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Thursday, 31 July 2014

Sudanese Woman Who Refused to Renounce Christianity Leaves Italy for the US

Sudanese woman Meriam Ibrahim, who was imprisoned for apostasy after refusing to renounce her Christian faith, left Rome this morning for the United States. She and her family are planning to start a new life in America. Meriam and baby Maya, who was born while her mother as shackled in prison, were blessed by Pope Francis who thanked her for her courage and praised her ‘courageous witness to faith’. The brave mother said she was a little anxious about the new start. 

Her husband Daniel, a trained chemist, lost his job while in Sudan trying to support his wife through her ordeal in prison. They will be reliant on their extended family, at least at first. She said: ‘ I’m a bit scared to leave Rome. We have been very happy here. We have felt like a real family. ‘She said that they had toured the city as they waited for the final arrangements to be made for their travel, including an emotional trip to the ancient Roman amphitheatre where thousands of Christians were martyred for their faith."

Blessing Okagbare Wins 2nd Gold Medal at 2014 Commonwealth Games

Nigeria's Blessing Okagbare, has won gold in the women’s 200m at the ongoing Glasgow Commonwealth Games today. She had on Monday won the women's 100m. Okagabre is the 11th athlete in the history of the Commonwealth Games who has won both the 100 and the 200 metres. Big Congrats to her.

Mother and Son Born Without Arms Refuse to be Limited By Their Disability

Linda Bannon, 35, and her 9 year old son Timmy were born without arms. But this mother and son has refused to let their disability get in the way of living a normal life. They have mastered the art of using their feet in place of their hands. Linda does simple jobs such as cooking dinner in the evening, washing up and making the bed without challenges. And she has passed on her inspirational attitude to her son. Timmy can swim, regularly takes taekwondo classes and plays video games like any boy his age using his toes to grip the controller.

Mrs Bannon, who has taught herself to eat using cutlery, put on make-up and even sew using her feet, said: 'Timmy is just like any other little boy.'He does his homework, plays Lego and tidies his room, all using his feet. 'I knew from scans he was going to be born without arms. We were understandably concerned, but I wasn't too daunted as I knew he'd be able to live a normal life like me.'

Mrs Bannon who grew up in Chicago with her parents and 4 younger siblings, said her parents were unaware of her condition until she was born. 'They took it in their stride and never treated me differently,' she said. 'They helped me to walk and dress myself. I had prosthetic arms but they were uncomfortable. 'So by the age of 12 I was doing everything with my feet. I was teased at school, but my friends supported me.'

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Mark Zuckerberg's Journey to Becoming The World's Youngest Billionaire

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg was born in White Plains, New York on May 14, 1984. He became interested in computers around the age of 12 and used Atari BASIC to create a messaging program he named “Zucknet.” His father, who was a dentist, used the program in his office to allow his receptionist to notify him when new patients arrived. Zuckerberg’s family also used the program inside the house to communicate with each other.

Zuckerberg also created games out of drawings done by his friends, and in an attempt to strengthen their child’s knowledge, his parents hired private computer tutor David Newman. While in high school, Zuckerberg created an early version of Pandora, a music software, which he named Synapse. He turned down offers to buy the software as well as employment opportunities with companies such as AOL and Microsoft.

In 2002, Zuckerberg enrolled at Harvard University, and by his sophomore year, he had become the go-to software developer on campus. It was during this time that Zuckerberg developed the programs that served as precursors to the internationally known social media site Facebook. These programs were CourseMatch, which allowed students to pick classes based on the classes other users had picked, and Facemash, which allowed users to vote between the attractiveness of two student’s pictures.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Happy Wedding Anniversary to Soni and Betty Irabor

Soni Irabor and his lovely wife Betty Irabor, who is the publisher of Genevieve magazine are celebrating their 31st wedding anniversary today. The couple got married in1983 and are blessed with 2 kids. Wish them Happy Anniversary and many more fulfilling years ahead.

Landmark University Produces 39 First Class Graduates

Landmark University, Omu-Aran, Kwara State, one of the universities owned by the Living Faith Church has produced 39 1st class graduates. Out of the 386 students that graduated during the 2013/2014 convocation ceremony, 39 students came out with a 1st class degree, 186 students graduated in 2nd class Upper, 152 in the 2nd class lower and 9 students graduated with a 3rd class degree.

The Chancellor of the University, Bishop David Oyedepo said, “The investment of our church in education is therefore a visionary move aimed, in the case of Landmark University, at prosecuting an agricultural revolution as a solution to the nation’s food challenges.We are releasing this set of pathfinders also as highly employable graduates, having been specially equipped as productive human resources entities. These graduates have run through a unique education mill and have been equipped with required leadership skills to become agents of change in the leadership that awaits them.”

Oyedepo, who is also the founder of Living Faith Church Worldwide, appealed to Nigerian leaders to redesign their policies towards developing agriculture so as to reduce the high rate of unemployment and insecurity in the country. He claimed that the university authorities had tackled the nation’s challenge of low enrolment for agricultural programmes. He also added that the management had carried out enlightenment visits to secondary schools and had instituted scholarship programme for students of agriculture.

Beauty and The Feast - ECOWAS Fashion Week Edition

BEAUTY AND THE FEAST is Nigeria’s finest, professionally driven Fashion, Beauty and Lifestyle exhibition, designed intricately by the couture board at Morsi Pr to fulfill the most outlandish Fashion PR dreams. It is a gathering of the most outstanding, unrivaled. style-imbued designers, fashion icons and beauty professionals under one roof to showcase the effulgence of Nigerian fashion and beyond. 

Over the years, MORSI PR has brought together some of Nigeria’s finest and professionally driven fashion, beauty and lifestyle brands all under one roof at exhibitions such as this. This event has a unique strength of showcasing products not just from Nigeria, but also from the UK, USA, and other neighboring African countries. 

This season, we will be hosting the BEAUTY AND THE FEAST - Ecowas Fashion Week Edition. A Fashion , Beauty and Lifestyle trade show and exhibition. Admission is FREE, FREE, FREE

Former FCT Minister Nasir El-Rufai Loses Son In Car Accident


Nigeria's former Minister of the FCT, Nasir El Rufai has lost one of his sons. Hamza El-Rufai died this morning in a car accident. This must really be sad times for his family, he lost his daughter Zainab barely 3 months ago. May his soul rest in peace.

Monday, 28 July 2014

9jaflave Soliloquy - Why Am I Not my Brother's Keeper?

On my way from church today, there was a crowd gathered by the side of the road. My hubby and I wondered at what could have happened at that spot. As we drove by, I saw a young man wearing a yellow shirt  soaked with blood, he laid still on the floor, while a much older man wearing white had blood stains all over and was seating confused on the floor. Clearly it was a bike accident and casualties were involved.

