Fun Facts About Theresa Ebi (1)

Fun Facts: In Conversation with Theresa Ebi

What’s a Fun Fact about you? 

I’m cynophobic!  I am overwhelmingly afraid of canines, puppies inclusive! 

I don’t know when or how it started but the episode that got stuck to my memory is the hot chase I was once given and what followed that hunt. It happened during my teen days; I was around thirteen or fourteen years of age, and that fateful day, my mother had sent my older sibling and I on an errand. It was all excitement until, boom, I got chased ferociously by dogs – two. That day, I was hysterical, I cried, threw my footwear away and ran as fast as I could, I am sure even faster than Usain Bolt but then one of the dogs caught up with me and tore out a chunk of the left flap of my favorite navy blue trousers,  a gift from one of my aunts. I never forgave that dog nor did I forget that episode mostly because it was impossible to shirk as my siblings made it an obligation to taunt me with that incident till this day… they would flap their hands, run, mimic my screams and make a caricature of my race of survival! But the twist is that late last year when I decided that I was going to write a storybook for children, I picked my first plot on a tale that centers on a human-canine relationship, one I am hoping would be a cocktail of my very traumatizing/ embarrassing experience and my later discovery of what wonderful companion and pet a canine is to man. 

What inspired the writing of GASP?

A CALL! 

A call about the past from my mother then in 2014 during my Nigerian Law School training.  

So, that auspicious day, my mother had called to check on me and a conversation ensued. The chatter drifted to the present position of an episode in one of the numerous crises that trailed the city of Warri and Effurun. In that distinct one, that my mother had brought up, then I was up to the age of understanding and retaining. That day, in 2000 or so, news flew to our ears that the warring parties were in two streets before ours, killing people, burning and destroying properties. We could hear the loud sounds of gunshots, see and perceive the flames and ashes from burning houses. With that information, all of us ran out of the house racing towards the swamps a few meters from our building, when this lady, a heavily pregnant neighbor of ours went into preterm labor. We later heard that she survived and gave birth to a twin – two girls. So, that day, in that call, my mother informed me that she saw the twins and they were all grown and very beautiful. I remember asking her if there was any impact physically or mentally from the hit and trauma the mother underwent and her response was; “no, they were just perfect”.  But that day, after that particular tale, we extended the conversation to other persons, other casualties not just of war but of life generally who weren’t as lucky, whose lives were altered by perpetrators of crimes of violence. It wasn’t an easy conversation; and so when the call ended I remembered coiling into my bunk, picking up a notepad and the first thing I did was to pen down the word “GASP” as the title and jottings on the reason for the piece…

That story aside, the inspiration behind the writing of GASP stems from my personal first-hand experiences, societal observations, and a compelling desire to address the pressing issue of the negative impact of violence on its casualties with the  aim of shedding light on its multifaceted nature and consequences; also my quest for social justice, with the aim to raise awareness, provoke thought, foster empathy  and stimulate constructive dialogue about violence and its impact on individuals and communities prompted the stories and themes in that work. 

What was your first thought when GASP was finally published?

When GASP got published what I felt was a cascade of emotions.

My thoughts were all over the place and it wasn’t just one or two it was a torrent! I finally held in my hands, my book, a book that bears my name as the author…And no, I cannot pin a particular thought as the first, there was  excitement, lots of it, disbelief,  gratitude, anxiety and fear. I was anxious about the thoughts of the readers and critics. For the first time in my life or career progression, I felt vulnerable, naked, exposed and annoyingly pessimistic. But, the overwhelming feeling was one of accomplishment and validation—a validation of the countless hours I’d spent crafting characters, refining plots, and pouring my heart and soul into every word. That moment marked a new beginning in my writing journey, and I embraced it, wholesome!

What kind of reader are you?

I think I have a switching personality in this regard. The sort of reader I am depends on what is before me. 

For work-related or law-related books, I am a library rat. I process them better when I am seated on a chair with a desk in a library hall reading paper books or even surfing the net. It gives me that sense of seriousness and distinct it from my pleasure reading. But, for pleasure reading especially for novels, particularly on genres that fascinate me I mostly reckon with a night owl as sleep must be vanquished until I devour that piece that holds my interest even if the light is provided by a dim ray from the moon. 

What’s your Favourite book?

Well, when it comes to books for pleasure, my favorito is ephemeral.

Whilst my favorite book is not static, the genre is. I have this deep affection for crime/legal thrillers with sprinkles of romance. So, if the piece is about crime or mystery mixed with romance and some showers of legalism, you have me on a leash; and this has placed Grisham’s works on the top of my list.

