BUILDING A POWERFUL AND MODERN AFRICA

Guest Post : Written by Jacinta Oghogho Odubanjo – Broadcast Journalist with the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria 

International cooperation is critical to world peace and development. It offers opportunities for dialogues on issues of global concern like migration, trade, conflicts, technology and laws governing the international system. It is this crucial aspect of relations that defines the objectives of the Crans Montana Forum.

The Forum since 1986 has been in the vanguard of a “more humane world”. It organizes annual events involving decision-makers the world over to discuss political, economic and social occurrences requiring attention. Being a Non-Governmental International Organization, the Crans Montana Forum promotes good practices that shape the future of the world.

Recently, Dakhla in the disputed territory of South Sahara, controlled by Morocco, hosted the Crans Montana Forum on Africa and South-South Cooperation. The conference of 14-17 March 2019 was a unique opportunity for businesses, organizations, and governments to network and strengthen their relations. The forum brought together over 1000 Africans to debate issues that are of concern to the continent with the theme “Building a Powerful and Modern Africa Dedicated to its Youth”.

This edition of the Forum kicked off with the opening message of the King Mohammed VI of Morocco, read by the president of the Dakhla-Qued Eddahab Region, Mr. Yanja El Khattat. The king wants youths to be encouraged, trained and empowered to turn today’s economic potential to tomorrow’s reality. His message set the tone for discussions on security, health, the digital revolution, leadership, entrepreneurship, and economic cooperation with emphasis on the role of youths and women.

DAKHLA-AFRICA celebrated African Youth and ensured their participation in the various debates as they were officially welcomed in the 2019 class of the New Leaders for Tomorrow.

The New Leaders for Tomorrow are innovative and influential. In a panel discussion on Youth Entrepreneurship and Women’s Leadership in Africa, a 35-year-old youth activist, entrepreneur, and musician, Vanessa Mdee said education should be given to both boys and girls to enable them to reach their full potentials. Speaking at the forum, President, National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN), Bello Bala Shagari said African youths should abhor violence and embrace technology for smart solutions to their challenges.

Shagari’s call stems from the fact that technology has transformed the workings of world systems. People are more informed with the use of technology today compared to the past. With a smartphone one easily accesses information, communicates and educates. This assertion was buttressed in the presentation of the Director General of the Royal Institute of Strategic Studies, Toufik Mouline who stressed the need for digitization to tackle challenges facing Africa. He said digitization would open doors of opportunities for education, finance, energy, mobility, health, and agriculture.

By entrepreneurship, for example, young leaders show their professional competence and leadership experience. Bringing them from emerging African states to chat a sustainable future for the continent is such that puts the future in the hands of leaders capable of taking Africa to the summit of development. It is this hope that made my experience at the summit exciting. Having to be in the midst of people of different backgrounds, displaying the rich cultures of Africa, gave one a sense of belonging and confidence. It was also a reminder of the role of women in development.

The first lady of the Republic of Guinea, Mrs. Hadja Conde Djene Kaba, a special guest of the African Women’s Forum session dedicated to youth entrepreneurship and women leadership, said everything goes smoothly with women when they are trusted. She gave an example of African women adhering to the terms of loan repayments as a measure of trust and reliability. Some African women are beneficiaries of support loans from financial institutions which they pay back as and when due. By this, Hadja Conde calls for policies that ensure that the needs of women in African societies are catered for.

The First Lady of Gambia Mrs. Fatoumatta Bah-Barrow spoke in the same line when she called for the provision of enabling environment that caters to the empowerment of youths and women.

In her speech, the Vice President of Liberia Mrs. Jewel Howard Taylor covers the relevance of South-South cooperation. Through the South-South Cooperation developing countries exchange resources, technology and knowledge to find solutions to common development challenges. With this aim in mind, the kingdom of Morocco brought together African countries to discuss issues affecting them and also providing solutions to move African nations out of poverty. Mrs. Taylor is however hopeful that innovation, inclusion and economic empowerment will provide space for women and youths to strive in business and politics.

