The Danger of a Single Story: Marek and Nigeria

I just read last week’s sensation on the Nigerian news radar, titled Marek Zmyslowski’s “How Building the Amazon of Africa put me on Interpol Wanted List”. It came to my attention because a friend sent me the link to the response by Edmund Olotu titled Marek Zmyslowski lies & deceit in his quest to build “Amazon of Africa”.

Summary (long version): Polish guy comes to Nigeria, gets investment from an American company, an Ethiopian investor and an Indian Angel investor, to run a Nigerian firm called HotelOga. Then he proceeds to mismanage and spend the money financing a lavish lifestyle. He also moves assets and shares around and does not declare income or profits – every transaction remitted to the company account has gone AWOL. Then he runs back to Poland, cries foul when Interpol tries to extradite him and then writes a book.

Summary (short version): “In short, you CANNOT sell our investment at a price we don’t know about, to investors we haven’t been informed about at terms we didn’t agree to.”- HotelOga Investor.

I will give it to him – he is a great storyteller. It was easy to identify with his struggles within the Nigerian ecosystem. Its what every local entrepreneur actually experiences – well almost all of us. I must exclude those who have their parent’s money to fall back on in tough situations. I found myself nodding to his points until it struck me that he has refused to name the “Godfather” in his epistle. Then when I read the response, I found it to be so detailed, it could not not be the truth (yes that’s correct grammar, thank you Grammarly). There have been other responses, one of note, is from O.O. Nwoye, and I have to say, that I hope that the truth drowns out Marek’s lies about my beloved country.

What it all leaves me with, is a bad taste in my mouth. Nigeria has already been labeled as a fraudulent country by the rest of the world. The fact that 90% of the ‘Nigerian’ scams perpetrated online are not done by Nigerian citizens does not seem to matter. The minute you say you are a Nigerian on any correspondence, people take to their heels. Its sadistically funny how other countries’ citizens are not all judged by the behavior of a few individuals, but all Nigerians are judged corrupt, loud, ignorant and greedy just by virtue of being born in the country.

Marek’s post is one type of misinformation that just puts us all in a bad light. Too many instances of being painted black, when there are so many good citizens of this country. We are not even the most corrupt country in the world, so why all this flack?

I have been looking for the reason why I keep getting a “No” for all the applications I push out. Every other person I have asked is getting the same treatment, even those Nigerians not living in the country presently. I guess I have my answer now.

I know that truth can be trampled on, beaten and hidden for a while, but it always triumphs. Always. In the meantime, I hope we can change the Nigerian narrative to that of positivity instead of the lies being bandied about as truth.


Blue Zone for Nigeria

I recently lost a dear friend, to kidney failure and blood transfusion complications. It was heart-wrenching. This guy was a quiet, gentle and focused giant, with a ready smile for every occasion. He was cut short in his prime, and left behind no wife or child – another pain-point for me. This brought on a lot of memories, of reaching out to old friends and trying to evaluate if I am actually living my purpose.

Some days ago, I stumbled on the word “Ikigai”. Wikipedia told me that

Ikigai (生き甲斐,) is a Japanese term for “a reason for being.” The word ‘Ikigai’ is usually refers to the source of value in one’s life or the things that make one’s life worthwhile.[1] The word roughly translates to the “thing that you live for”[2] but it also has the nuance of “the reason for which you wake up in the morning” similar to a daily purpose.[3] Each individual’s ikigai is personal to them and specific to their lives, values and beliefs. It reflects the inner self of an individual and expresses that faithfully, while simultaneously creating a mental state in which the individual feels at ease. Activities that allow one to feel ikigai are never forced on an individual; they are often spontaneous, and always undertaken willingly, giving the individual satisfaction and a sense of meaning to life.[1]

Then I found Thomas Oppong’s Medium article on the subject and understood a lot more. Thomas mentions Dan Buettner (who deserves another article on his own, about how he has made his passion his work), who studied hotspots of places where people lived the longest, and published books on this, with titles that included the phrase “Blue Zone”.

Buettner has been able to prove that applying his Blue Zone Principles to cities can improve the overall health and lifespan of its inhabitants. The key to success involved focusing on the ecology of health – creating a healthy environment rather than relying on individual behaviors. His first try in 2008, in Albert Lea, Minnesota was successful. Other cities and communities have applied the principles successfully too.

I know these applications happened in cities in a developed country (USA), but it got me thinking: what if we could work towards creating that healthy environment in Nigeria? What if we could study the principles, and herald it to our leaders for them to use as blueprints for the next four years?

