There are the usual stereotypes and negative connotations associated with Nigeria and its citizens which overshadow the multiple positive endeavors that everyday citizens are attempting to bring to light. This piece will introduce 9 organizations that are clearly dispelling these negative views in industries ranging from the arts to civic engagement to women empowerment.
Bino and Fino:
The media is powerful medium in shaping adult’s opinions, and perspectives and even more so with children. Most cartoons, if not all growing up in Nigeria, were Western influenced and therefore did not reflect the Nigerian experience nor the African culture. Hence Bino and Fino was created to remedy this gap to provide “positive, fun, educational content about Africa for (African) children to watch” (http://www.binoandfino.com).
Vote or Quench:
Founded in 2010 by Nigerian youths in the diaspora, Vote or Quench is a non-partisan organization that seeks to engage Nigerians in politics and civic engagement through their social media campaigns such like #IfNaijaVotes, #VoQTalks, #AirItOut, #IJustGotBack, among others. The success of these campaigns dispel the myths that Nigerian youths don’t care about the political process, and instead find a group of like-minded Nigerians concerned about their country who share and express their views via a media platform (http://www.voteorquench.org).
The Ake Art & Book Festival:
For all the book lovers out there, Ake festival is one to attend. Initiated in November 2013, the festival is a five day event that features Nigerian and international authors, thinkers, poets, filmmakers, actors, artists and academics. Participants engage in stimulating discussions, are entertained through stage plays, film showings and musical concerts, and promote social inclusion events. Plan your next visit to Nigeria to attend this mind stimulating festival. (www.akefestival.org).
Nigeria Nostalgia Project (NNP):
Created in 2010, The Nigerian Nostalgia Project is an offshoot of a social media initiative that uses photography, film, music and other types of media to showcase Nigeria’s glorious albeit lost and forgotten past. The website, www.nnponline.com features Editorial (News Research and Analysis only, Op-Eds, Personality Interviews, Reports etc.), Community Based and Country Defined Vintage Photography Projects, Online Exhibitions Area (Curated African Stories in Multimedia), a Screening Room (Film and video) and an Online Store (Books and other Literature/African products).
The 234 Project:
It is impossible to present this piece without starting with The 234 Project. The organization was created to showcase the true Nigeria the media rarely talks about; the side of fascinating beauty, intellectual citizens and compelling history. The website features various topics on the culture, arts, tourism, entertainment, history and many other aspects of Nigeria.
According to the founder, Naija treks was “born out of a deep admiration and love for nature as well as a quest to explore, promote and develop the numerous tourism potentials of Nigeria.” Initially a blog post to document travel adventures of the most beautiful and hidden natural treasures, Naija Treks has expanded to provide travel tours for Nigerians and tourist alike to bask in the beauty of Nigeria (www.naijatreks.com). The organization also gives back to the community by promoting the writing skills of school aged children in rural southwest Nigeria through writing competitions.
CcHub as it is commonly referred to is Nigeria’s first lab space that aims to co-create new solutions to the many social problems in Nigeria. It is a space for startup ventures and social entrepreneurs, for “technologists, social entrepreneurs, government, tech companies, impact investors and hackers in and around Lagos” (http://cchubnigeria.com). In accordance with their slogan of One Idea At a Time, CcHub make startup initiative a reality through connections with experts, mentors, investors and other helpful entities. Successful initiative platforms include Efiko, Nigeria Constitution App (featured on The 234 Project) 500 shops, WeCyclers, Truppr, Yourbudgit and Traclist (similar to amazon), among others.My favorite of these innovations is Àsà which means culture in Yoruba language, is an educational mobile app target at young children to promote African culture in a fun and interactive manner.
Nike Center for Art & Culture:
Nike Okundaye is a famed artist and teacher known for her colorful batik and paintings. She opened her center when she realized the traditional methods of weaving and dying were becoming a fading art. The center offers apprenticeship to Nigerian artists and craftsmen to ply their trade. Visitors can tour the three centers across Nigeria and see first hand the arts and crafts of indigo dying, traditional loom weavings and beadworks, or be engrossed in the traditional Yoruba drumming and dancing. A gallery showcasing her various art pieces and other Nigerian artists are also a site to marvel at (www.nikeart.com).
Female in Nigeria (FIN):
FIN is a virtual safe house for Nigerian women created as a result of a trending social media hashtag #BeingFemaleInNigeria. It serves as an outlet to share stories and complexities of females living in Nigeria. Defying the culture that “women are meant to be seen not heard”, this closed group on Facebook is a judgement-free platform for open and honest discussions, support for business growth and hiring opportunities as well as support for women affected by domestic violence. Through my personal involvement with this group of women, I have seen women inspire, support, heal and encourage one another. It is a therapeutic, inspiring and empowering space for women.