Nigeria

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City streets in Nigeria are filled with a cacophony of announcements and messages broadcast via loudspeaker, according to Brian Larkin, associate professor and department chair of anthropology at Barnard College, who spoke Monday about the effect of these loudspeakers on Nigerian society.

Larkin has spent a number of years living in Nigeria and writing books on social infrastructure and has become a respected researcher in the field.

“[Larkin is] an expert on infrastructure in multiple senses of the word,” Jennifer Carlson, anthropology doctoral candidate, said. “So, not just like bridges or railroads, but also technological linkages, cables and computers.” 

Larkin said it is rare for speakers not to be used for prayer and conveying messages in Nigerian society.

“In Nigeria, a meeting is not considered a real meeting unless you have a good PA system,” Larkin said.

According to Carlson, the frequent use of loudspeakers throughout Nigerian city streets has decreased Nigerians’ effectiveness in holding individual attention.

“[Loudspeakers are] an infrastructural component of everyday life,” Carlson said.

Carlson relates this to the proliferation of traffic lights representing an integral part of the everyday
American commute.

“We may not like or care about stop lights that order the world around us, yet we’re still participating with them,” Carlson said.

The constant noise from loudspeakers has become an ordinary element of the Nigerian people’s surrounding environment.  

“[Sound] is one of these things that’s literally hanging in the air as these people go about their lives, and [it acts] upon their bodies and [forms] how they see the world and how they live in the world … It becomes part of the climate,”
Carlson said.

Anthropology graduate student Saikat Maitra said different religious sects in Nigeria often use speakers to gain popularity over
one another.

“What has happened is that, in these big cities, there is a way in which every group — like, let’s say the Muslims — [competes],” Maitra said. “What they are trying to do is to hold attention of their own and convert others … and send their message. It’s a kind of performance to
hold attention.”

Larkin said the use of loudspeakers has also played a role in the religious conflicts between Christians and Muslims in Nigeria.

“Religious sound has been at the heart of this conflict, while at the same time being a quotidian, ephemeral part of everyday life,” Larkin said.

Horns Up: Nigeria takes Ted Cruz to task.

Earlier this week, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, joked at a Texas tea party event that the government’s website for the Affordable Care Act had been built by “Nigerian email scammers.” Now Nigeria wants an apology. “It is unfair of any senator to essentially use citizens that are law-abiding, to use Nigerians as cannon fodder,” said Ade Adefuye, the Nigerian ambassador to the United States. “We deplore the statement, and we demand an apology, and we demand it be withdrawn.”  Adefuye said the West African nation of 174.5 million is aware of Cruz’s remarks and is “disappointed and shocked.” While we’re less shocked that the tea party’s chosen one made an insensitive crack at the expense of a foreign culture, we respect the Nigerians for sticking up for themselves and publicly calling Cruz out for being obnoxious. Horns up, Nigeria.

 

Horns Down: Texas launches unhelpful sex education website.

The Texas Department of State Health Services has launched a new website, www.ourtown4teens.org, in an attempt to reduce Texas’ teen pregnancy rate — currently the third highest in the nation. In keeping with Texas’ strict abstinence-only sexual education practices, the site, which cost $1.2 million, does not mention contraception at all. In the unlikely event that any teens visit the site, they will not gain any useful insight into effective, practical and safe sexual practices. Horns down to the Department of State Health Services for wasting everybody’s time and money.

 

Horns Up: Abbott and Davis agree on water funding.

In a rare case of Texas political bonhomie, the top two contenders for governor, Democratic state Sen. Wendy Davis and Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott, have both thrown their support behind Proposition 6. If passed, the crucial water funding measure will draw $2 billion from the state’s rainy day fund and redirect it to a new development bank that would help fund sorely-needed water projects across the state. Although it enjoys broad support, the measure still has its detractors, perhaps most notably in Debra Medina, a former candidate for governor and current candidate for comptroller. This paper has made its stance clear. Texas needs Prop 6, not just to thrive, but also to survive. We’re glad to see both candidates recognize what’s on the line.

