Nigerians in Ghana — and the $100 Laptop

I joined the celebration of Ghana’s 50th anniversary from Winneba, at least through the live television broadcast that was in the background in the meeting room – and the evening dinner with the team and my friend’s family. But don’t be deceived, the celebration is still very much in the air — with every call beginning or ending with Happy 50th anniversary. The holidays ended yesterday and the meeting with the vice Chancellor of the Winneba University of Education was to hold before 12 noon. We arrived on time and then my Ghanaian colleague said, “by the way, some Nigerians are visiting the university today”. I smiled, and thought to myself, “Nigerians sure know how to show up just anywhere”. While thinking to myself, we saw the bus marked University of Lagos.

We were on our way to the VC’s office when we were pulled into a meeting, which ended up being the meeting with the visiting Nigerians! I recognized a few faces from the shock I read on the faces when I walked in, and almost jumped off my seat when Bobb Bright (who has been a great part of the Lagos Digital Village success story) walked in. The group is the United Nations Information Technology Service Nigeria and those who shared their projects with the meeting made national pride well up in me! From traffic issues to lead poisoning and child rights, each presenter proved that they could maximize ICT opportunities to change the nation. I was asked to speak, and though I hardly remember what I said, I recall commending the visiting students and challenging them about the need to execute projects that “solve problems and live beyond us”. The post-meeting greetings went on as usual and after a few contact detail exchanges, a lady walked up and said, “you should come back home to Nigeria because we need people like you at home”.

I almost laughed my head off while telling her that I still live and work in Nigeria and would even be back before their Sunday return — to which someone else responded by saying, “I knew we’d meet you here in Ghana since this was an ICT trip”. While I was laughing at the second joke, he dropped a very serious question: “What’s happening to the $100 laptops?” My answer was simple: “They’re already in Nigeria.” A major milestone was reached in the life of the project last week when about 100 laptops were handed out to children in the Nigerian test school. The OLPC community news sated that, “[t]he laptops were received with smiles, curiosity, and giggles. The most popular feature in the first hour the children spent with their laptops was the mesh view. As of this moment, 100 families in the Nigerian Galadima community will have spent part of their family time around the laptops, with the children proudly explaining how they work.”

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