The crowd simply stood there doing nothing. One would have expected them to swing into action, try to move the victims to the hospital but Alas!! they just kept staring. This moment struck me as we drove past, and makes me ask, Why am I not my brother's keeper? One quick action could save a life, heal a home and bring back hope to a broken life. But just like the crowd I saw today staring at casualties of a bike accident, many of us have become onlookers at the sidelines of life. We refuse to give ourselves, our time, our minds and our resources to the helpless and weak amongst us. I am not my brother's keeper, we say, every man to himself, every man to his own cross.

The young man in yellow soaked in blood probably died today, another victim of a broken society. I lay no blame on the onlookers, after all they can only give what they have. I got home safe and turned my focus to the message in church today. Yet deep within my heart, I still wonder, why are we not our brother's keeper? Share your own thoughts with  me on this question. Have a great week!!!!

Sunday, 27 July 2014

'Divorce is The Worst Punishment Any Parent Could Subject Their Children To' - Annie Idibia


Annie Idibia is wife to popular Nigerian music artist, Tuface Idibia. She opened up in a recent interview about her marriage, motherhood, career, her parents' separation and growing up in a broken home. She said: 'Divorce is the worst punishment any parent could subject their children to'. Read excerpts below and go here for full story.

Your parents separated 20 years ago. How did it affect you?
My mother bred us from childhood to adulthood because of the divorce. I was almost a tom boy growing up with my brothers. It’s heartbreaking when you live with your parents happily and suddenly, they part ways. Sincerely, we were terribly affected emotionally. It was especially tough where it was only our mother that was attending functions in school and taking care of our needs. It was emotionally sapping and my brothers have their own fair share of memories. It affected me so much while in secondary school because I was always sad going home after school hours to see my mother living without my father. But mum tried her best to make life meaningful for us; she is my hero. And I appreciate God for being there for us.

How old were you when your parents divorced?

Maybe, nine or 10. I was in primary school when it all happened and I remember everything but it is irrelevant talking about it now because we have moved on.

Could you talk about the sacrifices you made as a kid to support your mother financially?
I was always running home during lunch break to prepare lunch for my younger brother but unfortunately, we lost him at 15 years of age. It was really tough! I had to assist my mother in her shop which was very close to our house after school. She was also working to make ends meet.

Nigerian Man Who Spent 23 Years in Prison for Refusing to Bribe a Policeman

A Nigerian man, Calistus Ike has opened up about his ordeal as a prisoner for 23 years, stating that he was sentenced to prison for failing to bribe a Policeman in 1989. He spent 23 years as an awaiting trial inmate and was due to spend another 16 years on the death row, but for the intervention of a France- based human right group, Avocats Sans Frontieres, ASFF, also known as ‘Lawyers Without Borders France’. Through the human right group, the Edo state government, pardoned him and approved his release from prison.

He has narrated his ordeal and also said that so many innocent Nigerians were currently languishing in various prison facilities across the federation. Read his story below
“The unfortunate thing is that some of the people I left in prison did not even have a case-file. Some of them had stayed as awaiting-trial inmates for more than 10 years. It happened to me in the year 1989. I was resident in Benin, the Edo state capital. There was a man that lived in the same compound with me. His wife had stomach problem and he asked me to lead him to somewhere to collect a root(herbal medicine) for his wife.

We went there about 5pm. After escorting him to the place where he collected the medicine, I returned to my house. The next day, I went to do my business. I did not know that the same man had engaged police to look for me and the other man that gave him the root, a man I didn’t even know. When I heard that police came to look for me, I inquired about the station they came from and went there myself. I reported myself and asked why they came to look for me. They told me that there was an allegation that I conspired with the man we collected medicine from his house and broke into my neighbour’s house- who was the same man I accompanied to get the roots for his wife- and stole his properties. I never knew that they had equally arrested the man that gave us the root.

Olawunmi Animashaun on How Her Father's Words Inspired Her to Start Her Cake Business

Olawunmi Animashaun is the CEO of Cream Slices
a thriving confectionery business in Nigeria. She studied at the University of Lagos, and reveals that she cried her eyes out when she leant that she didn't make a 2:1. She felt her future was bleak and believed that she had failed herself and her family. She went home crying, but her father gave her a piece of advice that changed her perception about life and her future. “My father said that anything you make from school is nothing, your certificate is a piece of paper, it is what you make out of it that makes you who you are”. Those words from her father gave her some sense of optimism about the future as she resolved to take her destiny in her own hands.

She was lured by the security and flashy nature of a white-collar job. She desperately wanted to work in a bank because of the smart way they dress. Fortunately, she got a job in the bank. But barely few days of working in the banking hall, Olawunmi went home and vowed never to go back. “It was too tedious for me; sitting at a spot and counting such huge bulk of money. Also, after the day’s job, everybody is made to wait so that we would all leave the premises together. I didn’t like it at all,” she complained.

Amid the frustration, her father again reminded her of her passion for business and entrepreneurship. She then made up her mind to float her own business. She initially aspired to launch a fashion company but her brother convinced her that venturing into production of bread and cakes would be more viable. Having made that switch, she has not looked back as her Cream Slices and Desserts continue to wax stronger. “I won’t do any other thing, apart from this”, she enthused. “I used to do hats, make-ups and dresses for ladies, but as it is, I won’t do any of those anymore, even if I’m offered N500, 000. Baking cakes is what I want to do. And it really makes me happy.”

I Don't Have Friends in The Music Industry - Daddy Showkey

Daddy Showkey was the toast of music fans in the mid 90s, known for popularising the galala dance. He was away from the music industry for 3 years because  of a spinal cord injury but is currently in the studio recording a new album. In a recent interview, he said he had no friends in the music industry based on his life experiences so far. Read excerpts below:

You were at Kefee’s burial, what are your thoughts?
Nothing much other than I was disappointed that artistes did not come to show love to their own. It is not a good thing. The lady died and it is sad for her family. Musicians ought to have showed up and rallied round her people, to show that they care. It was only the gospel musicians that showed up, meaning there is no love in this industry. Nobody cares about you if you drop dead tomorrow. I told you I was away for 3 years because of my spinal cord injury. Nobody came to visit me during that time. No one from my generation of singers came to identify with me and that is bad for a man who has given much to the industry. This makes me think that we don’t care about ourselves in this industry. As the Yoruba people say, Oju aaye ni a nse o meaning, na eye service we dey do to oursefu!

Are you saying you don’t have friends in the music industry?
I don’t have a friend oh. This life wetin my eyes don see, no be small thing oh! That experience is enough to make you cut-off, because when they see me with money they associate with Showkey; but when Showkey had a challenge, an accident- no one could call or say we feel your pain. So me, I no get friend. My friends are those in Ajegunle that we can say the truth to ourselves. It is only Pasuma that I can call my friend- he comes to my house anytime and we chat about things.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Art Print Giveaway By Brittany Zick

Brittany Zick, is a young artist from Texas in the United States. She works as a teacher's aide and paints in her spare time. She is passionate about a lot of things in life, but art remains the main focus. Brittany says:"Painting is a way to put my thoughts and emotions into a physical representation. I started in my early teens to help with depression. I want my art to make people happy, to be a smile to their face, or to just remind them of a fond memory."

