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.

What Is On Your Vision Board?

I am just kidding. You don’t need to show me. Vision boards can be some of the most intimate and (even) embarrassing forms of expression that exist.

What are they? And why do they matter?

Vision boards are simply a visual representation of your hopes, dreams, goals and aspirations.

Your desired future; in pictures.

They matter because in many cases, they have been a powerful motivation tool and in others, they have been simply prophetic.

Imagine that. Imagine having all the great things you want in your life just after sticking pictures if them on a board somewhere.

Magical, right?

Q: Awesome, so why doesn’t everyone have them? My friend had one and it didn’t work, why should I even try one?

A: Vision boards are amazing but they aren’t powered by pixie dust. They are powered by vision, hardwork, fortune and faith; or various combinations of the four.

Everyone doesn’t have them because not everyone knows about them and many that know about them don’t know how powerful they can be.

They might not have worked for your friend but I suggest you try them before knocking them because they might work for you.

Q: Okay. So what is going to be on it?

A: Aha! Whatever you want. Whatever you look forward to. Whatever you can see in your future.

The beauty about this is you don’t even need to add time lines (though it would be great to do so).

Just pictures of your future.

So go find some pictures that represent your dream.lofe and pit them up.

Who knows the miracles waiting to happen when you focus your faith and imagination?

I may not know what is on your vision Board but you certainly should.

A vision board might just be what you need to channel your energy to wards new heights, achievements and experiences.

What are you waiting for? Make one today.

Nobody Knows Why Nigerians Die

Death is an inevitable consequence of life. Knowing the causes of morbidity and mortality in a given population is important for seeing public health goals and monitoring progress. Globally, the Global Burden of Disease is measured by the Institite For Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), an objective project that calculates and monitors trends in mortality and morbidity in different countries over the years.

A glance at Nigeria’s data will show the leading causes of death for Nigerians to be:

1. Lower respiratory infections
2. Neonatal disorders
3. HIV/AIDS
4. Malaria
5. Diarrheal Disease
6. Tuberculosis
7. Meningitis
8. Ischemic heart disease
9. Stroke
10. Cirrhosis

But there is a problem: The data used for these rankings is incomplete and these are just best guess estimates and projections from incomplete records.

Nobody knows for sure why Nigerians die.

One challenge the program has faced is inadequate and outdated data for most countries. To combat this problem they use sophisticated data modelling and projections to arrive at working figures. This works but it is not as accurate as actual data, collected in real time.

A cursory online search for causes of mortality in Nigeria reveals the paucity of data. About three studies are seen at first glance. All of them small facility based studies or compilation of archives. A truly representative data set would involve a record of all deaths in Nigeria. For every death there should be a documented cause and the data should be gathered, aggregated and made publicly available.

This is not the case.

Although the Nigerian Populatiom Commiom Act of 1992 stipulates that all deaths should be registered by the commissioner and duly recorded.

“The death of every person dying in Nigeria and the cause thereof shall as from the commencement of this Act be registered by the registrar of births and deaths for that area in which the death occurred by entering in a register kept for that area particulars concerning the death as may be prescribed.”

Indeed, if this law has been enforced there would be robust data about the number of deaths in Nigeria and their causes.

Alas, there has been very little compliance.

An article by the Canasian Immigration and Redugee Board, published in March 2011, the authors clearly records the frustrations of anyone trying to obtain a death certificate and the laissez faire attitude of those tasked with issuing them.

A counsellor at the Deputy High Commision of Canada to Nigeria in Lagos is said to have indicated in writing to with the Research Directorate that “it is not common for the NPC to issue death certificates because most people do not see the need to do so (Canada 25 Feb 2011).

The question is why?

A few explanations lend themselves readily:

1. The law stipulated that these deaths should be recorded free of charge.

This provision which was probably made to improve access however it has also reduced any incentives for the commission to invest time and money in death registration. Data collection is an arduous task , so without any financial incentive, it serves as an increased burden on the commison without any apparent gains.

