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Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie wrote an article titled “Nigeria Is Murdering Its Citizens”, which was published by the New York Times on Wednesday, October 21, 2020.

In the Op-Ed, she speaks on the recent happenings in Nigeria: the necessity of the #EndSARS movement, the peaceful protest, Nigeria’s political culture being “steeped in state-sponsored thuggery”, and the killings at Lekki toll gate.

“I think of their families brutally plunged into the terrible abyss of grief, made more terrible by the knowledge that their loved ones were killed by their country. And for what? Because they peacefully asked to be allowed to live”, she writes.

Here are excerpts from the article:

For years, the name SARS hung in the air here in Nigeria like a putrid fog. SARS, which stood for Special Anti-Robbery Squad, was supposed to be the elite Nigerian police unit dedicated to fighting crime, but it was really a moneymaking terror squad with no accountability. SARS was random, vicious, vilely extortionist. SARS officers would raid bars or stop buses on the road and arbitrarily arrest young men for such crimes as wearing their hair in dreadlocks, having tattoos, holding a nice phone or a laptop, driving a nice car. Then they would demand large amounts of money as “bail.”

SARS officers once arrested my cousin at a beer parlor because he arrived driving a Mercedes. They accused him of being an armed robber, ignored the work ID cards he showed them, took him to a station where they threatened to photograph him next to a gun and claim he was a robber, unless he paid them a large sum of money. My cousin is one of the fortunate few who could pay an amount large enough for SARS, and who was released. He is not one of the many tortured, or the many disappeared, like Chijioke Iloanya.

In 2012 Mr. Iloanya was 20 when SARS officers arrested him at a child dedication ceremony in Anambra State. He had committed no crime. His family tried to pay to have him released but were asked to bring more money than they had. So they sold their property to raise money and went back to the SARS office but Mr. Iloanya was no longer there. They have not seen him since. Photos of him on social media show a young man, still almost a child, with sensitive eyes and a future waiting for him. There are so many families like the Iloanyas who are caught between pain and hope, because their sons and brothers were arrested by SARS and they fear the worst, knowing the reputation of SARS, but still they dare to hope in the desperate way we humans do for those we love.

There have been End SARS protests, since 2016, but October 2020 was different, a tipping point had been reached. The protests signaled the overturning of convention — the protesters insisted on not having a central leadership, it was social rather than traditional media that documented the protests, and, in a country with firm class divisions, the protests cut across class. The protests were peaceful, insistently peaceful, consistently peaceful. They were organized mostly on social media by young Nigerians, born in the 1980s and 1990s, a disaffected generation with the courage to act. Their bravery is inspiring. They speak to hope and to the possibility of what Nigeria could become. Of those involved in the organization, none is more remarkable than a group called Feminist Coalition, set up by Nigerian feminists, who have raised more than $180,000, and have provided legal aid, security and food to protesters.

But the Nigerian government tried to disrupt their fund-raising. The Nigerian government has reportedly accused Flutterwave, the company through which the donation link was created, of accepting funds from terrorists, even though it is clear that Feminist Coalition’s members are not terrorists. Their fund-raising link suddenly stopped working. Still, they persisted and began to raise money through Bitcoin.

From the capital city of Abuja to the small town of Ogbomosho, state agents attacked and beat up protesters. The police killed a few and detained many others until social media and video evidence forced them to release some of the detained. Still, the protesters persisted.

The Lagos State government accused protesters of violence, but it defied common sense that a protest so consistently committed to peaceful means would suddenly turn around and become violent. Protesters know they have everything to lose in a country like Nigeria where the mere hint of violence gives free reign to murderous security forces. Nigeria’s political culture is steeped in state-sponsored thuggery. Politicians routinely hire thugs to cause chaos, especially during elections, and many people believed that thugs had been hired to compromise the protests. On social media, videos that attested to this — of thugs getting into SUVs that belonged to the government, of hardened and hungry young men admitting they were paid to join the protests and become violent. Still, the protesters persisted.