They say that our country is so unique, no theory works out of the box in it, and I agree. What if we could derive a Nigerian version, that will also allow a family on any income level to embrace the tenets that would guarantee better health, and longer, more fulfilling lives?

The Blue Zone Principles promise results in such a short time, I wonder why we have not given it a try before now. If only our leaders were readers more often than spenders. I guess we can decide the next set, come 2019 – if our votes truly count.

As for me, I am going to spend a bit of time each day, trying to figure out a way to bring this about in my environment. Do you know anyone who can help kickstart a movement?

Daydah, September 23, Writer

My birthday is in a few days, and while I am nursing a bad cold, and trying to get work done, I am actually not looking forward to it this year.

I will tell you why.

For as long as I can remember, I have always tried to make my birthday, a day of joy for others. I plan matchmaking parties (got many friends hitched this way), or outings, or even lunches, where I go the extra mile to cook up a three course meal.

But this year, I just want to run away. I want to sit and reminisce on all the years of my life. I want to contemplate on where I am now, and how I have miraculously survived on my own, as a single mother for the past two years. I want to sing to myself, laugh at my memories, cry to a stupor and smile as I remember my son’s antics.

I would prefer a spot where I can be part of nature for a while, just listening to the birds chirping, the wind rustling the leaves, or the sea lapping at the shore.

Just for 48 hours.

But I can’t.

I have to be there, for others once again.

This time, I know most of the people that will reach out on Sunday will be those who care about me; those who are still not used to the idea that I might have died in 2017 and there was nothing they could have done to save me; those who remember the old jovial happy me of about a decade ago, and long to see her once again, shining with warmth, hugging everyone within reach.

I long for her too.

Ever since I got back, I catch a glimpse of her sometimes, hear her boisterous laughter once in a while. I know it will take time to heal, so I am patient with her. I know all the broken pieces of her shattered heart can only be put together in time, but I wonder.

Can the broken edges can be sealed up once again? Can she ever love again? Can she ever remember the pain and not hurt inside?

I got a mail from NaNoWriMo today. Someone there remembered my birthday. The letter encouraged me to prioritize my creativity. While it may be just another promotional newsletter to the writer, it touched me because a part of me that I wish I could revive, is my creativity.

I wish I could make one-of-a-kind stone bead jewelry again. I wish I could write again, with gusto, and actually finish a piece. In time, again, I guess.

One of the things mentioned in the mail that I did immediately, was to check for famous writers and authors born in September too.

I did not find any one for September 23. I could not believe it! I checked IMDb, and Famous people, but could not find any author, only songwriters, and lots of actors. Then I checked On This Day, and saw some, but none of them was born in my generation!

The most recent writer (not songwriter), is Peter Allen David, an American writer born in 1956. He’s still alive, known as PAD, and writer of comic books like Incredible Hulk, Aquaman, Super girl and more (maybe I should consider writing comic books eh?). He also wrote Ben 10: Alien force. I like him already 🙂

So for this generation, I submit to you,

Adedayo “Daydah” Makinde, Nigerian writer born in 1984.

Watch out for that name 🙂

Cool Lady: Titilade Adeniran

I just read a feature at SMEPeaks and I have to say I am impressed. Titilade Adeniran is popularly known as Titilade Railings, and is the first female Nigerian to own and lead a firm in the decorated railings industry.

Here’s the interview for your consumption:


Cool Find: Mystery Shopper

Back in 2006, I was a student, looking for several ways to earn money. I have always been fascinated with working online, and working remotely, so when I found Bare International, despite the misgivings of the people around me, I plunged in and tried it.

Bare International provides businesses with the opportunity to get information about their businesses that they could not otherwise attain directly. They help get answers to questions like:

How much are customer service issues costing my business? Am I missing opportunities to engage my customers? Why are my sales down? I have data about my business but how do I interpret it? How do I identify the real problem points in my business?

Bare International operates in more than 100 countries and has completed over 50,000 evaluations all over the world. No region is too tough for them to penetrate.

Enough praise – the real deal about BAI is that ordinary people like you and me get to make some money doing things we would ordinarily do like shopping at a grocery, taking an exam, buying make up or receiving money via Western Union. Sure, there are instructions on how to act, but you have to keep your eyes and ears open to gather all the information requested.

I enjoyed doing it because I got to be someone else for a few minutes. I remember one occasion that I had to act being an ignorant belligerent Western Union recipient at a bank. Even I laughed at my performance when I left the place. The poor attendant was so harried, I almost stopped and told her its only an act. Almost.