The second issue is one of demand and supply. Most Nigerians are not concerned about causes of death or their records. Autopsies are hardly done. This lack of interest also fuels political disinterest. For the average Nigerian, a record of deaths and their causes is of little or no concern.

But this ought not to be.

Studies of morality and morbidity are of great public and global health interest. They help researchers to monitor trends and design program that can impotent life expectancy.

Today, the average life expectancy for Nigerians is 56 years, far below the international average of 72 years (source: WHO).

Accurate data on causes of death can highlight the greatest causes of death and lead to a focus on their prevention.

If the attitudes towards the collection of data change, the next thing would be to change the process.

First registering deaths should be made compulsory. The data should be collected by the communities through their leaders and the disease and notification officer a for each local government should be notified. And the collection should be the responsibility of the local governments.

A part of the budgets, both of the commission and of the local governments should be dedicated to death registrations. Families of the bereaved should be made to pay a token amount which should be waived for indigent families or people with peculiar circumstances.

Collected data should be collated by state and nationally. The figures should be updated monthly to a national database such as the DHIS. The data should be blockchain protected to avoid tampering and falsification.

If these measures are in place they would change the way data about Nigeria is reported. For the first time we would have truly representative data and be able to make better decisions. Instead of models and educated gusees, we would know for sure why Nigerian are dying and we would be able to tackle it, making it possible for Nigerian to love longer, healthier, more productive lives.

7 Steps To Winning Life-changing Opportunities

How would you like to go for an all expense paid trip to Paris?

How would you like to attend a fully funded conference in London?

How would you like to be sponsored for a workshop in Berlin?

You would love that right?

Then read on for tips to make that happen.

1. Search for the Opportunities

The internet might be a blessing or it might be a curse but one thing it has done is increase access to information.

The first step to getting an opportunity is to find it.

You have to know about opportunities to benefit from them.

So, get on Twitter and follow all the handles tweeting about opportunities you are interested in.

Follow corporate handles like: After School Africa, Opportunity Desk and Youth Hub Africa

Follow personal handles like: Moments with Bren, Ogbeni Dipo, Baba_Omoloro

Follow me: StNaija

And turn on their notifications so you always know when something new is published.

You can also go a step further and follow other key players in your fields of interest.

You an sign-up for newsletters.

You can search the world wide web.

You can keep tabs on opportunities through other social media.

Do what ever you need to do. But recognise that you can only benefit from an opportunity you know about.

2. Don’t Self-reject

When there is a great opportunity, the diest questions that pops into your mind might be:

Why me?

The question I want tou to ask is:

Why not me?

As long as you are interested and eligible for an opportunity, don’t doubt yourself.

Put your best foot forward.

Remember that:

Fortune favours the brave.

You lose 100 percent of the opportunities you don’t apply for.

You have to be in it to win it.

3. Follow The Instructions

Instructions will make or mar you in the opportunity world. They can make the difference between failure or success. So, read the instructions and follow them.

Check if you are eligible.

Find out the requirements.

Do they want PDFs of .dox?

Should your letter of motivation follow a prompt?

What is the word count?

Follow instructions.

4. Get Feedback and Support

I know you have written an excellent application with a killer motivation letter, but where ever possible, get a second opinion.

A second pair of eyes can often catch mistakes in grammar and typos.

Sometimes that an help add depth or colour to the submission.

When someone else gets or edits your work, it is that much better for it.

Even if all the help you can get is a cousin, an e-buddie or a close friend, don’t despise it. Get feedback.

5. Make Your Application Outstanding

Most opportunities get hundreds of entries. Some even get thousands. To make your application stand out you have to add something unique.

So, spend sometime thinking of how you are going to do that.

Do you have a compelling personal story to share?

Do you have superior skills or experience you can highlight?

Have you completed projects or mini projects in that area that can showcase your passion?

Be unique, be different, be unforgettable.

But in a good way.