What are your thoughts about social media?

Well, as a Nigerian from the creeks of the Niger Delta I’ll liken my thoughts about social media to our not-so-good experiences with oil- its discovery, exploration and subsequent exportation.

Oil in itself is a vital energy source, which has been helping in powering transportation. It fuels vehicles, generates electricity, and is a key component in the production of various products, from plastics to pharmaceuticals, in fact the economy of Nigeria like most countries in Africa have been largely dependent on oil production. Sadly, this same cardinal item is itself a curse to these regions with its exploration impacting negatively on its environment, contributing adversely to climate change, destroying habitats, the ecosystem, and human health, not forgetting to mention the geopolitical conflicts, corruption, political instability, and social unrest associated with its extraction and distribution. My sentiments with social media are exact and the same. Social media is a viable tool for growth, having revolutionized communication, improved living standards, created new opportunities, enhanced education and various aspects of daily life, and fostered global collaboration in all areas of life. At the same time, social media is a catalyst for breeding issues such as privacy concerns, cyberbullying and crimes, distractions, addiction, job displacement, and threatening insecurity. So, while I applaud its invention, I am also wary of the catastrophic tendencies that arose with its wrong usage by miscreants. However, despite these shortcomings it is a valuable tool that we really cannot dispense with, my thoughts and advice on the use of social media has been that we should embrace the positive and address the negatives at the earliest occurrence – more like refusing to throw the baby away with the dirty bathe water.

How long did it take you to write GASP?

Well, computing the period it took me to write GASP would be a herculean task because its scribbling wasn’t straight.

Flowing from my earlier tale on the spark for the story, when I decided to pen GASP I’d started on a full gear but, weeks into the writing, I encountered a crisis of my own propelling me to take a break from it writing and tend to mine. I did. I picked it up again in late 2018, this time I did a substantial portion of it, but the personal battle that’d hindered its writing in 2014 was still very much present, so I dropped it again to pick up in late 2019; but, this time I wrote it ferociously and undeterred. So, yes, I conceived the title and themes in late 2014 but did not really get to write the story substantially until late 2019 to 2020. 

If you were to have a superpower to change one global issue, what would it be and why?

Climate 

Many international organizations, scientific reports, and declarations including the United Nations, through its Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and global summits like the United Nations Climate Change Conferences (COP) have highlighted climate change as the most pressing challenge facing humanity and the world. I agree with them; and if I were to be endowed with superpowers; that would be the first issue I would tackle. Climate change poses a significant threat to the planet’s ecosystems, biodiversity, and human civilization. Its impacts, from extreme weather events to rising sea levels and loss of biodiversity affect people worldwide, particularly vulnerable communities.  Africa and Nigeria is currently experiencing climatic challenges like water scarcity, food insecurity, health issues, ecosystem degradation, economic woes, incessant rise in sea levels, increased temperature, erratic rainfall patterns, reduced agricultural productivity and the likes. In just 2022, the flood catastrophe that had hit Nigeria and the Niger Delta region caused severe damage to homes – claiming lives, destroying properties and agricultural lands and productivity, disrupting livelihoods and exacerbating poverty in affected communities. Sadly, this reduced agricultural productivity has now caused a lot of malicious farmers to inject into the soil and crops harmful and hazardous substances to influence growth and improve productivity. By mitigating climate change, we can safeguard the planet’s health and ensure a sustainable future for all living things. It is a pressing issue that requires urgent action and collective effort from individuals, communities, governments, and organizations all over the globe. It is important to state here, that climate change doesn’t affect just one region or person, it’s gripping the whole world and every sector of its economy. And yes, again, if I were to be gifted superpowers even if it is just for an hour, the first global issue I would resolve would be climate change. 

You’re coming to Jos soon, what is one thing you would like to experience in our beautiful city?

Well, I have a list, but exploring the unique rock formations, serene waterfalls like the Assop Falls, and panoramic spots like the Riyom Rock would be a priority.

Also, as a writer and researcher with a curious mind, engaging with the rich cultural tapestry of the region would offer me more insight into Nigeria’s cultural diversity and traditions and assist my subsequent creative release.

What’s the most challenging thing about writing GASP? 

Reader’s likeability/ acceptability. 

