Of Coffee With Ojoma: Head of Arts, West Africa for British Council

Coffee with Ojoma

If you were having coffee with me we would be having an easy chat over coffee with Ojoma Ochai. Ojama is the Director Arts and Creative Economy West Africa British Council

B: A pleasure to have this chat, thank you for your time Ojoma, first question tea or Coffee because there are only two kinds of people in the world.

O: Coffee – No sugar, no cream; so real coffee. Haha.

B: Your title has us impressed but, what exactly do you do? We are intrigued by the Creative bit especially.

O: I lead the British Council Arts and Creative Economy programme in West Africa which essentially means leading design and delivery of skills programmes, artistic showcasing and other activity that connects the arts sectors of the UK and West Africa. We work across film, music, fashion, visual and performing arts etc. so quite a wide range of work. I also lead our policy advocacy, partnerships in this area and work with partners and funders across both locations.

B: Most times the creative arts are viewed more as an aside project than something taken seriously any ideas how we can change this perception?

O: we need to provide evidence to the contrary and make the case every time. Economically for example, the UK creative Economy contributes half the size of Nigeria’s GDP to the UK economy every year. It’s hard when confronted with such figures to see it as a side hustle. We need to have the evidence and say it over and over again till it gets through.

B: How do you see the future of the creative arts in Africa especially in this digital global world

O: There is a lot of evidence that shows the rising trajectory from East, West, Southern Africa – I think with growing internet penetration, the talented youth, it can only grow. My only concern is where the value will be created. If we don’t find ways to capture the value here on the continent, it will be capitalised on for value elsewhere. It is not either or but Africa should benefit economically ad socially form its creative outputs but if we don’t own the means of production and distribution, we won’t.

B: You were in Harare; Zimbabwe for the 2018 Global Report of the 2005 Convention launch how was your experience, country people culture?

O: I loved, loved loved Zimbabwe and I will come back!! You hear a lot of stuff in the media and the experience wasn’t as dire as the media paints it. And yes, the work I do for UNESCO on the global panel of experts for the 2005 convention is very stimulating and so I enjoyed the workshops and talks thoroughly.

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B: I watched you deliver a presentation during a panel discussion at the launch of the 2018 Global Report; could you just briefly outline how stakeholders would best work together to make creative and cultural industries work?

O: yes, the main gist of my presentation was that there are many stakeholders that can work together to make the culture and creative industries work – education, trade, finance etc but we often leave them out of the conversation and so we should do more to bring more people around the table. To do so, we need to have evidence of course of the value so back to the point about making the case to show why the arts are important. That’s always a starting point.

B: You were once nominated young person of the year in Nigeria by the Future Awards once; wow! Do share what had you done?

O: ha ha. Just for being fabulous… seriously – it was for my work creating opportunities for young Nigerians through my work in British Council…

B: Its inspiring when the young can make an impact in the world around them and not only that you were on a list of most influential women in Nigeria tell us about that; Do you consider yourself a big deal?

O: I really don’t consider myself a big deal or take myself too seriously. What I do take seriously is the quality of my work and I guess people notice that. I have been lucky to be in a position where I can visibly do good thing and create opportunities but for everyone visible me there are hundreds, maybe thousands, doing great things in their closets everyday… 

B: Most of our audience are of the writing persuasion; and sometimes it does feel like an art the world forgot about; any words for the Literary Activists

O: I leave them with a quote credited to the English journalist Jim Murray : Learn to write. Never mind the damn statistics. If you like statistics, become a CPA.

B: As a woman; have you felt you had to prove yourself more to be who you are ? What can you say to the fellow sisters?

O: Not really and I suspect I am the exception. I have been lucky I have had the opportunity to be in spaces where my work and contribution speak for themselves.

B: How do people get in touch with you?

O: twitter – @ojomaochai

B: Any people you want to give shout outs? feel free to wave like they can see you…

O: Hello world! Haha.

B: Its been awesome having you thank you for your time; Last Question; What is the weirdest question anyone has asked you?

O: they asked me what’s the weirdest question any one ever asked me. -_-

ojoma ochai

Bio:

Ojoma Ochai is Head of Arts, West Africa for British Council. In this role, Ojoma works with public and private sector partners in the UK and West Africa to develop and deliver programmes that build skills, international and local networks and other capacity that promote the growth and collaboration potential of the arts sector and creative economy between the sub region and the UK.

Ojoma is also a member of the UNESCO global expert facility on the 2005 Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expression. From 2014 to 2016, she was Entertainment Specialist for a World Bank Growth and Employment project in Nigeria, advising on cluster based approaches for film and music sector development in Nigeria.

