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.

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!

Four New Year Resolutions You Should Not Make And What To Do Instead

It is less than five hours away now, 2020, the highly anticipated new year is here. As with every new year, this one will entice many people to make new year resolutions. The New Year gives people the sense of a clean slate, a new beginning, new possibilities for self improvement. What better time to embark on self improvement than when you have a brand new year ahead of you?

But what new year resolutions should you make and which ones should you avoid?

Don’t make any of these four resolutions (or any like them)

1. To Lose or Gain Weight

This resolution will be on many lists, but it is pointless. Why? Because it is not SMART.
It is not
Specific
Measurable
Achievable
Realistic
Timely

Besides, losing or gaining weight is a by-product not a goal. Your resolutions should be goals: discrete tasks with set time frames.

So instead of saying your new year resolution is to lose or gain weight, say your new year resolution is to:

Eat healthy six days a week
Jog for 60 minutes every week
Skip 2000 times a day

Or all three, or more.

It could also be to
1. Eat an extra high calorie meal a day
2. Drink a high calorie mixture every night
3. Sleep at least eight hours a day

Basically, resolve to do things that you are in control of and add a time frame to them. Your future self will be immensely grateful.

2. Make More Money

This sounds very commendable.
But, what is more money?

Is it a penny, a thousand naira, twenty pounds or a million Malawian kwacha?

You know where I am going by now, but i will still spell it out: be specific.

State how much more you want to make in the new year.
State how you want to make it.
State the steps you will take to make it possible.

Do you plan to change jobs or change industries?

Are you going to start a side hustle?

Will you win grants and extra stipends?

Are you going to start a virtual career?

Be specific about how much you want to make, how you want to make it and the small steps you will take to make it happen.

3. To Get Closer To God.

This can also be written as ‘to be more spiritual’ or ‘to be more attuned to my spiritual side.’

Nice nonsense.

Again, you have to be specific and you have to make resolutions that have discrete time bound tasks.

So in this case your resolutions could be:

1. To spend 20 minutes every day in prayer/meditation

2. To fast once a week

3. To read a chapter of the bible every day. Or five or twenty

4. To Increase my monthly giving by 5%

5. To volunteer my time at church/charity/orphanage once a week

Make your resolution specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and time-bound.

4. To Widen My Networks

This is too vague, too generic and too cliche to do you any good.

What networks?
How are you going to broaden them?
Why are you broadening them?

A smarter resolution would be:

To broaden my networks in (insert your industry or the industry to want to broaden networks in) in order to (insert the reason why you want to broaden them) by (insert activities that will help you achieve this).

Better, right?

So for example, in my case, I would say:

To broaden my creative writing networks in order to gain more visibility and piblish more in anthologies and related projects through focused engagement on social media platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, and open calls for volunteers.

Then I would go a step further and make a actionable goals like:

1. Follow people whose work I like and amplify/compliment their work once a week.

2. Post on LinkedIn once or twice a week.

3. Enrol in one relevant project every quarter.

So that is it folks. Instead of making the same old resolutions, make new, focused, SMART goals that will inspire you to achieve new things and attain new heights.

The new year is filled with success and prosperity. Position yourself for it by making plans and flowing through.

I am rooting for you!

Where is Nnamdi Kanu?

In a flamboyant show of force the Nigerian government crushed Nnamdi Kanu’s budding Biafran uprising. Operation Python, was the name given to the army exercise that invaded Abia state to squelch the uprising of the Indigenous People Of Biafra (IPOB) movement on September 14th, 2017.

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Members of IPOB have since been arraigned before the Federal High Court Abuja on charges of treason but Nnamdi Kanu seems to have disappeared.

Reports in the media have said he was seen in Ghana, but many people think that is just a ruse. Some Nigerians have declared that an unthinkable atrocity was committed and Nnamdi Kanu’s lawyer has called on the army to produce his client. In a statement, the Nigerian army said they do not have Mr Kanu in their custody and they are unaware of his whereabouts.