In honour of her first Kickstarter campaign, Brittany is giving away 3 digital prints to readers who share her campaign and tweet it. 

Winners will be randomly chosen and will choose 1 print $15 or under for their prize. To be among the winners, simply leave a comment on the blog below with a link to your tweet and facebook share . You must do both to be entered. 

Sudanese Woman Who Refused to Renounce Christianity - I Knew God Would Not Abandon Me

The Sudanese woman Meriam Ibrahim who shot into limelight, after being sentenced to death in her country for marrying a Christian and refusing to renounce her Christian faith has finally spoken out. Meriam who narrowly escaped the death penalty after a lot of international pressure and support has been moved to Italy with her family. 

She said she will start a new life in the U.S. 'like a real family' and 'trust in God as I always have done'. In her first comments since arriving in Italy after her ordeal, Meriam said: 'Thanks to God we are all fine. I trusted God from the first instant. I knew that he would not abandon me.'

South African Music Legends Honoured With Stamps

The South African Post Office has honoured 10 late music legends from South Africa with a series of stamps to commemorate their lives. Those featured  in the series include Grammy award winning musician Mariam Makeba, Lucky Dube and Brenda Fassie. 

Each stamp features a portrait of the musician by well-known graphic artist Vumile Mavumengwana, who has also produced a range of matching envelopes for the series. See more below:

LAUTECH Best Graduating Student - 'I Wanted To Be The Best, So My Aim Was to Be The Best'

Awonbiowo Abiola was this year's best graduating student at the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology. The 23 year old graduate of Medicine reveals that her goal was to turn out as the best. Read excerpts from her interview with the Punch.

What major decision(s) did you take when you entered school, which helped you?
I made up my mind in my first year not to disappoint the poor woman who struggled to put food on the table for me, covered me with clothing and suffered to pay my fees. I lost my father when I was 12, but my mother never allowed me lack anything. So, I felt the only thing I could do for her was to be serious with my academics and make her proud. I just didn’t want to be a good student; I wanted to be the best, so my aim was to be the best. Whenever I looked at her, I felt I owed her that; to make her proud.

What were the challenges you faced?The journey to success is never an easy one, sometimes you are tired but because of the drive, you keep going. There was a time things were not going on well with my family financially in my second year in the university, I had to borrow textbooks to read. During my clinical year, the university teaching hospital was closed down for 2 years, which made me spend 9 years for a 6-year course without failing or repeating any class.

Friday, 25 July 2014

113 Million Nigerians Defecate In The Open - UNICEF

A Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) specialist with UNICEF, Mr Saaondo Anom, has stated that over 113 million Nigerians defecate in the open due to lack of sanitation facilities. He revealed this while speaking during a workshop organised by UNICEF in Enugu, recently, he said this practice constitute health hazards to Nigerians.

According to him, a gramme of faeces constitute over 10 million viruses, which could be harmful when released into the environment and are responsible for the several illnesses that is presently bedevilling various communities.

Anom noted that the problems are further aggravated by the fact that about 63 million Nigerians lack access to improved sanitation. He said, “Do you know that a teaspoon of shit, or in other words, a lethal dose, just one gramme of human feaces can contain more than 10 million viruses, one million parasites, 1000 parasities cysts and 1000 parasities eyes”. According to him, one can imagine the amount of infections people who defecate in the open voluntarily release into the communities which in turn come to harm others.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Bill Gates Receives Honorary Degree From Ethiopian University

Microsoft founder Bill Gates received a honorary degree this week from Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia. He is no stranger to honorary degrees. In 2007 he got an honorary doctorate from Harvard, where he had dropped out as an undergraduate 3 decades earlier. But he seems especially touched by this  degree bestowed on him. Ethiopian Foreign Minister Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said it is the Microsoft founder's 1st honorary degree from an African university. In his speech, Gates spoke about his conviction that Africa is positioned to shape its own destiny for the better. Read excerpts below and full text of speech here.

Prime Minister Hailemariam; distinguished guests; faculty and students of Addis Ababa University.
I am deeply grateful for this honorary degree. I never got my real degree. I dropped out to start Microsoft, and never went back. So getting a diploma I can put on the wall and show my father is a relief. It is a special honour to receive an honorary degree from Addis Ababa University.

This is one of the leading institutions of higher learning in Africa, a continent whose future has been a central interest of my career ever since my wife and I began our foundation nearly 15 years ago. The first time Melinda and I came to Africa, 20 years ago, we were on vacation. We visited Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, and Burundi. We were awed by the natural beauty. But we were no less awed by the poverty we witnessed. Children were dying from illnesses we'd never even heard of. This struck us as deeply wrong – and totally unnecessary.

CEO of Mona Matthews - How Having Two Unequal Feet Led to Her Shoe Making Business

Nigeria's Mrs Abimbola Azeh is the CEO of Mona Matthews, a company that designs and makes high quality shoes. The lawyer turned shoe-maker revealed that her business was born in 2002 after several futile attempts in search of the perfect shoe size. I am sharing her inspiring story which I saw on Townetworks. Read below:

My feet are not the same size, No, it's not a matter of "everybody has one foot bigger than the other.” it's more like one foot is one shoe size wider than the other. Growing up, I was a bit of a tomboy. I was born between two brothers and for a long time I did not believe that I could not do everything that my older brother could do. So, I played soccer which might be why my right foot is much wider than my left foot. Or maybe I was just born like that.

Anyway, I did not pay much attention to this phenomenon until I became a lawyer and I had to wear court shoes. This was way back in the days when all Italian shoes were made in Italy. I began to notice that my right court shoes had this disrespectful habit of splitting in the middle. I became ingenious, and I would add a clip-on bow to cover the slit, but the damage would continue and often went beyond what a bow could conceal.

Sudanese Woman Who Refused to Renounce Christianity Meets The Pope

Sudanese Woman Meriam Ibrahim, who was sentenced to death for refusing to become a Muslim, has been moved to Italy with her husband and 2 children. They arrived Italy this morning and met with the Pope. The whole world was drawn to Meriam's plight after she boldly refused to renounce her Christian faith. Pope Francis met privately with her today, blessing both her and the baby she had while in prison.

The Vatican said Pope Francis had 'a very affectionate' meeting with Meriam Ibrahim, 27, her husband and their 2 small children. Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi said: 'The Pope thanked Meriam and her family for their courageous witness and constancy of faith. For her part, Meriam expressed gratitude to the Pope for the great support and comfort she received from his prayers and from so many others believers of good will.'

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Young Man With Down's Syndrome Who Owns/Runs a Thriving Restaurant in The USA

Tim Harris is a 27-year-old man born with Down's Syndrome. He is the owner of Tim’s Place, a thriving and popular restaurant in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Tim started dreaming of opening up his own restaurant ever when he was 14. Tim may also be the first and only person with Down syndrome in the United States to run a restaurant. His restaurant serves ‘breakfast, lunch and hugs’ and calls itself the friendliest restaurant in the world.

