5 Things Jstut Desperately Needs

Warning: Bambiala Twitter, coding branch, exit right.

Twitter is an amazing place. It is a melting pot of ideas and opinions, culture and gossip, poetry and news, saviours and masses.

Somewhere in that pot is a self-styled Javascript Teacher obsessed with Nigeria. Bolstered by his moderate numbers (66.6K followers) and fed by internet search statistics, this guy has cracked the Nigerian code. Or not.

In his ultra-simplistic, reductionist model the equation looks something like this.

Nigerian coders + solar power/ poverty capital = Fat cash cow

It is a beautiful model. So enticing and promising that it tempts him everyday and whispers to him promises of Bill-Gatian fame.

But the model is flawed, deeply flawed and it came crashing down yesterday.

I want to spare a moment to reiterate something that has become development space common sense by now: you can’t create hypothetical solutions to real problems. You need a lived experience.

You need local content. You need context, you need background, you need to know the difference between Lekki, VI and Ajah.

Jstut should know this. Everyone in any form of development knows this. It is why companies insist on working with people who have experience working in Low and Middle Income Countries (LMIC). It is why funders leave their cozy homes to travel to resource constrained settings. In development, it is everything.

But yesterday Jstut decided to show just how poorly informed he was in the very thing he is obsessed with by recalling is with a series of spectacularly irksome tweets.

It began here:

And continues here:

Then the grand finale:

Later he would try to apologise for the second tweet but the effect was negligible. Lines had been crossed and damage had been done. 200 million free laptops can no longer blind people to the very truth: this is just another exploitative white with a saviour complex.

It would take all day to unpack the layers of self -deception, arrogance, ignorance, cluelessness and cultural insensitivity buried in those tweets.

I could write a whole book on the tweet two alone: You Call Me Stupid, You call Me Smart.

The premise would of course be based in his own tweets where he had extolled Nigerians for being very well educated and compared our tertiary education statistical to those in the United States. ( Of course he totally missed the nuances of funding, standards and necessity but I am sure we can all agree that is on brand by now.)

Instead I will prescribe five self-help projects and hope a good spy in the audience takes the message to him:

1. Visit Nigeria

2. NEVER MAKE FUN OF/A JOKE OUT OF CIVIL WAR WHEN TALKING TO NIGERIANS!!!

3. Sign up for the following online courses:

  • Emotional Intelligence

  • Cultural Sensitivity

  • Basic Statistics

  • Basic Etiquette

  • Elementary Development

4. Read the following books:

  1. How Not To Be An Idiot
  2. Arm-Chair Development Will Disgrace You
  3. Local Content or Knowing Fact From Truth
  4. Proper Apologies: Art, Science and Practice
  5. Tan Your White Privilege
  6. My Poverty Is Not Your Plaything

5. Stop tweeting about the Nigerian educational/economic/technological space.

We already have folks doing that and they are doing a great job.

Stick to your coding, bring your free laptops and solar power panels, tweet your ambiguous javascript tutes.

Just leave Nigeria out of your syllabus because you are sorely ill-equipped for that subject.

Five Tips To Make You Write

1. Relax.

Breathe. This is not a the worst thing that could happen. This is your hobby. This is what will contribute to your happiness and productivity at the end of the week. This is the thing you love doing. The thing you love having done. This is your friend. Relax.

2. Freestyle.
Get a piece of paper and jot down ideas. Scrabble. Doodle. Brainstorm. Let the ideas and the words and the phrases tumble out unto the page. Don’t censor, don’t worry. Let the thoughts come and capture as many of them on paper as you can.

3. Read.
Have a collection of great stories, poems and essays that you can read for inspiration. Read them. Read them again

4. Revisit.

Revisit your old work: old poems, stories and essays. Remind yourself that you have done this before. Tell your self you will do this again. Revisit your old work and get inspiration for your new.

5. Start.
Don’t wait for everything to come to you. Don’t wait for the perfect words or phrases. Give yourself permission to start sloppy, start badly, start silly. After all, you won’t stay that way. It is just the start.

The Burden of Anonymity

Most people use social media to gain clout. It is a great way to be visible and to widen your network. Many people have gained fame and fortune by setting up a YouTube or an Instagram account and interacting with strangers. it has become a dream for most people and rightly so.

But in the distant shadows we have another type of social media user—the unknown, unknowable anon. This user cultivates a social media identity that is distinctly unmarried to their reality. There names are unknown and sometimes are genders changed. An elaborate set if dos and don’t guide their conduct ensuring they don’t slip, don’t somehow drop the mask.
They can’t use they real names (duh). They can’t post pictures. They can’t share they locations. They can’t join giveaways. They can’t attend meetups. They can’t join photo threads. They can’t pepper them with selfies or drown them with drip.
But they can be honest; rude, crude and vicious even. They can speak truth to power. They can say the uncomfortable things, crack the crazy jokes. They can have an escape from the weight of societal expectations and inhabit a world of their making with infinite possibilities and personalities and opportunities. That escape has been my attraction, my release.

I have kept many anonymous accounts over the years and indeed it has become my default. But it never easy. It is a daily struggle between the life of fame, friendship and fortune that might lie at the other side of divulging my identity and my current peace of mind.

I haven’t done badly so far, at least not in my opinion. While a few people might think they know me, thousands have to guess and wager.

But being Anon can be lonely and exhausting and joyless.

Last year for instance, a lovely ebuddie invited me for lunch at Transcorp. We were going to have a great meal, drinks and some exciting stimulating conversation. Did I want it? Yes. Could I have it? No

Even now the uneaten chicken and fries makes my mouth water afresh. I can smell the tender, well spiced, juicy chicken laps. I can feel the ambience of the Transcorp lounge. In my mind.

Some folks have gotten impatient. So they have devised various schemes to get to know me.

“Send me your email”
Anon email given

Let’s connect on Facebook
Anon Facebook sent

Let me have your account details.
Anon account provided

Some others have given up. A sister told me she blocked me for months because she couldn’t figure out my gender. She is back now but it still hurts.

But why do I go through so much to keep things this way?

The answer is peace of mind. I get immense comfort from knowing my cyber life wont intrude into my 9 to 5 or show up in bedroom. I am glad that I can say what I think without my boss showing up with yesterday’s tweetfight details or my bae getting second-hand shaming for any of my indiscretion. What starts here, ends here.

How much longer do I think it can last?
I don’t know. I realize that as my influence increases the risk of coming under closer scrutiny rises. I realize that someday it might just be time up.

But that is okay.

I am here for a good time. If I get a long time; that is a bonus.