Monday 28 October 2013

Tobacco Control Celebrity Cause Champion

June 2006
I was the Nigerian Project Coordinator for an international HIV/AIDS project, Dance4Life. The project
was based on using music and other forms of entertainment to teach young people about sexual and reproductive health. One major aspect of the project was the staging of a musical concert on the Saturday before World HIV/AIDS Day (every December, 1) for all young people across the country that had participated in workshops in the course of the year.

At the time, Dance4Life was present in about seven countries and every country worked hard to stage the best show. This was particularly because of the satellite connection element of the event where for a period of 15minutes during the show, all the countries are linked up and participants at each show are shown a live transmission of what is happening in other countries.

For us in Nigeria, my bosses, colleagues and I worked tirelessly to get together the best in Nigeria’s entertainment industry in order to give the participants a show of a lifetime. We were able to secure 2Shotz and Guitarman to perform, Gideon (Big brother) and Titi Adelakun as anchors and Maureen (Big Brother) as an ambassador. Also Kaffy and her dance crew agreed to work with our Peer Educators to perform the special Dance4Life drill.

After we had put together all these amazing acts, we were still missing something; there was no top notch Nollywood representative. So one of my colleagues picked up the phone and dialed the official number of one of the very popular actresses but the reception she got was appalling. So, she reached for the phone again and called another very popular actress and till date, I still remember my colleague’s words from her end of the phone as she discussed with this actress –“Xxx Yyyy(Name withheld for now), I love you, we love you. This is why people love you. You are so simple and real. Please keep it up.”

True to her promise, Xxx Yyy was ‘powerfully’ present at our event and she didn’t come alone, she came with another very popular actress friend of hers and the school children who came from different parts of the country truly had a show of a lifetime.

June 2013
The organisation I work with, Social Responsibility Managers (SRM) is part of a social media-driven
Tobacco Control project and we are focused on managing a web blog for the purpose of sensitizing and educating the general public on Tobacco Control issues with the ultimate goal of inspiring them to support the passage and signing of the National Tobacco Control bill into law.

We knew that in order to get buy-in from the general public, we needed trail blazers. So we sought out to decide on Celebrities that we believed their personalities and values would best project the Tobacco Control message. Finally, we came up with four celebrities and Xxx Yyy’s name made this list.

Interestingly, I had completely forgotten about my initial relation with Xxx Yyy when I went online to try to search out her contact details. I stumbled on her blog, read through it and then searched for her on Twitter and Facebook. On June 25, 2013, I sent her a tweet and before the end of the day, she had replied my tweet. When I saw an email from Twitter stating that Xxx Yyy had sent me a reply, my mind went back to the 2006 episode and with a melted heart, I wrote back - “@Xxxx Yyy This is the 2nd time in d course of my career that I'm relating with you n you have consistently proven to be sweet at heart.”

To cut the long story short, we exchanged emails and she agreed to be a Tobacco Control Celebrity Cause Champion. Kindly permit me to present to you a diva who needs no introduction –


You can join Stella and the Tobacco Control campaign by signing up to become a Cause Champion. Simply send your 1) Name, 2) Email address, 3) Telephone number and 4) Location to info (at) You’ll get a chance to have a specially designed Facebook, Twitter and G+ profile banner graced with Stella Damasus’ picture.

As a Cause Champion, you would participate in civic activities specifically Petition Signing, Occupy Day (‘occupying’ official phone numbers, email addresses of public officials through calls, text messages and emails) and sharing blog posts on your social media profiles.


Friday 11 October 2013


Today marks the DAY OF THE GIRL and as we get through the day I want to plead with you all to remember the little girls out there who are crying and suffering in silence.

They are forced into a life that they cannot understand, a life that takes away their innocence and childhood, a life that takes away their education and good health, a life that takes away their human rights and freedom, a life that turns them into me statistics, a life that takes away their life.

It is amazing how we fight against those who take our oil, or increase the price of fuel, or our money to enrich themselves, or our teachers salary, or our electricity, but we cannot stand up and fight for the survival and human rights of our little girls. 
To think that a country like Nigeria would rather focus their attention on court battles between  political parties because all they are interested in is the next group of greedy people who want to Rule us, who  will continue to take everything we have for themselves so the vicious cycle can continue.
We see how our leaders and lawmakers shamelessly fight physically for very silly and greedy reasons with the whole world watching on YouTube. 