Nigerian artist Mary Evans said during her college years she was the only black student in her class, but this didn’t become the focus of her artwork until she had what she described as an eye-opening experience

A contemporary mixed media artist, Evans discussed the evolution of her art, focusing on themes of immigration, cultural preservation and identity in her work at a talk on Monday. 

Born in 1963 in Lagos, Nigeria, Evans immigrated to England at the age of five. As a result, Evans said the majority of her education was taught from a primarily British perspective. Evans said she was usually one of only a handful of minority students for the duration of her experiences in college. 

In Amsterdam, after visiting the immigration office, she was cleared for three months to study, while other students were allowed to study uninterrupted for a year. This experience shifted the focus of her work.

“I was too Nigerian for the Dutch, [and] too Nigerian for the British,” Evans said.

Evans said she remembered trying to figure out whether or not she could ever belong in her new home.

“My mom has lived in England for twice as long as she has in Nigeria, but when she says home, she means Nigeria,” Evans said.

The unifying theme in her art is the constant movement of cultures as a result of immigration.

“The core of my practice, really, is how people move around the world and what cultural capital you take with you,” Evans said.

Evans said she likes to keep her images simple because extraneous details tend to distract from the message. According to Evans, a very direct, pictographic image says a lot.

For her medium, Evans works primarily with brown paper and traditional household items, including doilies and gingerbread biscuits.

“As a painter, I would always print in an offset way,” Evans said.

Evans said she let go of more formal painting techniques while in Amsterdam.

“I don’t need fine art material to make art,” she said.

Faith Ann Ruszkowski, a journalism and business sophomore, said she admired the paradoxical element of Evan’s art. 

“I like the impermanence of her art,” Ruszkowski said. “She makes temporary work through permanent work, which was a relic of the past.” 

Evans’ lecture was one in a series of speaking engagements meant to introduce students and faculty to professionals working in art.

Eddie Chambers, associate professor of art history and African and African American studies, organized Monday’s lecture. Chambers said the goal of the series was to connect the community directly with artists.

“[The goal is] to hear directly from artists,” Chambers said. “Artists have their own way of illuminating their practice.”

LAGOS, Nigeria — Nigeria formed a panel that will create an amnesty program for Islamic extremists to try to quell a bloody guerrilla campaign of bombings and shootings that’s killed hundreds of people across its north, the government said Wednesday.

The 26-person panel has a 60-day deadline to come up with an offer for militants belonging to the Islamic extremist network Boko Haram and other groups now fighting against government forces and killing civilians with apparent impunity. 

The presidential committee, including police and military officials, as well as politicians and human rights activists, would “constructively engage key members of Boko Haram and define a comprehensive and workable framework for resolving the crisis of insecurity in the country” as well as offer a “comprehensive victims' support program.”

English freshman Arati Warrier and economics sophomore Mitali Sathaye perform the “Liquid Dance” from "Slumdog Millionaire," representing Nritya Sangam as part of Global Village. The event promoted cultural awareness, with student tents representing different countries.

Photo Credit: Amy Zhang | Daily Texan Staff

Tents representing countries lined the Gregory Plaza Wednesday at an event called Global Village to encourage students to find internships abroad and promote cultural identity.

The event, hosted by the Association Internationale des Etudiants en Sciences Economiques et Commerciales, consisted of tents representing different countries current students in the program traveled to, such as Nigeria, Italy and Egypt. The tents also provided information on the culture in the respective countries and food samples.

“We want to promote cultural awareness and show UT students the different opportunities they have for studying abroad,” computer science sophomore Cindy Jaimez said. “UT is diverse and in order to be culturally aware and to get along with them we need to understand them.”

The association offers multiple types of internships, including the Global Internship Program, which ranges from six to 18 months and come with a stipend. The association also offers the Global Community Development Program, which lasts six to 12 weeks and deals with a specific issue in the community where the student is placed.

