Sunday, July 19, 2015

#ShapersCONNECT review

Adejoh Idoko Momoh
For anyone who knows me, they know I’d never pass up on an opportunity to hear El-Nathan speak. He isn’t just a phenomenal writer, he is also true; his honesty is brutal in an ‘I-don’t-care-if-it-hurts’ kind of way.
When I got the #ShapersCONNECT invite and it pointed out that one of my favorite people, Jake Okechukwu Effoduh will compere and El-Nathan John will speak on social media usage and its consequences, attendance was a no brainer for me.
You see, there are certain social circles in Abuja and the Abuja Global Shapers is one comprised of leaders under the age of 30 who are exceptional in their potential, achievement and drive to make a contribution to their communities. At least that’s what it says on the website.
Being there at the event and seeing all the people, I could tell this was no ordinary crop. It
was evident in the way they spoke; the ease with which words bounced off their lips, the delicacy with which they held their glasses, how they gently rubbed on your forearm as they complimented you, I was glad to be there.
The theme itself was fitting- ‘the role of youths in an Evolving Nigeria’ and 3 entrepreneurs shared their perspectives. I do not remember names and all, but I remember the feeling that came with the first entrepreneur. She had this ‘our-society-is-plagued-with-ills-look-and-i-am-here-to-correct-it’.  
I believed this, at least until she started speaking. She began a sermon on financial lessons she learnt from reading the Financial Times and continued with the fact that she relocated from the United States in 2010 and started her Nigerian business in 2011.
She spoke on poverty, talked about discipline and savings and the fact that she was 21 years old when she bought her first house in Maryland. She now owns two homes in the United States.

‘I hardly think she is qualified to talk on poverty’ I said to the stranger who sat next to me. He grinned. The sort that suggested he didn’t want to be spoken to.

Talks of poverty are important in the sense that they create awareness around the issue and the urgent need to end it, but her views were very elitist, unrealistic even. How do you weigh poverty by the capacity to buy houses? In America no less? How many middle class Nigerians even own homes in Nigeria? How many Nigerians have even heard of the Financial Times? Or seen a copy? Or read its words?
Home ownership is important, but it hardly is one of the issues poor people in Nigeria concern themselves with. Poor people usually have issues that surround survival: feeding, access to water, shelter even if make shift or temporary, they hardly are concerned about saving up to buy a home, it’s the least of their priorities.
The second entrepreneur who is the founder of Designers Market Place spoke on innovation in business and youth participation. I honestly have no recollection of her talk. DMP is an event that holds on the last Saturday of every month in Abuja. Designers showcase fancy clothes and prospective buyers come to occasionally make purchase. The DMP is a terrific idea in the sense that it provides common ground for designers and buyers to interact and achieve patronage. For most, it is simply a social hangout, one where you wear your finest clothing, meet up with friends and pose for selfies with mostly red disposable cups.
The close was the most interesting for me; El-Nathan gave a fantastic talk on social media and responsible journalism. He spoke of the lack of social consequences for misuse of media power and the responsibility for free speech. He closed with what to me was sheer genius and I quote, ‘Everyone can choose to assert his right to free speech, but ask yourself, what end does your assertion serve?’ Pure brilliance.
While El-Nathan spoke, I saw Ohimai Godwin Amaize more known as @MrFixNigeria on twitter adjust in his seat, seeing as he has been irresponsible with social media usage, I was almost sure hearing El-Nathan speak mostly rebuked him. I thought to myself, 
'there’s someone finally facing the consequences for misuse of social influence'.

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Friday, June 12, 2015


By Adejoh Idoko Momoh.

‘The hardest part… the most difficult part of anything really is the wait’ It makes you see things, think things you have no business thinking. For me it was a lump in the back, slightly beneath my right shoulder blade that disappeared and appeared at will.

As I sat at the radiologist’s awaiting confirmation of ailment my mind wandered: cancer; typically associated with lumps. It made the most sense.

If it’s true what they say and cancers have life, wouldn’t the cancer cells in me be constantly struggling to stay alive? Isn’t my body the most conducive environment within which they can grow? Will taking the lump out not amount to killing it? Killing a living, growing thing?

And then the thought hit me, as much as I will try to fight this if it was diagnosed as cancer, wouldn’t it also fight back? Wouldn’t it want to continually survive in an environment that is conducive for its survival?

