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Source: John McCann — M&G

I was judging a competition for young people somewhere in the southeast of Nigeria earlier this year, when one of the judges asked a contestant a taboo question: “Are you gay?”

It’s three words. It’s a simple question. In some parts of the world, it’s as simple as asking: “Do you believe in God?” “Are you married?” “Ketchup or mayonnaise?”

But not here, not in my country of birth and residence. Here, it can be a matter of life and death. It can be a question of being thrown out of your home and being detained by the police. It can mean being attacked on the streets or being attacked on social media. …


by Chude Jideonwo and Damola Morenikeji

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Source: Mail & Guardian

The world has been paying attention to Sweden for bucking the global trends on a national lockdown. The jury is still out on the wisdom of its approach to Covid-19 but there is no question that it has taken a deliberate approach in what it believes works for its citizens.

The same is happening across Africa.

Take Togo, for instance, where a three-month state of emergency was declared. After recording cases of the virus, the West African country enforced border closures and physical distancing. …


by Chude Jideonwo and Damola Morenikeji

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Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza’s has promised to step aside after three terms, raising many questions about his motives. (image credit: M&G)

As several nations take measures to protect their citizens against the coronavirus, Burundians will be leaving the safety of their homes for the polls on May 20 for the presidential and parliamentary elections amidst fears of ethnic clashes and the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

The country has evidently chosen the option of risking citizens’ lives to bring in another regime rather than keeping them safe at home but whether the risk will be worth the reward remains to be seen.

This election will signal the end of the Pierre Nkurunziza era, a 15-year extended rule that became more autocratic over time, with the government accused of human rights abuses, executions, torture and sexual violence. …


Nigeria’s faith leaders are immensely influential and often have millions of followers. If they want to help, they should stay out of the way.

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Several religious leaders in Nigeria have congregations of millions of people. Credit: Peter Egbumokei.

Earlier this month, one of Nigeria’s most influential pastors caused a huge storm. In a broadcast that shocked the nation, Chris Oyakhilome claimed that COVID-19 is linked to 5G technology and part of a plot to enslave Africans.

The backlash to his endorsement of this dangerous conspiracy theory was swift, and for good reason. Oyakhilome leads Christ Embassy, a 30-year-old ministry with branches on six continents and an estimated congregation of 13 million people. Across his social platforms, the pastor himself has 4 million followers who help propagate his views.

While many in Oyakhilome’s congregation supported his claims, the vast majority of the public rejected his wild theory. Pastors Poju Oyemade and Sam Adeyemi (who also lead large congregations) held broadcasts on Instagram live in which they spoke of previous pandemics and gently guided Oyakhilome towards a retraction. “There are opportunities in every crisis, and it is the leader’s duty to see the opportunities and not to project fear on his/her followers,” said Oyemade. …


by Chude Jideonwo and Damola Morenikeji

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“There are decades where nothing happens and some weeks where decades happen”, the former leader of the Soviet Union, Vladimir Lenin remarked over 100 years ago. We think that describes the state of the world — and indeed — the situation in countries around Africa in the past weeks.

As at the time of writing this piece, all countries in Africa, with the exception of Comoros and Lesotho, have recorded rising cases of Coronavirus. There have been over 10,000+ cases, over four hundred deaths have been recorded and almost a thousand people have recovered. Nations are experiencing either full or partial shutdown, and for the first time in a long while, over a billion people across the continent are living in ‘isolation’ or lockdown and practising the physical distancing protocol and a slew of other recommended practices to avoid the spread of the virus. …


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by Chude Jideonwo and Damola Morenikeji

One of us recently shared about an encounter with a leading political elite and the bizarreness they showed about dedicating attention to joy. When the matter being discussed is joy, or happiness or some other subject deemed too fluffy to be serious about, we have seen people feign indifference. Other times, it is surprise. With the rise in depression and loneliness that may be caused by the now-infamous spray of self-quarantine, you can see people showing concerns.

When people talk about happiness and resilience of Africans, they often talk about it sometimes without putting to context what is happening in other countries of the world. As Nigerians, we both remember sometimes in 2011 when Nigerians were once been dubbed the happiest people on earth. Some others have made allusions linking the state of happiness to the latest policy from a business leader at work, or from a government have made Africans the happiest of all. …


by Chude Jideonwo and Damola Morenikeji

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Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

“Fifty years is too long” was one of the slogans easily displayed on the streets of Lome in Togo. The year was 2017, and with thousands of Togolese on the street, it was the infamous electoral reform protests and rejection of the elongation of the Eyademan family’s five-decade rule. Roughly three years after that series of protests, it seems the citizens of Togo have resigned to fate, waiting for another decade of the Eyadema to happen.

First gaining access to power in 1967 after his second military coup, and installing himself as President in April 1967, General Gnassingbe Eyadema — the father of the incumbent president — ruled over Togo, enriching himself and his cronies and gave little regard for the citizens of the country. …


(A letter from RED as we welcome 2020).

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I wish I had the prescience to have a recorder in the room when the board chair erupted in pure joy, excitement coursing through the room.

“That’s the flywheel!” he thundered, marching towards the whiteboard to draw it out. “That’s what makes you guys special — you understand the culture, you interpret it, and you use it as a tool to give young people power that connects them to the establishment, or changes the establishment.”

I was on the brink of tearing up — even at this stage, still the boy out of school excited by building and deploying his first media product: “That’s it,” I said. “That’s our cause. That’s what we deeply believe, that we are profilers of the culture, that we are inroads into it, that we connect it to what matters for nations and communities, to drive people to take action. …


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by Chude Jideonwo and Damola Morenikeji

Do humanity’s best days lie ahead or behind us? It’s the eternal question in the post-Enlightenment world. We were forged and evolved in fear; that’s how we survived the jungle. Thus it is reasonable to see the world as one in which hope is an endangered species.

This feeling is valid.

But valid does not mean true. In his book, Factfulness, Swedish professor Hans Rosling described the pervasive cognitive bias that can lead to a feeling of doom: “We must recognise … when we get negative news, and [remember] that information about bad events is much more likely to reach us. When things are getting better we often don’t hear about them. …


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“Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things. For one believes he may eat all things, but he who is weak eats only vegetables. Let not him who eats despise him who does not eat, and let not him who does not eat judge him who eats; for God has received him. Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand. One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it. He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks. For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and rose and lived again, that He might be Lord of both the dead and the living. But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written: “ As I live, says the LORD, Every knee shall bow to Me, And every tongue shall confess to God.” So then each of us shall give account of himself to God. Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way.”

About

Chude Jideonwo

On an ambitious mission to transform Sub-Saharan Africa into a (mental, emotional, spiritual) safe space. Join the mission: www.joyinc.xyz

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