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Funmi Iyanda
Lagos, Nigeria
Funmi Iyanda is a multi award-winning producer and broadcast journalist. She is the CEO of Ignite Media and Executive Director of Creation Television
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Monday, November 24, 2008

5 unbelievable things people don’t know but should know about FI

1. that she’s shy
2. that she’s a glutton
3. that she’s a shameless (because she’s not really good at it) untiring dancer
4. that she’s a poor student, been trying to learn to swim, play tennis and the piano on and off for years.
5. that she’s serious minded but do not take herself too seriously.
Thursday, November 06, 2008

The case of the unadmirable

Please stop and watch this.

It happens all the time but this time someone has it on tape (okay they had the atiku one on tape too but that was then) and we are angry and organizing.

This latest madness was brought to my attention a few days ago and in that time l have spoken with, contacted and got the support and commitment of over 30 top editors, media personalities, reasonable politicians, civil organizations and activists to step up and stand against this.

I hear they are trying to resolve this "internally", but l say no this is not about an individual but about what we will or will not accept as a nation.

Please raise a voice and join a call for swift and severe punishment to this unadmirable admiral and to send out a warning to his ilk.
Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Beyond the glare: lessons from Obama

This extraordinary morning, I sit in my hotel room in Johannesburg just crying silently. I am stranded in this city because the Nigerian airline cancelled its flight. I am not angry about the airline, I understand why this things happens in my nation. I had hoped to watch the American elections with friends at home but here I was all alone watching and absorbing in a very powerful way the nuances of this moment in history.

I had refused to be part of the sort of Obamamania that saw the fiasco of the Madam stock exchange led “Africa for Obama” fund raiser which culminated in her embarrassing boast about carrying an American green card. I was a Hilary supporter, won over by unfolding history but more importantly I am a supporter of true democracy and courage both of which Obama embodies and which the American people saw, supported and elected. It is truly a special country.

Obama is a special man and the fact that everything has conspired to make this day happen is a sure sign that this is a moment that is ripe in history, it also gives me hope that he will indeed go on to be an extra ordinary leader such as the world requires now. He has shown the intellect, decency, courage and humility that can help make that happen.

So why am so sad? My fear has always been that in typical fashion, we will celebrate Obama mindlessly but fail to understand and do those little things that bring about such great moments in history. I fear that in the way we admire, enthuse about and consume the world’s most luxurious and innovative products but fail to make one of our own at any level of sophistication, we will enthuse and buy into Obamamania but we will not “do” Obama. We watch the brightness from such a beautiful spectre and like a fly become transfixed and immobile in the light, at best only flapping our enfeebled wings in admiration. Forever the fan, never the player.
Why is it that the same people who will raise questionable money for Obama will not support anyone or ideal or idea outside our own obviously rotten establishment? As Kenya celebrates the victory of the “son of the soil” and expands her airport to accommodate air force one, what did Kenya do to produce an Obama other than donate Kenyan sperms? Would an Obama have emerged in Kenya, Nigeria or South Africa?

I can ask those questions and paint a thousand similar scenarios but then I will be as guilty as the next person won’t I? The fact is both cynicism and conspiracy are emotional cop out and cowardly. The tendency is to be emotional about the past but analytical about the future when real bravery is being analytical about the past but emotional about the future. If we paint it bad enough we can excuse our inability to resolve it.
Therefore I ask those questions not to disparage Nigeria or Africa but to challenge her. Obama’s victory is not just his but a victory of the American way, the American people, from the early white abolitionists to the marchers, the protesters, the thinkers, the questioners, the sitters, the country, white, black, Hispanic, Asian and all other exotic mixes.
Obama will face huge challenges going forth and I am hopeful that he and the people of America will surmount them but what about us?

So this morning as I sit in my room, I take my own lesson from the Obama journey, I refuse to fashionably stifle my irrational love and belief in Nigeria or equally fashionably paper over her difficulties. Fanatism and atheism in any ideal be it religious, political or otherwise is easy, the continuous quest and grapple for situations of the highest honour to the most humans is the tough cookie and what life really must be about.

Therefore the question for me is how can we make a similar history ours? Like the Americans we are sick and tired of the establishment, the old guard and the old ways. We too and more so have serious economic challenges (please ignore those paid analysts) and even more than America and many countries of the world, we have real issues of education, development, health and sundry.
How do we get to a similar moment?

I think we must go back to Rosa. One commentator beautifully put it thus; Rosa Park sat so Martin Luther can march, Martin marched so Obama can run and Obama ran so our children can fly.

So even as I make a clarion call to us all, I am aware that we cannot fully control the path of history but we must be aware that the laws of the universe are set and one of those laws is that all great things begin with a little thing which when occurring has no true inkling of the way in which its littleness will be transformed into greatness far beyond its wildest imagination.

So even as Nigerians rightfully join the rest of the world (especially the black world) in popping the champagne, I think more importantly is a need for both collective and individual sober reflection on the real beauty of this story, the audacity to hope that a new way can prevail and the willingness to do all that is necessary to achieve this in the most inclusive, intelligent and honourable way.

That sober individual reminder and rededication is the ritual l am performing this morning, the purging of the self of greed and fear which is what drives what we know and the embracing of true often humbling courage to figuratively either sit, march or run in the smallest things and smallest ways firmly believing that one day it will gather its own momentum as all things must. It is not for the now, not for me, not for us but for our children and their children, anything less is sub human. Are we not tired of being less?

For me, I am reminding myself of what is most important and what my core values are, last week, as part of my new show’s pilot, I spoke to people from VI to Obalende and the difference in experience cannot be more painfully graphic. As I stood at the filthy bus stop amongst the multitude in the sun talking, I was aware of my destiny but fearful of the responsibility. This morning I lost my fear and silently steel myself for the kind of role I must play going forth, a role, which the entirety of my life thus far has prepared me for. To do it the way I must, may mean losing support from established financial and political order but it’s a risk I am willing to take, a risk I must take.

For that reminder, I thank Mr. Obama.
Tuesday, November 04, 2008

D-day is here

Today is the day for the US presidential elections 2008 featuring two giants-Barack Obama and John McCain. Some Nigerians like any other US citizens are eager to see “their” candidate in the White House. This is a waiting game.