Commonwealth African Summit: My memoirs

It has been days turned weeks, turned months since i last  i dropped my thoughts here. i know the question on your mind would be, where have i been or what happened while i was away? in order not to bore you with all the drama that came, i would just say: i had a research project to finish, i had life’s questions i needed to answer, i found love…yes love! (considering i wasn’t searching for it).

That been said, after the challenging face of  finishing  a degree, i was at a place in my life were i was not not sure of the next line of action. I felt it was time for me to share all England had thought me with other young Nigerians back at home but i guess, well….  things did not go as planned. So here i am in between getting a job and applying for a Masters by Research or my parents choice, undergo a PHD (which i am still uncertain about). i was invited by a new friend of mine, who doubles as a the commonwealth young person of the year for 2016 to the Commonwealth youth awards which also coincided with the Commonwealth day and Commonwealth African Summit. It was three days of  networking, brain storming, insightful discussions from members of the house of Lords, the Ooni of Ife, Mr Tonye Cole and so many other dignitaries.

However, the most part which caught my attention was the last day (because all other days was on security and peace building and i was like… who dis one epp) when i listened to young Africans speak on the ways they uphold sustainability in a changing environment. Though i have been this issue as a burden for a while now, it was very mind blowing to here what people are doing about it in various spheres of their endeavours. (from tourism to politics, to sports, agriculture, social entrepreneurship,entertainment/theatre etc).

At the end of the program my take home was enormous, the burden i had for we youths to change our narratives turned in to a rage-a rage for change. It dawned on me from the session that it is our responsibility as young Africans to go back to our various countries, use what we have learnt in the West to improve our own environment. we can become employers of labour if we choose to turn the problems we complain about to solutions, if we can set up a team of people who are schooled in various fields to implement change in those fields, we would one step at a time improve employment and  the economic life. We cannot continue to wait for infrastructure from the government. isn’t it obvious the government cannot help herself too. we need to find creative ways to reduce unemployment back home. Yes, we would receive a backlash when we return home and that is one reason many have refused to go home. However, the backlash is a reflection of two things: 1. how we as Africans have gotten so used to mediocrity, we do not even see it as mediocrity anymore, we have now made it a culture.2. this pride that Africans have, we know we do not know, yet we are to proud to want to know from someone who knows.(PUN intended).

I learnt so much i would have to run a part two for this post. but i need to leave you with this: The reason why Africa faces the problems you still complain about, is because you have refused to be Part of fixing the problem. It is rare to meet young Africans who have attained quite a lot for themselves yet maintain a humble personae and believe that they would not be where they are without the people we regard as ‘common’ i learnt that from the young men i had conversations with at the session.

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And finally, To change the African narrative the western media has of our continent,it starts with us….YES, US!

PS: i connected with Dayo Isreal after 6 years. we first met at UN conference on the world at 7 billion in 2011 now we met at a commonwealth summit he was hosting. Dayo is one guy that has taught me from afar that we are not too young to be part of decision making and mapping out a framework for young people rights. He is currently running for the chairmanship position at Lagos mainland and i endorse him.

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PSS: i met another person who resigned from the place i dream to work at and he is currently doing stuff that relate to what i have planned to do for African youths at Coventry University. it was an honour to meet Soji Adeniyi my new mentor.

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PSSS: you cannot say you are living if people around you have not become better because you are in their lives.

ok no more PSes

i am done talking.

err… wait another PS: pardon my picture quality, i was too excited like a child who was given ice cream to take the pictures firm.

Now i am done.

 

iBrand… Do You?

As we experience a paradigm shift from times when every young person’s dream was to become a 9-5iver to times when our jobs expect us to work round the clock. Times when the jobs our parents do/did for a living  seems to go extinct as we embrace  what social researchers have termed the era of the entrepreneurial self.  Thing is, whether we chose to accept it or not, social media and citizen journalism has opened us up to a world where every post made is regarded as authentic and a representation of who we are.

From the bloggers who chose to write about life, love and everything in between to the vloggers we chose to give 20mins of our time (i still do not understand the logic in posting about your everyday life on youtube for 100,000 viewers to enjoy watching without posting the ‘real’ e.g. your  toilet moments’ – but then, what do i know.