I quickly think to activism: we fight for fetuses and animals and plants, all living things. Perhaps we should fight for diseases like cancer or bacterial infections which live as well. Shouldn’t they have rights as well? After all they are smart enough to grow and adapt. To manifest in lumps and tumors that can disappear and reappear at will.


‘Is there an Adejoh Momoh here?’ It wasn’t until he called a second time that I slowly walked up from my seat.

‘Take off your shirt and lie there on your stomach’ I do not quite remember but a question came to mind. I didn’t ask it though.

He spewed a really cold gel on the lump site and ran something that felt like a mouse pad over it. It didn’t take thirty seconds before he wiped the gel off and instructed that I get up. As I stood, he looked at me very weirdly, almost with disappointment in his eyes.  

‘It’s just fatty tissue. Lipoma… there’s a store of fat underneath the skin, yours is simply an unusual gathering of this fat. Not harmful’

‘Do you advise I have it removed?’ …. ‘Only for the aesthetics’ I ran my hand over it, felt it and decided I didn’t like the feeling. I thanked him as I turned to leave

if you've found this interesting, please feel free to share as widely as you can. Join in the conversation as well: share in the comments stories of thoughts you had no business thinking. Adejoh Momoh ( can be followed on twitter @adejoh.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

A patient’s tale


Adejoh Idoko Momoh

‘It was a little harder this time’, most people don’t understand this when I tell it and there’s good reason not to. After all, I always wore a smile, was first to assure I’d be fine in no time and was out of the hospital two days after surgery. I shared with no one the horrid tales of how I thought I’d not survive the procedure, not even with my partner or family; it’s this not being able to tell that hurt the most: Just knowing that everyone has his problems and not wanting to burden anyone.
They didn’t see and I didn’t tell them of the nausea that wouldn’t let me sleep for all my recovery. Or that constantly lingering pain that made me pause even as I tried to do seemingly normal things. How waking from the anesthesia felt like an out-of-body experience and how I could hear the doctors call my name even as I struggled to respond. Every time I formed words in my head they never came out of my mouth. When they finally came the first thing I said was something so inappropriate the doctors cringed.  
The thing about surgery and recovery is that even when no one pressures you to take strides or expects you to make a full recovery immediately; you put the pressure on yourself. Like proving the point that you are strong and can beat the weakness associated with recuperating.
For me, the pressure begins with the very origins of illness; they say an inguinal hernia is mostly caused by pressure to the abdominal wall; it typically presents in patients as they are young and keeps increasing in size as they do things that further weaken the wall. However irrational some guilt starts to prick at you; afterall this pressure is brought about by your own acts.
For most people who suffer hernia or will suffer it, I say this; hernias are typically non threatening and there is the temptation to save yourself the needless procedure that fixes it because it poses no harm. Know that in all these, there is the very slim chance that it gets strangulated and from reduced blood supply to severe pain and possibly a fever there are many downsides to this. My advice, if you start to see signs of a hernia, have it fixed before it becomes an emergency.

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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

It is a Woman Thing

By Adejoh Idoko Momoh.

I started out this month watching Selma: ‘the Martin Luther Selma to Montgomery march for voting rights’ movie and I found it fitting that I write about lessons from it. This and the fact that it is women’s history month informs the fact that this piece is about women.
Without Winnie Mandela there will be no Nelson Mandela, without Coretta Scott King there will be no Martin Luther King, at least not to the extent we know both men. In Mandela’s case, he probably would have stayed in prison long enough and returned to meet an uninspired population: people who were content with the status quo and thought it was too difficult, violent even to change it. But no, Winnie kept them inspired, held forte for him.
Nelson Mandela had his shortcomings: he smoked, there were allegations he cheated on his wife, according to most people including Winnie he came out of jail half the man who went in, he accepted a soft landing instead of asking hard for his demands and then he came out and divorced the very same wife who kept his vision alive when he couldn’t do that himself.
This piece does not serve to taint the memory of this man, who quite easily is Africa’s most progressive leader, but this piece serves to celebrate the often unsung heroes who come into our lives and complement our weaknesses, those who help us see life in perspective and encourage us when we choose to carry on in our fights.  
You’ve ever heard the saying ‘behind every great man is a great woman’? This saying mostly is true and for Nelson Mandela, Winnie was that woman. And only when you begin to acknowledge her many roles in South Africa’s anti apartheid struggle will you begin to understand how movements are built. How they succeed, how they never happen in isolation: by one man or woman’s efforts. They always occur in the context of community and family, and for Mandela, that community was led and nurtured by his wife.
Surely, she made a few misguided decisions largely surrounding the Mandela United football club and allegations of infidelity, even as I do not aim to justify these things they contributed immensely to keeping her alive. She could have taken the easy route; simply leave him as he went to jail or give up the struggle as she faced persecution, torture, exile and multiple death attempts. She could have remarried just as soon as he was taken away but she didn’t, she raised his two daughters herself on very lean resources, largely alone and without complaints.
Perhaps there should be a day in her honor; a day when we give thanks to all the supportive women who keep our dreams alive. A day when we say achievements most times are about the person behind the person. The person who encourages the achiever, that person for Nelson Mandela was Winnie, and for Martin Luther, Coretta.