The most challenging trepidation I dealt with as I penned words, crafted plots, and built characters in GASP was solely hinged on whether or not the story would resonate with readers. All through the writing, I grappled with the fear of inadequacy, questioning my craft; whether the characters were compelling enough, if the plotlines were engaging, the settings, the dialogues, the choice of words, and most importantly if I have been able to convey the message in the powerful themes that I’d decided on exploring. There was also that pressure to meet expectations, both internal and external, and the fear of vulnerability, of laying bare my imagination and emotions for public scrutiny. 

What’s your greatest fear?

My greatest fear is failure – I fear failure.

I fear loss. I fear uncertainty. As a novelist, my greatest fear is failing to connect with my readers on a profound level. Most times when I write, I worry that my characters would fall flat, that my plotlines might lose momentum, or that my themes might not resonate as deeply as I’d intended. The thought of pouring my heart and soul into a story only for it to be met with indifference or misunderstanding is quite daunting. Additionally, I also fear creative stagnation and not actualizing my goals, all of them! 

What turns you off?

My greatest turn-off would be lack of empathy or consideration for others.

I believe the world would be a better place if these two are dominant in every living being, in our thinking and actions.  I also abhor traits like dishonesty, arrogance, disrespectfulness, and insensitivity in the same capacity and manner in which I detest mediocrity, closed-mindedness, intolerance, and unwillingness to listen or engage in constructive dialogue and collaboration. 

What do you do to unwind and destress?

To de-stress, I engage in activities like reading for pleasure, and driving around the suburbs of Yenagoa, mostly the outskirts.

Visiting the creeks of the Niger Delta and just watching the waters flow, taking walks in nature, meditation, listening to soothing music, dancing to loud music in my sitting room -although my dance steps look more like hopping than dancing, spending quality time with loved ones and very recently, late 2023  precisely, I added playing football to the list and the feeling has been surreal! 

If you could tell your younger self anything, what would it be?

If I could tell my younger self anything, it would be a prod on a few salient facts of life.

First would be to START and START EARLY, to pursue that passion and dream ferociously, and not be afraid to take risks or explore new opportunities that align with her values and aspirations. Secondly, is to celebrate and embrace her individuality, to avoid the pressure of conformity – to conform to others’ expectations; and lastly and most importantly, to embrace failure and see it or them as a springboard for the needed leap. Mistakes are an opportunity to learn, unlearn, relearn, and grow.  Don’t ever let the fear of failure hold you back from taking risks or exploring new ideas.

Opportunities for Creatives

Opportunities for Creatives

Unlock your creative potential and seize these incredible opportunities! From prestigious literary prizes to transformative artist residencies, there’s something for everyone. Don’t miss out—explore these opportunities today and elevate your craft!

Annual Report_COAL 2023

2023 Annual Report

In 2023, COAL collaborated with dynamic young leaders to make strides toward amplifying youth voice and agency.

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COAL Literary School Clubs

The Custodians of African Literature (COAL) embarked on a pre-program survey exercise in January 2020, the first step to her COAL school club project. The COAL Literary school club project is aimed at improving literacy and reading culture among children and young adults in our quest to bridge the education inequity gap through books and positive youth and adult partnership. Our goal is to encourage a reading culture among secondary school students; introduce them to books outside their curriculum, especially books that will encourage their passion for literary arts such as poetry, fiction and speech writing, public speaking and performance arts. The COAL school project also seeks to build leadership skills in children and teenagers by supporting them in organizing their own literary events that addresses issues young people face in their communities.

On Monday, 20th and Wednesday 22nd January 2020, COAL visited G.S.S. Rot Norong and G.S.S Giring in Jos, Plateau State Nigeria with the pre-program surveys to engage with interested students. This move was necessary to help inform how our programme will be structured to fit the needs of the students, and get books inline with their area of interest.

COAL had the opportunity of introducing herself to the students of the schools at the assembly ground with the support of the school principals and resident English and Literature teachers. COAL’s Executive Director, Andrew Patience, explained the reason for the team’s visit alongside a COAL volunteer, Adekunbi Lardo, they introduced performance poetry to the students with individual performances. This gave the students an idea of what literary activities in the club would look like. After the session with the general students at the assembly ground, the COAL team visited students in their various classes. The classes visited were Jss1, Jss2, Jss3, SS1 and SS2. At the classroom level, there was further engagement inclusive of some interactives which helped in creating a comfortable atmosphere for interaction, after which the survey forms were explained to the students and they filled and returned them to the team. The experience was enlightening, exciting and fun. It served as an eye opener to the team as regards the struggles of students trying to learn in very unconducive conditions. Our visit to the two school highlights various areas of focus that must be addressed especially with students in public schools in Nigeria and the need for advocacy on educational equity and human rights assessment of students in public schools.

