27 September 2014

A STROLL WITH SAM BIRD (For World Car-free Day)

                             "Racing is life and life is a risk" ~Michael Schumacher

The world is getting greener and our racing cars are getting faster, but how do we marry the two? Formula E is the answer.

On 13th September 2014, racing fans around the world were given a sneak peek into the future as history was made in Beijing where the first ever Formula E(electric car) race took place. With about 75,000 live spectators, 10 teams with 2 drivers each raced each other in a bid to write their names in the history books of motor sports. Well, tires screeched, batteries ran down, and a collision happened, but after everything, my guest on today's stroll got a spot on the podium.

Finishing 3rd, only behind Franck Montagny(2nd) and Lucas di Grassi(1st), Sam Bird--driver for the Virgin Racing Team--put up a great performance to the delight of cheering fans. In course of our stroll we talked about Formula E, Formula 1, the future of motor sports, and much more. Here we go;

16 September 2014

ENGAGING YOUTHS IN DEMOCRACY | Guest Post for International Day of Democracy

"You are familiar with the challenges; you know the solutions. If you had no idea, with this, you now do. Now is the time to act. Do not read this and do nothing."- Editor's note.
Image Credit:damajority
Nigeria returned to the democratic path in 1999. But, 15 years after ushering the military out of the political space – a period that is on record as the longest unbroken spell of civil rule in the history of the nation – we can hardly boast of having entrenched basic norms and tenets of democracy in our system, leaving us a democracy only in nomenclature. Our ability to hold credible elections is still in doubt as both declared election winners and losers trade accusations of rigging, manipulation and impropriety after virtually every election. And with election results enmeshed in so much controversy, it raises serious questions as regards how truly representative government at all levels and across tiers really is. Also, the concept of the rule of law which presupposes that no one is above the law is anything but true in this clime. A significant cause of this seeming ‘movement without motion’ is because the same crop of people under whose watch the system deteriorated and the country began its descent into the abyss are either still in the thick of the action of governance, or are on the sidelines quietly pulling strings and calling the shots.

A STROLL WITH BILIKISS ADEBIYI-ABIOLA (For International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer)

"So I'm going to go on and work on preserving the ozone layer, encouraging everyone to recycle" ~ Dean Stockwell

When you think of garbage collectors, what comes to mind? Unfortunate poor illiterate men and women who are not certified enough for more 'honourable' jobs right? Yeah. This stroll is for you.

After 13 years in the US; with university degrees, an MBA from MIT, and work experience from Fortune 500 companies, Bilikiss decided to do the unexpected. She returned home to Nigeria to co-found a waste recycling company, Wecyclers, and her vision is enormous. To transform the lives of people with garbage, create jobs, and help build the economy of her beloved motherland, Nigeria, whom she sacrificed a comfortable life abroad for.

What gave her the faith and hope to make such a decision? And how does she plan to make this vision a reality? These are few things we talked about in course of our conversation. Sit back and enjoy. Here's my stroll with Bilikiss;

15 September 2014

A STROLL WITH QUEEN CAROLYN I OF LADONIA (For International Day of Democracy)

"Let us not forget that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us. The ultimate rulers of our democracy are not a president and senators and congressmen and government officials, but the voters of this country" ~ Franklin D. Roosevelt

What can 'big' nations learn from micronations?

My guest today is Her Majesty, Queen Carolyn of Ladonia; a micronation with over 15 thousand citizens from more than 50 countries, and she shares with me how she has been able to discharge her duties as an elected monarch, and why she thinks the UN should recognize more micronations.

