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Nations of Fear, Corruption, Politics, Unfairness and Recession

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Nations of Fear

By Nneka Okumazie

The existence of fear – among people and several nations is almost of complete dominance. There are nations whose present and history are of loyalty to great fear.

There are things they never do, not because they can’t, but because some – who could, chose to be afraid.

There are many aspects of underdevelopment discussed for answers by established nations, suggesting what works to others.

But fear is not often on the list. Maybe it’s intangible, or because some appear to be in charge.

The societies of fear would likely go nowhere. Fear, not per exempted situations, but pervasively, in how the people approach everything.

Most developing countries are led by fear. Most of the people there seek – personal or group – safety through any means.

They entangle more so that everything becomes fear-operational.

It is possible that the world changes, with tools, knowledge, systems, processes, interconnections, etc. but societies of fear stay stuck because whatever require some risk, or courage dies off in the people.

Those who fought fear in their own advancement gain from it, but their experience is not as transferrable, to others elsewhere.

Those who battle fear – of quality – grow.

There are people in societies whose one fear-overcoming make progress for the group, and with more, more people benefit.

There are costly risks of high selflessness whose benefit surpasses the individual, necessary for how society changes.

There are those too, who watch these people, in that society and in their corner, decide against fear.

In some societies, many people are resistant to dishonour.

They do so, not to be rewarded or known, but they stand for something, in fairness to others of courage.

There are societies of common corruption, bribery, crime, etc. they are mostly a society of fear, not just of not having but for deception, not truth.

Striking out is almost unthinkable, and the isolation to be faced makes it impossible to try.

This is different from religions – or how fear is often used against other stuff, but for that religion.

There are places where religion intensified their fears, rather than cure them, and they sometimes become its victim in various forms.

Fear that benefits religion and robs the society of progress is false.

There are societies AWOL in the procession of progress.

There are societies run by fear – whose first measure of progress will not be some news of anything, but of right actions that defy accepted fears.

How exactly selfless is the courage of many in societies?

People fight fear but at what stage?

[Job 15:16, How much less one who is revolting and corrupt, who drinks injustice like water?]

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Engage, Advocate, Inspire and Empower – Using Photography as a Driver of Sustainability

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Photography Driver of Sustainability

Let’s answer the million-dollar question – Why is photography important?

Because it speaks, it communicates, it educates and it cultivates change. I am often asked this question and my answer remains the same always.

Photography is not just a tool for artistic expression or documentation, it is a lot more than that. Photography has the power to raise awareness, to change the narrative thus inspiring people to take action, for instance, my work around ‘Water Life’ from 2018 addressed the plight of water access and its impact not only on society but also on women in rural regions, especially so in Ethiopia but also across Africa.

In reality, it is a tool to spread education not only inside our own regions and countries but also beyond our borders to be able to draw attention, start a conversation and bring people together.

So for me, photography does not really fit in any one description box, but rather it moulds into something that you want to project out to the world.

Similar to the art of Cinema, photography can be used to entertain, educate, ask questions, and throw light on our history or all of the above. It is really what you make out of it and that’s why it is vital for our society, educational institutions and governments today to encourage and empower photographers and to truly appreciate the art of photography.

Power of the Image – Forming Perceptions, Driving Change

As the founder and director of the Addis Foto Fest (AFF), the first international photography festival in East Africa hosted since 2010 in the city of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, I can vouch for the fact that photography has the potential to become a force that drives change.

Of course, great power comes with great responsibility and that is exactly what budding photographers today need to be made aware of.

Competitions such as ‘Moments that Matter’ reflect light on the pressing issues that we as a species and as a planet are facing together and these grave issues need to be conveyed to as many people as possible without making them despondent. That’s where the theme of sustainability fits in so well to showcase this ever-going cycle of today and tomorrow and its direct co-relation with each other.

Everything that we do today shapes our future for tomorrow, this is the encapsulating theme that photographers need to bear in mind whilst sending their submissions.

We live in this day and age of rapid consumption and according to Statista’s 2021 report on ‘Mobile Usage’, there are currently 6.4 billion smartphone users worldwide. As unbelievable as this figure is, one can only imagine the number of images consumed by each of these people, and images have the inherent ability to form perceptions and perspectives.

