Thursday, December 18, 2014

Chime Asonye Presents #Songs4Change

With Nigeria's elections drawing closer, a new initiative has begun that seeks to harness the power of music to encourage those who believe in a better future for Nigeria and Africa. 


The project, titled Chime Asonye presents #Songs4Change, is a weekly dose of revolutionary music to inspire social progress in Nigeria and Africa more broadly. The songs – a mixture of old and new – advocate for positive change and awareness of important issues such as malaria, epileptic power, and domestic violence, amongst others. The initiative will feature primarily African artists but will occasionally include songs from others who promote social advancement and political consciousness. "I believe knowledge is created, not just by words on a page, but in fluid and dynamic ways," said Asonye, a development practitioner and social commentator, when describing why he started #Songs4Change. "Ever since I was young, I was shaped by politics shared in creative spaces like spoken word, debate, dance and theater. Music was always a constant fixture in these spheres and could touch people uniquely. Drawing on music to create critical consciousness in Nigeria borrows from my personal experiences that often combined art and politics."


The goals for #Songs4Change include but are not limited to, (1) increase dialogue on important development concerns using the hashtag #Songs4Change, (2) provide inspiration and encourage activism in and around Nigeria and Africa, and (3) stimulate the creation of progressive music from entertainers and upcoming artist. As a generation passionate about the change we want to see, it is imperative that we begin to challenge the status quo and require more from our entertainers and ourselves.


Africans have consistently unified and connected through music. Historically, it has been used to provide a source of inspiration and draw attention to important concerns on the continent. As the late great Afrobeat legend, Fela Kuti said, "As far as Africa is concerned, music cannot be for enjoyment. Music has to be for revolution."  #Songs4Change will be partnering with YNaija 2015,Jaguda.comGidilounge, AmeyawDebrah.comOmojuwa.comNigeriansTalk, Amplified Radio, NaijaDC, The ScoopNGand Tribex Marketing Group to help spread these songs all over Africa and the Diaspora. 

"We look forward to a growing list of media partners as our message reaches more people," Asonye said. "I believe these songs can become this generation's soundtrack for revolution."


For all things #Songs4Change, visit or subscribe here to receive weekly updates For more information, contact Chime Asonye at 


Thursday, December 11, 2014

Year 2015: The Year That Entrepreneurship Will Boom

We have heard that 2015 is the year for entrepreneurs and small businesses. While James Caan, a serial entrepreneur and investor summed it up as the year to shine, Tony Elumelu, CON, a Nigerian entrepreneur and philanthropist in his article, "The Rise of Africapitalism" predicts that 2015 will be the year where African entrepreneurs will take their place on global stage.

Do you share in this high doze of optimism? What is your prediction for 2015?

If you are still taking stock for the year 2014, this might also be a good time to look in the mirror and do some serious personal and organizational reflection.

I spent ample time chronicling stories of entrepreneurs this past week and I found two issues dominating the conversations with them – the need for mentorship and an enabling business environment.

For the wanna-be entrepreneurs, before you quit your job and run after the dream that has been tugging at you since kindergarten, it might be worth considering other possible ways to position yourself in the booming entrepreneurial space—dip one foot in to test the water as suppose to diving in with your whole body, one entrepreneur advised.

When I asked them what their major challenge was in running a business– funding is not what jumped on the list—surprisingly so. Most of the young entrepreneurs said that funding is the least challenge. As a matter of fact, one shared how he had all the money he needed to run his business but a few wrong decisions left him cashless and broke. This would have been avoided if he had the right mentors or network.

Mentorship is the key that opens key doors. Seek a mentor, one advised. Don't underestimate the power of business mentorship. Until you find a right mentor, keep searching.

An enabling business environment would include- stable power supply, good road network, favorable policies etc. These of course, are currently limited in supply.

But—not to shut down on the optimism, as we all position ourselves to leverage on the opportunities 2015 will bring to the business eco-system—here is raising a glass to all entrepreneurs bootstrapping their ideas to the next level.

An original article:
First published on

Monday, December 08, 2014

#Youth Mentorship Panel [Video] [#DiasporaCamp]

Did you miss the #GhanaThink Diaspora Youth Mentorship hangout? Here is a recorded version of the session.