Students who worked abroad with the association were available to answer questions about the program and tell stories of their experience. 

“I wanted to immerse myself in another culture and new experience,” psychology senior Kelsey Stewart said. “During my internship I was able to be a part of the AIESEC chapter in Nigeria, which was very receptive, and be in a program where English was spoken while exploring areas of health in Africa.” 

Stewart said the event helped showcase how studying abroad broadens perspectives and said the event helps in informing people about varying cultures. 

In addition to the booths representing a variety of countries, a free concert followed the event with music from the Arab Students Association and Atash, a Persian band, along with other groups. 

Biology freshman Kari Yanez said the event helped her obtain more information for her future plans to study abroad. 

“Events like this are very helpful, educational and informative,” Yanez said. “I don’t have to go out of my way to get information on something I hope to do as early as my junior year.”

This article was edited for accuracy after its original posting. The Global Internship Program ranges from six to 18 months, while the Global Community Development Program ranges from six to 12 weeks. Also, students in the program work abroad.

Junior Christy Udoh brings Olympic experience and heart to a solid women’s track and field program after competing for Nigeria in the 2012 games. Udoh has been named to the Big 12 First-Team 10 times in her career and looks to add more accolades this season.

Photo Credit: Jonathan Garza | Daily Texan Staff

It was just last August that junior Christy Udoh found herself racing alongside the world’s premier sprinters at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

Udoh was one of 21 current and former Longhorns to compete in the Games, on a list that includes Texas legends like Kevin Durant and Sanya Richards-Ross. Unlike the majority of her fellow Longhorns however, Udoh did not sport the red, white and blue of the U.S. Instead, she donned the green and white colors of Nigeria, the country where both her parents were born and where she shares dual citizenship.

“It dawned on me that if I wanted to be on an Olympic team, I would have to beat out a lot of Americans to do so,” Udoh said. “I was glad to have another nationality to run for, so I contacted someone from Nigeria and they wanted me to run for them.”

In fact, the African country had been pursuing Udoh since she was in middle school, wanting the talented sprinter to run for the nation that holds her roots. Udoh would go on to qualify for Nigeria’s 4X100-meter relay team as well as a spot in the 200-meter dash.

What Udoh achieved by getting to the London games has changed her career and life forever. And despite not medaling at the Olympics, the young sprinter has never taken the experience for granted.

“That was the biggest thing in life that I ever accomplished,” Udoh said. “Now when I train for my next Olympics I know what to do and what not to do.”

Since returning to the 40 Acres, Udoh has not lost a step. The 10-time All-Big 12 First Team runner (six times outdoor, four times indoor) has had two top-three finishes in the 60-meter dash and five top-three finishes in the 200-meter dash this indoor season, two of those coming as victories. 

Udoh also holds the school’s eighth fastest mark ever (22.72) in the outdoor 200-meter dash, a time she clocked last summer at the NCAA Outdoor Championships.

And while NCAA competition is no laughing matter, it does not compare to the level of athleticism present at an Olympic event. Through Udoh, the Longhorns have found experience that is hard to come by. What the Olympian has been able to provide is track and field wisdom at its highest level. 

For the Texas squad and its interim head coach Rose Brimmer, it is that type of intangible that makes her special to the team.

“She’s gained some wisdom and some knowledge about the level of what it takes to be a scorer not just on the Big 12 level or the national level but the Olympic level,” Brimmer said. “[She] went against the best, so [she] doesn’t have to be afraid of anybody.”

Udoh and the No. 7 Longhorns will compete this Friday and Saturday in Fayetteville, Ark., at the NCAA Indoor Championships. It will be the fourth time the team has visited the Randal Tyson Track Center in 2013. The venue has treated Texas well this year, with 10 Longhorns combining for 13 career-best marks there.

Udoh will compete in the 200-meter dash Friday beginning with semifinals at 7:35 p.m.

