One Week That Almost Made Me Weak

(c) OLPC Foundation

If I had a choice, I would have broken up the immediate past week into various weeks — but I was left with not much choice. With enough well-meaning activities packed into the week, I could only whisper to myself, “If I endure this week, then I’m built to last!” Monday through Wednesday was at the Digital World Conference (DWC) in Abuja, Thursday was with the Presidential Task Force on ICT Harmonisation (also in Abuja) and then my postgraduate exams from Friday to Sunday — and I must not forget some self-inflicted research report deadlines. But that should not be something to bore you with, let me now speak more about some highlights of the past few hours, well, days.

The DWC hosted a pre-meeting between Civil Society actors, young Nigerians, members of the Think Thank (tt30) of the Club of Rome and other stakeholders in the project of ensuring that ICTs tools are used for the purpose of development — and creation of better livelihoods — for Nigerians. While various issues were discussed (and with deliberate focus on action), one major highlight was the presentation by Prof. Nicholas Negroponte of the MIT Media Lab and the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) Foundation. He discussed the new possibilities in learning for young people even in the most remote areas of the world, and — of course — presented the laptop (an earlier model) to the audience, allowing participants to pass the model around the room. After his presentation, civil society actors were able to share thoughts with members of the Think Tank (tt30) of the Club of Rome on possible ways froward on the issues of access, participation, education and governance. I also met with a long-time friend (my Ghanaian twin actually) and we’re up to something big, soon… trust me to share when its fully planned — but it may wear the tag, West African ICT Innovation Camp.

During the main conference, Prof. Negroponte (of the $100 laptop fame) spoke about major highlights of the why and how of the One Laptop Per Child project. My presentation was almost the last during the conference (having had only one speaker after me before the closing ceremony), and I think it was interesting. Telling the story of how I was denied computer lessons while growing up and why we now do what we do at Junior Achievement of Nigeria, I spoke on the inspiring challenge of building Nigeria’s tomorrow today. The applause and comments notwithstanding, the highlight of the feedback I got was from a young man who walked up to me to say that Prof. Negroponte wanted to see me if I had a minute to spare… of course I had all the time to spare! Details of our discussion will be on this page sometime in the future, but permit me to say that the juice of the story is that if any young person stays at what (s)he knows to do, and does it well, there will no glass ceiling to stop your phenomenal growth and global reach. Stay at it, get better, the world needs that solution from you.

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