Enjoy and please share with your network.

Thank you.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Queenola Kalu To That Cunning Young Man

To: That cunning young man,
I want to let you know that this time.....

You charmer,
With eyes lit by moonbeams,
You are every maiden's dream
Your perfect smile makes hearts leap,
But I've strapped myself so i don't trip

You deceiver,
You sing to me rhymes you haven't heard
You paint for me pictures you can't even see
Your vile intentions now glaring
Flashes of lust, so easy to tell
Flee far from you, I would
Clinging to The One who wishes me well

You destroyer,
Your words are smooth as butter,
But as ready as Fire -
Ready to wipe out everything in sight
Ready to leave the land desolate
Ready to bring pain and tears
But I'll run, I'll run before it's too late

You brewer of lies,
Your sugar coated tongue produces foul scents,
Packaged in attractive candy wraps
I certainly will not BUY THEM
For within lie dangerous traps
As I was told by my father,
What is sweet in the mouth becomes, in the belly, bitter

You giver,
I want not your BBs please
You say it's just a blackberry
But i know your ways,
You'll give much more
A Big Belly and a Bastard Baby,
What else do you have in store?

Spare me the floods of sweet forged messages,
Spare me those clich├ęs "sugar in my tea",
Spare me those precious gifts in pretty packages
Spare me, I beg, and let me be

I'm sorry for you, my dear
I hope that quickly you realize,
All efforts are futile, move on
Go and pick on someone your own SIZE!


Friday, December 05, 2014

Celebrating A Decade Of #Volunteering [Video]

Happy International Volunteers Day [IVD]!

For this year, I thought I should share this short video-- actually it was an interview for "On The Street", a youth program aired on TVC.

I hope you will encourage young people around you to start early? For more insight on how it might work with combining full time education and volunteering, you can read a copy of my new book "Half a Loaf and a Bakery." You can also download it from Okadabooks app on your android device or buy copies from Terra Kulture Bookstore Lagos, Florence and Lambard bookstore Lagos, or the Media Store, Silverbird Galleria, Abuja. The book covers youth volunteering, education, entrepreneurship and transitioning.

I am excited about today and tomorrow! On how the non-volunteer journey has been so far since... you can see the second video below:

For anyone who might have failed while attempting something this year, hey, cheer up! Failure is a good opportunity to do something differently in an improved way next time.

Here is wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a lovely 2015 of magical thinking and fruitful exploits!

There is a God.

Monday, December 01, 2014

Hairvolution: Young Nigerian Sculptor Explores Hair, Her African Roots

[VOA] - The young Nigerian sculptor scanned the gallery with satisfaction. Drinks and snacks were laid out neatly on a corner table while her works of sculpture lit up the white walls of the gallery like art on a canvas. Her solo exhibition was about to open and she expected guests from all over Lagos.

Taiye Idahor had mounted her three-week exhibition at WhiteSpace in Ikoyi Lagos Nigeria to display her own exploration of the themes of reincarnation, culture and identity. She used her hair as a navigator to find her roots and her voice, and to bring back memories. So, she called the show Hairvolution.

“I got it from the word evolution, to evolve,” the artist said. “The idea of hair being my point of departure from the beginning of the project.”

But the project really isn’t about hair.

“It led me into thinking about memory,” she says, “and how we -- as people -- should value the memories that we have and we make, especially our parents. Because this project was also based on the memory of my dad and my mum,” said Taiye.

Her own hair is long and wavy, unlike the usual short and kinky-haired Nigerians are known for. So she drew from her personal experience of being continually asked about the origin of her hair. Taiye explored her family history and the possibility that she was a reincarnation of her paternal grandmother, Ayie, who is said to be a Caucasian.

Discovering the fragility of memory

A guest reading the introduction
Taiye never met Ayie. She questioned her parents for clues and answers to help her form what has now become her first solo exhibition- a collection of self-portraits on tracing papers titled Shut Cut, a photo-collage tagged Odowa, a sculpture of a face with exaggerated long hair made from newsprint. “Somehow, it is a material that has been consistent in my work since 2010 when I started working professionally,” says the artist. She plans to continue using the material.

