Information and news about nigeria

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Chinua Achebe, author of “Things Fall Apart,” and widely considered to be the father of modern African literature, has died at the age of 82. His passing was confirmed by his publisher on March 22, 2013. For nearly his entire life, Achebe passionately advocated for democracy in his home country of Nigeria; he was and is an inspiration to millions who still yearn for peace and freedom.

Living in London in the late 1950’s, Achebe struggled to find a publisher for his first work. “Things Fall Apart” was finally published in 1958, and its influence cannot be overstated. It has been described as “among the most important books of the 20th century, [and] a universally acknowledged starting point for postcolonial, indigenous African fiction.” A story about a tribal Nigerian man’s troubles with British colonialists, Achebe’s novel influenced famous authors like Toni Morrison and Junot Diaz.

After catapulting into the center of the debate over Nigerian democracy, Achebe had found himself at times being labeled an enemy of the state, and at other times refusing prestigious literary awards from what he considered to be an illegitimate government. A tireless critic of authoritarianism, he claimed that it stifles individuals and creates mediocrity, which “destroys the very fabric of a country as surely as a war.” He urged Nigerians and all Africans to be passionate about the future, and to use that passion to work to bring their visions into reality. Achebe lived much of his life in the United States, mostly for his own safety. He had taught at Brown University since 2009, previously working at Bard College. He leaves behind a legacy which will undoubtedly stand the test of time and inspire millions more.

Jake Simon

Source: Washington Post

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Africa produces some of the most brilliant artists, athletes, and activists worldwide.  From the media industry to the political stage, these African celebrities are working to improve lives.  The Borgen Project presents the top 10 African celebrities to follow.

1. Patricia Amira, Nigerian, TV Personality

Patricia Amira is a self-proclaimed “optimistic realist” and “closet artist.”  She is the “Oprah” of Africa and hosts one of the continent’s most popular talk shows.  The Patricia Show transcends national boundaries and identities.  The show focuses on achievements across Africa and aims to create social and cultural transformation. The Pan-African talk show is broadcasted in over 45 African countries and averages over 10 million viewers.  She currently serves as the Director of the Festival of African Fashion and Arts.  The festival encourages collaboration among designers and emphasizes the importance of artists.  Amira is also a spokesperson against human trafficking.

2. Nneka, Nigerian, Musician

Nneka is a soul musician of Nigerian-German descent.  Investigative journalism and philosophy inform her music, and she often writes about poverty, war, and and social justice issues.  Nneka emphasizes the importance of understanding balance and harmony.  “It’s important that you recognize yourself as part of the system, too, and that the only way we can make things work is by realizing we are part of the same entity,” Nneka said.

3. Didier Drogba, Ivorian, Soccer Player

Didier Drogba was a leading striker for England’s Chelsea football club and head captain of the Cote D’Ivoire national team.  His performance on the field is impressive, but he made headlines at the 2006 FIFA World Cup for something much greater.  Drogba begged on live television for a cease-fire on the Ivory Coast.  The warring factions subsided within one week.  The Telegraph reporter Alex Hayes noted that Drogba is “the face of his country; the symbol of a new, post-civil war Ivory Coast.”  He also created the Didier Drogba Foundation, a foundation “to provide financial and material support in both health and education to the African people.”  The foundation recently partnered with United Against Malaria (UAM) to help fight malaria.

4. Wole Soyinka, Nigerian, Playwright

Wole Soyinka is a playwright, author, and political activist from Nigeria.  Soyinka entered the political stage after lobbying for a cease-fire during Nigeria’s civil war.  “The greatest threat to freedom is the absence of criticism,” Soyinka said.  This led to his imprisonment for 22 months.  He was released in 1969, and he began publishing again.  Soyinka became the first African to win the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1986.  His novel The Interpreters analyzes the experiences of six different African intellectuals.

5. Neill Blomkamp, South African, Movie Director

Neill Blomkamp is a movie director known for his documentary, handheld cinema style.  He blends natural and computer-generated elements effortlessly.  Blomkamp co-wrote and directed District 9.  The film focused on extraterrestrial refugees in a South African slum.  The title derived from real events during the apartheid era at District Six, Cape Town. The film received international fame, and box office sales totaled $200 million.  Time magazine named Blomkamp one of the “100 Most Influential People of 2009.” 