Nominated Young Person of the Year in Nigeria by The Future Awards in 2010 and listed on the YNaija list of 10 Most Powerful People In Nigeria’s Arts and Culture (under 40) in 2014, and YNaija 100 Most Influential Women in Nigeria, in 2015; Ojoma is also a Fellow of the DEVOS Institute of Arts Management at the University of Maryland, USA and an Associate of the Nigerian Leadership Institute (NLI). She is chair of the Lagos Theatre Festival Board until July 2018, Chair of Open House Lagos Board ( 2015 – 2017) and sits on the board of Music Museum Foundation of Nigeria

@ojomaochai

linkedin.com ojomaochai

 

 

Day 4 of my Africa: Stories from home themed blog everyday challenge

~B

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Of The Muse In You; Online Strangers

Welcome,  if you have been here before welcome back; for the benefit of those joining for the first time and those who don’t remember I am continuing where I left off…….

This is a writing project that I started and it somehow slipped my mind but  ITS BACK!!!!!!!

How it works: I am developing this story and you can be part of the journey, at the end of the post you get to help me decide how the story proceeds next.

becoming

The story so far: Which you can read by clicking  here: The message in a bottle

I received an email from a stranger on the internet, as I was about to delete I took a chance and decided to read it instead. The popular choice  from the readers (thanking everyone who voted) was:

Google the sender and email address to check if they not listed under any scam artists

Another ABBA track played on the radio, I sang along to it as I used the Google search bar to find my mysterious messager. I found it ironic how I called myself old soul, yet embraced technology as if I had born with my umbilical cord plugged into the internet. I laughed at the silly metaphors I made up by myself. Well, I was an old soul, call me old fashioned even but I loved letters too bad people didn’t write letters any more, only this instant messaging and social whats what media.

According to Google search results Nya Chiuta’s email was not associated with any known scams and had a FaceBook profile which was hardly used except for posts from friends wishing her happy birthday. “Well,” I thought to myself might as well as reply her email, “Who knows it could be just like pen pal except that emails took far much less time and you didn’t have to rush to the gate every time the postman passed hoping he had brought something for you, anything other than bills…….”

I opened my email tab and begun to type:

Dear Nya

I hope this email finds you well. I must confess your email had me worried and intrigued. If all you need is a friend though I can’t promise you much, I will listen.

Yours sincerely

T’Cha

I couldn’t help smiling at the way I signed my name, I guess the Black Panther craze had got to me too. I clicked send and watched as the email zipped away and into the information super highway………

Switching again to Nya’s Facebook profile because I had excellent research skills as I liked to refer to them; as opposed to stalker tendencies as my friends teasingly called them. Something about her profile had been bugging me, her location, it was a place in Nigeria, I suddenly remembered, a place I had recently heard in the news, where those girls had been kidnapped………..

What if….. but nah, but what if….. could it be just a coincidence?

What do I do?

  1. Wait for her reply and then ask her
  2. Pretend I know nothing and if she replies I’ll let her tell me if anything is wrong
  3. Don’t get involved, ignore any incoming emails
  4. Stalk her Facebook further, find her most frequent interactions see if there is anything to be found.
  5. send another email, ask point blank where she is and her intentions

Of Left, Right And Wrong

GUEST POST: Raquel

Left Or Right

As a child, growing up was awesome experience. I was the second child and first daughter of a family of seven children, two boys and five girls. We girls in the middle the first and last born being boys.

Let me write about one unique memory which is still part of me. I am, rather I was a left handed child, I say so because I use my right hand now. To best describe it I am now ambidextrous. No; that doesn’t describe me well neither . Let me describe it further; there are things I do only with my left and there are things l can do with my right only and there are things I use both comfortably. I write with my right hand for I was forced to learn to write with my right and I wash with my left hand, for sweeping I can use both hands .

Being the first female child in the family meant I was my mum’s first student in “home affairs”. She taught me the ways of being a woman, especially when it came to domestic chores.

In the African setting where I come from, the left hand has some taboo functions. You can’t use your left hand to give or take anything from anyone, not even someone you are senior to and worse if it’s an elder. My mum did her best to correct me to the point I got confused. She would say “with that your left hand” using my local dialect and in defence, I tell her “…. it’s my right hand mum“.

Okay this is what I did after failing to identify which was my right hand. If l wanted to do anything, I first watched whoever is around me and I see what hand that person is using. I would then, in my mind’s eye, while still sitting where I was, move myself and turn to the position the person was and try to pick out which is my right hand. That was my means of escape and it really did help me. I failed several times, because if I was seated facing the person and tried to use the hand I saw the person using it would be the opposite hand. Getting directions to go anywhere was a tough one for me but I learnt to use makers.