At about noon on Oct. 20, 2020, about two weeks into the protests, the Lagos State governor suddenly announced a curfew that would begin at 4 p.m., which gave people in a famously traffic-clogged state only a few hours to get home and hunker down. I feared that a curfew would provide an excuse for state violence, that in the name of restoring order, the army and police would unleash violence. Still, I was unprepared for the carnage that followed at the Lekki Toll Gate, the most prominent in Lagos. Government officials reportedly cut the security cameras, then cut off the bright floodlights, leaving only a darkness heavy with foreboding. The protesters were holding Nigerian flags, sitting on the ground, some kneeling, some singing the national anthem, peaceful and determined.

Read full article on New York times here

The Coalition of #EndSARS protest groups across Lagos and Nigeria has released a statement regarding the deprioritization of physical protests for now, and its objectives in the next couple of days which includes, the nomination of leaders to represent protesters, clean up, offline community engagement and more.

Read the statement below:

Following the nationwide address from President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday, October 22, we are more resolved to press not just for justice but for a new and better Nigeria where all citizens are safe and can thrive.

Lagos State, where the hotbed of resistance began has been under state-wide curfew imposed by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu. Prior to that, Soldiers attacked peaceful protesters at the Lekki Toll Gate and unleashed carnage. We have watched with horror, the ensuing acts of violence, murder, looting, razing and vandalization of homes, businesses and organizations in Lagos State, and we will like to state emphatically that these are not protesters. We completely condemn any form of violence or looting.

For the sake of the wellbeing of our comrades and ordinary citizens being adversely affected by this, we will deprioritize the physical protests, for now. But, for the sake of those who died, before the protests, during the protests, and at the hands of Soldiers at the Lekki Toll Gate — people who the government has largely refused to acknowledge, THE STRUGGLE MUST CONTINUE.

Here are our objectives in the next few days:

1. Clean Up

During our protests, we made a conscious effort to clean up the venues and keep our environment safe for everyone. Following the condemnable vandalizations that took place since the curfews began, we are volunteering efforts towards the clean-up and rebuilding of the state.

2. Online Protest

We will continue to intensify online publicity and protest of the issues and demands made. We will be hosting conversations, sharing articles and amplifying voices of thought leaders in that direction.

3. Offline Community Engagement

We will continue grassroots mobilization and civic education of the masses, providing tools for education to enable them to understand the scale and scope of what is at stake.

4. Timelines

We are putting a timeline together to track actions taken to meet our demands. This way, we know what has been done, what is being done, and what can be ticked off our list. This way, we know if and when the government defaults, and we can decide if a return to the streets is necessary.

5. Strategy

We are building short, medium- and long-term strategies to sustain this momentum and keep this fire that has been ignited by the actions of young people across Nigeria burning. The strategies are pillared on and geared towards Education, Voter Registration, Political Consciousness and Representation for Young People in government.

6. Structure

We will create a structure to strategically consolidate demands, formalize the coalition, galvanize the continued online protest, develop standards for monitoring and evaluation, and continue the mobilization and education of the citizens.

7. Representation

The leaderless nature of this protest but consistent oneness in demands have been part of our unique strengths. As we move towards consolidation and negotiation, it is now pertinent we put forward a diverse group to represent the different coalitions; from celebrities to activists, legal minds to strategists, journalists to entrepreneurs, etc. We consulted far and wide, to come up with these names, and while this may not be exhaustive, it offers us an interim basis to begin the negotiation and consolidation.

The nominees will meet with different protest leaders/blocs across the country/states, and consolidate on a vehicle for continuous demands. They will also track actions of the Government, represent our demands and provide feedback to us regularly. They are:

Names of Nominees at the Federal level:

Click to Vote 

Names of Nominees at the State level: (Lagos)

Click to Vote

Advisory

Due to the decentralized nature of this movement across the country, we nominate a team with experience in leadership and diplomacy, to assist in advisory and other support. This team will be consulted from time to time within the process. The criteria are people with integrity, people who have a vast experience in national issues, and who have a track record of being pro-young people.

Nominees for Advisory Board

Click to Vote

All nominations are provisional. If there are people you think should be on the list, people who have been critical in the success of these protests and can work towards the actualization of our demands, and the ultimate mission — a better government/future for Nigeria, please nominate.

In conclusion, these protests have never been politically motivated. It is not about ethnicity or tribalism. The young people across the country are demanding justice, good governance, accountability and reforms. These protests have no sponsor nor agenda other than what we have stated repeatedly; better governance, accountability and an end to brutality.

To everyone who has lost someone or something, we stand in solidarity with you.