Back to the authentic self. You see, researchers like Anita harris are of the opinion that neoliberalism has created a new identity for young people around the world with the help of social media. Young people (in most cases, millennials)  develop themselves into a brand identity. Making youths to become performers of their own lifestyle by conducting himself/herself  as an enterprise through a vast ensemble of experiences. What is sold  and bought are our personal ideologies online (Gordon 1991:42).

In a recent survey conducted by YOUTUBE, people who post and earn a living through vlogs are between the age 16-24 and most of them are girls.

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This neoliberal identity is said to have  emerged  due to the widespread  unemployment rate in most countries of the world. Foucault’s discussions on power believes neoliberalism is a sure solution to the various problems facing a static economy. One could argue that  the absence of a white collar job can be the reason most young people have turned to social media to vent their frustrations and problems. T

THE TOKS STAR

Although, the idea of vlogging and blogging as a profession has not until recently gathered momentum in Nigeria. However, with the few vloggers are known in Nigeria, a certain lady who introduced the idea of vlogging to Nigerians stands out. Toke Makinwa. She is often tagged as a realist to some and a controversial lady  (with the main aim to seek attention) by others. She first started by giving relationship advice and what women ought to do to attract the man of their dreams as her tips had worked for her.  Unfortunately, her divorce to her long time boyfriend changed the course of her vlog as she began to question the social construct in Nigeria by advising young women to learn to live wild and free, be independent and open to exploring new things.

Herein lies the problem,  inasmuch as these vloggers portray themselves to us with the  ‘i am just like you’ tag, which might be true at inception of the vlog but when the endorsements roll in and when the vlog begins to pay the bills, and they are basking in the new euphoria of fame, selling products, endorsing brands and becoming brand ambassadors, should they still refer to themselves as authentic because many of the viewers still live in the illusion of the vloggers reality.

…but then, I am just saying!

Women and long hours in the ‘outhouse’

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This is going to be a short post…. Seriously short!

This might sound weird but i have to talk about it. over the past couple of weeks i have had conversations with people most especially guys who complain about their girlfriends/wives/sisters/mothers and how long they spend in the bathroom every morning. The complaint was that the least they spend in the bathroom is 20 minutes. At first, i thought it was an exaggeration until my girl friend tissed me recently saying ‘ha Tolu were you planning to turn yourself to oyinbo in that bathroom’ there it dawned on me that i had joined the 20min gang. Truth is, one cannot possible say people in this category do anything out of the ordinary in the ‘room’ but speaking for myself, i get the most inspirations and ideas while that warm water drips on me. I even connect with my Creator during that period (you would be surprised how many prayer points have come out of that room moment). Could it be OCD on the part of the ladies?  or could it be that is our only moment of allowing ourselevs to be vain; appreciating our body or shaming the features we seriously detest in ourselves. I hear some men fall victim of this too

So here i am wondering what other ladies do in the bathroom for 20 minutes or more and what other guys think of this…habit.

 

…Single at 51?

Hi folks, missed me? I sure missed writing for a bit. I needed to take a break from theories until the thought of dissertation bumped into me again. I am sure by now (that is if you read and watched the previous blog) you know what my research topic is going to focus on.

In my quest to find meaning to why women are being pressured and stigmatised to getting married before 30, a friend of mine sent me this article of  Famous journalist Christina  Patterson who is unapologetically single at 51. according to her ”she loves her life being single”.

you can read the article at:

“I Love My Life Being Single at 51” – Christina Patterson

Rebecca Traister was probably right where she stated in her book  All the Single Ladies that unmarried women are quietly upending life as Americans know it, is now creating waves on both sides of the Atlantic. According to her, “ single ladies already show  they have the power to change America in ways that make many people extremely uncomfortable” meanwhile, the millions of young men also putting off marriage rarely seem to be the subject of public discomfort or, indeed, bestselling books.

I intended to look at how the Nigerian society has made singlehood seem like a disease with the increase in prayer houses and deliverance programs for singles in many religious organisations and show examples of single women who are countering the status quo.

 

Credits: The guardian.