Hence, it is even more vital today to use this technology of smartphones and social media to direct messages of progress towards people to drive that sentiment that leads them to take action and make meaningful changes.

Canon’s initiative on empowering photographers to capture moments in the sustainability spectrum through categories that speak about economic, human, environmental and social progress is truly the pressing priority for all of us.

However, the beauty of the competition lies in the spirit of sustainability that rekindles the flame of hope in our hearts and gives us a reason to look forward to the future. It is this challenge that participating photographers need to understand and convey in their images, to show us the problem but also to shed light on its solutions.

As a practising advocate of change through photography, I am extremely keen to see the submissions that come through allowing us to look at the world through someone else’s eye, to experience their vision and see what change others are aspiring to create not only in their own country but for the whole wide world.

Take, for instance, my very own continent of Africa where more often than not, the portrayal of poverty or other issues is depicted through photography which often lacks the balanced perspective in which also it is an indigenous view and not only through the foreign gaze or visual arts.

But today, this narrative is changing as we see a new generation of photographers who overcome great challenges to be the visual storytellers of a changing Africa in which they offer a new perspective that offers our humanity and humility. This is the power of an image and through this medium to show the world the enormous amount of talent, culture, capabilities as well as the scope for a better future and this other side of Africa that is often hidden or lost in pictures.

Photography as a Means of Advocacy – Help to Heal

In a world as diverse and complex as ours, there are various issues that need to be brought to the surface to evoke a conversation leading us to solutions. This responsibility needs to be collectively shared not just by creative industries but all industries out there, even those that are impacting the narrative of our communities, nations and continents. Even in the global discourse as it relates to our environment and planet, the power of the image and our connections through technologies offer us many opportunities for change. One person may be able to plant a tree but together we can plant an entire forest and that is the power of helping and empowerment…in helping others we also help and heal ourselves.

This is the main reason why my work outside of being in museums or fine art has been a reflection of advocacy…. advocating the need to make a change. As globalization has taken centre stage in the last few decades, we must realize this responsibility that we all now share – to really empower each other as people and then to empower our planet to prosper.

Finding solutions together is key to unlocking the potential for tomorrow. Photography is an excellent instrument to advocate the cause that you believe in, for me personally I have been passionate about environmental issues which are depicted through my images. Photographers participating in ‘Moments that Matter’ must look at engaging their art forms to advocate and inspire others thus leveraging their visual language to become the hope for tomorrow.

No Pain, No Gain – Pursue Your Passion to Find Greatness

Creativity is the birth of innovation and as daunting as it may seem to showcase a new angle or perspective through your images…that is where the true challenge of this visual art-form lies.

Authenticity is the key that unlocks the great power of photography. Photographers that understand this as the basic foundation of their work usually go a long way in their professional paths. In the beginning, however, it may seem like an impossible feat to achieve but it is the part of our journey that we need to embrace in order to become visible in this competitive and challenging creative world.

In the past, I have been through phases of disappointment as a young photographer when I struggled to prove my point to people but perseverance, patience and practice can take you anywhere as I have learned from my journey. I was inspired by photographer, Chester Higgins who taught me the tricks of the trade – to never stop believing in yourself, your work and to always remain authentic. That advice has led me to become who I am today. I stuck to black and white photography as my core niche even though the world was booming with innovations in coloured photography. It is crucial to reflect your own individual point of view in your work without getting overwhelmed by trends or fads. That remains my advice for all budding photographers who dream to make their mark in the world…be authentic, remain consistent and believe in yourself!

Submit your entries  here: https://canon.sm/3mYsyLF

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Do You Know Ijaw Politicians?

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Ijaw Politicians

By Asiayei Enaibo

Yes, they are great politicians in Ijawland; many have groomed followers with the gospel of hatred, those who managed our poverties with one salary divided to seven. Those that only want to see you serve their children and take over from them while their servants service their grandchildren and in-laws.

Do You Know Ijaw Politicians?

Yes, we have great and eloquent Ijaw politicians that make or support a bill once in four years and give us cups of rice at the end of the year and we call them Messiahs. Are they Messiahs or cups of rice and anti-development politicians?

The last time I saw my village children sent as delegates from their families to collect cups of rice tied in cellophane, and the children too were happy and angry, but they could not say a word, for they do not know what good governance is all about.