To all our heroes that died before and during these struggles, we say Rest in Power! Your deaths will not be in vain.

It is NOT finished!

On behalf of the Coalition.


The End SARS protesters on Wednesday shut down the Warri Port of the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA as well as critical oil facilities in riverine communities of Delta State.

The Coordinator of the protesters in Warri and its environs, Comrade Israel Joe confirmed the report in a chat with News Correspondents in Uvwie Local Government Area. While noting that the protest is in phases with a section being manned by Ijaw youths, Comrade Joe said that they are shutting down oil facilities in the riverine areas.

He also added saying that, The government cannot be getting oil to develop cities in Abuja, Kaduna, Lagos and the rest of them, yet their villages and communities where the oil is gotten from are being underdeveloped; still suffering from the iron road of intimidation battered by bad water and the creek of thatched houses. He said they will continue the End SARS protests until the Delta State Governor, Arthur Ifeanyi Okowa come out to address them on Friday, October 23 at the Effurun roundabout in Uvwie Local Government Area.
Joe threatened a total shut down of all critical facilities if the governor fails to meet with them.

According to him, Protesters are not going to back out of the protest as they do not have any plans to declare a 12-day revolution.  He concludes by revealing that if the government wants to test their resolve, then it should fail to give a public address on Friday.

Source: https://www.newsnow.co.uk/h/World+News/Africa

Article by Vivy LaBelle

Over the last week, a wave of protests spread across Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy and home to over 200 million people, about 60% of whom are less than 25 years old.

The protests were sparked by rising police brutality, specifically that of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Nigerian Police Force, that disproportionately targeted the youth, often on trumped-up charges and typically leading to harassment, torture, rape, unlawful arrests, and extrajudicial killings.

It is thought that the groundswell of support for the movement could soon be shifting towards demanding accountability from the nation’s legislators, who are rumoured to be the highest paid in the world, and from there expanding to clamour for good governance in the nation as a whole. Let it be clear that we are not just taking this stance against SARS; we are making a statement against bad governance.

The protests, led largely by the nation’s youth, have attracted the attention of the international press with the hashtag #EndSARS trending across all social media platforms for several days in a row. Observers have commended the peacefulness and the organisational competence of the protesters, likening their tactics to those used by the Hong Kong protesters in 2019. Some have gone as far as to liken the October 2020 protests to the Arab Spring of 2011, calling it the start of the ‘Nigerian Spring’.

Here are six reasons why the October 2020 protests have been so successful so far:

Egalitarian

The movement has fiercely resisted the traditional leadership structure, and has, instead, opted for a decentralised style of leadership. Youths from different walks of life have contributed their skills and time into making the protests successful and no one person or role is seen as more important or less valuable.

But having no “leader” is not the same as having no “leadership”. There are several individuals and organisations spearheading different aspects of the protest, but none of them claim ownership of the movement and have eschewed calls to act as spokespersons for the protest. In sharp contrast to the Occupy Nigeria protests of 2012, there are no celebrity leaders or appointed heads, and many see this as a direct jab at the many NLC and ASSU leaders who after being called to Abuja to “negotiate” are alleged to have abandoned the cause.

Members of the Nigerian tech industry, which has been disproportionately targeted by SARS, have mooted the idea of creating a Nigerian version of Reddit where the Nigerian youth can participate in true egalitarian decision making via online polls. This will be similar to the LIHKG platform used by the Hong Kong protesters in 2019.

Organisation

One of the hallmarks of the protests has been the perceived excellence with which the youth have organised and the agility of the collective response to meet the operational, logistical, and strategic challenges of sustaining a nationwide protest. Within a few short days, the protesters have organised security, media, welfare, legal aid, emergency medical services, and refreshments for the protesters on the streets, while also ensuring a steady supply of mobile data, commonly known as “recharge card credit” to sustain the online protests.

Crowdfunding

Individuals and organisations across the country and in the diaspora have funded the uprising, sending in donations to help provide for the protests. But it has not only been money; many service providers, restaurants, bakeries, confectioners and bottling companies, to name a few, have turned up at the protests with free merchandise, food, and drinks for the protesters, each one of them seeing it as their civic duty to do something to reclaim the nation. In a country where billions of Naira are allocated for projects that are never completed, there has been a meticulous accounting for every dollar spent during the protest.