Digital Story

Hi there, my name is Tolu Akintaro Welcome to my digital profile story.

my journey through research as a master’s student in Communication,culture and media started with my first day in media research class where I was first told to think of a research topic for my dissertation- I was a late enrollee so for me, confused was an understatement to how I felt . The essence of the I researcher was for students to think wide,think deep,think different and think upside down in some cases, think simple. The first topic I chose was on the objectification of women by men in the media and how viral advertising tools could be used to change the status quo. The topic was rather ambiguous to me, I found it hard to dissect it till I had an opportunity to visit Birmingham for an ethnography research that opened my eyes to research and research is live  in our everyday lives and activities- we breathe research, we sweat research we even sleep in research. It was then I remembered an incident that happened to me a couple of months ago where I was asked to visit a pastor for deliverance because I was still single and with the recent  increase in tv series and films from Africa that talk more on the singlehood ‘sickness’ . The scenario spurred my change in topic to Before 30: the labelling of single and unmarried women by  Nigerian women.

 

The singlehood identity placed on unmarried women according to Stevenson(2011) is found more in  societies with heteronormative ideologies who still hold on to the precepts of heterosexual marriages. Due to the fact that the pressure to get married is on the increase, the media has used this form of identity to increase its audience with reality shows like the bachelor, sitcom like Single ladies and even movies  (Dubrofsky & Hardy, 2008, p. 377). Nigeria has not been left out in this media trend as the title of this research was influenced by a current sitcom ‘Before 30 ‘ that portrays young ladies as desperate to get married. The above sitcom was one of the reasons why I wanted to research on how unmarried women are been labelled in Nigerian media both digital and terrestrial.

 

The next phase was to sketch the field i have chosen to research on.  I was to look at my topic from a broad picture. At this point, i had difficulties understanding what my lecturer requested I do consider I was unfamiliar with the new techniques of essay writing as it was totally different from how I was taught in my home country .I struggled with comprehending a vast number of theories  that related to post-feminist theories and post modernism. I  was focused on getting a good grade( which might not be a bad thing) without fully getting involved in my topic. I was stuck in  the quantitative approach to research for a long time, in fact… I just broke up with quantitative research to embrace the qualitative approach that deals with meaning rather than truth,statistics, charts, and really depressing calculations. Since I had  first-hand experience of the topic it made more sense to be thoroughly qualitative about it.

 

*** I wrote an ambiguous essay but the feedback helped me to restructure my topic.

 

The second stage was Beyond face value I had to focus more on the qualitative approach to research, at this point, I had chosen to use an auto-ethnographic approach but I was unsure of how much of myself I wanted to put out there. During the period of this second phase, I took a course in film studies where film critic Andre Bazin claims that people’s interest in a genre of film is influenced by how the actors have been able to live out their lives or fantasies on screen. It gave me an understanding of how I was to relate my experience to research but I was afraid to use myself as the case study for fear of getting shamed. Thankfully, my lecture advised it would be therapeutic. Unfortunately,  my essay did not turn out well because  I was still stuck in sketching the field and my writing style was not as academic enough. In fact it was more of a dialogue than an academic writing according to the feedback I received from it. In fact, I shed a tear during and after this essay because of the grade I got in it.

 

I had to indulge in reading a lot of articles, seminar notes and listened to recordings that related to my topic which was a criterion for the third phase of my research which was epistemology,ontology and methodology. The third phase was an eye opener, it exposed me to various theories that had been written on post-feminist theory though most of them were western scholars I discovered the number of African post-feminist was infinitesimal. My aim was to compare and contrast these theories on Feminist theories to my research topic since I hardly could lay my hands on African post-feminist scholars. It made me understand that most of the different  approaches to feminist theories were  due to scholars zest in finding meaning.

 

In the course of this study, I have learnt the importance of discourse and ideologies and how they shape conversations and  research. I believe that as each day passes, I would fully comprehend the topic and relate it to producing content for my newly created podcast site which is one area I am enthusiastic about.

 

Finally, for every stage through this research, I hope to use this quote  from Mills(1959)as a mantra:

 

“Be a good craftsman: Avoid any rigid set of procedures. Above all, seek to develop and to use…imagination. Avoid the fetishism of method and technique. Urge the rehabilitation of the unpretentious intellectual craftsman, and try to become such a craftsman  yourself. Let every man be his own methodologist; let every man be his own theorist; let theory and method again become part of the practice of a craft”

 

Mills 1959 p.224

 

Before 30: perils of Labelling single women

In the last 10 years, the number of prayer houses for women to be ‘delivered from the spirit’ of singleness has been on the increase. Some spiritual leaders have turned the exasperation of these young women to a money making venture whereby we encounter a plethora of religious centres that regard themselves as a place where single ladies can be matched made (Udobang 2013). 

