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A youth-friendly way to discuss sex arrives in Nigeria

The underlying objective of Love Matters Naija is to “engage young people on sexual reproductive health and rights (SRHR) issues”

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Photo credit: The Guardian Nigeria

With an audience of 1.4million in Kenya and Rwanda, Love Matters Africa makes a pit stop in Nigeria as a digital platform where adolescents on the continent can discuss sexuality and sexual health issues.

In a press statement released by the outfit, it describes itself as a regional platform that serves the Nigerian audience. Their Nigerian audience has been growing in leaps and bounds since their launch in June 2018, garnering over 200,000 followers.

The underlying objective of Love Matters Naija is to “engage young people on sexual reproductive health and rights (SRHR) issues away from the public eye”. The movement also provides a safe haven for asking questions, seeking advice, seeking SRHR services and interacting with a peer group in Nigeria who form a growing team of writers, bloggers, editors, SRHR counsellors and content producers.

Love Matters Naija launched officially in Lagos, Nigeria on the 27th March 2019. The event brought together high-profile celebrities and prominent bloggers from Nigeria, along with key partner organizations that work in the SRHR field. Taking social media by storm, it is safe to say that Love Matters Naija has officially landed in Nigeria.

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Culture & Tourism

Moroccan TV show suspended for celebrity guest’s boast of “beating his wife”

No legal action has been taken against Miloudi, despite waves of outrage on social media

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TV show banned in Morocco for promoting violence against women
Courtesy: Chada TV, Morocco.

A Moroccan television show has been suspended for allowing a celebrity guest to boast on air of “beating his wife”, the country media authority said Wednesday.

“Whoever doesn’t beat his wife is not a man,” popular singer Adil El Miloudi said in June on a Chada TV show, Kotbi Tonight, drawing laughter from a fellow guest, actor Samy Naceri, and host Imad Kotbi.

“In Morocco, this is normal, anyone can do what he wants with his wife, hit her, kill her,” he insisted after  Kotbi jokingly said: “It’s forbidden to hit one’s wife all over the world.” 

Miloudi’s remarks amounted to “justification for violence against women, an express incitement to violence, presented in a positive way as a sign of virility… or even recommended behaviour”, the High Authority for Audiovisual Communication (HACA) said in a statement.

In response to this “explicitly violent speech”, the host adopted a “playful tone” and allowed his guest to repeat his call for violence against women”, it added. The media authority said Kotbi Tonight was to be suspended for three weeks.

So far, no legal action has been taken against Miloudi, despite waves of outrage on social media in reaction to his comments. Misogynistic and sexist attitudes are commonplace in Morocco and rarely condemned by authorities.

Last year, HACA penalised a Chada FM radio show after a commentator said on air that “women who are the most exposed to uterine cancer are those who resort to prostitution or adultery”.

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Culture & Tourism

Ake festival 2019: A festival of arts and books

The preservation of African culture gave birth to the Aké Arts and Book Festival

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Ake Festival 2019 partners News Central
A panel session with speakers discussing at the Ake Festival

What happens when two Afro-optimist giants and pioneers of African cultural advancement form a partnership to host the biggest cultural and artsy event on the continent?

You guessed right. An invitation to an authentic African experience. From October 24-27, the 7th edition of the Aké Arts and Book Festival will take place in Lagos, Nigeria’s economic capital. News Central will, this time, bring you all the action live from the venue.

Themed “Black Bodies: Grey Matter”, this year’s edition will feature book chats, readings, panel discussions, art exhibitions, films, music, theatre and many more creative expressions through black bodies that genuinely tell the African story.

The Ake Festival –  News Central Story

In the royal town of Ake, Ogun State, South-Western Nigeria, the birthplace of Professor Wole Soyinka, Africa’s first recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature, a passion for the preservation of African culture gave birth to the Aké Arts and Book Festival.

For 6 years, the festival, founded in 2013 by renowned Nigerian writer, Lola Shoneyin has converged Africa’s brightest and most artistically creative minds to engage in pro-African discourse.

And this year, News Central hopes to infuse the “Africa. First.” narrative, an important piece in the Ake Festival puzzle for a successful celebration of Africa in all of her uniqueness.

What does Africa. First. mean for Ake Festival?

In a recent interview, Lola Shoneyin revealed her delight in partnering with News Central, a frontier media platform that puts Africa and Africans in the driver’s seat of our stories.

“I love Africa. First…and I love it because it really resonates with me.”

Lola Shoneyin

Africa. First. is a movement by Africans and for Africa! It seeks to put the conversation on African culture and power back on the front burner.  The African culture is vibrantly expressive, uniquely diverse, progressively modern and enviably embodied in Black Bodies and Grey Matter.

Our boldness and power are sourced from the blood of great inventors, mighty rulers and pioneers of civilisations that courses through our veins. African power is rooted in this transfer and it is our responsibility to protect and prolong it.

News Central is proud to pioneer this movement and shared vision to promote the African culture and power at events such as the Aké Fest, using our balanced and Afro-optimist media platform in making these stories accessible to Africans.

As our Director of Content and Programmes, Becky Muikia puts it:

“We give them a voice on a pan-African scale.”

Becky Muikia

Africa, now is your time!

Promoting, amplifying and celebrating the African experience is at the heart of the Aké Festival and News Central partnership.

For four days, come witness a full blend of Afro cultural immersion and untold stories told by hundreds of writers, poets, dancers, artists, film-makers, and other creatives. Join us on this shared journey by registering to attend here Aké Festival.