Technology and Connectivity

The use of technology is widely touted as a major ingredient in the success of the protests. Social media networking has been used to drive online protests. Slogans tweeted by protesters at home encourage the street protesters, and messages sent via instant messaging provide vital information and security updates from one protest site to others. GPS-based location tracking is being used to trace protesters who have been arrested, aerial drone photography is being used to capture unprecedented images of the crowd, and cryptocurrency is emerging as the major stream of the crowdfunding effort.

Community

Protesters, both online and on the street, fundraisers, organisers, lawyers, doctors, civil rights activists, journalists, photographers, and so on are all working in unity of purpose. The movement has created a unique sense of camaraderie, the kind only formed between people who share a common trauma. It is said that this generation of youth have grown up never knowing the “good days” fondly spoken of by the older generations, and that they are determined to bring change to the nation, one demand at a time.

Women

What do the English Suffragettes of the late 19th century, the Aba Women’s riot of 1929, and the October 2020 protests have in common? Women! Some of the most powerful voices online and on the streets, and some of the most prolific organisers behind the scenes, have been women. Buoyed by a burgeoning African flavour of the feminist ideology, the female input in the success of the protests cannot be overemphasised.

Source: Bellanaija

Motherhood NG Initiative is a women-led non-governmental organization with the mission to improve maternal, neonatal and child health in underserved communities in Nigeria.

In line with its commitment to improving maternal health outcomes in underserved communities, Motherhood NG Initiative held training under Project Safe Birth for 50 Traditional Birth Attendants at Ado-Odo Ota Local Government in Ogun State on prevention of postpartum hemorrhage. Postpartum hemorrhage has been identified as one of the top 3 leading causes of maternal mortality in Nigeria.

The one day eye-opening training was facilitated by two certified medical practitioners and the traditional birth attendants were taught the signs that can lead to postpartum hemorrhage and how to prevent it. However, they were also cautioned to know their limits, so as to reduce maternal and child mortality in Nigeria.

The founder, Motherhood NG Initiative, Abiodun Alabi, stated that Project Safe Birth is focused on reducing maternal mortality in underserved communities in three ways; by training of traditional birth attendants, providing free safe birth kits to pregnant women in rural communities and causing social behavioral change towards family planning through sensitization and following up with messages to promote family planning to these women via E-mobile in their respective indigenous languages.

The Sustainable Development Goal 3 (SDG3) aims to ensure healthy lives and promotes wellbeing for all across all ages and genders. The first target of the SDG 3 seeks to reduce the global maternal ratio to less than 70 per 100,000 live births. According to the World Bank, the maternal mortality ratio in Nigeria as of 2017 was 917 per 100,000 live births.

Motherhood NG Initiative is working towards achieving the SDG3 by 2030.

On this episode of “Toke Moments“, Toke Makinwa is sharing her protest experience and describing the different types of people you see at a protest.

She says,

What a week, what a season, what a moment….. What a time to be alive. The protest against Police brutality in Nigeria has put Nigeria yet again in the centre of major world wide conversations and I am super proud of every young Nigerian for pushing for change. The #EndSars #EndPolicebrutality #EndSwat #Sarsmustend movement is on going and you can be a part of it too. the History books will definitely not forget this generation. I went out on the streets to protest and the energy was out of the world, watch my protest experience and share yours too in the comment section.

Watch the video:

Popular Kumawood Actress; Ama Oduma Odum has made an interesting revelation about why and how she failed her Wes Africa Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (WASSCE).

I failed my WASSCE to ‘punish’ my father for forcing me to study science - Kumawood actress (video)
I failed my WASSCE to ‘punish’ my father for forcing me to study science – Kumawood actress (video)

According to the beautiful actress, her failure to pass the WASSCE was a predetermined decision to more or less teach his father a lesson that he could ‘take the horse to the riverside but could not force it to drink the water’.

Ama told Zion Felix on the ‘Uncut’ Show that her father compelled her to study science at Senior High School against her will and passion, all because he wanted her to be a nurse or a doctor at all costs.

Although she completed Juaben Senior High School in 1997 as a science student, Ama said she learned the course under duress, disclosing she had yearned to study General Arts since she had a passion for poems and drama.

In a bid to ensure she did not pass the science course which was imposed on her, the actress revealed that she abandoned classes to have fun at some drinking joints while her colleagues were studying.