In his remark, the founder of Crans Montana Jean-Paul Carteron, a believer in the abilities of women explained that the Pan Africa women network is an agenda of hope and positivity saying the Africa woman is the true key to the evolution of African societies and integration of the world.

An important side function of DAKHLA-AFRICA is the “Declaration of Dakhla”, initiated by Anass Doukkali, Minister of Health of Morocco, with the support of African Ministers attending the Forum. The declaration is dedicated to Universal Health Coverage and Health Security in Africa. It proposes a reform of the African health system include effective access to quality health services for at least 75% of the population and a reduction in maternal and infant mortality. It also recommends the establishment of an integrated and reactive African epidemiological vigilance system.

Health is wealth, the reason youth and women development is essential to the revival of the African continent. As the programmes of the forum continue to elicit global coverage, one is encouraged to live the dream of a new Africa propelled by transformative leadership. This new Africa is a function of the power of the youths of today to rise up to expectation.

To keep hope alive and encourage women and youths, the Crans Montana Forum came to an end by honoring youths and women with awards, celebrating them for their contributions to their societies.

As the organizers prepare for the next session of the Crans Montana forum holding in Geneva from 26 to 29 June 2019, with focus on restoring security and trust among nations, what is evident is the role of the March forum in addressing the main challenges facing the works of youth organizations, suggesting the most efficient models and tools to boost the participation of youth in the fight against violent extremism as well as working out processes of strengthening the role of youth organizations in conflict management. This involves exploring ways to involve young people fully and effectively in decision-making.

From my participation, I have no doubt that the gathering succeeded in strengthening the solidarity of African states as well as boosting the economic, social and environmental development of the continent. The forum emboldened Africa’s relationships with other countries notably in the framework of the South-South Cooperation.

Adebisi Adetunji (C) Broadcast Journalist, Media content provider, Trainer & consultant-@debisibusybeemedia, Behavioral Change Radio Drama, Communication4Development, Social Media Influencer, Controller Programs (FRCN) Founder Beehyve Empowerment and Development Initiative. Catch me on Twitter – @DebisiBusybee, Facebook & email – bisimodupe1975@gmail.com

OYO STATE RECORDS SUCCESS IN TACKLING NEWBORN DEATH

Following concerted efforts geared towards tackling newborn deaths in Oyo State, there is a new story to tell now, as the infant mortality rate in the state has greatly reduced.

The Pace Setter State, which was one of the states in Nigeria with high number of newborn deaths before now, has made significant progress in tackling the menace.

This was made known in Ibadan recently at a two-day Media Dialogue on Improving Health Outcomes for Children in Oyo State Through Accelerated Action for Impact (AAI), organised by Oyo State Ministry of Information And Culture and Oyo State Primary Healthcare Board in conjunction with the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF).

Speakers at the Media Parley disclosed that the successes recorded in reducing newborn deaths in Oyo State were as a result of AAI intervention by UNICEF.

Speaking on the intervention, the Health Specialist, UNICEF, Akure Field Office, Dr. Adebola Hassan, explained that AAI was aimed at ensuring that no child dies from a preventableE cause and that all children attain their full potential in health and we’ll being.

According to Dr. Hassan, six local governments, which are Egbeda, Ibadan North East, Ibadan South East, Ibarapa North, Saki West and Kajola had highest rate of newborn deaths in Oyo State.

However, she said the AAI intervention focused on three of these local governments, which are Ibadan North East, Saki West and Ibarapa North where neo natal mortality was prevalent.

Also speaking, the Oyo State Immunization Officer, Mrs. Titilayo Nihinlola, stated that through the UNICEF intervention, the number of unimmunized children in the state had reduced.

The AAI intervention takes care of Health Services such as training of Health Workers, Immunization, Family Planning, Delivery, Post Natal Care and Nutrition.

