#BeingFemaleInNigeria: book club ignites everyday sexism debate

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s 58-page feminist pamphlet provided the inspiration for a women’s rights debate.

Chimamanda
Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in Lagos, May 2013. A small book group used her words to spark a Twitter storm yesterday. Photograph: Akintunde Akinleye/Reuters

Inspired by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s feminist pamphlet, a small Abuja-based book club has ignited a conversation across Nigeria about everday sexism.

It all started at a meeting of the club in the capital, led by Florence Warmate. The group of 15 women and men were discussing Adichie’s 2014 pocket-sized book: We Should All Be Feminists.

The conversation quickly turned to the challenge of being a women living in Nigeria.“We were discussing the book, started talking about our own experiences and thought we should take this to a larger audience,” Warmate told Buzzfeed.

They decided to open up the conversation online using the hashtag, #BeingFemaleInNigeria asking women to share their personal experiences.

The response was overwhelming.

The hashtag has been used more than 54,000 times on Twitter, according to tracking service Topsy, with people commenting on everything from the role of religion, offering examples of modern day misogyny and giving credit to Adichie.

Here are some of the key pillars of the debate:

— Bibiire o se f’owora (@yew1e) June 30, 2015

#BeingFemaleInNigeria “Your husband cooked? And you opened your mouth and ate the food? What kind of woman are you?”

— MR President (@duchesskk) June 30, 2015

It’s shocking when you are beautiful and smart. Apparently they are mutually exclusive. #BeingFemaleInNigeria

— Ijeoma OgwuegbuUduma (@IjeomaOgud) June 30, 2015

#BeingfemaleinNigeria The vendor in traffic will put the Forbes Magazine behind and automatically offer you Fashion and City People.

— Ized Uanikhehi (@zegbua) June 30, 2015

#BeingFemaleInNigeria You can’t buy property.. Unless you are married first.. If not, you won’t find a good man.

— Eniola M (@EniolaMafe) June 30, 2015

#BeingFemaleInNigeria is building on this kind of amazing legacy.. ( pity ko, pity ni) pic.twitter.com/OZdDg4ZLRd

— Lesley Agams (@MzAgams) July 1, 2015

My favorite pic from #BeingFemaleinNigeria. Black woman – carrying black man load since beginning of time pic.twitter.com/6yfFfcUnDi

Whilst many comments were bittersweet, some highlighted the most brutal sides of misogyny in a country where almost one third of partners experience domestic violence:

— Vera Ezimora (@verastic) June 30, 2015

But Madam, what did you do for your husband to beat you like this? Why did you provoke him? #BeingFemaleInNigeria

— Strokahuntas (@sassylabelle) June 30, 2015

#BeingFemaleInNigeria your husband slapped you? Sorry. What did you say to make him angry? Go and beg.

The role of religion in stoking sexism came under fire, as did conservative attitudes to marriage:

— Somi Ekhasomhi (@SomiEkhasomhi) June 30, 2015

Having to remind people that the Bible makes man ‘head of the HOME’ Not office, not classroom and def not Lagos roads. #BeingFemaleInNigeria

— Julia Leadeham (@2015_warrior1) July 1, 2015

Reading #BeingFemaleInNigeria & I just want to cry! I will always blame religion (mostly) for this view that women are to serve men.

— Bunny (@_Alphawoman) June 30, 2015

#BeingFemaleInNigeria If you get pregnant before marriage, you’re useless. If you don’t get pregnant after marriage, you’re useless.

— Temie Giwa Tubosun (@temite) June 30, 2015

#BeingFemaleInNigeria When his family comes to tell you that he has to marry another wife because you didn’t give him a boy.

— ♛UBONG (@OMGits_Supetra) July 1, 2015

Burst my head 😂😂😂 so true”@ebuka_akara: #BeingFemaleInNigeria Nigerian parents don’t expect you to date but expect you to be married at 25.”

— Ijeoma OgwuegbuUduma (@IjeomaOgud) June 30, 2015

#beingfemaleinNigeria Nobel Prize, Law Degree, travel to the moon. No matter what you achieve, you’re nothing unless you’re married.

Some users paid tribute to Adichie. The Orange Prize-winner’s 52-page pamphlet was published in 2014, and ties global sexist discourse and her personal experiences as a Nigerian author.