Here's my stroll with her majesty;

12 September 2014

THE NIGERIAN DREAM | Guest Post for United Nations Day for South South Cooperation

"Is there a Nigerian dream? Is it perhaps fashioned after the American dream? If there is a Nigerian dream, what exactly is it? This, Julius believes, is what the Nigerian dream is--the dream of optimism"- Editor's note

A few years back, when my nationalism was at its peak, I was often involved in intellectual skirmishes with my childhood friend, Kumo Ikoko. I call it intellectual skirmishes because Kumo's points were so valid that sometimes, secretly, I yielded and sometimes the argument will be so heated that someone's emotionally charged remark would burst the balloons keeping the other person's ego afloat. I believed then that Nigeria wasn't just a cluster of very different people and even more diverse dreams flying around and sharply contradicting or threatening the next man's dream. Kumo believed so too. Kumo believed that for every nation to exist there must be something strong as its foundation, something sweepingly fundamental like a general religion, or something as essential and as healthy as an obsessive ideology or a singular national language other than that which was brought centuries ago. But these things, according to Kumo, where absent in Nigeria.

10 September 2014

LET'S TALK ABOUT SUICIDE | Guest Post for World Suicide Prevention Day

"Take a seat, this conversation is about to begin...straight, simple, yet deeply reaching."-Editor's note

Suicide—the ‘S’ word no one wants to talk about; simply defined as the act of killing yourself because you do not want to continue living. But there is nothing simple about it. Many people around the word go quiet when the ‘S’ word comes up in conversation. What don’t they want to talk about or listen to? What is the truth about the ‘contagion effect’ that talking about suicide is supposed to bring on?

Suicide has hit closer to home for me than I could ever imagine. Within a couple of years, a close friend, friends of my daughter, my daughter and then friends, family and relatives of people I knew. I did get a chance to ask someone close to me how it was in the darkest moments. I wanted to know how the darkness engulfed the emotions. If a person thought about what life would be like without them in it. What it would be like for the ones that cared about them. What I found out was that even though the person knew how much he/she would be hurting others with the ‘what if’s’ and the ‘I should have ….’, it was the overwhelming need to end the internal hurting that takes over. The impulsive moment that can’t be turned back. 

8 September 2014

BOKO HARAM, THE NORTHEAST AND NIGERIAN LITERACY | Guest Post for International Literacy Day

"Thought provoking. The words reach for you, unlock your mind and nail home their points."--Editor's note

“Praise be to God who created writing as a means of communication between distant men, an interpreter between neighbours, a vehicle of greeting between friends, a source of delight amongst the ulama (scholars) and of sorrow amongst the unlettered. Verily, had it not been for it, communication would have ceased and transactions would have been impossible.”

These words are instructive because they were written in Nigeria’s northeast, now held in the thraldom of the sect known as Boko Haram. The name Boko haram easily translates as “Western learning is forbidden” and, amongst the pedestrian elements who form the bulk of its members and the common folk to whom it is of the greatest danger, it forbids all learning beyond the Islamic as prescribed, naturally, by the sect. Schools have in consequence been burned and bombed, students killed and raped and all elements of education and literacy have become the targets of Boko Haram. Over 200 girls have remained in captivity for several months now, having been kidnapped from their school in Chibok by Boko Haram. The Nigerian State has failed to #BringBackOurGirls

A STROLL WITH ZURIEL ODUWOLE (For International Literacy Day)

"The man who does not read, has no advantage over the man who cannot read" ~ Mark Twain

(Image Credit: @ZurielOduwole)
I first heard about Zuriel in November 2013, and I was so impressed and inspired by her work and talent that I promised myself that I was going to spend the rest of my life tracking her down for a stroll. After 10 months of online-stalking and praying, by the grace of God, I have finally secured a stroll with this incredible young lady. (round of applause please ☺)

Why am I crazy about this girl? Well, that's because, at 12, this documentary film maker has interviewed 14 Presidents and prime ministers, and many other social figures like the Williams sisters and the richest black man on earth, Aliko Dangote. She's also the founder of ''Speak up. Dream up. Stand up'', a campaign she started to advocate for the education of the girl child.

True to her name which means, God is my rock/foundation in Hebrew, Zuriel solidly combines her childhood with flying around the world, making documentaries and high profile interviews, as well as, inspiring kids on the African continent to keep dreaming and reaching for the stars. In course of our stroll, we talked about her experience at the Brazil 2014 world cup, her dreams, International Literacy Day, and so much more. Here my stroll with Zuriel Oduwole;