6. Binyavanga Wainaina, Kenyan, Author

Binyavanga Wainaina founded the first literary magazine in East Africa, entitled Kwani?.  The magazine is known as “the most renown literary journal in sub-Saharan Africa.”  Wainaina created the magazine after winning the 2002 Caine Prize for African Writing.  The Caine Prize is an annual literary award for the best original short story by an African writer.  He is known for authoring “How to Write About Africa.”  The short story is known as one of the most satirical pieces ever written about Africa.

 7. Genevieve Nnaji, Nigerian, Actress

Genevieve Nnaji skyrocketed from a middle class upbringing to Nollywood stardom.  She is one of the most popular African celebrities.  Nnaji grew up in Lagos, Nigeria as one of eight children.  Nnaji began her acting career at eight years old on Ripples, a Nigerian soap opera.  She is now one of Africa’s most popular actresses.  At only 32 years old, she has starred in over 80 feature films.  She is one of the best paid actresses in Nollywood—Nigeria’s feature film industry.   “I have always maintained that when they [Hollywood directors and actors] are ready for a young African woman to take part in a project that they will come looking for us,” Nnaji said.

8. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Nigerian, Writer

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is one of Africa’s leading contemporary authors.  She is the author of the novels Purple Hibiscus and Half of a Yellow Sun.  Adichie delivered a popular TED Talk after publishing The Thing around Your Neck, a collection of short stories.  She warns against judging a person or country based on limited information.  “The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story,” Adichie said.  Nigerian history and tragedies inspire her literature.  She is one of the most notable authors of disaporan literature.

9. Rokia Traoré, Malian, Musician

Rokia Traoré became famous in 1997 with the release of her first album Mouneissa.  Malian singer Ali Farka Touré helped Traoré develop her sound, and she later earned “Best African Discovery” from the Radio France Internationale.  Traoré’s father was a Malian Diplomat, and she traveled extensively as a child.  Her travels in Algeria, Saudi Arabia, France, and Belgium influenced her music.  Traoré joined the 30 Songs/30 Days campaign in September 2012.  The campaign supported the Half the Sky movement, based on the book by the same name.  The movement focuses on sex trafficking, sexual violence, and female education.

10. Alek Wek, Sudanese, Supermodel

Alex Wek is a supermodel, fashion designer, and political activist.  Wek fled Sudan at the age of 14 to escape the civil war. She moved to London, England with her parents and eight siblings and was later discovered at an outdoor market.  Ford Models, one of the world’s top modeling agencies, signed her in 1996.  By 1997, she was the first African model to appear on the cover of Elle magazine.  Wek continues to model but is also a member of the U.S. Committee for Refugees’ Advisory Council.  Wek works with World Vision to combat AIDS.  She is also an ambassador for Doctors Without Borders in Sudan.  She belongs to the Dinka ethnic group

– Whitney M. Wyszynski

Source: Forbes

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As living conditions gradually improve for many of the 1 billion people who live in poverty, nowhere is the change so notable as in Africa, where over 300 million people still live in poverty. While the total number of Africans living on less than $1.25 per day has decreased over the past decade, much of this improvement has been in urban areas. 70 percent of Africa’s poor live in rural areas, and most depend on agricultural pursuits for their food and livelihood.

For those middle class Africans who live in cities, however, there are more opportunities than ever before to spend money at global corporations. Huge multi-national businesses such as Wal-Mart, as well as fast food chains and restaurants such as KFC and Domino’s Pizza, have continued to invest in Africa’s growing economy by opening new locations in urban and semi-urban areas.

Nigeria is at the forefront of business growth and development in Africa. With over 160 million inhabitants, Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country. Over 60 percent of those 160 million people, most of them in rural areas, still live below the poverty line. However, about a quarter of the country’s population falls into the middle class, earning between $480 and $645 per month. As the Nigerian middle class grows, its appetite for foreign brands, services, and foods has also grown.

Nigeria’s urban residents pay the equivalent of $22 USD for a double bacon cheeseburger at the restaurant chain Johnny Rockets, which recently opened a diner in Lagos, Nigeria’s largest city. A milkshake costs $11.25 USD. For the Nigerian middle class, dining at Johnny Rockets is a luxury they can afford only occasionally.

While those who have moved above the poverty line and into the middle class should have freedom in where and how to spend money, it is worthwhile to examine the potential negative impacts of the growth of multi-national corporations. The growth of global businesses contributes to ever-greater wealth inequality, as money becomes concentrated in the hands of the few who own and operate those businesses. Developing countries are better served by investing in and establishing strong local economies that utilize local talent and labor, support locally owned businesses, and keep wealth within the community.