6. Apply

This sounds redundant and generic but it’s real.

Every year thousands of people miss out on opportunitesis that could have changed their lives because they just couldn’t bring themselves to send their application.

Sometimes this happens because they forgot the deadline.

Sometimes it is last minute cold feet.

Don’t do that to your self.

Apply.

7. Keep Track of Your Applications and Review Them

If you are like most people, you won’t win every contest or make every shortlist. You will have some disappointment alomd the way.

The important thing is to learn from your failures. And you can do this by keeping track of your submissions.

Last year, I won an international scholarship. In the previous year, my application did not even make it to the shortlist.

By reviewing tha ‘failed’ application, I was able to see gaps in my application. I reviewed them, addressed them, reapplied and won.

Keeping tabs of your applications will also help you save time for subsequent applications because they already contain the kernel of ideas you might want to rearrange and highlight.

The Science of Having A Fantastic New Year

It is a new year and everyone is so excited and ready to change the world. Underneath this mass optimism, however, many people are worried.

What if this year is worst than the last one?

What if it is more of the same?

What if, in the end, my optimism is wasted?

Well, I bring good news:

Your new year can’t remain the same if you make up your mind to do things differently.

And you will do things differently this time because you will apply the science of having a fantastic year.

But let me begin with an apology: there is no science of having a fantastic year.

It is a wild combination of concentious planning, determined preparation, gruelling hard work,and fickle fortune.

We can no more foretell the vagaries of fortune and chance than we can determine the roll of dice, but we can make plans.

And sometimes, plans go exactly (or better than we hope).

Many people don’t like to hear about fortune or favour. They like to think that anything and everything they have is a result of diligent, unrelenting labour. It gives them bragging rights, ‘I did that,’ ‘I killed that’.

Many other people like to think everything is by luck. And prayer. And chance. And lottery wins.

The truth is success and progress need both. Some labour, some favour and before you know it; you are having a fantastic year.

My inner statistician knows that for some people, fortune is likely to be responsible for all their wins.
But it also knows those folks are the minority. The rest of us have to contribute towards having the kind of year we want.

And that is what this post is about:

Focused dreams

The first step to having a great year is to have some focused DREAMS. Look ahead and imagine some of the things you would like to be, do and have in 2020.

Do you want to be: a graduate? certified? married? a homeowner?

Do you want to: travel to three new places ? Save 5% more than last year? Read 20 books?

Do you want to have: a perfect GPA? A great figure/physique? A great wardrobe? A Canadian citizenship?

Be specific

What do you want to be, have, do?

Do Some Research

Go a step further and do some research. What will it take for your dreams to come true?

How did other people achieve such dreams?

What can you do today to be ready?

If you want to travel to a new city, London, for example. Start thinking of the most likely time, consider the flight fare, look up accommodation options. Start saving. Apply for a Visa if you need one.

Some time next year and opportunity to travel to London might present itself. You will be more likely to make the best use of it if you prepared.

Or perhaps you want to go to school abroad. Start your research: Which school(s)? When? What are the admission requirements? How will you pay your fees? Are there alumni you can talk to to get a sense of the institution and its admissions process?

Do your research.

Make Plans

Now that you know what you want next year and you know what is required, make plans.
List the things that you need to do to achieve the results you want. Attach a timeline to them.

Determine what you will do and when you will do it to follow your dreams.

Fortune they say favours the prepared.

If you want a new job or a better job, then update your resume, sharpen your skills through an online course, shop for a great suit. Prepare.

Keep Making Progress

This is admittedly the hardest part. It is easier to stay comfortable and hope things will just suddenly improve. It is also less likely to lead you to a fantastic year.

So dont give up.

Keep making and tweaking your plans.

Celebrate your wins, big or small.

Document your journey.

Share your own tips and things that worked for you.

Let’s do all we need to do, and trust things to fall in place.

That is it. That is the science of a fantastic new year.

Keep me posted.

I am rooting for you!