Tim attended Eastern New Mexico University in Roswell, New Mexico, were he earned certificates in Food Service and Office Skills. While attending college, he worked at various local restaurants. He graduated from university in 2008 and returned to Albuquerque, where he worked as a host at Applebee. He nevertheless continued to dream of having his own restaurant. Seeing his determination and wanting Tim to succeed, Tim’s parents decided in May 2010 to sign a lease for a facility in Albuquerque, which would become his restaurant.

Apart from serving food, Tim also likes to serve hugs to his customers, which he considers to be the best part of his job. Tim truly cares about his clients and wants to see them enjoy their time at Tim’s Place and return time and time again. For Tim, the number of hugs he has given are the measure of his success. He has a special hug counter, which keeps track of them. So far, he has served over 42,000 hugs. In the future, he hopes to expand his business, but is determined to maintain its homey feel, which many of his customers are drawn to in the first place.

Nigeria's Hannah Kabir - Solving Electricity/Energy Challenges With Cleaner Alternative Technologies

Meet Hannah Kabir, the CEO of Creeds Energy Nigeria, a renewable energy solutions
provider. The young entrepreneur, in a recent interview with Whoot Africa spoke about her passion and vision of enriching lives by addressing electricity and energy challenges with cleaner alternative technologies. Read excerpts below:

Did you know you were going to be an Entrepreneur all along, or did it happen by chance? Also, tell us more about your leadership style?
I would say entrepreneurship for me happened by chance- I wanted to be the bringer of light in every home, to tangibly relate my work and efforts to the positive impacts on the lives of people. The only way I could do that was to create a space for it. I don’t think I have a particular leadership style. I tend to operate openly, I would like to believe I am result oriented and demand that from my colleagues, so when something needs doing we all work as a team to get it done, no airs or labels. Perhaps you would have to ask my colleagues on this one.

What do you love most about your business and your life as an Entrepreneur? What drives you?

I like challenges. Every day for an entrepreneur operating in Nigeria comes with a different Pandora’s box. As an entrepreneur, you are simply a Do-It-Yourself person because you get involved in all the dimensions of a business. I’m an implementer by nature; I enjoy doing rather than sitting back. I like interacting with people, getting to understand their challenges, learning from their experiences and having the ability to offer solutions gives me joy.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Blind Teenage Piano Prodigy From Hawaii - I See No Limits in My Life

Meet Kuha’o Case, the 17 year old piano prodigy from Hawaii. He was born 2 months premature, and had to undergo a necessary operation as an infant, his life was saved but he lost his vision.  Kuha began teaching himself to play the piano, when he was 12 and the organ, which he confesses is his true passion, at the age of 13. He was first introduced to the keyboard at school. Kuha’o recalls: ‘The first time, my fingers touched the keyboard, I felt overjoyed. It completely changed my world and my entire life.” Music had entered his life.

He then received a keyboard as a gift from a friend. His family quickly realized his special gift, as they witnessed him create melodies and harmonies without any training. Wishing to support his talent, his grandparents purchased a piano, which Kuha’o could only practice on during the weekends, when his parents took him to visit them. It was only in the summer of 2012 that he got his own piano, through the help of a Kick starter campaign, where he managed to raise over $30,000, part of which he used to release his first album, ‘Dare to Dream.’

Kuha’o chooses to see no limits and has the courage to decide that he can do things that others might think impossible. Apart from self-teaching himself to play the piano and organ, Kuha’o has also learned to drive with the guidance of his grandfather and to horseback ride. During his TedTalk, Kuha’o beautifully stated: “In my life, I see no limits. You might want to laugh at that statement, because, in reality, I see nothing at all. So, of course, I see no limits. But let me further explain. I am not trying to say that one day, I decided to rise above the challenges that had been set for me. No. What I am saying is that, because I am not able to visually see the world around me, I do not understand boundaries and limitations in the same way as the rest of you, through sight, do. It seems to me, that, in very significant ways, having your sight, might be more limiting than being blind.”

Monday, 21 July 2014

Cameroon's Arthur Zang - The 26 Year Old Creator of Africa's First Medical Tablet

Meet Cameroon’s Arthur Zang, the 26-year-old creator of the Cardio Pad, believed to be Africa’s first medical tablet. The device allows healthcare workers in rural areas to perform cardiac tests and send results to specialists via mobile phone connection. Zang completed his bachelor’s degree in computer science from the University of Yaoundé in 2007, and 2 years later did a master’s at the National Advanced School of Engineering of Yaoundé.

 In 2009, Zang who was looking to apply his knowledge in developing medical solutions, met a cardiologist who outlined the challenge of addressing the needs of rural patients requiring cardiac examinations. He then decided to invent a portable medical solution, but needed to first gain the medical electronic know-how, which he did via the internet. “In my country we do not have a lot of engineering schools where you can learn medical electronics or bio-medical engineering. So when I wanted to design the Cardio Pad, I decided to teach myself medical electronics online. This is how I learnt electronics in 6 months. After this I was able to design an electronic device. It was a very big challenge to learn the technology, and the internet is a very good tool to learn.”

Zang’s mother was able to get a $1,300 loan from a bank which financed the production of his first prototype. Armed with this, he then used social media like Facebook to find further funding. “With that prototype I made a video demonstration and the president of the country gave me $30,000 and this allowed me to manufacture the first 20 devices,” he said. “And after the manufacturing of the first 20 devices I made the second video demonstration… and I submitted it to the Rolex Awards for Enterprise, an international contest of innovation.”

Our Threatened ‘Pikins” And The Tobacco Profiteers - Betty Abah

I saw this article by environmental rights activist Betty Abah and felt it was worth sharing. Read below:

When the legendary Nelson Mandela made his famous quote ‘there can be no keener revelation of a society's soul than the way in which it treats its children,” he most likely had the humanity-indicting apartheid system in mind. Were he alive now and a Nigerian, he would have replaced the last strand of the sentence with ‘the way in which it allows the tobacco industry, merchants of death, to toy with the lives and destinies’ of its children.

This becomes more pertinent as the question of whether tobacco should continue to exist as a consumable product alongside our glistening civilization, continues to bug us all. This also rears up on the heel of the recent public hearing on the National Tobacco Control Bill at the House of Representatives.Some of the core issues of the bill bordered on ‘Prohibition of Tobacco Advertising, Promotion, and Sponsorship’ (Article 13 of the WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control aka FCTC). This piece will also focus on the aspect that pertains to marketing to minors, and one that has remained a thorny issue.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Nigerian Celebrity Couples That Have Stood By Each Other in Their Marriages

While many believe Nigerian celebrity marriages are doomed to fail, some of such marriages have actually proved such notions wrong. These couples who are constantly in the spotlight have stood by each other through thick and thin, inspiring others with their amazing love stories. One of such marriages is that of Isaac and Nneka Moses, presenters of Goge Africa, their commitment to each and their ability to stand by each other through 12 years of childlessness is quite inspiring.  Doyin Adeoye of the Tribune gives us a peek into the world of some of these celebrity couples. Read more below:

Isaac and Nneka Moses

Talk Goge Africa and the first name that comes to mind are Isaac and Nneka Moses’. They are one couple whose marriage tells a story of faith, love and excitement. The couple met in 1996 and by October of the next year, they were married. Seventeen years on and they are still bubbling with the love they started with. Although they faced a challenge that would have destroyed many homes, the couple, despite not having a child in the first 12 years of their marriage, held on to each other.