We have politicians only in the election period as our youths, including myself, praise them for survival to manage our collective poverty as we clap for their third or sixth term coming!

Ijaws are blessed with great minds as politicians that never brief us on constituency development for four years or twenty years. Once you make such comments, they will hire community-based boys from your area to disarm your pen and break your legs in a ghastly Keke accident when their convoy is coming.

From the Senate down to House of Representatives, to House of Assembly, the lawmakers, their oversight function is to gather enemies, a list of stubborn boys they could starve for objective criticism, blacklist, even though you have community-based policy ideas to show them for them to excel in their business of politics, they will refuse you to come near their homes, locked with iron gates and dogs to attack the Talking Drum.

Empowerment, zero per cent. Once you say something about empowerment, they will go and snap photos at the sales points of Keke and Okada to show us photos that they did empowerment at Abuja, while the people in the villages they are representing have no idea of such empowerment.

Do You Know Any Ijaw Politicians?

Yes, those who have not said anything as a matter of urgent public importance even though flood kills all the children at Bobougbene, yes those that don’t listen to the youths but listen to old ones on money sharing formula in Burutu.

Do You Know Any Ijaw Politicians?

Yes, the few good ones are good but the corrupt familitocracy are more than the public interest. Once they give our children one scholarship, they say it is their personal money. When they were not elected, none had personal money to share, they turn our head against us.

They have never called for a town hall meeting to address us. Once we make such comments, those who call themselves as Ijaw watchdogs that they have given cups of rice, are blindfolded to distract the meeting for their own interests not to allow the meeting to expose their selfish, un-political thinking. They said they have influenced the project to us, the last time I checked, the lawmakers are the same contractors, their grandfathers’ father’s names are the contractors, they partner as an elder brother to corruption whose senior sister is to embezzle the money and abandon the work while they give her negotiated amount to run away. For they are the Messiahs we have as politicians in Nigerian.

I do blame the good ones that are afraid of bad ones not to contest to rule us with great ideas, innovative laws that can project our rural riverine areas to tourist centres. We have great minds in Ijawland, the old good ones are poor, the young good ones are poor, they can’t buy a vote, for our society sells vote to buy poverty. Some have already exchanged their franchise for 20 cups of rice come 2023.

Look at them, we have Urban Development Commission everywhere, but no Riverine Rural Development Board and nobody is saying anything. They gather and only laugh with their colleagues, no policy, Where is great Comrade Joseph Evah, who has done this to us?

How Do We Reform Them Now?

First, we should hold them accountable with a blueprint whenever they are coming to our communities for campaigns, itemize what they can do for us in black and white paper and use Egbesu to swear, once they fail us, let what happened to Abacha happen to them. Amen!

Let us hold them to brief us in a town hall meeting on what they could bring to our communities in a yearly budget. If they fail, we go to their national office with placards as a vote of no confidence to withdraw our mandate in protests. Yes, we can.

Yes, it is a good point, we do not have light, no politicians care in our area, we don’t have drinkable water in the Ijaw area, no elected politicians care, we don’t have good schools, the appointees are afraid to tell the governor.

We don’t have roads, they said our places are difficult terrain.

Our mothers give birth in the canoes while paddling to the cities to deliver in the hospitals, then we call such children names like “Arukazi.”

The year 2023 is around the corner, they hire all the 200HP engine boats to go to the difficult terrains to buy votes, the good, the ugly and the evils, many have listed the stubborn boys to beat the writers, many have planned hired boys for rigging, then vote-buying, four years equal to N2,000, N10,000 for the future of a whole family. I blame our mothers and women with political Asoebi clapping for N500 on daily basis at the end no empowerment. Eyorotuooo.

Do You Have Great Politicians In Ijawland?

Yes, one half-bridge as a legacy project for twenty years, they are the best coming again. Let us prepare to buy ‘Ongu,’ that ancient water reservoir and cry into it to fill it with tears so we could have water to drink.

Arise youths of conscience, let us watch over our future as 2023 comes around.

Someone has already listed his father’s enemy once he becomes a governor, they will suffer, a premeditated plan to suffer the masses as if they are God.

Good leadership is a manifestation of public development.