This situation is  According to Nancy Otoo-Oyortey a scholar in gender studies in an article voices her diplomatic opinion (she did not want to be referred as a feminist with a standpoint) on her observed experience of single young women in Ghana. some spiritual leaders syphon money from the spinsters in other for them to pray for their future husbands to locate them. Many others hold ridiculous revival services with irrational themes such as: “Lord! Give me a spouse or I die! War against Delay! This beautiful Sister must marry” the number of ladies who flock into these spiritual houses in their thousands seeking a solution to the stigma of singlehood can be alarming.As stated in Kriste Collins theory of mediated singleness Collins (2003: 54) it is of note that no matter how much the women  have accomplished for themselves professionally and in engaging in social good. Otoo-Oyortey (2014) reiterates stating that Single women rarely command respect from the girls who are meant to look up to them due to the fact that the older women have painted a picture to the girls that states that no matter how influential or ambitious a woman is, if she does not have a ‘crown (another word used to refer to men) on her head’, she is as good as chaff.

Further more, Otoo-Oyortey  reiterates Hartcocks (1997:383 ) claims of  power and knowledge stating that African Women fight for the education of girls yet, they in turn have an expectation that whatever life choices a female makes, she must keep in mind that marriage is paramount ( Otoo- Oyortey2014). Meanwhile the men of the same age group as these women are given the excuse by other members of the society that he has not come around to making his perfect choice-moreover, a man never ages (Emecheta 1979: 37)

Marginalized Majority

Kristie Collins theory of mediated singleness states  there has always been a perception of female(singleness) and the actual experiences of the single women  in mainstream America which are still identifiable with women till date.

”Marriage can be a source of joy and love and mutual support but why do we teach girls to aspire to marriage and we don’t teach boys the same? We raise girls to see each other as competitors not for jobs or accomplishments, which I think can be a good thing, but for the attention of men. We teach girls that they cannot be sexual beings in the way that boys are.”-   (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie 2013)

“While falling in love is fun, it’s not everything, and it’s not the antidote to an unfulfilled life, despite what Reese Witherspoon movies may tell you.” (Jessica Valenti 2009)

“If any female feels she needs anything beyond herself (e.g. a male figure) to legitimate and validate her existence, she is already giving away her power to be self-defining, her agency.” – (Bell hooks 2000)

Feminist of the 1970s opined that the issue of marriage should be avoided like a plague because it had placed women in an un-imaginary box (Richards 1982:39). Albeit, the ‘society’  according to Collins (2013:24) the (African) society holds marriage in high esteem, it has thus made it socially acceptable to be married by also placing social incentives like health care to the women and regarding married women with more respect than their unmarried counterpart regardless of her social and/or financial status in the society. African American society put marriage on a high pedestal to the point mothers compel their females to stay married even when they know it is no longer healthy- they do this because the idea of  going from MRS to Ms is seen as a ‘spiritual torment from a family member who has placed a curse on the female’(Reynolds 2005). Reynolds scenario is one of many ways Patriarchal knowledge and power vested on women to other women according to  Smith(1997:395).

It was in this regard that a social activist group named: “the Feminist in 1969 made a declaration that marriages should be eliminated to guard against female stereotypes until the unmarried are valued as much as the married women (Mauthner 2005:36). Though, the purpose of this post is not to disagree with the idea of marriage which in itself should not be considered a bad thing, however, this research aims to institute the knowledge of the problems of labelling faced by women in a Nigerian society. While Dorothy Smith opines that the social life of every society around the world is male centred (Smith 1997), Adichie reiterates by adding that gender and its expectations prescribe to us how we should be rather than recognising how we are. She further states that the idea of masculinity is a ‘hard small cage’ the society has put boys into without prior knowledge from the boys (Adichie 2011).

