Wednesday, August 31, 2016


Funny how CNN knows to say that "NIGERIA ENTERS RECESSION" but headlined Facebook's founder Mark Zuckerberg's visit to Lagos as his visit to sub-Saharan Africa. Of course, trust the vibrant Nigerian e-warriors to deal CNN a harsh response on Twitter, and at the same time not losing any opportunity to celebrate the epoch making visit of a great icon to one of the world's Facebook hub, Lagos. Yes, I wasn't fortunate to be among those who saw, walked with him, or made the audience at events he attended, but I followed every bit of his visit since the day he landed in Lagos, on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and other social media platforms.

It is norm for me to put off my data on my phone before I nod off into somnolence at night, then catch up on instant messaging only when I wake and put it back on, but I woke up yesterday to find that my IMs have come into my phone, and I could even browse without data, which I quickly put out on Twitter in order to find answers to the free browsing I was enjoying without Wi-Fi, or putting my data on and to find out if it was linked with the presence of Mark Zuckerberg on the mainland. @GreyWorth provided me the much needed answer thus: "@madukovich @Gidi_Traffic Yes! Its called Facebook Xpress Wifi in collaboration with COOLLINK. He's also in Nigeria to visit the sites &....", unfortunately once I left my abode on the mainland for the island, where I work, I lost the connection (somewhere along the third mainland bridge). So it was that though most of us couldn't be part of his itinerary on the mainland we benefited from his free Wi-Fi.


Interestingly, when Mark walked the streets of the mainland like a mere Lagosian mortal (unlike the norm where wealthy and influential Nigerians, talk more foreigners as wealthy as Mark, would do same only with armed bodyguards and police/military convoy for security reasons) two days ago, the mainland/island rivalry was once again stoked, with "Mainland 1:0 Island" trending for a while, before Mark compensated the island with an early morning jog across the Lekki-Ikoyi bridge yesterday. For me it was a win-win situation as I spend my daily life on both sides of Lagos. While the day dragged on, I watched videos of his many interactions and town hall meetings in my spare time, which I managed to stretch a tad longer than the usual.

Much has been said about Mark's simplicity, but I had to see it to believe it. The movie didn't even do him enough justice, nor anything that I have ever read about him since he became a public figure. I was intrigued by the way he could easily relate with his environment, and with the people around him, many of which in this case were strangers. Despite his status, there was no single instance where he talked down on any body, even though I am sure a few of the questions put to him by the creme of Lagos techies may have sounded quite pedestrian to him. This man simply has no airs about him, even when he knows that visit of his, is capable of bringing these roses and diamonds from concrete and dirt respectively (in these cases, the tech and electronic entrepreneurs of Lagos that have suffered neglect from their own people and government, as well as the outside world) to limelight.


My greatest joy was the fact that he kept the  government totally out of it. Not the local state government, not even the federal could benefit politically from what he's done. Apparently, his visit must've been unannounced, as the usual evidence of Nigerian governments' incompetence (especially in maintaining security, and event bungling) at organizing an all-inclusive event of this nature was totally absent. Ime Archibong and his crew deserve a pat on the back for making this a totally hitch-free and qualitative visit, where every minute counted. I was proud to see Nigerian tech entrepreneurs (even Seyi Taylor, who was a year my senior in medical school, but never practiced medicine beyond the much in housemanship) give good accounts of themselves, as viable alternatives for a government truly willing to diversify its source of revenue, if only government could look for once to developing their capacity, sometimes just by providing the enabling environment for them to thrive, and freely express themselves and their franchise, in order to move Nigeria from a resource dependent mono-economy to a service driven, human capital developed and explored one, just like many of the developed countries with little or no natural resource. Unfortunately, Nigeria's  government at all levels remain blind to the opportunities and prospects, a visit such as this, can avail us as a country.