Hence, COAL is calling on all lovers of change, literature, community service and the community at large to join us in supporting these youth. We solicit your support in form of book donations, monetary support to aid in getting more books for the projects and your time in volunteering. We believe that this is the first of many schools to be visited and we know it will go a long way in changing the community by engaging these children young.

You can make your donations here http://www.coalng.org/donate/

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COAL Highlights Dedication To Diversity With New Board Members

The Custodians of African Literature COAL is pleased to announce the appointment of six new board members as an addition to our goal of diversifying our leadership team. COAL is rounding out our organization’s leadership and advisory team with three new female and three male professionals. We recently developed a new strategic plan, which includes a commitment to expansion that ensures a diversified leadership that reflects both the population served and the goal of building new frontier partnerships with people and organizations from around the world.

MEET OUR NEW BOARD MEMBERS

Donna Obaseki-Ogunnaike is an Energy Law expert, poet, writer and a Partner of ACAS-Law (1st tier Nigerian law firm) possessing over 17 years of experience in Energy and Corporate Commercial Law practices. She consults extensively on a wide range of investment issues for international exploration, oil service, and multinational trading companies. She advises on strategy, planning and development solutions to project specific ventures within the oil and gas industry.

Her contributions to the youth and society has earned her the honour of the Children’s Playground at the Yitzhak Rabin International School, Port Harcourt Rivers State being named the “DONNA OBASEKI-OGUNNAIKE CHILDREN PLAYGROUND”. She is also currently the youngest recipient of the Yitzhak Rabin International Award for Excellence in Leadership (2014).

Apart from law practice, Donna is a well recognized poet and theatre practitioner.


Nigerian writer and journalist, Abubakar Adam Ibrahim is most recently the winner of the 2018 Michael Elliott Award for Excellence in African Storytelling for his creative non-fiction piece, All That Was Familiar, (Granta, 2017), reporting on the hardships faced by women in Northeast Nigeria displaced by the violence of Boko Haram. 

Abubakar is the author of the award-winning novel Season of Crimson Blossoms (published by Cassava Republic Press, London in 2016 and Parresia Publishers, Lagos, 2015), which won the 2016 Nigeria Prize for Literature. The novel has been translated into French, German and Tamil among others. He has been invited to speak at every major literature and journalism festival around the world. He lives in Abuja, Nigeria, where he is the Features Editor for the Daily Trust newspaper.


Hannatu Onogu is a passionate humanitarian and an environmentalist working in various communities in Nigeria. She is currently the Business Developer/Coach with Solar Sister Nigeria, serving as the Northern Manager where she mentors and network with women in clean and renewable energy. She has been involved in diverse Developmental initiatives and Social Projects; she garners experience and professional skills in Strategic planning, Grant resourcing, Management, and administration.


Dollin graduated from the Universities of East London and Bedfordshire with post-graduate degrees in Forced Migration and Refugee Studies (MA), International Human Rights Law (LLM) and Media Representation (MA by Research)

He is widely travelled and lives in Luton in the United Kingdom, where he currently works as an Adviser/Work-Coach for the Department of Works and Pension. Dollin is also the founder of Caprecon Foundation and a fellow of the following bodies: the Royal Society of Arts, Tom Lantos Institute in Budapest, Institute of Training and Occupational Learning and was a member of the Management Committee, Network for Peace, England and currently a member of the Advisory Board of the West African Academy of Public Health.


Alyssa Freda has 11 years of experience in managing youth after-school programs and athletics in the United States. She has experience in growing programs in both size and scope. Alyssa has a passion for travelling and International volunteering, she recently received a Fellowship Grant from her organization to teach children in Tanzania.


Dr. Charles Bassey has over two decades of leadership and mentoring experience and currently works full time with the Central Bank of Nigeria as Head, Security Research and Development. He studied MSc in Psychology at the University of Roehampton, further specializing in Organizational Psychology (MSc) at the University of London after completing the undergraduate level certificate course in Psychology at the University of Derby.

COAL is glad to have these professional additions to our organization as we hope for expansion and serve youth in our community. You can read more about our team here.