Please feel free to share, leave comments on how your dreams have been encouraged by someone else, leave stories celebrating the wonderful women who make your world what it is. Adejoh Momoh ( can be followed on twitter @adejoh

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Nigeria’s Broken Children

By Adejoh Idoko Momoh.
Do you know Nigeria has an internally displaced population of 3.3million? And most of these displaced people are women and children? As things are these 3.3 million people are only the officially registered internally displaced persons and many other unregistered internally displaced persons may exist. About 850,000 people in Nigeria’s North East region are internally displaced and the National Emergency Management Agency has set up only 23 camps to cater for them. What this means is that this agency expects an average of about 36,956 people to live in any one of these 23 camps which are mostly National Youth Service Corp camps or secondary schools that do not have the facilities to deal with such a population.
Sometimes, I wonder what it means to be displaced. What it means to abandon your home, to run from the certainty of all that is familiar into the uncertainty of mountains and bushes. In all my questing, I have asked a few people what that all important thing they will take is: when they hear bombs in distance and the sound of gunfire approach, what is that one thing they take as they leave, of all the people I have asked two variables kept recurring; certificates and cash. A few people said things like iPads and travel documents, but those were really few.
In justification of the choice of their certificates, most people say that when the insurgents eventually are conquered and there is relative security, only their certificates will help them rebuild their lives. Considering that since the civil war in 1960 at no point have Nigerians been forced to leave their houses such as now and when there is a constant threat of death education mostly becomes secondary, it is encouraging that people still believe in the capacity of education to get them out of hopelessness and into opportunity.
In all of these, children are perhaps the worst hit as they are most times pulled from schools and develop an unwillingness to return to education. It is not hard to imagine why. The insurgents who terrorize them serve to fight and banish Western education, the psychological effects of this is in time schools begin to remind these children of horror, of death and bombs.
Perhaps to alleviate this, in addition to clothing and food drives we carry out for displaced persons, we should provide these camps with teachers and mentors. With guides and matrons, because when you live in such atrocious circumstances there is the tendency that your world becomes small; reduced from beauty and possibilities to the sound of shelling and gunshots.
This by itself is a tragedy we must never allow happen: we must raise structures that empower Internally Displace Persons (IDPs) to change their mindsets from those of victims to survivors. As it is, we are doing dangerously little to help child victims and it is only our help that can help them win the war against the very same insurgents who made them leave their homes and schools in the first place. Doing anything less will amount to the insurgents winning and the children loosing.
Most people argue that from the United States to Kenya and Pakistan or France, Nigeria is not the only country battling insurgency either on its shores or in an ally nation. The thing with the Nigerian state is that we lack the capacities these nations have demonstrated in dealing with these insurgencies and even when we make progress in infrastructure or the economy, lives don’t improve because the basic necessity of security is not provided.
On one of the only times I met a displaced child; I asked her the kind of questions you expect a concerned older person to ask. I asked her ‘what do you want to be when you grow up?’ I half expected to hear doctor or pilot or hair dresser, but no. Her face turned blank and she said ‘Alive’. ‘I want to be alive when I grow up’. I did not ask any more questions. The tragedy that the Nigerian state has become hit me.

Adejoh Momoh ( can be followed on twitter @adejoh