“The period before we had our first baby, was challenging. We had one in the first year of our marriage, but it was a stillbirth. That was the most challenging period of my marriage,” Isaac said, yet their faith never withered and Nneka delivered a baby boy in 2012. On what keeps them going, Nneka said, “It is easy because whatever decision we make is in the best interest of our vision and passion. There is no superiority contest between us. Above all, we both have the fear of God inside of us.”

Saturday, 19 July 2014

The Miraculous Deliverance Of Oga Jona - A Short Story By Chimamanda Adichie

As soon as he opened his eyes, he felt it. A strange peace, a calm clarity. He stretched. Even his limbs were stronger and surer. He looked at his phone. Thirty-seven new text messages – and all while he was asleep. With one click, he deleted them. The empty screen buoyed him. Then he got up to bathe, determined to fold the day into the exact shape that he wanted.

Those Levick people had to go. No more foreign PR firms. They should have made that article in the American newspaper sound like him, they should have known better. They had to go. And he would not pay their balance; they had not fulfilled the purpose of the contract after all. He pressed the intercom. Man Friday came in, face set in a placidly praise-singing smile. “Good morning, Your Excellency!”
“Good morning,” Oga Jona said. “I had a revelation from God.” Man Friday stared at him with bulging eyes.

“I said I had a revelation from God,” he repeated. “Find me new Public Relations people. Here in Nigeria. Is this country not full of mass communication departments and graduates?” “Yes, Your Excellency.” Man Friday’s eyes narrowed; he was already thinking of whom he would bring, of how he would benefit. “I want a shortlist on my table on Wednesday,” Oga Jona said. “I don’t want any of the usual suspects. I want fresh blood. Like that student who asked that frank question during the economic summit.” “Your Excellency… the procurement rules…we need somebody who is licensed by the agency licensed by the agency that licenses PR consultants…”

How Malala's Visit Inspired Young Girls in Nigeria

Pakistan teenager and girls education campaigner Malala Yousafzai was in Nigeria recently, to further press for the release of over 200 Chibok school girls who were kidnapped by the Islamic militant sect, Boko Haram some months ago. The 17 year old continues to lend a strong voice in campaigning for peace and the importance of educating young girls around the world. She has also become a true role model for young girls through her passion, courage, fearlessness and compassion.

According to Sun news, Fatima Ibrahim, one of the schoolgirls that attended the Malala Day interaction, was inspired by how articulate and courageous Malala sounded. “She is very courageous and beautiful”, Fatima said of her first impression of the visiting Pakistani teenager. “She has a lot of guts for her to confront those who are destroying our country just like she did with those who made life bad for Pakistan. She must have a lot courage to stand up against those who claim they are fighting for Islam but they are killing people for their own pleasure”, she gushed in admiration.

Sounding prayerful, Fatima said: “I hope that Malala gets the supports she needs to push her message across the world. She is simply amazing. I cannot but be amazed that she came all the way from where she lives to Nigeria to push for the rescue of the Chibok girls. Malala didn’t hide under the excuse that Nigeria is not her country. Rather she declared that the Chibok girls are her sisters and anything that affects the wellbeing of girls across the world is a problem that should be solved. I also hope our President will make his promise to Malala a reality by freeing our girls because they have suffered for so long”.

The Ethiopian Ex-Model Who is Using Fashion to Change Women's Lives

Meet Ethiopia's Hiwot Gashaw, the young entrepreneur who is using fashion to change the lives of women in her country. Hiwot reveals that she always had a passion for fashion, drawing clothes from an early age. She worked as a professional fashion model and after graduating from a top design school, Gashaw took a huge step in 2012 with the launch of her label, Abugida Fashion.

Her label fuses traditional Ethiopian designs with contemporary Western style. Abugida produces and sells a collection of clothes ranging from women's dresses and scarves to men's designer jackets and children's clothing. "What makes my clothes unique is that you can wear them any-time," says Gashaw. "Also, I design and sew them myself, giving them a personal touch."  Her company has 6 full-time workers, who were once street girls and elderly beggars until she took them in. They have all been trained by Gashaw herself. "I work with these women who used to be in the streets," says the young designer. "But now I trained them, they work with me and they are able to support themselves."

"'Abugida' means learning something new," says Gashaw, who started her brand at the age of 22, "and with fashion I learn something new every day." Ethiopian garments are often created from woolen materials and they're usually traditionally hand stitched. Gashaw, who is involved in the entire process, from designing the outfits to adding the final embroidery details, has continued to use this trend in her intricate creations. "I want Abugida Fashion to become a brand like Gucci and to be known all over the world," she says.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Kenyan Author Okwiri Oduor Wins 2014 Caine Prize For African Writing

Kenyan writer Okwiri Oduor has won the 2014 Caine Prize for African Writing. She beat other African writers to take home this year's prize. Okwiri's winning short story is entitled 'My Father's Head' . She was announced winner of the £10,000 prize at a dinner held on Monday evening at the Bodleian Library in Oxford in London. The 2013 Caine prize was won by Nigerian writer Tope Folarin for his short story 'Miracle'. The Caine Prize for African Writing is an annual literary award for the best original short story by an African writer, and published in the English language.

Her short story 'My Father's Head' explores the narrator's difficulty in dealing with the loss of her father and looks at the themes of memory, loss and loneliness. The narrator works in an old people's home and comes in contact with a priest, giving her the courage to recall her buried memories of her father.

Okwiri Oduor directed the inaugural Writivism Literary Festival in Kampala, Uganda in August 2013. Her novella, The Dream Chasers was highly commended in the Commonwealth Book Prize, 2012. She is a 2014 MacDowell Colony fellow and is currently at work on her debut novel.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

CEO Foodstantly Uche Ariolu - Think Outside The Box and Never Give Up

Meet Nigeria's Uche Ariolu, he is the CEO of Foodstantly, an online marketplace for food. He calls it the online version of any of the major markets in Nigeria. He shared some thoughts on his journey as an entrepreneur with Whoot Africa. Read excerpts below:

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and Foodstantly as a brand you represent?
I am Uche Ariolu, professionally I am a Lawyer but, at heart I am an Entrepreneur. I love building businesses and creating jobs. I have set up a series of small businesses from my secondary school days. I worked for a while in the food and hospitality industry and gained a lot of knowledge about the industry; as well as the ICT outsourcing industry as a freelancer for 10 Years. Just before I set up Foodstantly, I set up “TicketMyPal” an event discovery and online ticket sales platform for shows, events, seminars and entertainment.