— Minna Salami (@MsAfropolitan) July 1, 2015

Feminism is the answer. As Chimamanda said, “we should all be feminists” #BeingFemaleInNigeria

Nigeria Replaces Saudi Arabia As Top Crude Oil Supplier To India

nigeria-oil-gas-terminal
This file picture dated May 18, 2005 shows Shell’s oil and gas terminal on Bonny Island in southern Nigeria’s Niger Delta. Nigeria has replaced Saudi Arabia as the top crude oil supplier to India, the first time in at least four years that Saudi Arabia has lost its top spot. PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/Getty Images

Nigeria has replaced Saudi Arabia as the largest crude oil supplier to India after its oil exports to India last month surged by nearly 200 percent, supplying some 745,000 barrels per day. It’s the first time in at least four years that Saudi Arabia, the world’s top crude exporter, has lost the top spot, according to Reuters.

The shift comes as more Indian refiners switch out their long-term contracts with Middle East suppliers in favor of African oil spot purchases. Saudi Arabia also fell behind Russia and Angola last month as the largest crude supplier to China. The petroleum kingpin struggles to maintain market share in Asia as the gap narrows between the Middle East price marker and the international crude oil benchmark Brent, Reuters reported.

India’s African oil imports rose to the highest in more than four years, from 15.5 percent in April to 26 percent in May with tankers mainly from Nigeria and Angola. Meanwhile, the share of Middle Eastern oil to India fell to 54 percent in May from 61 percent in April, with Saudi Arabia supplying some 732,400 barrels per day, according to Reuters.

Oil prices have dropped for Nigeria’s premium over Brent in recent months, which have made the former more attractive to importers. Over the weekend, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation reduced the prices of Nigeria’s crude oil grades to their lowest in over a decade as the West African nation fights for international market share. Nigeria’s exports to the United States have also shrunk from almost one million barrels per day in 2010 to just 30,000 this year, according to Vanguard news in Abuja.

The falling global oil prices have posed tough challenges for oil-dependent Nigeria. Nigeria is Africa’s largest economy and lead oil producer, generating about $70 billion in state revenue each year – more than two-thirds of which comes from exports in gas and oil.

Nigerian Lawmakers Propose Docking Own Pay

Plan comes as Africa’s top economy grapples with austerity brought upon by falling energy prices

Nigerian Lawmakers
National Assembly Clerk Salisu Maikasuwa on June 9 placed his hands on the ballot boxes used during the election of the Eighth Speaker of Parliament in Abuja. Some of the body’s members say they are ready to accept pay cuts. Photo: Afolabi Sotunde/Reuters

ABUJA, Nigeria—Some of the best-paid people in this country—its lawmakers—are proposing an unusual measure: docking their own salaries.

The volunteered pay cut is part of a new austerity descending on Africa’s top economy. Nigeria’s government makes most of its money from oil revenue, which has shrunk along with global energy prices.

President Muhammadu Buhari came to office in May pledging to root out extravagant spending by a government that has grown accustomed to unchecked oil wealth. Some members of Nigeria’s national assembly say they are ready to go along, at a personal sacrifice.

While a senator’s base pay as of 2013, the latest for which comprehensive data were available, was less than $13,000, allowances for items that include housing, furniture and newspapers pumped it up to more than $115,000 a year.

Nigerian senators allowancesAnd that was before $950 a day travel reimbursements and a $38,000 severance at the end of the four-year term—in a country where the minimum wage is 18,000 naira, or about $90, a month.

By contrast, a U.S. senator makes about $174,000 a year in base pay.

Lawmakers who support a wage cut say they, too, must shoulder the cutbacks straining Nigeria’s oil-fed economy. Doctors, teachers and other public workers have gone months without pay from cash-strapped state governments.

“We cannot be living in surplus at government’s expense,” said Sen. Dino Melaye, who represents the central state of Kogi. “The Nigerian people must rise up to protest this huge remuneration.”

Mr. Buhari’s advisers say the president doesn’t expect senators to follow through: “Frankly it’s more noise than substance,” said one. Instead, the president is saving his political capital for more ambitious legislative battles ahead, particularly an attempt to overhaul the oil industry.

“He would love to cut down on the cost of governance,” said his spokesman, Femi Adesina. But a pay cut isn’t “something he would want to force down their throats.”