I was always last to finish any task it was really awkward for me, at a point I became an introvert and then I discovered books. There no one judged me or corrected me, I could flow however I wanted without pressure. It was my place of escape and joy.
I believe my mum somehow gave up, but because the job had to be done, she only made her usual comment and she let me be.”Ka maskar ragai ni“, meaning that left hand. Funny people do at times complain even when it is my right.

Rachel copy

Bio:

*Rachel is a Church girl, a wife and a mother of three. A graduate of Mass-Communication. She calls herself a washer woman as she is into laundry and dry-cleaning business. A Nigerian from the Northeast state of Borno but lives in Abuja. She loves her mum. She loves reading and would love to write more if her muse would keep musing her.

She loves to be addressed with her pen name Raquel.
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Of Pure Love

A Guest Post
My name is Rachel and am a Nigerian. Am a wife  and a mother of three. I have tried to participate in this challenge but failed. This may be my only contribution to this challenge (sorry B I tried). I don’t have a blog so am sending this by e-mail. I don’t consider myself a writer, but I love to read, well it’s worth mentioning that Big B, as i like to call him has put in two of something I wrote on his blog as a guest: (Coffee With A Musing Stranger and Blessed woman)
I love acting especially in Church; smiles :). I have written a few gospel stage plays and I acted in one film. Two of my poems were published in my department news paper during my university days. But I love to  read, even though I need to revive my  reading culture ( being a mother is not easy) that brings me to the main story,  sorry for the long intro…. .
AWKWARD CONVERSATION AND PARENTING.
How are you mummy?” l always answered “am fine“.
I remember an incident with my elder son “Jojo”. We had traveled home to my grandparents place, he was about four years old. At night we all went to bed and he was all so sleepy, but insisted on the ” how are you mummy” question he always poses at me. He loves saying that a lot and I do my best to answer him each time “fine dear“, I answered, but  this time he kept repeating it and each time I answered  “am fine”, then he said, “Mummy say how are me” meaning I should also ask him how he is,   “how are you dear“, I said, immediately after he answered fine and was already asleep soon after.
It is my younger son ” Isy” that made me realize what it all really meant, it means “I love you mummy”. So whenever they tell me Mummy how are you, my answer will always be. “I LOVE YOU TOO“.
i-am-blessed
THE JOY OF BEING A MUM. “You get paid with pure love” 💓
Day 24 blog everyday challenge.. A special guest post by Rachel
~B

 

PS Thank you Rachel ♥♥

Of Coffee With A Musing Stranger

Africa

If you were having coffee with me, I would smile and say hi thank you for joining me, would you prefer tea, coffee or plain boiled water. I would ask you if you had a favourite mug; its not weird at all right having a favourite mug?

What did you get up to this past week?

Lets see, some local celebrity couple had a bit of a meltdown, some say it was a publicity stunt, some say it was real. I wont even go into it because I think they got way too media attention maybe I should blog my own melt-down. Just that the internet never forgets nor sleep or eat or have coffee for that matter, and when a private moment goes viral… it goes so epic that everyone has their two cents to say about it.

Speaking about the internet our dear old Postal and Telecommunications Regulation Authority company; POTRAZ decided to set a floor price of making the internet 2 cents a megabyte to protect the telecoms industry. A move which would see our data prices going up and we already have expensive internet. Econet Wireless went and increased their data charges significantly and people took to the internet and social media to protest the high data costs.  Econet passed the buck to POTRAZ, in a loaded press statement hinting to the effect that the Regulator, the Ministry of IT and the government in general creating an uneven playing field and also trying to restrict low data use  of  the internet as it contributes to abuse of social media (but people have read in between the lines as The Government trying to limit freedom of speech on the internet, elections coming up next year…)and they have since reverted back to the old tariffs and POTRAZ has suspended its internet floor price (for now) and The Ministry has in return warned Econet not to dabble in politics and to stick to its core business mandate…

If you were having coffee with me I would tell you I have a dream that one day the internet will be as basic as the air we breathe, free. I would tell you I have new muse, a stranger and Guest Blogger  I met thanks to the internet. Hailing from Nigeria; Raquel 

Mused by a stranger ~ Words by Raquel
I have been mused, mused by a stranger.
Didn’t your mama tell you not to talk to strangers?
But the stranger talked to me first, and it would be rude to ignore.
I am being mused, mused by a stranger.
I did talk to the stranger, a stranger from a land strange to me.
Strange enough I did like talking to the stranger.
Me being mused by a stranger.
What will it be?
Will it be good, fantastic or interesting?
Or will it be bad, ugly sad and regretful
I got to take the chance, for this stranger has tickled my fancy
AM MUSED BY A STRANGER

Thank you Raquel in musing you I muse myself, you can catch more of Raquel in my next post

Thanks for visiting and have an awesome week ahead

~B

PS how much does your internet cost you?