation’ is another project we are running. It is a forum which creates opportunities for young undergraduates and secondary school students to do other things. We train them in life skills and inform them of internship opportunities.

We’ve done this at Yaba College of Technology and Obafemi Awolowo University. One World Youth Project is running a project which will connect schools from different parts of the world and we are currently trying to get University of Ibadan into the programme. We are also working on screening a documentary on social media and development journalism. The documentary, titled ‘Ten Tactics on How to Turn Information into Action’, was made by Tactical Technology based in the United Kingdom. LEAP Africa is sponsoring the screening of the documentary which is intended to train young people. Participants in the screening can mentor secondary school press clubs.

Culled from

Friday, April 22, 2011

Funmi Iyanda’s “Lagos Stories” Nominated for Monte Carlo Television Festival Award

“Lagos Stories”, an episode of My Country Nigeria, a three-part documentary on Nigeria produced by Funmi Iyanda and Chris Dada and aired on the BBC has been nominated in the News Competition of the 51st Monte Carlo Television Festival in the category Best News Documentary. Past recipients of the festival awards include multi award winning televisions dramas Mad Men and Lost.

The prestigious Monte-Carlo Television Festival is an annual global television festival established by Prince Rainier III of Monaco in 1961 to celebrate the best in worldwide television programming. The festival’s news Competition rewards outstanding documentaries that combine fascinating social and cultural topics with a high level of technical expertise.

Lagos Stories is nominated alongside documentaries produced by renowned broadcasters such as U.S. network HBO, France’s Arte and Germany’s Zdf. Other nominees across the categories honoured this year include award winning television programs 30 Rock, Glee and Modern Family.

Lagos Stories takes an in-depth look into one of the most fascinating and populated cities in the world as seen through the eyes of its own people. Funmi Iyanda takes viewers on an insiders’ tour of the city – from the exclusive salons to the urban ghetto of AJ City, she meets characters from all works of life revealing the resilience, resourcefulness and spirit of Lagosians. Enter Governor Fashola charged with the herculean task of organizing Lagos; Charly Boy, the cult hero spokesman for outcast bikers and the influential ghetto artists creating the musical styles and dances that spread over the entire continent.  In true Funmi Iyanda fashion, Lagos Stories has captured the heart and spirit of Lagosians, engaging them in eye-opening and down to earth conversations about their unique Nigerian experience.

Lagos Stories was broadcast on BBC World as part of the “My Country Nigeria” series and is an Ignite Media and Spark UK production.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Nigeria Elections 2011: Results and Analysis

The first of the 2011 Nigerian Elections which had been earlier postponed finally held on the 9th April, 2011. The Election was anticipated with mixed feelings, experiences and expectations as a result of the recent spate of violence and perceived incompetence by the Electoral Body (INEC). Elections were postponed in 15 senatorial districts and 48 federal constituencies which will be held on the 26th of April. Results have started pouring in as INEC kept their word that results will be announced at Polling units and collation centres and that all results will be available within 48 hours.

From reports from Citizen reporters on the field, it seems the PDP slots in the house has been mostly overtaken by the opposition.
Election Results

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Lagos we See, is the future we’ll have… #Lasgidi

Lagos is seen in different perspective by different people. To some, it is the commerical hub of Nigeria, the city that never sleeps, the city of milk and honey. How do you see Lagos?
“I See Lagos” is a call to all Lagosians, wherever they are in the world, to join in a collective visioning of Lagos. No doubt, Lagos is more than a geographical space but a place for hopes, and a place where dreams can become reality.
This is a challenge to everyone who truly believe in the future of this great city to envision the Lagos they want to see. It is an opportunity for all outspoken Nigerians, Lagosians especially, to take up the call for change and make their dreams a reality through expression and networking.
To share your vision, visit: I SEE LAGOS or Join the FaceBook Group

“I see a Lagos were every thing works, where touts do not molest innocent civilians, where there is no traffic jam along Ikorodu road from morning till night, where there is water for the people of Ajegunle, roads in all rural areas, cheap housing for all not only civil servants.”  Obinna
“I see Lagos, where there’s a world class public library in every LCDA” Seun

“I see Lagos as the regional commercial hub drawing multinationals from far and wide the way Singapore has done in Asia and Athens has done in Europe. Business friendliness is the key to this dream. The attraction of a major international player will cause a ripple effect that will trickle down many levels (GDP, employment – direct or indirect etc). Lagos is a typical example of what Nigeria should be. Unfortunately, the rest of Nigeria is what Nigeria is. I am proud to be a Lagosian (by blood). We are pacesetters and will forever be the role model state for the rest of the country and West Africa.” Kabir
“I see Lagos powered with a solar panel on every home, offshore wind on the highland, public health, access to high speed broadband, innovative education and accessible healthcare at every ward…I see happy people spoilt with choices of transport. I see a shinning city with dreams kept alive” Oluseun
“I see Lagos turning into an atmosphere of rest and freedom and much laughter on the faces of children.” Layefa Olivia
“I see a Lagos where beauty, cleanliness, wide roads, jobs and micro businesses grow beyond the Lekki/Ajah axis to Ikorodu, Epe, Ogba…the whole of Lagos! Eko oni baje o!” Desola Bakare
“I see a METRO-LAGOS. I am beginning to feel BRF’s vision. Lots of GREENS background/natural waterways. If you miss the Lagos of the early 70s, you will surely love the way things are going. Once the train system is in place, every other thing will fall into place.” Charles Nkanga

“I see Lagos with no more moluwes at oshodi, no more agberos, and no more … Policemen collecting N20 at roadblocks.” Tolulope Akinsanmi
“I see a new Lagos where one can spend 30minutes to travel from island to Ikorodu, Agbado and Sango without any traffic anytime, anyday.” Ojedokun Gbenga
“I See a Lagos where Passengers can pay Conductors in DANFO with ATM.” Oladipo Fasoro.
“I see a lagos that is secure with more BRT buses to reduce traffic congestion.” Abisagbo Agnes Omolola
“I see Lagos where social amenities will be sufficient for all, where gap between the poor and the rich will be minimal” Arowolo David.

WELCOME TO NIGERIA. I SEE LAGOS. What do you SEE? Join the conversation- click here