President Muhammadu Buhari
President Muhammadu Buhari, seen saluting his supporters during his inauguration in Abuja on May 29, came to office pledging to root out extravagant government spending. Photo: Sunday Alamba/Associated Press

Nigeria reveled in high oil prices for nearly a decade, inspiring a lavish mood that extended into the legislature. Year after year, lawmakers drafted opulent budgets around assumptions that oil prices would remain high.

For this year, the Senate originally projected crude to sell for at least $78 a barrel. Instead, it has traded around $60. Thanks to a world-wide glut, Nigeria has even had to stockpile crude at port for want of a buyer.

Government revenue—75% of which comes from oil—has fallen by about a quarter in the past year. Nigeria’s currency has fallen by a similar amount, sending retailers into a tailspin.

The 469 lawmakers in Nigeria’s bicameral legislature wield an operational budget larger than many of its 36 states, each of which is home to millions of people. Over the past four years, they budgeted themselves 600 billion naira, or about $3 billion at the current exchange rate, according to BudgIT, a Lagos-based watchdog that tracks public spending.

“It’s outrageous,” said Oluseun Onigbinde, the group’s co-founder. “They’re supposed to be public servants.”

Outside, the mood is more somber. On Tuesday, Nigeria’s governors held an emergency meeting with President Buhari—half of them can’t pay their civil servants. Some states owe as much as $250 million to employees and contractors. Just a handful are home to large, taxable businesses, the rest almost entirely dependent on oil revenue coming from the capital.

Mr. Buhari told the governors he would crack down on overspending by federal agencies to help clear up money for the states.

Against that backdrop, the Lagos-based newspaper ThisDay reported last week that the Senate gives each member $105,000 a year to buy new clothes. Nigerians reacted with a flurry of angry tweets directed at the Senate president, Bukola Saraki.

Mr. Saraki replied via Twitter that the annual allowance is actually $2,500.

He also proposed that the Senate reconsider expenses, including salaries, in a matter of days.

“The national assembly needs to adjust with the realities on ground in Nigeria,” said his spokesman, Bamikola Omisore. “We must show Nigerians we are committed.”

TRAVEL TIPS: Here Are 5 Traditional Souvenirs To Buy in Nigeria

Nigeria

You are packed and ready to leave for a business trip when out of the blue, your significant other yells from the living room, ‘Please get me something unique when coming back!’. And suddenly, you are caught wondering what a unique souvenir is and where on earth it is people go to buy one.
Well, we are here to help. There are affordable, traditional souvenirs which you can purchase and your friends and colleagues will deeply appreciate. Jovago.com, Africa’s No 1 Hotel Booking Portal offers ideas on some unique items to buy when you travel.

Adire1
Adire fabrics

adire2
Adire are traditional fabrics mainly produced in Ogun and Lagos state. It is a garment designed by dipping plain white clothes in indigo. Afterwards, beautiful patterns are made on the clothes using candles.
The ancient town of Itoku, in Abeokuta, Ogun state hosts an annual carnival as the home of Adire but you can get the fabric there and around the country all year long.

cane bag

Cane Items

cane handle basket bag

The Mende cane village under the Odo-Iyalaro Bridge in Maryland is abuzz every week with cane weavers making different household items like Baskets, Chairs, tables and hampers. The interesting fact here is that the cane furniture are durable. You may want visit the Mende cane village to purchase the aforementioned items to give your home a unique and traditional look. This souvenir would be appreciated.

leather bags

Leather/hides shoes, bag, and belt

leather

Hides are available in large quantities in Northern Nigeria (Kano, Kaduna, Kwara among other states) because of the peculiar culture of cow rearing. The hides are oftentimes processed, tanned and made into different leather materials like wallets, bags, belts, shoes, and jewelleries.

Pottery (Pots and Dishes)

potteries

From Igbaja and Igbomina in Kwara, to Afikpo in Ebonyi and Gwari in Niger, the art of making pottery thrives. In all these destinations enhanced by its spectacular historical past, travellers can purchase products like pots, plates and vases. Pottery items are made from clay by shaping, moulding, decorating and firing according to Wikipedia. It is no doubt a souvenir that would appreciated.

Black Soap

Black Soap

Black Soap is the last souvenir that a traveller would love to buy. But it would be a wonderful idea if you actually purchase it. The health benefits of the soap are limitless. It can help cure various skin infections and is made from dried plantains. Today, black soaps are well packaged. Black soaps are readily available in destination stores and hotels across Nigeria.