– Kat Henrichs

Sources: Huffington Post, Rural Poverty Portal
Photo: Restaurant News

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Nigerian top officials have pledged to make Nigeria the region’s – or more ambitiously, Africa’s – leading business center. The progress that Nigeria has made in recent years is hard to miss. Last week, former President Bill Clinton traveled to Nigeria to help unveil the Eko Atlantic City, reclaimed land that, a recent New York Times article says, has been built up into a “Dubai-style shopping and housing development built out into the Atlantic Ocean.” Nigeria reclaiming this land means big things for its economy and will provide a great deal of job opportunities for local community members. Clinton even praised the Eko Atlantic City project for being a destination hotspot for global investment.

However, there is an ugly side to Nigeria’s progress that is going unnoticed as this push for progress  in Nigeria is actually displacing and harming the poor. In Lagos, the government’s vision for progress plowed over hundreds of wooden dwellings in the slum of Badia East, leveling it in 6 hours. This left thousands of Nigeria’s poorest residents without homes and without hope. The land on which people’s homes sat were seen as areas of prime real estate or areas where improvement and money could be made. In the future, new homes will be built on the land. Yet, the chances of the displaced being able to afford these homes is basically nonexistent, according to the Lagos State Commissioner for Housing.

Within 6 hours, thousands were displaced, many saying “they were [only] given 20 minutes, at most, to pack up their belongings” and leave, according to the New York Times article. In the wake of uplifting global development, it is important to remember that, despite progress, there will always be those who live on the fringes of society whose livelihoods must be taken into account when designing the frameworks of the future.

– Angela Hooks

Sources: NY Times, All Africa
Photo: Habitants

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According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), there is a 16 percent chance that global growth will dip below two percent this year. An unlikely contender as far as investment options are concerned, Africa may be a lucrative opportunity for investors looking for solace in a declining global market.

Africa is notorious for being a trouble continent. However, as the economic problems begin to fade, stock markets are projected to rise, making Africa a prime candidate to overtake Asia in terms of economic growth by 2015.

The IMF has estimated that in the next five years, 10 out of the 20 fastest growing economies will be in sub-Saharan Africa and two will be in North Africa. An example of exploding economic growth is Nigeria, where the average income has quadrupled since 2000. Sierra Leone, Ghana, Kenya, and Ethiopia are all seeing quick economic inclines as well.

While African markets are becoming more and more likely to expand rapidly in the next few years, making investing in Africa a lucrative choice, many investors are still reluctant to invest due to the lack of liquidity (ability to buy and sell) of African stock.

– Pete Grapentien

Source: The Telegraph

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In 2012, Nigeria spent $11 billion dollars on imported food. A very large number for a country that has the ability to provide enough food for not only the people that reside within its borders but for much of West Africa.

Nigeria’s Agricultural Ministry is now implementing a plan that will cut down on outside spending and utilize more of its own resources. The new plan, if effective, will increase food production, increase income for locals, and create economic growth and job opportunities within Nigeria.

The Nigerian Agricultural Ministry has been utilizing mobile phones to combat a corrupt bureaucracy that has misused government funds to buy fertilizer and seeds. Upon investigation, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture, found that instead of providing local farmers with these necessary tools, the government has been subsidizing corruption. The fertilizer and seeds that were meant for local farmers were actually being exported to neighboring countries, who utilized it to grow produce, which was, then, exported back to Nigeria to be consumed. “The real seeds, the real fertilizer, was sold for private gain,” states AllAfrica.org.

To outflank this corrupt system, Nigeria’s Agricultural Ministry has registered a substantial amount of local farmers, 1.2 million in the last year, and created a database that utilizes mobile telephone numbers. With these mobile devices, the Ministry has created a system that sends vouchers to the mobile devices, which local farmers can, then, take these vouchers to registered dealers and get subsidized fertilizer and seed to grow produce with.

However, the farmers of Nigeria are too poor to afford cell phones, which strikingly differs from middle class Nigerians who often have up to 3 mobile phones on different networks to obtain the best service. Thus, the Nigerian Agricultural Ministry has implemented a plan to provide 10 million mobile phones to the nation’s poorest farmers, including half of the phones going to women.

This will provide the poorest farmers, who have the most ability to increase food production in Nigeria, and thus, decrease the need for importing food, with access to the necessary tools and ingredients to adequately farm their land.

Angela Hooks

Source:All Africa
Photo Source: Business News