“I feel like everyone is going to bring their ‘A’ game because everyone wants to be a winner,” Udoh said. “As for me, I’m going to push myself this weekend with a goal of doing something great.”

Published on March 8, 2013 as "Udoh earning her stripes". 

ABUJA, Nigeria — The detention of hundreds of female Nigerian pilgrims heading to Mecca at Saudi Arabia’s busiest airport over a rule requiring them to travel with a husband or male relative is threatening to bring a diplomatic dispute between the two nations.

Saudi authorities are holding 908 Nigerian women in poor conditions “with some needing urgent medical attention” at King Abdulaziz Airport in Jeddah and threatened to deport them, the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria said in a report submitted to Nigerian lawmakers Wednesday.

The report said female pilgrims who had landed in a smaller airport in Medina had been unaffected.

However, Fuwaiba Muhammad, a pilgrim, told an Associated Press reporter at Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport in the northern Nigerian city of Kano that she had been deported Wednesday from the Saudi Arabian city of Medina, along with dozens of others.

This is the first time pilgrims have faced the possibility of mass deportation over the male escort issue, the commission has said. According to the report, an agreement between Saudi Arabia and Nigeria exempts female pilgrims from requiring a male relative to escort them for the mandatory Hajj pilgrimage, which costs about $4,000 per person.

Until now, state pilgrimage officials had been allowed to stand in the place of a male relative or husband. Muhammad, for instance, said that she had been traveling with a Hajj official who is not her relative.

But Saudi authorities have proven much stricter this year. They even stopped women who did travel with their husbands.

“Islam allows wives to bear the names of their parents and not necessarily that of their husbands,” the report argued.

All able-bodied Muslims who can afford it are expected to perform Hajj at least once in their lives, leading people to go to great lengths to make the trip.

Some pilgrims sell their cows and jewelry and others save for months or years to pay their own way to Mecca.

Mana had said Monday that the escort situation had been resolved through diplomatic channels, but the commission’s report Wednesday said Saudi authorities have “remained adamant.”

The report said top Nigerian officials had held meetings with Saudi officials in Nigeria and in Saudi Arabia in a bid to reach a compromise.

Nigeria’s Foreign Ministry sent a letter of undertaking guaranteeing the return of the female pilgrims after Hajj, it added, but Saudi authorities still did not release them.

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan put together a high-profile delegation late Wednesday to travel to Saudi Arabia “as soon as an appointment is finalized with the appropriate authority,” a government statement said.

Saudi officials could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday.

I have followed the U.S. presidential campaign so far with dismay. Having viewed American politics for a long time as the time-tested example of political aspiration, practice and conduct, I find it disconcerting to witness the current ills perpetrated by both campaigns.

Similarities abound in my home country, Nigeria, even if in softer hues: voter suppression in the form of identification being required to vote even when no significant cases of fraud had been established; reducing early registration windows in districts that favor an opposition candidate; outright lies and misinformation by both campaigns, as witnessed again in Paul Ryan’s speech at the RNC convention; hypocrisy in criticizing the same measures they once advocated, and in demanding smaller government while championing government involvement in more private matters; refusal/inability to provide details on promises being made; a polarized, uncooperative congress publicly pursuing personal vendettas even if the populace suffers as a result. The list seems endless.

In the final analysis, I won’t have a say on how the election turns out, being an alien, but it has certainly impacted the way I view American politics. And unfortunately for my sense of fairness, it has made me less likely to criticize these wrongs when they happen back home. If it can happen here, where democracy has been in practice for over two hundred years, it is definitely acceptable for politicians to do worse in a nascent democracy such as we have in Nigeria. America shouldn’t be seen as shying away from leadership — in political climate, practice and conduct. Seeking political office should be done with the utmost sense of responsibility to one’s self, one’s country and to future generations. It shouldn’t always be about winning or losing. Therein lies the problem.

— Ojjinaka is a mechanical engineering graduate student from Imo, Nigeria.