Look around you and where you are representing, don’t allow your praise singers to deceive you as Darkness and Light are known to humanity at all levels.

Asiayei Enaibo, the Talking Drum of the Niger Delta, writes from GbaramatuVoice Media Centre.

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Moving Day Madness

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Moving Day Madness

Moving to a new home is exciting, but it can be stressful, too. A move requires so much planning that it can feel overwhelming but, by being organised you can turn it into a smooth, even enjoyable, process. Planning is key – this is definitely one of those times that it pays to be super organised. Follow these tips from Aisha Pandor, CEO and Co-founder of SweepSouth, to keep the stress at bay on moving day.

Make a list

A checklist helps you to keep track of everything, making it less likely you’ll forget something. It also allows you to tick off tasks as you complete them, giving you a sense of accomplishment and motivating you to keep going if you start getting tired of packing.

Plan the move as far ahead as possible, and sort out any admin you can in the run-up to the actual day, such as changing your Wi-Fi details and informing your insurance of your new address. Check to see if they’ll insure your possessions while you move.

Packing hacks

“Start packing well ahead of time, labelling each box on top by writing the name of the room it’s intended for, along with bullet points of what’s inside,” advises Aisha. Safely store fiddly fixtures and fittings like screws and brackets in sealable plastic sandwich bags, and stick appliance and gadget wires down with tape to prevent them from dangling about while being moved.

Use bin bags to make transporting clothes easier – slip hangers with clothes on into a large bin bag and tie a few hangers together with a rubber band for easier carrying. Pack precious items like jewellery, important documents, and laptops into a separate bag that you take in your own car.

Finish packing the day before

It sounds obvious, but don’t compromise on this one, says Aisha. “You’ll thank yourself when the movers arrive and you don’t have to rush around getting last-minute things sorted. And don’t underestimate the small items. You may think they’ll be easy to pop into a box just before the movers arrive, but these small tasks could end up wasting valuable time.”

Packing is a tiring task, so hire hands for the other big chores associated with moving day, like cleaning. Empty houses are always dirtier than you’d expect, so book a cleaning service through SweepSouth Connect for both the old and new – meaning your old space will be left spotless once the last box has been taken, and you’ll be moving into a sparkling clean home.

Assemble a moving-day survival kit

Pack a box of essential items to see you through the day and your first night, and keep it in your car for easy access. Consider these items: a phone charger, screwdriver, sharp knife for opening boxes, glasses and mugs, a kettle, provisions to make hot drinks, cleaning cloths, bin bags, washing up liquid, toilet rolls, and a small medical kit. It’s also a good idea to have an overnight bag with toiletries, a hand towel, pyjamas, a clean change of clothing, and sheets to hang over bedroom windows in case the curtains aren’t up yet.

Be safety conscious

Take every precaution you can to keep you and your moving team safe. Don’t overpack boxes, dispose of any dangerous liquids, and make sure that appliances like lawnmowers are cleaned and emptied of fuel. On the day of the move, prevent accidents while boxes are being moved by keeping a clear pathway so that you can walk through without tripping over objects while carrying something heavy in your arms.

Pace yourself

Moving days are tiring, so make sure you get a good night’s rest before. Start the morning off with a good breakfast, and stop for lunch, so that you keep your energy levels up. Keep a few bottles of water handy for yourself and the movers – a hydrated moving team is a happy and efficient team, says Aisha.

Create a playlist ahead of time. Music is a mood booster, and listening to music you love triggers feel-good chemicals that make you happy and less anxious. If you don’t have time to collate a playlist, type terms like ‘Happy Hits’, ‘Mood Booster’, or ‘Good Vibes’ into Spotify and slot into a bouncy, energetic playlist. Move over, moving-day blues!

Do a final walk-through

Walk through the house one last time before you go, doing a close inspection of each room. It’s also worth taking some photographs so that you have a record of the state of the property.

Moving days always take longer than anticipated, and you’ll no doubt be exhausted by the end of it. “Have realistic expectations of how much you can achieve in one day,” says Aisha. It’s unlikely you’ll be able to unpack everything by the first night, so take a well-deserved break and recharge. And, finally, order some lovely takeaways to celebrate the first night in your new home – your tired body will thank you!

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