Report by: Oludare Moses Morenikeji

Register Early for antenatal and ensure that your baby takes all the Immunization dozes 

Adebisi Adetunji (C) Broadcast Journalist, Media content provider, Trainer & consultant-@debisibusybeemedia, Behavioral Change Radio Drama, Communication4Development, Social Media Influencer, Controller Programs (FRCN) Founder Beehyve Empowerment and Development Initiative. Catch me on Twitter – @DebisiBusybee, Facebook & email – bisimodupe1975@gmail.com

Over 3000 Africans to Benefit from the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme (2019)

One of the factors that promote women empowerment is financial strength and economic stability. No wonder more women are striving to be managers of their own businesses.

This was evident in the number of females that applied for the 2019 Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme for African Entrepreneurs. 42% of the 216,025 applicants were women who slugged it out with their male counterparts. In fact, all the chosen Entrepreneurs from Seychelles are Women.

At the end of the contest, 3050 were most favored to benefit from the support that TEF and its partners are making available for African Entrepreneurs for 2019 season.

Over 3000 African Entrepreneurs drawn from all the 54 African countries are to receive seed capital of 5000 dollars each in addition to a 12-week business training programme and mentoring to boost their enterprises. The names of the successful Entrepreneurs that formed the 5th Cohort of the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship programme were announced at an event in Abuja recently.

The Tony Elumelu Foundation had committed a 100 million dollars to empower 10,000 African Entrepreneurs over a 10 year period with the aim of creating at least one million jobs and contributing over 10 billion dollars in revenue to the African economy.

L-R: Founder,Tony Elumelu Foundation, aTEF,Tony O.Elumelu,Wife of Nigeria’s President, Mrs Aisha Buhari and Trustee, Dr.Awele Elumelu.

In her remarks at the event, the Wife of the President of Nigeria, Mrs. Aisha Buhari lauded the impact of the programme on the African continent and charged the selected entrepreneurs to contribute to the advancement of the continent. She said, “Indeed, I am confident that these Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurs will inspire deep confidence and be of immense value not just to Nigeria but to the entire continent.”

L-R: Incoming CEO,TEF, Ifeyinwa Ugochukwu, CEO TEF,Parminder Vir,Ambassador of Israel to Nigeria, Amb.Shimon Ben-Shoshan, Nigeria’s First Lady, Mrs.Aisha Buhari, andTrustee ,TEF,Dr. Awele Elumelu.

Earlier, The founder of the foundation, Mr. Tony Elumelu, explained that “every year, we face an almost impossible task to select 1,000 Entrepreneurs from the hundreds of thousands that apply. Our Entrepreneurs are hungry to effect change. We know we are only scratching the surface, we see the depth of entrepreneurial talents that all of us -government, businesses indeed African society, must harness to transform our economies and livelihoods. We must rally together to empower them and accelerate the change we want on the continent.”

The incoming Chief Executive Officer of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, TEF, Ifeyinwa Ugochukwu, announced that the programme had successfully empowered 7520 Entrepreneurs in its first five years of the 10-year programme.

Ugochukwu noted that the 2019 selection includes 2050 Entrepreneurs supported by the TEF’s partners in addition to the foundation’s Annual commitment to empowering 1000 Entrepreneurs.

The foundation’s partners include the International Committee of the Red Cross, ICRC, the United Nations Development Programme, UNDP, the Federal Republic of Benin(Seme City), the Anambra State Government(Nigeria), Indorama, the Government of Botswana and the African Development Bank(AfDB).

In 2018, the foundation launched TEF Connect which is a digital networking platform for African Entrepreneurs and open to all, to further democratize the access to opportunities for the thousands of Entrepreneurs that cannot directly benefit from the Entrepreneurship Programme.