How I wish these fights were about issues like protecting the girl child and persecuting those who are violating them.
When things don't concern us or affect us directly we tend to feel some form of emotion for a few minutes and after that we move on with our day. But when a pressing issue concerns us or our families we start to call the press to come and help us put our fights and campaign out there.
These little girls are helpless and depending on us the adults to speak for them and fight for them. Not everyone can be a NUJOOD ALI or a MALALA. 
"Nujood Ali"

Today I am challenging you to do something, go on your twitter, Facebook, instagram, linked in, blogs whatever social media you have and start talking about these issues. Post pictures, send emails to people you know are close to the government, look around a rural area near you and discover some of these girls and if you are afraid to tell their story or identify them, you can let us know. There are people who can get to these girls and find ways to help them. Even if all you can do is tweet about it then please do. If you can hold small conferences or awareness programs around you and speak to the uneducated people who do these things then you would have given the little  girls the voice they do not have.

To say that I am ashamed that the Nigerian senate have decided to let the deletion of the clause in the constitution die a natural death, is an understatement. One would think that by now we would have heard a thing or two about the efforts or the meetings to try and resolve this. Instead we here about the fights and how over two hundred people accompanied the federal government  officials to the united nations summit in the united states of America.
These people were flown and accommodated in expensive hotels, given their " per diem" (which is usually more than you can imagine)  for each of them and of course the usual thank you for coming package. Check the Internet for details of the summit and find out how many people came from other countries. 

Pray for these girls if that is all you can do, or wear pink and take a picture of yourself with the caption "save the girls".

Save our little girls today and please watch the YouTube video I created for this. 


God bless you all.

Tuesday 1 October 2013

Naija, smell the coffee

I have been reading all sorts and different versions of congratulatory messages to celebrate Nigeria. Even from people who just a few days ago wrote negative and derogatory things about our dear country. These same folks have been pissed off about the Asuu strike, the almost six hundred people who came into America as entourage with the presidency for the United Nations conference and how much was spent, the unresolved Boko haram issue, the underage marriage and the deliberate silence from the senate and so many other things they are unhappy about. But as the hypocrites we all are, we find the need to go on social media just to be seen as relevant. We start to use different apps to create beautiful pictures of Nigeria including our pictures to say happy independence. If it ended there I will not mind because we cannot change the event nor the date. But when some people who want to sound intelligent start to say things like Nigeria is the most industrious, courageous and safest country, NIGERIA is an example to the whole world because we are the giants and so many other things I personally consider to be eye service, it baffles me.
 Instead of siting and lying about the country you claim you love why don't you say happy independence and then go ahead to proffer solutions that you believe will help the country to be the place we all believe it can and should be, the place our parents described to us, the place blessed with so much that other countries will do anything to be us.
Let us be honest here, are these things the truths about what is going on?

Do not be like those whose answers will always be "it is well" even when you are dying and need help then when it gets extremely bad it becomes an embarrassing situation where everyone will know and then have no choice but to help.

Let us call a spade a spade.
Let today be a day of reflections,
Let today be a day where we all sit and think of what we can do to help our nation as opposed to what our nation can do for us.

These little teenage boys who are school dropouts are all trying to run away and they are being caught everyday at the airport.  Instead of laughing at the situation let today be a day were we can decide to set up a football team and give them activities that will give them hope of someday becoming the next Kanu Nwakwo or Jay Jay Okocha, find a small space were you can take free weekends to teach classes with the help of friends and family of mathematic and English possibly social studies, you can make t-shirts and engage them in crafts or technical activities that boys love, if you cannot handle that what about the young girls who don't know who they are apart from what society has called them, you can mentor them and teach them to read and write. What about your community and the people around you who have never been to school? Do they know about the new banking policies? If you understand it why not teach them. What about creating small workshops to teach and groom people into becoming great entrepreneurs. Teach them how to use technology to get ahead. How about the simplest one, PRAY for our country and not deceive its people. We are not under any pressure or obligation to look for sweet lies to tweet about or put out on Facebook.

Nigeria was created to be the greatest country but the usual suspects have decided to make it their own limited liability company, making the rest of us their coffee boys and toilet cleaners who don't have a voice or proper representation and who did not even get a contract that can protect us when we got employment. How can we talk when we never got a chance to sit inside any office, all we do is come in clean the place, get coffee for them, hear all the conversations and see all the money exchanging hands. All we get is the promise of prompt basic salary, which never happens, but we are too afraid to quit because we know we cannot find work anywhere else. Some people are too old to start over, some are too afraid, some just like to be were the action is but never take part, some are still deceiving themselves, believing that by saying nothing the greedy boss will make them managers from being coffee boys, some are just too dumb to know they are being reaped off their father's company. While some of us who know that the company belongs to everyone, have come out to tell the world the truth and are working everyday to take back what belongs to us. Not by fighting but by changing the Minds of the ones who will have the strength and determination to stand for what they believe in and take it back.
As a Nigerian I will still say happy 53rd anniversary to Nigeria.
That is as far as I am willing to go.

God Bless Nigeria.