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Recap Of Alifest: The Experience

The Abuja Literary Society (ALitFest) held its maiden edition in 2018. Owing to the success of ALitFest 18, the team decided to make it an annual event hence the Abuja Literary Festival (ALitFest) 2019 which took place on the 11th -13th of July, 2019 at the Exhibition Pavilion, Abuja Nigeria. 
This year’s theme was ‘Arts and Social Consciousness’ aimed at examining how Art can change the world and be a socially conscious tool across the different ideological leanings that exist globally and more specifically in Africa and Nigeria in particular. The opening ceremony of ALitFest 19 was laced with music and poetry performances as expected of a literary festival. After the opening ceremony which had in attendance high-level guests and participants, the festival was set in motion with two panel discussions first on Sexuality, Birth rates and the 21st Century woman. This panel discussion was not without a lot of stir owing to the topic, the panellists and the environment of discussion, unearthing issues such as increase in teenage pregnancy and its resultant birth rate increase, poor parents-children type of sex education, characteristics of the 21st century woman, what sexuality is, and what it is not, etc. Guests on the panel were (describe them with an adjective or phrase on what they do. Check the next group done for reference) Rafeeat Aliyu, Hauwa Booth, Ayodele Olofintuade and Safiya Ismaila Yero with Dr. Inya Ode as the moderator. 

The second panel on “Telling Nigerian Stories on the big screen” was moderated by COAL’s Director of Communications Jennifer Dafwat. She led panellists into in-depth discussions on what characterizes a Nigerian story and who should tell it; issues of mediocre scriptwriting; union and synergy of writers and filmmakers as it affects the end user and issues of commercialization and earnings from storytelling and film productions. On the panel was Aishat Abiri, writer of the long-running TV show Tinsel, producers of the groundbreaking movies Up North and 4th Republic Edited by Effiong and Bem Pever respectively.


Immediately after the second panel discussion was the movie screening of 4th Republic. A movie directed by Ishaya Bako portraying a heated political situation akin to what is obtainable in present day Nigeria. The movie followed the story of its main character, Mabel King, a dogged, disciplined, woman who ran for the office of the Governor of Confluence state and lost to violence and rigging. The story uncovers the truth behind the mysterious death of her campaign manager and how she sought redress on elections result via an election tribunal. Some themes in the movie include, election violence, the frailty of the human will and conscience in the face of popular opposition, family values, godfatherism, bullying, the need to hold public officials accountable, the prevalence of getting rich quick schemes among youths, etc. At the end of the movie, the executive director, Ummi Yakubu pointed out that the purpose of the movie was to serve as a mirror for Nigerians.  At the close of the first day of ALitFest, the festival held hopes of a fun and memorable experience. 


The second day of the festival was full of panel discussions amid art exhibitions that lasted the duration of the festival. Other marks at the festival were the different stands manned by booksellers, human rights and other social impact organisations who were creating awareness, different food and drink vendors and others. The highlight of ALitFest Day 2 was the 3 rounds Abuja Literary Poetry Grand Slam. The judges were COAL’s Co-founder/Director of programs, Daisy Odey; poet, author and architect Basiru Amuneni, author Richard Ali and Hajjio Isah. The slam which started with about 35 contestants competing for the grand prize, had 16 contestants at the end of the first round 1 which allowed 1 minute for each poet. The second round allowed 2 minutes for each poet and ended with six poets making it to the last round. The last round allowed 3 minutes for each presentation and it ended with the three finalists. Lukman Hussain was the winner with N200,000 cash prize. COAL Ambassador and Program Volunteer, Adekunbi Lardo came in second place winning the sum of N100,000 cash prize and an additional N100,000 gift cash from Mr. Toni Kan, the mayor Lagos who termed her “his favourite poet” and the third-place got N50,000 and an additional N50,000 cash gift from Mr. Toni Kan. 


The panel session which preceded the Slam was about Bringing Poetry to Todays Generation: Challenges, Potential and Opportunities moderated by Hajjo Isa with guests as COAL’s Co-founder Daisy  Odey; poet, author and architect Basiru Amuneni and Richard Ali. 

Day 2 featured panel discussions on topics such as Satire, Advocacy and Civic Engagement; Political Reportage, Press Freedom and Responsibility; Conflicts, Resentments and Historical Narrative; Writing about Mental Health and Publishing, and the challenges of book accessibility.Day three brought mixed feelings with it the excitement of the day ahead but also the sadness of the festival coming to an end. The day began with a Yoga and dance aerobics session after which was full swing panel discussions amid other festival activities. The festival came to a close with an epic performance of ‘Wedlock of the gods’ by Zulu Sofola. It was acted out by a wonderful cast who brought to life every scene of the play. It is said that it takes a community to raise a proper child and same goes for putting a festival together. At the end of the third day’s proceedings, appreciation was given to volunteers, sponsors and everyone who contributed to the success of the festival. After the vote of thanks was given, the Abuja Literary Festival (ALitFest) 19 came to a close with a party.