Meanwhile, the newly empowered 3050 entrepreneurs alongside other African Entrepreneurs would converge on Abuja, on July 26-27, 2019 for the annual Entrepreneurship forum which is said to be the largest gathering of Entrepreneurs in Africa.

Guest Post – Written by:
Afolasade Osigwe (2017 TEF journalism fellow)

Guest Post:Tony Elumelu Foundation to Launch the World’s Largest Digital Platform for African Entrepreneurs.

We all need dream supporters to help bring alive our goals. Organizations like the one in this post,  Sade Osigwe, a dear friend and colleague shares below,  gives hope to young entrepreneurs in Nigeria. We need more philanthropic individuals and bodies like this. 

IMG-20180823-WA0001
Some Entrepreneurs with the Founders of Tony Elumelu Foundation

Nigeria will on October 25, 2018 play host to two major African Presidents. They are President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana and President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya.

The event is the 2018 Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Forum,(TEF),taking place at the Federal Palace Hotel,Lagos.

The forum will also host about 5000 Entrepreneurs and 200 Investors as well as Government Administrators and Policy makers. The TEF founder,Tony O.Elumelu is expected to moderate the interactive session with the two African Presidents.

The brain behind the summit which is also the Africa’s leading entrepreneurship-focused philanthropic organisation,The Tony Elumelu Foundation had committed $100 million to empower 10,000 entrepreneurs over a period of 10 years.

Being in its 4th year, the foundation has empowered 4,460 entrepreneurs with a total investment of USD 20million,out of which 4000 were funded directly by the foundation while the remaining 460 were sponsored by TEF partners.

The Entrepreneurship forum was borne out of the foundation’s resolve to foster trade and business networking opportunities just as the 2018 theme centres on ”empowering African Entrepreneurs”.

This year’s event will also feature the launch of the world’s largest digital platform for African Entrepreneurs. Similarly,there will be a pitching competition and Investor-ready panel session for the budding Entrepreneurs.

Writter: Afolasade Osigwe-braimah is a broadcast /online journalist, producer, presenter, translator and script writer. Afolasade also trained as a Demographer with great interest in women,children and the elderly as well as development -oriented endeavours. She received the 2017 TEF African journalism fellowship to cover the 3rd TEF Entrepreneurship Forum in Lagos in 2017.

Adebisi Adetunji (C) 

 

GUEST POST: MY FGM STORY by Omoye Oriaghan

This piece was sent to me a few days ago to share and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. It is a personal experience of Omoye Oriaghan. Great insights to her fears about Female Circumcision and her journey into discovering whether she had been cut or not. I was held spelt bound and couldn’t stop until I came to the end of this story. Enjoy it and feel free to share with others.

“How do you feel, if I cut that sensitive nub above your privates
Cut the lips to your womanly haven
And then stitch close the opening to leave only a urinary passageway
I do not stop there,
But when you get married, I tear you back open for sexual relations with your husband (as in some cases)
Can you imagine how you would feel?
Well, that is the gore of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)
Tolarnee

I have always heard of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), its ills and the various calls for an end to its practice in our society. Before my final year at the university, I knew little or nothing about this awful practice, maybe because I was too lazy to google its meaning and prevalence in Nigeria and Africa as a whole or maybe because I just wasn’t interested in knowing what it meant. However, during my last days at school, we had this course taught by the only professor in our department at the time, Prof Akinfeleye, on campaign messages and design (I can’t remember the exact course title now).

As part of assessments for the course, the class was divided into different groups, given different health challenges and asked to design campaign messages for them. This was to be presented in subsequent classes. I remember a particular group was to design campaign messages for FGM. As against other presentations that I didn’t accord much interest, this campaign against FGM caught my attention, maybe because the medical practitioner took his time to explain with a slide presentation its prevalence in some parts of Nigeria. The gory pictures of the different types of cuts and the girls (children) made to undergo such, aroused so much anger within that later gave birth to the hatred I now nurse for it.