Travel Tips with Adeniyi Ogunfowoke is supported by jovago.com

Nigerian scientist wins award for developing cancer-visualising glasses

Achilefu

A NIGERIAN-born scientist, Dr. Samuel Achilefu, has won the prestigious St. Louis Award for 2014 for creating cancer-visualizing glasses.

Achilefu, a professor of Radiology and Biomedical Engineering, and his team developed the imaging technology in cancer diagnosis into a wearable night vision-like goggles so surgeons could see the cancer cells while operating.

They basically have to operate in the dark,” Bloomberg Businessweek quoted Achilefu, 52, as saying.

“I thought, what if we create something that let’s you see things that aren’t available to the ordinary human eye.”

Achilefu won a scholarship from the French government to study at the University of Nancy, according to St. Louis Post-Dispatch, a regional newspaper in St. Louis, U.S., and is the 87th person to receive the annual award since it was established in 1931.

Meanwhile, a Nigerian woman based in the United Kingdom, Nina Ndubuisi has invented a lifestyle programme that has successfully cut back excess weight in women and children in Nigeria, Canada, and elsewhere, raising hopes of containment of obesity especially among the rich.

Ndubuisi, who is a paramedic, while speaking in Abuja at the inauguration of ‘Slim With Ease,’ a global forum for reaching out to those affected by excess weight, stressed that her unique formula in cutting unwanted weight thrives on healthy lifestyle and determination.

Addressing hundreds of women and children, mostly those affected by excess weight gain, Nina said her priority is to help Nigerian women, children and men curb excess weight gain, noting that her goal is to eradicate obesity from the childhood of African children as well as other races around the world. Her programme, which has impacted women in Canada, UK and a number of African countries, has huge following on social media.

“Slim With Ease is not a revolutionary weight loss program that is sweeping across not just Nigeria but the whole world right now. It was inspired by my weight loss of 60kg in two years. I use to be very fat. People used to call me names on the street. People mocked me and I was determined to find a solution to my weight problem.

Also, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has blamed childhood obesity, especially in developing countries, on the marketing of sugar-rich non-alcoholic beverages and ultra-processed, energy-dense, nutrient-poor foods.

Director-General Margaret Chan yesterday told the Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity meeting in Hong Kong that “childhood obesity can erode the benefits that arrive with social and economic progress.’’

She said that childhood obesity must be accepted as a significant and urgent threat to health that was relevant in all countries.

Chan said that governments must take the lead and now was the time to safeguard the future of every child.

She commended the interim report on the work carried out thus far by the commission and commended the group.

Chan warned that voluntary initiatives were not likely to be sufficient. “To be successful, efforts aimed at reducing the marketing of unhealthy foods and beverages need support from regulatory and statutory approaches. Perhaps most importantly, you defined a moral responsibility and stated where it must lie.

“None of the factors that cause obesity are under the control of the child,” she said.

Chan said that the number of overweight or obese infants and young children increased from 32 million globally in 1990 to 42 million in 2013.

Chan said in Africa alone, the number of overweight or obese children increased from 4 to 9 million over the same period.

Married with two young children, Achilefu moved to St. Louis after he was hired by Mallinckrodt to start a new research department.

“Our efforts start with two words: ‘What if?’” Achilefu said during his acceptance speech.

“These words may sound simple, but they embody the belief that each person has the potential to make a difference, if only he or she can take the time to understand the problem.”

According to Bloomberg, the researchers’ technology requires two steps: First, surgeons inject a tiny quantity of an infrared fluorescent marker into the patient’s bloodstream. The peptides contained in the marker enable it to locate cancer cells and buries itself inside.

After the tracer flows through a patient’s body and clears from non-cancerous tissue – which lasts about four hours – the operation would begin. Wearing the goggle, the doctor can inspect tumours under an infrared light that reacts with the dye, causing cancer cells to glow from within.

This month, the goggles have been used on humans for the first time by surgeons at the Washington University School of Medicine.

Four patients suffering from breast cancer and over two dozen patients with melanoma or liver cancer have been operated on using the goggles since they were developed.

“The goggles function fantastically,” says Ryan Fields, a surgical oncologist who is collaborating with Achilefu to improve on the technology.

“They allow us to see the cells in real time, which is critical. Because the marker has not yet been FDA-approved, doctors are currently using a different, somewhat inferior marker that also reacts with infrared light.”