Foodstantly is an online marketplace for food. It provides the technology and business solution for farmers, restaurants, fast-food, foodtraders, frozen food dealers and food producers to set up shop online, display their products, accept payments, sell and also deliver directly to consumers. Foodstantly solves the problems of difficulty in accessing food. It’s your online version of the Yaba market, Ajah market, Mile 1 market, Oniru market, Oil mill market, Watt market etc. It’s also an online platform for you to buy from restaurants and fast food outlets. It brings the market to your door step. All the hassles, inconvenience and time wastage experienced from going to the market to shop for fresh food produce or driving to fast-food outlets to pick up ready meals during peak time are solved by Foodstantly.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Nigerian Entrepreneur Akara Ogheneworo On Why He Left Banking for Photography

Nigerian entrepreneur Akara Ogheneworo is one of the leading wedding photographers in the country. In a recent Tribune interview, he spoke on why he left the banking industry for photography. Read excerpts below:

What motivates/inspires you?
The thought that it is within me to achieve all I desire is a huge motivator. The knowledge that God has placed it all in me and I just need to understand how to walk His rules and paths and His instructions and look at His manual for my life is a huge inspiration. It tells me success is mine to cultivate and harvest. It tells me that success is not anyone’s to give to me, it is mine to take

How did you start your photography business?
I decided to learn it as a hobby. I realised I was very good at it and resigned my former employment and here we are. I was in paid employment and I used my salary to buy most of the equipment I started with. So before I resigned, the structure required for me to succeed was on ground already.

What were you doing prior to starting up?

I was working as a Continuous Improvement Officer in a new generation bank. 

Monday, 14 July 2014

Pakistan Teenager Malala Meets President Jonathan

Pakistani teenager girls education campaigner Malala Yousafzai is currently in Nigeria and she visited President Jonathan today in Abuja.  Malala gave an insight into the meeting with the President in a chat with State House correspondents. 

She said: "I convey the voice of my sisters who are out of school or who are still under the abduction of Boko Haram and for those girls who escaped from the abduction but still do not have education.  And in the meeting, I highlighted the same issues which the girls and their parents told me in the past two days.  "The parents said they really want to meet with the president to share their stories with him and I asked the president that if he wants to meet with the parents of the girls. The president assured me that he would meet with them."  I spoke to the president about the girls who complain that they cannot go to school despite the fact that they want to become doctors, engineers and teachers. And the president fortunately promised me that he will do something for these girls and he promised me that the girls under the abduction of Boko haram will be released as soon as possible. This is the promise the president made and I am hopeful that his promise will come through and we will soon see those girls return soon.

Malala also revealed that parents of the abducted school girls had craved for an opportunity to meet the president and were in desperate need for help.  She added: "Yesterday I also met with the parents of these girls who are still under the abduction of Boko Haram and they were crying and hopeless. But still, they have this hope that there are still someone who can help them. They asked me if there is any chance for them to meet the president because at this time, they need the presidents support.mSo, I ask the president if it is possible for him to go and see them to encourage them and the president did promise me that he will meet the parents of these girls. "I am hopeful that these two promises, the return of the girls from Boko Haram and meeting with their parents will be fulfilled and we will see it soon."

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Happy 80th Birthday to Professor Wole Soyinka

Professor Wole Soyinka was born on the 13th of July 1934. He turned 80 today and accolades have continued to pour in for the celebrated writer, playwright and poet. He was awarded the 1986 Nobel Prize in Literature, making him the 1st African to be honoured with the prestigious prize. He continues to be a great source of inspiration through his works and his stand in fighting for fairness and justice for the oppressed. Happy Birthday to Professor Wole Soyinka. You are celebrated. Read this article below from Sahara Reporters celebrating the Nobel Laureate.

Wole Soyinka: Our Lion And Our Jewel By Bayo Oluwasanmi
Eightieth birthday is a special occasion and ideal opportunity to tell Wole Soyinka the first African to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature, how much he means to us. When people think of Wole Soyinka, it’s probably as the author of the powerful autobiographical work, The Man Died (1971), a collection of notes from prison. But more than that, W.S. as fondly known in literary circles, is identified around the world as the recusant specialist who refused to submit to madmen that run and ruin Nigeria since independence in 1960. The rest of the story need not delay us.

W.S. is unlike most Nigerians of his generation who see self-promotion and self-preservation as their goals in life but failed to discover the liberating power of expendability. W.S. see his time, talents, and treasures as weapons for the liberation of oppressed Nigerians. Always fighting on the side of the poor, his crusade for social justice, economic and income equality, freedom, and democracy, bears witness to his alliance, allegiance, and fraternity with the poor. The struggle is his life. And like Brother Paul of Tarsus, W.S. seems to be saying: “But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me…”

I am Ryland – The Story of A Male-Identifying Little Girl Who Did Not Transition

I saw this article at this blog and I strongly believe it is a piece every parent should read. Lindsay shares her experience as a little girl who grew up liking boy things. She says: "Because my parents never forced me to, I never considered if some of the things that I enjoyed were “boy” things or “girl” things, I was just me. When we begin to tell boys that they must act “this” way, and that girls should act “that” way, and that if they don’t, they are transgender; we put children in these tiny boxes that create confusion, frustration, and sometimes, lifelong psychological and emotional damage." Read article below:

I have been shying away from highly controversial topics on this blog recently because I just couldn't take the drama that naturally associates with it. But I keep hearing the story of Ryland, a child who was born a female, whose parents have transitioned her to male at 5 years old. You can see the full story here, but in short, because their daughter identified herself as a boy, and liked “boy” things as opposed to “girl” things, they cut off her hair, bought her “boy” clothes, and have begun telling her, and others, that she is a boy.

I have no degree in early childhood development, nor have I studied psychology. I didn't even graduate from College. I am also not here to pass judgement on Ryland’s parents. I believe that they are doing what they believe to be the most loving thing for their child. I'm simply sharing my story because I see so much of my 5-year-old self in this child. I was born the 2nd daughter to 2 loving, amazing, supportive parents. They would go on to have 2 more daughters. The 4 of us couldn't be more different, even down to our hair and eye color. Our parents embraced our differences and allowed us to grow as individuals, not concerned with the social “norms” for girls. I often joke that I was the boy my dad never had. My dad is a free spirit, 100% unconcerned with what people think of him, and he thought nothing of “out of the box” behavior. I function more as a firstborn than a second born (however, this does not make me the firstborn, am i right?)

Gospel Singer Kefee Laid to Rest

Nigerian gospel singer and branama crooner Kefee has been laid to rest in her hometown, Okpara Inland, Ethiope-East LGA, Sapele, Delta. She was buried on Friday amidst tears from her family, loved ones, friends and well wishers.