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Struggle continues: Nigeria’s Libya returnees experience tough reintegration

Edo State government has set up a support programme for the returnees which is rare in Nigeria

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Struggle continues: Nigeria's Libya returnees experience tough reintegration

Emerging from her ordeal, Gloria considers herself “privileged”. Last year, the 26-year-old left Nigeria with four other women, dreaming of a better life in Europe.

On a tortuous journey, three of the five friends died before reaching Libya, where the two survivors were stranded for almost a year. Now, only Gloria is back home in Nigeria.

She dreamed of being a fashion designer but now sews synthetic tracksuits in a shabby workshop in Benin City, southern Nigeria, for ₦15,000 a month.

“After transport, the money is almost finished”, she says.

Still, she adds quickly, she “thanks God for having a job”.

Her employment is part of a training programme, set up by the local government of southern Edo State — the departure point for most Nigerian migrants.

Gloria is one of nearly 14,000 young Nigerians to have returned from Libya since 2017 under a United Nations voluntary repatriation programme.

She and the other returnees quoted in this story asked not to be identified by their real names.

READ: Iddris Sandu, the 21-year-old expert behind Instagram, Snapchat and Uber

She is “not asking for too much”, just a roof over her head and to be able to eat, Gloria tells reporters.

Struggle continues: Nigeria's Libya returnees experience tough reintegration

But she blames herself for daring to dream that life could be better elsewhere and believing the smugglers’ promises that they would reach Europe within two weeks.

Broke and broken – 

In Libya, prospects of crossing the Mediterranean vanished, after a tightening of European Union immigration policies.

Many spend months, even years stranded in Libya, sold as slaves by their smugglers.

But once back home in Nigeria, life is even more difficult than before: saddled with debt, struggling to find work, broken by their treatment at the hands of the traffickers and by their failed dreams. 

Human Rights Watch highlighted the “continuing anguish” that returnees face. 

Many suffer long-term mental and physical health problems as well as social stigma on returning to Nigeria, a report released last month said.

Government-run centres tasked with looking after them are poorly funded and “unable to meet survivors’ multiple needs for long-term comprehensive assistance”, it added.

Edo State government has set up a support programme which is rare in Nigeria.

The state hosts some 4,800 of the nearly 14,000 returnees — mostly aged 17 to 35 and with no diploma or formal qualifications.

Under the scheme, they can travel for free to Benin City, Edo’s capital, stay two nights in a hotel, receive an hour of psychological support and the equivalent of a €100 allowance.

It barely moves the needle for those starting again but is enough to stoke envy in a country where state aid is scarce and 83 million people live in extreme poverty.

Stigma –

READ: Ethiopian youths “pimp out” jalopy Beetles to revive auto culture

Showing potential students around, Ukinebo Dare, of the Edo Innovates vocational training programme, says many youngsters grumble that returnees get “preferential treatment”.

In modern classrooms in Benin City, a few hundred students learn to “code”, do photography, start a small business and learn marketing in courses open to all.

Struggle continues: Nigeria's Libya returnees experience tough reintegration

“Classes are both for the youth and returnees, (be)cause we don’t want the stigma to affect them,” Dare said. 

“It’s a priority for us to give youth, who are potential migrants, opportunities in jobs they can be interested in.”

According to Nigeria’s National Bureau of Statistics, 55 per cent of the under-35s were unemployed at the end of last year.

Tike, now 28, had a low paying job before leaving Nigeria in February 2017 but since returning from Libya says his life is “more, more, more harder than before”.

Although he returned “physically” in December 2017 he says his “mindset was fully corrupted”.

“I got paranoid. I couldn’t think straight. I couldn’t sleep, always looking out if there is any danger,” he said, at the tiny flat he shares with his girlfriend, also back from Libya, and their four-month-old daughter.

Crime –

A few months after returning, and with no psychological support, Tike decided to train to be a butcher.

But, more than a year since he registered for help with reintegration programmes, including one run by the International Organization for Migration, he has not found a job and has no money to start his own business.

Struggle continues: Nigeria's Libya returnees experience tough reintegration

“We, the youth, we have no job. What we have is cultism (occult gangs),” Tike says.  

“People see it as a way of getting money, an excuse for getting into crime.”

Since last year, when Nigeria was still in its longest economic recession in decades, crime has increased in the state of Edo, according to official data.

“Returnees are seen as people who are coming to cause problems in the community,” laments Lilian Garuba, of the Special Force against Illegal Migration.

“They see them as failure, and not for what they are: victims.”

Debt spiral –

Peter, 24, was arrested a few days after his return. 

His mother had borrowed money from a neighbourhood lender to raise the €1,000 needed to pay his smuggler.

“As soon as he heard I was back, he came to see her. She couldn’t pay (the debt), so I was arrested by the police,” he told reporters, still shaking.

Financially crippled, his mother had to borrow more money from another lender to pay off her debts. 

READ: “Okada” Wars: How Nigeria’s Uber-style motorbikes are competing for Lagos routes

Peter’s last trip was already his second attempt. 

“When I first came back from Libya, I thought I was going to try another country. I tried, but in Morocco it was even worse and thank God I was able to return to Nigeria,” he said, three weeks after getting back. 

“Now I have nothing, nothing,” he said, his voice breaking. 

“All I think about is ‘kill yourself’, but what would I gain from it? I can’t do that to my mother.”

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All rights reserved. This post and other digital content on this website may not be reproduced, published, broadcasted, rewritten or redistributed in whole or in part without prior express written permission from News Central.

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