The pay, at least, is small change, but it covers the cost of transportation to the location, and sometimes you get reimbursed e.g. when paying for an exam or buying a cocktail at a bar (yes, you could choose a job to evaluate a cocktail bar!).

You can also take on evaluations if you travel outside the country – just set it up in your profile. I can imagine travelling and doing mystery shops that will at least cover some of my return ticket costs. You can also earn money (up to $25) referring friends, family and enemies to the Evaluator program.



Cool Tool:

Ever wanted to know if someone else was using your chosen name or brand name elsewhere? Well, this cool tool actually checks all over the web for you, and within few seconds too!

I found it on Pinterest, while searching for essential oil blends (story for another day). I saw the pin in passing, and decided to give the tool a try. It’s really fast! And the results pane is so intuitive – within seconds, you get to assimilate a lot at once.

Apart from showing you where your search word is in use, it also shows you were its not yet in use. I’m definitely signing up to the available sites as soon as possible.

You should check it out too, if you are serious about online branding for yourself or your firm.

Cool: CodeLagos is here again

CodeLagos is an initiative to get more people into programming and the Information Technology sector in general, in Lagos state, Nigeria. The goal is to get one million Lagosians to learn to code by 2020.

Initially I thought the project was only admitting students and teenagers, but then I was directed to the Out of School program, which is open to anybody, regardless of age.

To register, please visit the Registration page. 3500 participants only, will be accepted for this 4th batch, so hurry!

Cool Tool: Wattpad

Today makes it seven days I have been without my phone. It was stolen while I was attending a meeting, with Jaden in tow, but the story of July 21, 2018 will be written another day. Today its about Wattpad.

I used to write a lot of stories, and took to blogging like a fish takes to water, but along the way, life happened and I found myself writing less. I joined a group called IBcoco to ensure I wrote more often, about two years ago, but I find that story-telling, which was what drove me to writing in the first place, was missing in my posts.

So I took to writing a bit at a time, on my phone. I lost a half-finished story when my phone got stolen seven days ago. My heartache drove me back to Wattpad and I began writing afresh.

What is Wattpad?

Wattpad is the best place to read and share stories. It’s the place where stories are redefined.

Wattpad is a community for readers and writers to publish new user-generated stories in different genres, including classics, general fiction, historical fiction, non-fiction, poetry, spiritual, humor, and teen fiction.[5] It aims to create social communities around stories for both amateur and established writers.[6]

The platform claims to have an audience of more than 65 million users, who can directly interact with the writers and share their opinions with fellow readers.[7]Although available in over 50 languages, 77% of its content is written in English.[8] A number of Wattpad users are translating stories to continue to build the platform.[8]

I have been on Wattpad since 2009, but mainly for reading stories. Wattpad offered mobile reading solutions from then, and I loved the ability to read anywhere any time. You can also vote for your favorite stories and comment.

The site has evolved to more than just a reading service, and even offers awards called Watty Awards, to the best and highest voted writers on the platform.

If it were not for Wattpad, I would not have found PreOrdained, a wonderful Nigerian story of hardship, choices, and victory, by Ad_zy1. Nor would I have found the story of the year 2015, Storm and Silence by Robert Thier, a juicy read that also teaches you about the old English aristocracy and culture.

I hope to complete my stories soon, and this time, share them with the rest of the world.

Cool Tool: J!Dump

I just found another gem.
Remember how I was running around in circles trying to get my Joomla! OS Membership Pro Paystack payment plugin code to work? Well something drove me to ask my best friend Google about debugging, and I hit the jackpot.
Joomla! has documentation on how to debug your code at their JoomlaDocs.
I tried out the Joomla! Debug console, but it was not doing what I needed done: dump out variable values for me to see. Eventually I tried the J!Dump option in the list, and I fell in love.

J!Dump will allow you to dump variable, stack traces, and system information into a popup window at run time. This extension works like the PHP command `var_dump` but formats the output in a much more readable fashion. On the github page, the README says:

This utility makes life easy for developers and template designers. You use it to see what’s inside a variable, an array or an object. Instead of using print_r() or var_dump(), you can now use dump(). This will open a popup window with a nice expandable tree, showing the contents of the variable. It will even show a list of available methods for each object. You have to see it to believe it! You can use dump() in your extensions, in the core, in libraries and even in templates.

It has certainly made my life easier since I installed it.
It works with Joomla! 3.x and PHP 7.x which is what I have set up on my server. I’m yet to test it on Laragon, but I bet it would work.

Thank you to the seven contributors to this free open source project!