She expected to have her father change his mind and allow her to choose General Arts when rewriting the examination but all to no avail.

Ama further revealed how chasing her dreams and following her passion was such a dealbreaker for her that she had to leave her adamant father’s house at a point in time to enable her to have the freedom to do what she desired.

Watch Ama Oduma Odum in the video below as she makes all the disclosures:

A weird drama ensued at what was supposed to be a secret wedding between a married man and his probably ignorant bride as the former’s wife stormed the venue with her children and disrupted the ceremony.

“He even slept with me this morning!” – Woman storms hubby's secret wedding with children
“He even slept with me this morning!” – Woman storms hubby’s secret wedding with children

An interesting video shows her invading the church auditorium unexpectedly with a baby strapped on her back, at the time the bride and the supposed groom were standing before the altar and a huge crowd of attendees to receive the pastor’s blessing.

According to the woman, the supposed groom was her husband with whom she had children. She went on to allege that the man even spent the last night with her and the children, so she was surprised to see him tying the knot with another woman the next morning.

She added that she and her husband didn’t have any issues and they had not separated either, so she was taken aback to have learned and confirmed it for herself that he was getting married to another woman.

Source: Pulse ng

Mursi is a unique Surma tribe in Southern Sudan and the language they speak is also called Mursi.

When a Mursi girl becomes a teenager, she begins the process of lip stretching. The girl has her bottom teeth removed to make space for a lip plate, which is increased in size annually.

The plates are inserted into the lip causing it to stretch, and it is said that the larger the clay plate, the more the woman is worth before she gets married.

Mursi women only wear the plates for a short time because they are so heavy and uncomfortable.

The practice was first carried out to allegedly make them look ugly when Arab merchants continually raided their villages in search of slaves.

However, that explanation has been rejected as studies reveal that the plates are a symbol or expression of social status among the Mursi people.

The supposed historical link between lip-plates and the activities of slave traders is an idea that goes back to colonial times.

In an article in the September 1938 issue of National Geographic Magazine, C. and M. Thaw report meeting women with large plates in both their upper and lower lips near Fort Archambault, on the River Chari, about 400 miles southeast of Lake Chad, in what was then French Equatorial Africa:

“Here both the upper and lower lips of girl babies are pierced and small wooden plugs inserted into the holes. As they grow up, these holes are gradually increased in size until they reach the dimensions of large soup plates… This form of disfigurement was begun centuries ago to discourage slave raiders, the French Administrator told us. Why it didn’t discourage the young men of the tribe, as well, we will never know. (Thaw & Thaw 1938: 357)”

The use of lip-plates is neither peculiar to Africa nor to women. Amongst the Kayapo of Brazil, for example, senior men wear ‘a saucer-like disc some six centimetres across’ in the lower lip, according to Turner, 1980: 115.

“The lip-plug, which reaches such a large size among older men, is incontestably the most striking piece of Kayapo finery. Only males have their lips pierced.

Why girls of the Mursi tribe must remove their teeth and stretch their lips before they marryWhy girls of the Mursi tribe must remove their teeth and stretch their lips before they marry

“This happens soon after birth, but at first only a string of beads with a bit of shell is placed in their backwardness by outsiders and that it will help to prolong their exclusion from the economic and social benefit of incorporation into the Ethiopian state. In particular, it will be an obstacle to the education of girls. Here I should mention the recent activities of Protestant missionaries who, since 1989, have established themselves in the Mago Valley, where a group of Mursi had migrated a few years earlier because of drought.

“The missionaries have not, as far as I know, spoken out specifically against the lip-plate. But their converts, who are at present concentrated around

the mission station and may number in the region of 50 individuals, are likely to be at the forefront of efforts, coming from within the community itself, to abandon such ‘traditional’ practices and customs.”

The Mursi (or Mun as they refer to themselves) people are the most popular in Ethiopia’s Omo Valley. They are well known for their unique lip plates. Mursi are a Nilotic pastoralist ethnic group that inhabits southwestern Ethiopia.

They principally reside in the Debub Omo Zone of the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People’s Region, close to the border with South Sudan.

According to the 2007 national census, there are 7,500 Mursi, 448 of whom live in urban areas; of the total number, 92.25% live in the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People’s Region (SNNPR).