Also in my final year on campus, I had a friend who when we had a discussion on FGM told me in confidence that she and her sisters were mutilated after birth by their mother. However, what was more shocking in her revelation was that her mother told her while she much older not to let her would-be husband know she had been circumcised so as not to ‘drive him away’. According to her mum, no man or most men do not love the idea of marrying a ‘circumcised’ woman because of the lack of satisfaction during sex.
I must confess that while listening to her revelation I got a bit scared because I wasn’t sure of my own status. Who knows, I may have been circumcised too! However, the fears subsided…….

I met Tunde (real name withheld) and we got really close and someday I hoped I would settle down with him (didn’t happen though *winks*) and into our relationship the talk of circumcision (FGM) came up and the fears came back in full force. I was not ready to drive my man away, or so I thought. I think it’s time I had a tete-a-tete with my mother, I concluded, but somehow I didn’t know how to bring up the conversation because my mum and I never really had such conversations. And so again, I managed to keep it in until…….

I sat comfortably as my hair stylist braided my hair one fateful day when a woman from the next shop walked in to loosen her own braids and then ‘the conversation’ began. My hair stylist (Woman A) started the conversation:

“This circumcision thing, everyone seems to be talking about it like it’s a bad thing o she said
The woman from the next shop (Woman B) replied,
“Yes o….In the olden days it was not a big deal but these days, women are discouraged from circumcising their girl-child………My mother says my sisters and I were circumcised, however, she warned us not to tell our husbands (here’s the warning again), so they don’t leave us and sleep with other women”
Woman A: “Hmmmm”
Woman B continues
“When I have sex with my husband, I pretend sometimes to enjoy it even when I don’t, so I don’t push him away………Well, my mum warned me not to circumcise my daughter so she doesn’t go through the same problem and so I didn’t circumcise her”

Now, while this conversation ensued, I was paying rapt attention, picking every detail, and of course, they didn’t know I listened. They thought I didn’t understand what they were saying because they were not having the conversation in English.
And so the conversation continued,
Woman A: “Well for me, my mother circumcised all of her female children o and me, I circumcise all of mine ( now, Woman A has three daughters)…….Not long after I give birth to my girls, I always tell my husband that I want to go and visit my mother in the village (She was Igbo and her husband Yoruba) and when I get there I circumcise them without his knowledge”
“It is good to circumcise girls so they will not become wayward” she continued “I will continue to circumcise my female children o”.
That ended the conversation and also ended my delay in asking my mum the big question.

I got home that evening and immediately put a call through to my mother, “Hello Mama, this circumcision thing, do they do it in our village?” I questioned curiously. “Well they did it a long time ago, but your grandmother did not circumcise me or my other siblings” She replied. That was all I needed to hear to have a beautiful sleep that night {smiles).

Last year, I was also privileged to watch an edition of BBC’s HardTalk with Stephen Sackur on FGM. On the show that day, Stephen had two African women with British citizenship. One was for and the other against FGM. Now, I was more particular about the lady who supported the practice because I wanted to know why anyone would support such a barbaric practice. However, after listening to her point of view, I didn’t entirely condemn her.

The lady (from Ivory Coast, if I remember correctly) explained that female circumcision was a huge ceremony in her village for women who had come of age, girls who were 18 years and above. It was a Coming out Ceremony of some sort. She further explained that she was convinced at the age of about 20 years by her aunt who had a paid a visit to her family in the UK to participate in the ceremony. Her aunt and mother told her a little about the pain associated with the procedure and some of the health risks. With this knowledge, she agreed to travel to Ivory Coast to be circumcised. She concluded by saying the procedure, though painful, was healthy and that years after it she had enjoyed sexual relations with her partner.

So for her, FGM should only be carried out on girls who are well aware of the health risks and others risks and should also be done on their consent. However, she was against the complex stages of mutilation.

