“Bring on hope, dreams and good faith. Sorrow and tragedy are not enough.” Nwilo Bura Bari Vincent
It had created a buzz on social media. It had ruled the Nigerian BBM space. People had seen one contact or the other with a picture which had the word ‘Conversations’ emblazoned on it.
It was the Conversations for Change. A talk show organized by the Creative Nigeria Project. Partnering with it were advocacy heavy weights like The Rise Initiative, The organizers of the Future Awards and Freedom Foundation. It was sponsored by The Century Group.
The Curator of the Creative Nigeria Project who gave his opening remarks said that the Conversations for Change was a program which stood at the intersection of advocacy, entertainment, technology, education and creativity. The programme is not aimed at igniting any political movement, it is not about criticizing the government or reciting our list of endless woes as a country, but it is on exploring ideas and strategies on how we can all take personal responsibility for effecting change within our spheres of influence that would bring about the much needed transformation within our social reality. It is to beam the searchlight on people who are pioneering change programmes and enlist to support them from time to time. It is about hearing from those who are doing already and see how we can bring their work to an epic scale.
At 4.45 p.m., the program kicked off. Guests milled around chatting and enjoying the cool music and ambience.
Bayo Omoboriowo set the ball rolling by taking the audience through his photo journey of high point moments in our country, he drew from the Occupy Nigeria pictures to pictures on every day people on street doing extraordinary stuff. The first conversation was hosted by Folashayo Oke of the Inner Circle, the topic was on the “Education and the Future of the Nigerian Child”; the list of panelists included Ufouma Emerhor of Fair Life Africa, Tosin Jegede of 1 Book, 1 Child and Otto Orondaam, the ex-corper who runs the Slum 2 School Initiative. They shared experiences and strategies of engaging rural children in communities to find value in education. Most importantly, there was a call on all and sundry present to sign up for such activities ‘in whatever little way they can, where they are and with whatever resources that have’.
The keynote address was given by Kemela Okara. He shared his experience in running for the governorship seat in Bayelsa and the place of Change in moving the nation from Third World to First World.
Next on the podium was Ken Etete, the CEO of Century Group-sponsors of the event. He commended the youth for coming out in hordes for a Change event such as this. He talked about their role as Change Agents. He also talked about the role of private companies in moving this, a point that was most emphasized by his company’s sponsorship of this and related events. He also explained the Global Manning Program been carried out by his company in conjunction with the Federal Government to rehabilitate ex-militants. His speech was expository to say the least.
Joyce Onyemuwa of cool fm handle the dialogue with the young writer Tesiri Moweta on her recently published book titled “Change”. Tesiri spoke about her passion of using writing to bring about change and pointing people to areas of needs.
Bukky Smith from Freedom Foundation spoke about the specialized work on Freedom Foundation for helping ex-commercial sex workers and rehabilitated drug addicts to integrate into society by putting them through an empowerment programme. She also emphasized the need for people to support victims of the bomb blasts in the Northern parts of Nigeria.
The second Conversation which was hosted by Omoye Uzamere of Rhythm 93.7 had Chude Jideonwo of the Future Awards Project, Nkem Uwaje of Bake for Change and Tolu Sangosanya on the panel. It was a fiery conversation filled with a lot of back-and-forth. The conversants-all in the field of advocacy but pursuing it with different means, brought to the fore an epiphany-Advocacy and Change does not have a silver bullet, it can be carried out by whatever means you deem best. Nkem talked about how she and fellow bakers use baking as a means to effect Change and affect society the way they want. Tolu talked about giving all to the cause. Chude talked about the political side of the coin.
There was poetry by Dotun and the guests milled around networking end enjoying the refreshment and finger food provided courtesy of the program’s organisers.
The Conversations showed how advocacy is a calling bigger than the individual who starts it. It showed how it is not about the poster boys and girls of the various NGO’s, but about achieving Change. It showed that there is no conventional or best approach to advocacy but advocacy is simply how you ferment change with what your ‘hand’ (voice, brain, limbs) can do.
The organizers of this program deserve accolades for putting together such an event and bringing all the personalities present under one roof. Without such a dense commingling, the insights reached would never have been reached.
At the end, we all forgot it was a birth. We are all eager to see and know what other forms this great event and Project would evolve into, but one thing is certain we need to get involved.
Written By Tafa Osisiye
View pictures from the event below