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Even though, according to Nigerian Law, Nnamdi Kanu is being charged, many people are still concerned about his welfare. It is a fundamental human right that every life be protected. Was Nnamdi Kanu’s life protected? Was he killed? Was he seen in Ghana?

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If he is alive, where are the pictures? If he is alive, why hasn’t he made any statement to allay the fears of his supporters?

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If he is dead, why isn’t there any outcry by his family in social and mainstream media?

So many questions, not enough answers, but one question remains: where is Nnamdi Kanu?

 

Why Reading Isn’t A Good CV Hobby & 20 More Suitable Options

Everyone in the job market has written an curriculum vitae or a CV. The aim is simple: to sell yourself to potential employers and convince them that you are the best person for the job. While most people understand the rudiments of bio data, education, work history and skills, many struggle with hobbies.

Hobbies may not be the first thing an employer looks at but they can be used as

• A tie break between equally skilled and qualified people

• A discussion starter to gauge communication skills (if you can’t speak well about your interests, then what hope does my company have?)

.• As a cultural fit and personality indicator

.• An indication that you can offer extra value

• As a measure of your versatility

 

So, why can’t you add reading?
First, everyone (in the modern employment world) reads. Listing it as a hobby can make you look boring, clueless or dull. “But I am none of those things!” You say. “I am interesting, innovative and intelligent. And READING IS MY HOBBY” Okay, point taken, but in that case you will have to be more specific and creative when expressing that.

For instance, you could specify the kind of material you read, think historical fiction, contemporary African fiction and/or classic literature. Or you could list it as literature (but make sure you know what that means: genres, figures of speech, etc). You could also frame it as volunteer work, for example being a first reader for a publication. And if the job is in the book industry (libraries, agencies, publishing) maybe you can write it just the way it is: reading.

To be honest, I never thought about reading as a hobby that was CV unworthy. I knew web-surfing was a no but it took a personal experience for me to realize reading wasn’t that great either.

I was interviewing new staff and I asked one of them what her hobbies were.

“I don’t have hobbies,” she said.

“Really? How? Everyone has a hobby.” I replied

“Reading,” she responded. And it was clear that was something she made up on the spot.

Maybe if she had mentioned that first and gone on to impress me with her vast knowledge of books (any type), we wouldn’t be here. But she didn’t and here we are.

So, reading and web-surfing are out. What else should you leave out of your CV? Witchcraft or any weird practices, any religious practices, eating/killing animals and treasure hunting, ‘socializing’,watching TV, and extreme or ‘dangerous’ sports.

What should you include? Hobbies that reflect on you positively and can (potentially) be useful to your employer. Consider activities in areas like

Games/Sport/Fitness

This is a beloved area for all employers. It portrays you as healthy, competitive, able to work on goals and fun. For many employers it also means you can bring them glory, for example during industry games (most sectors have them: Oil & Gas, Banking, Medicine etc).

Games like Scrabble and Chess show a love for critical thinking, calculated risk, hardworking and problem-solving.

Solo sports like running, yoga, cycling and swimming imply you are fit, motivated and healthy.

Team sports like basketball, football and volleyball show you can work on a team and are goal-oriented.

Every hobby says something. Choose wisely.

Creative Arts
Creative arts are also hobby gold. Most ‘non-creativea’ are in awe of creatives and fellow creatives usually have a sense of kin for their community. So creative writing, performing art, fine arts, craft-work are all excellent choices. Photography and Videography are also great choices who doesn’t want a great photographer for free?

Gardening/Pets/Agriculture
This is also welcome by most employers. It implies stewardship, patience, altruism and diligence. For bonus marks make it something exotic, think: Venetian roses, Pangolins, Miracle berry trees.

Exotic Interests
Pole dancing, stamp/coin collecting, bird watching, making perfumes and other unconventional hobbies are great too. They make you stand out. And they can make you memorable.

 

Finally, keep these tips in mind:

2-3 hobbies max

No lies

Keep hobbies towards the end of the CV

Make sure the rest of the CV is awesome.

And remember to share the good news when the offer comes. To your happiness, health, wealth and continued success, cheers. 🍷