As my story winds up, let me conclude by saying, I am against FGM practiced on a girl-child who has absolutely no idea what is being done to her. If when she is well of age weighs all the risk factors involved and still decides to be mutilated, then I bid her Godspeed, but again, I don’t think any girl would love to go through such pain from a very unhealthy procedure for whatever gain.
As I drop my pen, or this time, my keyboard (winks), let me say #IStandAgainstFGM and #FGMMustBeStopped #EndFGMNow

Adebisi Adetunji (C) Project Director Beehyve Empowerment and Development Initiative. Media content provider, Trainer & consultant, Behavioral Change Radio Drama, Communication4Development.
Catch me on Twitter @DebisiBusybee
Facebook & email – bisimodupe1975@gmail.com

PRESS ON – Thoughts & Life #7 (Guest Post)

Gearing up to heed the call,Your body is primed for new terrains.
Mind, set on green realms.
Feet, ready for unmapped tracts.
The instant it dawns on your soul;
Press on!

Then, caution calls in the voices of your kindred
Fear yells at you in familiar tones and colours
The rips and blemishes of your past try to conceal your mended and pristine future
Imperfections fight to sheath your beauty.

Dare to take an intentional stance of faith and hope!
Perfect your balance on the fragile beam of courage
Give fear a mocking glance of defiance
Be steady and swift, apt and sound, optimistic and confident
Trail off the shores of familiarity and certainty
Imprint your foot in the unwashable sands of time
Etch your name on the ineffaceable hearts of men
Fix your gaze on The Bearer of The Torch
Press on!

Again, fear, chanting the give up call
You try to estimate how many laps to the home call
Lost on the tracks of worries and doubts
Through the vicissitudes of life, you almost get trapped in the maze of contemplation and despair
Then a chord strikes like a chiming church bell

“Its not about you; it has never been
I brought you this far; I’m not about to forsake you
Go on child you, you can do it
Press on, my Precious Jewel, you can be it
I will goad you into all your possibilities
Listen, the Host of Heaven is cheering you on”

All at once!
The voice resonates deeper and clearer and louder
The Caller of The Called it is!
The Possessor of The Trophy beckons
The Custodian of The Crown smiles behind the tape
Bearing the victor’s garland and the champ’s ale

“Welcome Home, My Child”
………Inspired by Phillipians3:14
It is never too late to try out something new or conceive new dreams. Don’t let marriage or motherhood choke your dreams and aspirations out of you. You were created to do great things.

oyinkan FMBThis post was written by Oyinkansola Peter-Ajayi.
Oyinkan is a Correspondent and Presenter with Radio Nigeria.
She lives by the mantra, “Eagles don’t flock” and tweets @Oyinpeter_ajayi

Thinking out loud…Gender Musings (Guest Post #3)

There are parts of me that have been hiding all my life. I’m daily surprised by the emergence of new aspirations, new dreams, new fears, new flaws, new hopes and new traits I was not expecting.

Why am I digging up and dusting old dreams. It probably never died. Through these new discoveries, I’m reminded that as long as I engage in the process of continuous self-development, new discoveries are inevitable.

The concept I have of myself, my value, my very purpose in life form the core of what influences my personality. So when I am quiet it is for a reason. When I am assertive and refuse to back down in an argument, it is for a reason. When I remain indifferent about an issue, there’s a reason for it.

I strive to be intentional and deliberate about my every act. But I’m asking will it change when I marry? Will I have to “adjust” my personality to suit my in-laws? Will I be assertive enough as a mother to ensure my children are well disciplined?

As I advance in age, will I have the resolve and energy to pursue new projects and initiatives? How will hormonal changes affect my well-being? Will I age gracefully indeed?

Do you as a woman also go through these eeerm say gender musings?

oyinkan FMB

This post was written by Oyinkansola Peter-Ajayi.
Oyinkan is a Correspondent and Presenter with Radio Nigeria.
She lives by the mantra, “Eagles don’t flock” and tweets @Oyinpeter_ajayi