Kefee (Evelyn Irikefe Don-Momoh, nee Obareki) was just 34 and left behind hubby, Teddy Don-Momoh, parents and siblings. She will be remembered for her soulful tunes and energetic performances. May her soul continue to rest in peace.

Pakistani Teenager Malala Yousafzai Arrives in Nigeria

BBC News John Simpson welcomes Malala in Abuja.

Pakistani teenager and girls education campaigner Malala Yousafzai has arrived Nigeria to campaign for the release of the schoolgirls abducted by Boko Haram. 

The 17 year old arrived Abuja early this morning, saying, “We must not be silent”. She is expected to meet with families of the abducted chibok school girls and with President Goodluck Jonathan to further press the government to ensure the safe release of the girls. 

Yesterday July 12th was her birthday, and in a statement ahead of a day that has been designated as "Malala Day"  , the teenager said: "This Malala Day, I have come to Nigeria, to honour the stories of these brave girls who have sacrificed so much to get an education and achieve their dreams."

Co -Founder Malala Fund Shiza Shahid On Why Role Models Are Important

Shiza Shahid  is the co-founder of the Malala Fund, a New York-based non-profit that aims to improve girls' access to education.  She attended college at Stanford University and went on to build a career as an analyst at McKinsey & Co. in Dubai. Life changed for Shiza on the day her close friend, Malala Yousafzai was shot by the Taliban in Pakistan while travelling home from school. She went on to quit her job to help run the Malala Fund, and in the past year, the 25 year old CEO has been named to two "30 Under 30" lists, one on Time.com and the other on Forbes.com.  At a recent conference in New York, Shahid spoke about her work with the Malala Fund and the importance of having good and positive role models. Read excerpts below:

On meeting Malala:
I first got in touch with Malala when I was at Stanford; I was 19 and she was 11. I had seen a New York Times video about the Taliban taking over her town [and shutting down her school]. I thought, "That girl could be me -- living just a few miles away from my home -- and here I am at Stanford." I emailed a bunch of people so I could get hold of her and said, "How can I help?" That summer we held a secret camp. We urged people in our country to act. The Taliban were defeated. But then 4 years later she was attacked."

On why she co-founded the Malala Fund:
When Malala was shot, the world was shocked. Girls in the U.S. and other countries said, "I am Malala. I know what it's like to feel scared, to be bullied, to feel not accepted." That was overwhelming to see millions of people inspired to embrace their own strength. We said, "This needs to be more than just a moment. This has to be a tipping point in history."

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Sudanese Model Alek Wek's Inspiring Story - From Refugee to Supermodel

Sudanese model Alek Wek, remains one of the most successful models of the past 2 decades. Wek was born in South Sudan, but her family fled their country after the civil war broke out. She described her early childhood as happy and peaceful. "We had an extremely simple life. No running water, no electricity. We walked to a well for drinking water, and the loo was a hole in the ground. My mother ran the house, but if we complained about anything, we'd be told to clean it," she laughs. "It was a tiny town, where everyone knew everyone. We had no idea how poor we were, because we were so rich in our culture, our education. I loved going to school, walking home via the mango trees for a snack."

Wek arrived London at the age of 14, was approached by a model scout from a top London agency while at the park when she was 19.  Wek's unique features include her height and extraordinarily long limbs which she inherited from her father, also her mother's cheekbones and her "little booty and big smile", which was not exactly glamour-girl material. The agent persisted despite her mother's fears, convincing Wek's mother that theirs was a reputable agency. This marked the beginning of Wek's career. She went to New York and had been there barely a week when Ralph Lauren booked her to open and close his catwalk show (the spot normally reserved for the big model of the moment, not a newbie). Calvin Klein, Isaac Mizrahi, Todd Oldham and Anna Sui followed suit. Wek was booked to star in Tina Turner's Golden Eye video, named Model of the Year by i-D magazine and, in 1997 (less than a year after starting out), became the first African model to appear on the cover of Elle magazine.

One woman inspired by her Wek's story is Lupita Nyong'o: the actress paid tribute to Wek as an inspiration soon after winning her Oscar for 12 Years A Slave, saying: "A celebrated model, she was dark as night, she was on all of the runways and in every magazine and everyone was talking about how beautiful she was… My complexion had always been an obstacle to overcome… when I saw Alek, I inadvertently saw a reflection of myself. Now, I had a spring in my step because I felt more seen, more appreciated." 

Malala Yousafzai Will Arrive Nigeria Tomorrow to Campaign for Missing Chibok Schoolgirls

Pakistani teenager Malala Yousafzai, is due to arrive Nigeria tomorrow to campaign on behalf of the Chibok schoolgirls who were abducted by the Islamic militant sect, Boko Haram.  The 17 year old who is a strong campaigner for girls' education, will be meeting relatives of the kidnapped school girls, and is also expected to seek an audience with President Goodluck Jonathan.

Her visit to Nigeria comes almost 3 months to the day since the abduction of the girls. In recent weeks there has been claims that the hunt for the missing girls has gone cold, despite help from Britain, America and France. It is believed that the presence of a high-profile women's rights campaigner like Malala, will add to the pressure on the Nigerian government, which was accused in the early days of the kidnapping of not doing enough to resolve it.

Malala was shot by the Taliban as she boarded her school bus in Pakistan after she spoke publicly about girls' rights to education. She was transferred to Britain for hospital treatment, and currently lives there with her family.

Friday, 11 July 2014

Actress Yaya DaCosta Recreates Whitney Houston’s 1987 Album Cover

Yaya DaCosta, who is set to star as Whitney Houston in an upcoming biopic, recently re-created the iconic cover of the singer’s 1987 album, Whitney.

The 31 year old actress who was a former contestant on America’s Next Top Model, says recreating the album cover was effortless,“I just looked at the picture and did the pose!” The film will be directed by Whitney's 'Waiting to Exhale' co - Star, Angela Bassett.

Mona Matthews - Your Shoes, Your Feet, Your Story

Shoe Designer and entrepreneur Monalisa Abimbola Azeh, founder of Mona Matthews is showcasing her collection of elegant shoes this weekend. Her collection of hand made shoes are tailored to suit each individual's need.

The collection will also cater specifically for those with plus size feet and the elderly. It is all about your feet, your shoes and your story. See more here.

Citi FM's OAP Dan Foster Speaks About Marriage and Family

OAP Dan Foster is the brain behind the popular radio show, 'Sunday Praise Jam'. He worked at Cool FM and Inspiration FM but recently pitched his tent at City FM. In a recent interview, Dan opened up about his marriage to a Nigerian woman and his family. Read excerpts below:

Where did you meet your wife, Lovina? 
In the theatre, at the Silverbird Galleria, about six years ago (2008), at about 11.00am. We were the only ones who came early on a Saturday morning to watch a movie. She was taking some kids to the theatre then she went to see her own movie and I was at the movies too. I was single at the time.