 

A Bite of ‘COOKIE’

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Foremost film critic and author of what is Cinema? Andre Bazin (did I mention he was born on my birthday?) once said that“photography does not create eternity, as art does, it embalms time, rescuing it simply from its proper corruption. The cinema substitutes for our gaze the world more in harmony with our desires.” This statement made in the late 1950s is still of note in  our present day- take it or leave it. For every soap, every reality show, every 21st-century sitcom,film or whatever new name they are been termed as, every one of them aim to sell the idea that you can live out your fantasies through cinema. I for one am a film addict but this particular series got me glued to my computer every week and I am not its only victim. though most of its victims are people with African descent according to (Fox 2015). still wondering what series I am referring to? it’s EMPIRE! watching empire is not really about the story line but the characters that portray people’s internal perception of themselves. O character that catches the attention of all and sundry is Cookie played by Taraji. P.Henson Cookie is an embodiment of what a lot of African American women are and hope to be. For African women who have gotten used to been unheard, she is like the voice that cries out in their head- let’s just say for me, she is the latter, though cookie gives me an understanding of what and how African American women live their lives…sort of.

Like I said earlier, many young ladies and young mothers see Cookie as a role model. I personally feel that every woman whether African or not has a little form of ‘cookie’ in them. I am guessing your just asked why I think so well…

  1. Cookie is an embodiment of love. We see that she loves her ex-husband so much. I mean she did time for 17 years all because of him- that’s sacrifice. Considering that the ex-husband in question knows her worth but does not want to come to terms with it. We see her showing this love to her three sons who are faced with different forms of an identity crisis. For every decision she makes for the company, she always has her sons in mind.
  1. Cookie has a gift of gab! don’t get me wrong, women are generally talkers- ask your social psychologist but with Cookie, gab is a different ball game. She has a name for everyone she terms as a treat to  her uniting her dysfunctional family. from boo boo kitty (which she gave her ex-husband’s fiancee) to Fake bourgie @ss (she called her own sister) every child born of an African woman can relate to this kind of insults. African mothers have a degree at name calling without even thinking deeply about the name. Cookie is bold, outspoken, passionate… and definitely not modest. She says the truth in the most quirky ways that would almost instill fear into the person she speaks to. 

 3. Just like everyone in the society, we all take up different social roles but the problem is not everyone knows how to manage these roles and in the process we fall short in some area. In cookie’s case, she shows us how to manage  the role of a best friend to her assistant, a sister to her drug addict sister, a mother to her sons, a business mogul and co- CEO to her husband and her son. She tends to handle these positions flawlessly and it makes  a plethora of us believe that if cookie can do it… I can!

4. Her smart innovative ideas, her on-the-spot ideas for the company is immeasurable. She is an embodiment of wits and style.

5.Yes! Style. I know some might cringe at her exuberant fashion sense and sense of fashion but she represents an idea of what rich and uneducated African women might look like (emphasis on the word). However, she has taught a lot of carefree women to be fashion conscious. she is a direct reflection of You are what you wear. I mean who covers herself in animal prints from bottom to top?

 

So ask yourself… Do I have a drop of ‘cookie’ in me? I know I do.

The streets was not made for everyone, that is why they made side walks- Cookie Lyon.

 

Photo Credits: Fox5.com/empire

 

#Pledge4Parity: International Women’s Day 2016

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8th of March every year is commemorated around the world as international women’s day. this year, the theme was PLEDGE FOR PARITY. This theme I believe  was chosen to enable men to support the cause for equality for women in the workplace and in every area of life, they have been taking advantaged of and/or striped off their fundamental human rights.

In a quest to join this cause, I decided to engage a couple of my classmates to pledge for parity. there were to write a little note ” I #PledgeForParity with their twitter handles written underneath and then I would take a picture of them and post on twitter tagging them of course. At first, I was between scared and timid because I have never taken up a task like this on my own. the last time I supported a cause or required people to support a cause was when I volunteered for a non-governmental organisation in Nigeria and I worked in a team of ten young and active people. I was worried that they might turn down the request but I encouraged myself- I mean for what it’s worth trying is better than not trying at all.

the D-day came for me to carry out the task I gave myself. I had with me a pack of sticky notes and pens just in case- then a miracle happened. I asked the first person who was so excited to be part of it, she was so swift in writing and I was excited she did not turn it down. before we done taking pictures, some other people had joined us to find out what we were up to. I explained to them and before you could spell my full name, I had taken the picture of over eight people who were willing to pledge and the men were not left out, especially the African men in my class their willingness to participate was what inspired me to go on.

At the end of the process, I learnt quite a  couple of things:

  1. When you have an idea, be sure that there are people who would agree with that idea any at all.
  2. Take your chances. you would regret not taking  any at all
  3. According to NIKE, “JUST DO IT”.
  4. the world would be a better place if men chose to participate in the equality of gender in the workplace and in home duties.