By showing faces with long hair in repetitive form, Taiye expressed her identity intertwined with that of her grandmother. She grew up hearing her father say she is Ayie reincarnate.

In the course of building on the year-long project, Taiye was confronted with the fragility of memory itself. She also sees the disappearing cultures of Africa as people embrace modernity in all its form.

Dressed in silky Iro and Buba -- a traditional outfit popular among Yoruba women -- the young artist’s slim figure moves hurriedly around the gallery. Her fragile look contradicts the strength of conviction it took for her to pull off this exhibition.

The viewer who is struck by her strength of purpose is tempted to ask if the fragility of the newsprint reminds her of her own body -- fragile yet able to produce a quality of strength.

Young artists of Lagos

Taiye [is from Benin], a city in Edo state in southern Nigeria, but she grew up in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial hub and a thriving center of creativity. She graduated from Yaba College of Technology, a Lagos polytechnic, in 2007. When she began her career in art, she found a small, young and vibrant community of supporters.
Guests at the exhibition
“We also have a lot of young people who are beginning to collect arts which is good and encouraging,” she said. “Because most of the older collectors are very strict on the kind of work they collect because they’ve been exposed to mostly paintings and sculpture.”

As Taiye talks, one of the first guests to enter the gallery is the Lagos painter, Kelani Abass. He is very impressed and as he examines her work he tells her the work is very strong in terms of “medium and materials, and again the theme of the artist.”

Abass is familiar with the other young Lagos artists experimenting with materials and ideas. He thinks Taiye’s Hairvolution is unique. “I like what I’m seeing.”

But many Nigerians still find it difficult to embrace the arts. Even a young photographer, Bola Oguntade, says so. “I have a funny opinion about art. Sometimes I find it difficult seeing that thing people really stare at … I just try to wonder what is this thing that they are in awe of.”

But he looks at the walls of Taiye’s exhibition and says, “When you look at what she has done… you can appreciate it for aesthetics. You can appreciate it for the message.”

Looking for support
Young artists struggle to find audience in a city where permanent galleries are few. Taiye says, “We don’t have enough standard galleries who are able to work with artists and represent artists. Art is not something that people collect all the time- it has its season.” When the season ends, buyers are few and young artists facing lack of sales are tempted by other work that pays the bills.

“We need more institutions,” Taiye says, “more galleries, proper galleries who represent artists -- because for now all we do is go from gallery to gallery,” says Taiye.

If Taiye had a gallery to represent her work regularly, she could more easily curate shows, find sponsors and look for other exhibition space and the refreshments for shows like this one. “Even up to the refreshment, I paid for it myself so it is a lot of responsibility on the young person.”

Some of the city’s young artists are joining a collective created by visual and performance artist Wura Ogunji, who wants to gather young talent who will support one another with constructive criticism.

“You look at a person walking down the street here and they are totally pushing boundaries and experimenting,” said Ogunji. However, you also see established artists whose work stifles creativity “which is ironic because artists are the ones that should be experimenting and pushing boundaries and risk-taking.

“I think that the most important thing is to continue to make work and to trust your own vision and not worry about anyone,” she said.

Whitespace is a private venture that survives on a percentage of the sales of the works of the artists they recruit to show there. The gallery offers what one of the coordinators Malaika Toyo calls “concept space,” a blank canvas for the artist and the buyer.

“We look for young people that are talented people that have been undiscovered and we give them visibility,” Toyo said. “Art is something that never dies,” she said. “The more you do it, the better you get at it.”

Saving African memory in art
The artist Taiye IdahorTaiye’s first day of the exhibition was a success. An environmentalist and enthusiast for the arts, Kofo Adeleke, was struck by what she saw. “I am so pleased that I got here now and everything is sold out. I think that is absolutely fantastic. The fact that all of her work got sold out so quickly shows you the kind of impact she has had.”

Taiye did experience impressive sales, however she pointed out that not everything sold. But Adeleke is optimistic about Taiye’s future. She said Taiye’s work is going to appeal to a larger market.