You were formerly married and you have a son called Joshua…
Yes, back in the States, but I came first to Nigeria and then they came and they didn't like it and she took my son back and that’s the only thing that hurts me, I wish my son could see what I've done, cause she took a little boy back home instead of letting the boy see what his father does and all the inspiration that I've been giving. It’s painful, but I was glad that she found another man because I had choices of her being here and I told her ‘honey I know we’re going to break up but I have to do this, it’s a job thing’.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Finally!! Half of a Yellow Sun Set To Be Released August 1st in Nigeria



The film version of Chimamanda Adichie's book 'Half of a Yellow Sun', will be released on August 1, in Nigerian cinemas. This follows the eventual certification of the film by the National Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB). The Board had frowned at some violence scenes in the movie, which it said could incite ethnic unrest in the country.

The movie, an adaptation of Adichie’s book on the Nigerian civil war, is a directorial debut by Biyi Bandele, a Nigerian playwright based in England. Although, the flick, which features Oscar-nominated actor Chiwetel Ejiofor, BAFTA award – winning actor Thandie Newton, Anika Noni Rose and AMAA winners Genevieve Nnaji, Onyeka Onwenu, Zack Orji and O.C Ukeje is being promoted as a love story, centered around the Biafra war, snapshots of genocide, plotted around the love characters to elicit emotions are the likely offensive scenes the film-makers were advised to expunge.

The film-makers, who were initially reluctant to have a different version of the film for the Nigerian audience, had to do some adjustments which cost them N20 million.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

"Treat Customers With Respect" - 70 Year Old Entrepreneur

Sean Garstin owns Sean Garstin Motors in Nairobi, Kenya, a company that imports and sells used cars. He moved to South Africa in 1968 to farm apples. He had planned to return to England after a year, but instead chose to stay in South Africa where he took up a sales job at a car dealership because he “liked cars”, he says. This marked the beginning of a long career in the industry, selling some of the world’s leading auto brands. “This is fun. I love doing what I do. I woke up at 5am this morning to buy a car in Japan,” says the 70-year-old entrepreneur. He shared a very important business lesson with how we made it in Africa. Read below:

The most important lesson he has learnt in the car business is to treat customers with respect. Garstin tells a story from his days as junior salesman working at Chrysler in Cape Town, some 40 years ago. One day a young black man arrived at the dealership on a bicycle. He walked into the showroom, but was ignored by all the staff, except Garstin. The man asked about a pickup and whether he could pay cash. When he left the other salesmen laughed at Garstin, but, the next day, the customer returned with a plastic bag full of money. He turned out to be the owner “of all the fish shops in a huge township”, says Garstin. “That gentleman loved cars. He ended up buying 7 cars from me. Never judge a book by its cover.”

To be successful, you must also have good staff, Garstin says. “Your staff can make or break you. Research shows that about 60% of the staff in a company are stealing from you and of the other 40%, about half are planning how to do it. That is a fact, doesn’t matter if it’s a pencil or car oil, it is something,” he says. “I have got one guy I know is stealing from me. I nearly caught him the other day.” Garstin advises entrepreneurs to exercise caution and be honest in their dealings. “Be honest, be dead honest. In fact, be over-honest if you like. That is what people deserve, I think.”

Nigerian Prostitutes in Italy ( Photos)

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime declared Nigeria among the top 8 countries with the highest human trafficking rates in the world. Nigerian women are being trafficked to Italy under the pretence that they will be working as nannies or in factories but eventually end up working as prostitutes.

Their plight has been brought to life in pictures by Paris-based photographer Elena Perlino, who began to notice the presence of young African women working on the streets while commuting. She reveals that many Nigerian women come to Italy hoping to make enough money from honest work as nannies or factory workers to support their families back home, but are tricked by traffickers into working in the sex trade. Arrests, violence and abuse often follow.

Traffickers demand on average more than 50,000 euros (US $60,000) for travel expenses and accommodation, with the women having to work as prostitutes until their debts are paid off. Eighty per cent of women trafficked to Italy come from Benin City, Edo State, in Nigeria. The photographer explained: ‘My work attempts to show a complex phenomenon that crosses Italy from North to South. This involves many cities including Turin, Milan, Genoa, Rome, Naples and Palermo and thousands of Nigerian and Italian people.’

Artist Uses Water Paint to Transform Female Model into a Giant Spider

Emma Fay is a 27 year old artist who uses water-based paints to turn models into creatures from the animal world. Her latest work involved transforming model,  Lowri Thomas into a giant spider. It took her 5 hours of intricate work to create the incredibly detailed creature and she has also created a seahorse and a giraffe.

Emma said: 'This series of transformations is based on the marvels of the natural world. The animals featured are both closely linked to evolution and have developed and changed over a long period of time. 'First I ask the model to get into the initial pose and mark out where they will be. They can only hold the pose for a maximum of 5-seconds so I have to work quickly to get it right. I then keep painting and repositioning the models until they look like the real animal.'

Other projects have seen one of the models, Beth Sykes painted as a lizard, an alien character from the film 'Avatar', a tiger and other wild animals. She recently performed at a celebrity-packed party in the Maldives featuring the Beckhams, Gordon Ramsay, Jimmy Carr and other big names. She said: 'My flexibility isn't all natural, it comes from being trained and years of practice. I used to train six days a week, before school and after school. I absolutely love it.'

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Kenya's Jennifer Barassa on How She Started One of Africa’s Top Advertising Agencies

Meet Kenya's Jennifer Barassa , founder of Top Image, one of Africa's leading advertising agencies. She left a comfortable life working at some of East Africa’s largest corporations to launch her own business. It all started in the mid-1990s. At the time Barassa was group account director at an advertising agency. One of her clients, a major East African brewery company was worried about the entry of canned beer into the market, a type of packaging their company was yet to introduce. Her client was concerned they would lose ground in supermarkets to their competitors who were selling beer in cans.

Barassa advised her client to have merchandisers at outlets to protect its shelf space and to fight off competition. The beer manufacturer needed someone with the skills and expertise to execute this proposal. Barassa decided to quit her job. “I wrote my ideas on a piece of paper and went to a cyber café where they typed it for me. I spent about 30 shillings (US$0.3) to print and make photocopies and I hit the road. The first place I went to was the brewery company, because I knew they had a need. It was a very easy sale,” she said.

From her less than a dollar investment in 1995, Barassa has built her company, Top Image, to be one of the region’s most successful below-the-line advertising agencies. Below-the-line advertising strategies generally promote products in ways other than through the television, radio and print media.
In those early days, Barassa operated from her living room and had to do everything herself. She used her network of contacts to land a contract with Standard Chartered bank, which wanted to run a campaign that would help decongest its banking halls and encourage people to use automatic teller machines (ATMs). She quickly got more contracts because many of her former colleagues worked with companies that needed her services. “Within one year, my turnover was already one million shillings,” said Barassa.