Overall, the festival can be said to be educative and entertaining. The meet and greets, the book stands, the food stands, the plethora of beautiful art pieces, paintings, African crafts and accessories that were available for sale reminded one of a sort of modern day museum, meets party, meets literature, meets intellect, meets Nigeria. in the form of earrings, chokers, bags and so on. ALitFest 2019 was another step towards the success of literary festivals and advancement of literacy culture in Abuja and Nigeria as a whole that should definitely be improved upon and sustained.

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Hunger On The Scale Of Social Justice

The concept of community and collective action towards social change powered by young people in Africa is utopian because the lack of basic human resources is an impediment to people’s participation and objective reasoning in the fight for social justice. There is an instinctive awareness of survival engraved in the social construct of the African society and this drive for survival has made young people think less of the community or the active role they ought to play in demanding and working to get the change they deserve.

There are other dynamics affecting collectivism towards social change in Africa, dynamics such as religion and ethnicity. However mundane these are, the sad realities do not negate the basic universal needs of humans such as shelter, food, water, healthcare, etc. Ironically, these are the basic needs young people struggle to access in different communities. It is only logical that people thinking about where to get their next meal are likely not going to be bothered about the community, civic engagement or the collective impact needed to drive real change.

Africa which has the youngest population in the world, with about 200 million people aged between 15 and 24, has a current trend indicating that this figure will double by 2045, according to the 2012 African Economic Outlook report prepared by experts from the African Development Bank (AfDB), the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the industrialized countries’ Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), among others. According to the AfDB, while six of the 10 fastest-growing economies in the world are in sub-Saharan Africa, the unemployment rate for the region is 6%. In all these, young women feel the brunt of unemployment even more severely. The AfDB found that in most countries in sub-Saharan Africa and all of those in North Africa, it is easier for men to get jobs than it is for women, even if they have equivalent skills and experience. 

It is also progressive to see other parts of the world, changing and recognizing the importance of youth voice and how this is a prerequisite element for any meaningful growth in society. Some African leaders, on the other hand, are trying their best to stifle youth voice by having them worry about basic resources they deserve and dividing their people along ethnic, religious and political lines. These dynamics go to prove why youths are not socially conscious in being actively engaged in programmes that should uphold the community as opposed to individuals.

The real poverty in Africa isn’t that people live on less than 1.25 U.S dollars per day, the real poverty is not recognizing the power in youth voice for the greater good of their communities through collective action towards social change.  If poverty, unemployment, bigotry, corruption and the desire for equity doesn’t spur African youths to utilize their power in holding their leaders accountable, then it is not likely that anything else will.

The lack of access to services that meet the basic human needs of food, safe drinking water, sanitation facilities, healthcare, shelter, education, and information is affecting the active participation of youths civically and in fostering the collective good of communities in Africa. There is a need for rapid employment opportunities within the social sector in the form of youth programmes tailored towards community impact, that not only amplify youth voice but also empower youths technically, financially and socially. 

however, Nigeria is a peculiar case in the talk about Africa’s development because as the most populous country in Africa with a population of about 200 million people, having about 70% of her population below the age of 35, it is expected that Nigeria should take the front row in ensuring that youth voice is recognized and respected across board. However, it is sad that Nigeria just recently modified her National Youth Policy, with the age bracket for the classification of youth formally from 18 – 35 years to the latest policy indicating that youth is an individual from 15 – 29 years. However timely this is, it is late and the process is probably not as inclusive of at least 50% of the youth population in Nigeria.

There is, therefore, a need for community and youth-centric programmes that empowers young people technically, financially, educationally, civically and socially, thereby tackling the rising issues of unemployment, voter apathy, vote-buying, ethnoreligious extremism, drug abuse and other social vices. Having such programmes and youth-centric centres situated in communities will not only empower young people but will amplify their voice by giving them a seat at the table where decisions are made, and through community dialogues, their representatives and key stakeholders are held accountable locally and nationally.

The quest for social justice needs a collective action where youths are both the beneficiaries and active participants in its struggle. There are no quick fixes to getting young people engaged in African communities if Africa doesn’t realise that meeting the basic human needs of its people is the prerequisite element for any meaningful youth engagement across communities. Youths play a critical role in the fight for equity and inclusion, and when docile or uninterested in their communities, they become victims and accomplices to the injustice they have been subjected to by their leaders.