“I think this is going to have a much wider audience in Nigeria and outside Nigeria. I think what she is starting to do is very, very interesting and I love her honesty and I love her bravery.”

“The work is about her hair,” said Ogunji, “but it is also about her relationship with her family and her grandmother. It is not so explicit but it is also embedded in the conversation about herself. What she represents. Then she uses her own face in repetition. Then her face becomes her hair. And also a language of this drawing that she is making.”

Despite the flattery of the crowd at the gallery that day, the artist continues to focus on her core message of memory and culture. That the African continent save and pass on its culture as the young generation becomes increasingly mobile and breaks with the older generation who hold the undocumented history in their memories.

“Everything I used to make this body of work is based on things my parents told me based on their memories, the experiences they had and things they heard,” Taiye says.

“Art is my own way of recording a memory, fixing or lets say reviving a memory that otherwise could die with them when they age and pass away.”

Photo credit: Bola Oguntade         SourceVOA News

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Is There An Economic Cost Of Gender-based/Domestic Violence? [#16daysofactivism]

The U.S Consulate General Lagos in collaboration with ACTS Generation Organization and Women Arise held a one day workshop yesterday on Domestic Violence and Abuse tagged, “From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World,” with focus on the intersections of gender based Violence and Militarism.
The public affairs officer, Dehab Ghebreab, gave an overview of the trend of gender-based and domestic violence around the world. She reiterated that the purpose of the workshop was to increase awareness of the devastating impact of gender-based violence on our world.
In response to the current #16DaysofActivism, she said 16 days is not enough. It should be an everyday affair.
The floor was opened up to different speakers and activists.
Dr. Joe Odumakin, the founder of Women Arise for Change Initiative, gave an intense presentation. With vivid examples of some past and current cases of gender-based and domestic violence, she put a face [faces] to the discussion.
Since the organization’s inception in 2003, she has recorded about 11,000 cases of gender-based and domestic violence. So far in 2014, about 2,000 cases have been recorded. Out of the 2,000, only two cases of violence against men were reported. More women suffer from gender-based and domestic violence.
Meanwhile, Miss Titi Akosa, pointed out the difficulty involved in gathering data on gender-based and domestic violence. Different organizations and government institutions handle their own cases, thus no synergy in data collation.
Miss Akosa is currently working on determining the economic cost of domestic violence. She wants to find out how much it will cost to help victims in order to be able to better crowd fund support.
Data is very key, she says. We should be able to tell donors how much it will cost to support one victim of a domestic violence. Or know how many victims there are to determine the kind of shelter to build, while we await government interventions.
In Nigeria, only six out of 36 states have laws that prohibit gender-based and domestic violence, said. Mrs Grace Kelefe, the deputy director of Women Advocate Research and Documentation Centre.
This is disturbing. Does it mean our lawmakers don’t understand the implication of having no legal protection for victims? Or laid out punishment for perpetrators?
Some members of Golden Movie Ambassadors from Nollywood were present at the event. Saheed Balogun, an actor, while making a remark emphasized the need for advocates and activists to hold female leaders more accountable. They can use their position to influence support on the issue, he said.
Mr. Balogun also pointed out the need for visual messages in local context to be used for campaign messages, for greater impact.
In the words of one of the later speakers, we cannot say enough, we cannot do enough about gender-based violence.
As the event came to an end, I began to mull over a few things—first the need for Nigerian NGOs to collaborate more. Tackling an issue as complicated as gender-based violence and domestic violence is not a one-man show.
I also wondered if perhaps we are not addressing the underlying issues contributing to the increase of gender-based and domestic violence? For example, no amount of advocacy will work in a society where an average man is subjected to inhuman conditions. Such a person is bound to react aggressively at the slightest provocation.
You might have also seen the horrific video of the Ugandan maid for example. But has anyone asked the parents of the child she almost killed how they treat her [the maid]? Do they pay her minimum wage? Where does she sleep? Does she have a mattress? How often does she eat? Does madam or oga [employers] shout on her and harm her physically or psychologically at the slightest mistake?
Little things we ignore in our society build up in different forms to be called exotic names such as gender-based and domestic violence.
I know, I know. Nothing at all can justify such crazy violence.