Julie Margenthaler, a breast cancer surgeon, says tens of thousands of women who had had breast cancer lumpectomies go back for second operations every year because of the inability to see the microscopic extent of the tumours.

The many sides to living in Lagos

Lagos1

Lagos is the nerve centre of Nigeria. With its eclectic mix of grunge and class, for many first-timers, it’s a rising image of New York; only busier and hotter.
As a result, the city has experienced a growing influx of people from parts of West Africa and the world at large.

Jovago.com, Africa’s No1 Hotel Booking Portal writes about the diversity that makes Lagos tick as well as the good and not-so-cute points to note while thinking of residing in ‘Nigeria’s mega-city’.

The Good

Lagosi
Lagos Never Sleeps

This is true. Lagosians don’t sleep. It is either they are selling their wares or engaged in leisure activities. In addition to this, no matter the time you arrive in Lagos, you will get a vehicle heading for your destination.
Entertainment Capital of Nigeria

lagos5
You can get the best fun spots and night life in Lagos! Bars, hotels, restaurants, hotels, beaches, and tourist sites are available in every nook and cranny of the city.
You will survive as far as you can hustle

lagos4
Lagos is not for lazy hands. If you are hardworking and committed, you will survive in the city no matter the activity you are engaged in. Are you a bus conductor or driver, shop keeper or office worker? The veracity is that you will survive as long as you give your best. This is one key reason why many from the North and East are flocking into Lagos on a daily basis.

lagos2Even a Hausa shoemaker can live on his cobbling job without worries.

Access to infrastructure and other daily needs

Lagos
You need to travel to other parts of Nigeria to appreciate this more. Lagos offers you everything. From good relaxation spots, to excellent hotels, good communication network, transportation, electricity, fuel, and a handful of other infrastructures. Youth Corpers posted outside Lagos can narrate their experiences to you!

The Bad…
Pick Pockets

Lagos pick pockets
You may want to hold on to your wallet a little tighter when next you visit a crowded venue. Just as it is in most parts of the world, sometimes an itchy hand may be heading for your pocket, so you need to be a little careful.

Change Wahala

lagos-bus-conductor
When you board a bus in Lagos, carrying cash in smaller denominations is helpful. This can save you time and keep your interaction with the conductors smooth. However, if you happen to have only large denominations, remember to collect your change at the end of the trip.

Forever in a Hurry
Lagosians are always in a hurry, this gets you wondering where they are actually going.Moving at a pace similar to the one you observe around you can save you from being brushed up against or asked to move to the side of the like road.Also try not to visit business or leisure places without a guide…or at least until you have a get to know the city really well.

Traffic Gridlock

Lagos3
Like most business capitals of the world, this is probably the trickiest side of living in Lagos. The traffic is inescapable. Depending on where you stay, if you have an appointment for 8am, you should leave your home at 5 am to ensure that you beat the gridlock and meet up with the appointment.

Travel Tips with Adeniyi Ogunfowoke is supported by jovago.com

Nigeria selects two sites for nuclear power plants

Nigeria has selected two sites for the construction of its planned nuclear power plants, as Africa’s biggest economy tries to end decades of electricity blackouts that have blighted its growth.

Nigeria Nuclear power plant

Russia’s state-owned Rosatom, which has been in talks with Nigeria over the nuclear plants, on Friday confirmed two sites had been selected in Africa’s most populous nation and said they would have a total of four reactors.

Neither side would say where the sites were, but a source at Nigeria’s nuclear agency said the sites will be in Akwa Ibom state, in southeast Nigeria, and Kogi state, in the central northern part of the country.

Nigeria, with a population of around 170 million, has installed power capacity that fluctuates between around 6,000 MW to just over 7,000 MW, according to the Transmission Company of Nigeria, with 80 percent of its power plants fired by gas.

By comparison, South Africa’s capacity is almost seven times greater for a population less than a third as big.

Africa’s biggest economy has no experience in developing and operating nuclear plants but has small reactors producing around 30 KW for research, Franklin Erepamo Osaisai, chief executive of the Nigeria Atomic Energy Commission, said on its website.

One nuclear power plant costs between $5 billion to $8 billion, a source at Rosatom said. Nigeria has not yet said how it plans to fund the construction, a key question given its finances have taken a hit after a slump in the price of oil, its main export.