It is no surprise that Lagos is the home of innovation, and hence attracts personalities like Mark Zuckerberg. This is a city that regards enterprise in spite of the (state) government. The north of Nigeria prides itself with the visit of Islamic scholars and imams, from Saudi Arabia for instance, but that has done little to nothing in terms of improving the economic well-being of the people of such places (besides the building of  magnificent mosques), with crippling socioeconomic indices that leave youths and their impressionable minds at the mercy of religious fundamentalists and  fundamentalism. Not even the recent ill-thought out visit by American Secretary of State, John Kerry to the north last week while ignoring the rest of Nigeria will change the status quo that fans the backwardness of that region. Governors of other states, even the president go investor-fishing abroad to no success, because nothing they do at home, especially in terms of policies show foreign investors that they are indeed willing to accommodate and keep them within the country. The reverse is the case with Lagos. Mark Zuckerbergs' visit will encourage that niche in Lagos, that are proper citizens of the world, who have always wondered if someone out there is noticing the feat they've managed to achieve and keep achieving against all odds. They have the answer now, and the sky just ceased to be their limit.



Saturday, August 13, 2016


As usual my Naija Tour can't be said to be complete without a trip to the southeastern part of Nigeria. Interestingly, I haven't made one in August since it became official to make such cross-country trips an avenue to explore the environments that I visit before this time. So when a two week break fell on my lap once again to do as I deemed fit, I couldn't pass on the opportunity to add the southeast to my traveling itinerary.

As a member of the executive of my village association in my place of residence outside of Igboland, I have noticed that every August the women wing of such Igbo associations don't meet unlike the men in August, as they are said to have traveled to the East for AUGUST MEETING. A discovery that I had to make rather than just automatically know, seeing that I'm no Catholic or Anglican, neither was I brought up in the village to know about these things till I became my own man. For this sake I was determined to find out what happens during these meetings in the east.

Turns out that in that month of August when children are usually on vacation, the dominant Christian denominations in the eastern part of Nigeria, organizes a weeklong (usually) convention-like program for its women, based at home and abroad. Though many of the women may belong to Pentecostal churches in the cities and towns across Nigeria and outside of it, they retain their membership of either the Catholic or Anglican Churches back at home in the east. It is to these that they return during the "August Meeting".

These Igbo women, or non-Igbo women married to Igbo men who are Catholics or Anglican are compelled to attend these meetings annually in the village or town of their husband's ancestry, usually in the early days of the month of August but not later than the second week of the same month. They attend the meetings in uniforms, consisting of a white blouse or top (which for so many women have begun to turn blue due to use of WASHING BLUE apparently to improve the "whiteness" of their fabric), and a wrapper, which may not be that uniform nationally, but more like uniform for the states where the women are coming from to the east.


Though the program is declared open by a member of clergy, with some words of admonition, the activities are soon taken over by the women for whom the meeting is designed. They provide lecturers amongst themselves who take them on topics from the spiritual to the not so spiritual, up to the very mundane. Lofty ideas are shared during these meetings, including how to better the lots of the less privileged in their midst amongst others using financial contributions from members, with those who have been defaulting having theirs calculated in arrears, sometimes with some interest. Donations are also welcome, even amongst non-members and the menfolk.

There's no gainsaying the fact that the August Meeting affords the women an opportunity to network and fan the embers of camaraderie amongst one another. On the vain side of things, it is also an occasion where they size one another up, and with lots of gossip permeating the air (as with some women, who will rather be outside of church premises sharing tales while their peers are within the church taking in the various programs organized for their individual and mutual development), it's no surprise that once a while conflagrations occur but thankfully such are quickly put down and erring parties appropriately sanctioned.

The Igbo are a consensus seeking people, hence you'd find them meeting at varying levels of the societal strata, in fact I surmise that if infrastructural development can be brought about singly by the act of meetings, Igboland will be like Dubai or even better. Though that utopia may not have been reached, the meetings have in no small measure led to the development of that marginalized region of Nigeria since after the civil war in 1970. It is my hope and desire above all, that these August Meetings will reap fruits in the direction where Igbo women wouldn't need the validation of the menfolk (in marriage or the likes) to be considered fulfilled, but rather to be fully emancipated in all  ramifications by their own right, of their own will.