By Francis Chukwuebuka Nwankwo
What do you expect when a group of youths made up of ICT experts, media specialists, youth leaders and computer gurus are culled together from different parts of Nigeria? There were the very brainy, the super creative, amazing innovators, great leaders and of course the VERY crazy ones. So, it happened that on Monday, 18th April, 2017, I travelled to Aba for SIGNIS National Workshop on the New Media Education for Catholic Youths, a 5 day program. Thanks to FIDES Communications and the Nigerian Federation of Catholic Students (NFCS). SIGNIS, an international organization, is an arm of the Pontifical Mission Society under the Congregation for Propagation of Faith.
On arrival, I met other participants from other parts of the country, it was a full house. I was already excited. From Christ the King Cathedral, Aba, (an old big fine cathedral) we were taken to our 'hotel room'. Well, that was what we had expected. But after some 20mins of driving through a noisy busy Asa Road/Ogbor Hill, we found ourselves at Mercy Girls Secondary School, a girls’ boarding school that would be the home of about 35 of us for the next five days.
You need to hear the ajebota babes 'forming', “I can't stay here for three hours', jeeeez this toilet, this refractory, this hostel, noooo! Do you want mosquitoes to eat up my bones? Do you want me to contact HIV? I wonder if HIV is air borne disease. God bless the guys. We were just cool. The truth is that the school environment was not too 'packaged' but it was neat! We made formal complaint to Fr. Walter Ihejirika, the SIGNIS National President and the next day, we were given treated mosquito nets, Dettol and buckets and most importantly extensions for charging of phones. But by this time, one of us (a lady of course) has already gone home, before our breakfast of the popular tea and two slices of bread with boiled egg. Two slices! Lesson number one: Moving slowly doesn't guarantee safety neither does driving speedily guarantee accident too. Hope you understand.
Our first lecture was on fake news, delivered by the Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to the Governor of Abia State on Broadcast and Media, Mrs Linda Osuala. How many times have you shared news, pictures on Facebook or Whatsapp condemning or accusing someone or something when you are not sure if it is true? Perfect example is the case of Dr Allwell Orji, a 35 year old medical doctor that works in Lagos who committed suicide. When this happended, the internet was awash with the picture of another Dr Allwell Orji a 35 year old nurse who works in PortHarcout; the wrong person was proclaimed dead till on the advice of Mrs Linda, he clarified things with a video clip. Lesson Number 2: If you have not confirmed when, who,which, where and how something happened, do not copy-paste. Do not spread! Amebo work no get salary!
Francis with some of the other participants at C.K.C Aba
Back to our 'jungle', we had no rest. We entered the evening session A PowerPoint presentation on Google, E-commerce and Opportunities in the internet. If as a youth, the only thing you do online is Whatsapp, Facebook, Instagram, online bet then download music and porn (on a good day, we'll talk about this guy) then shame on you! Sell that your phone and buy sense! Do you know that you can learn to develop websites and apps online through Google developers; do you know that you can learn foreign languages for free online? Do you know that you can just record a short interesting video and generate money on YouTube?
What must you do? Meet an expert, tell him your area of interest and he will show you how to digitalize and make it yield money for you. But remember, the ultimate goal should be, to make a happier, better world. Lesson Number 3: Don't just go online, live online, make money online, bless lives online.
On our second night, we were divided into two groups, each group presented a dance. We had two nights of extreme entertainment. There was a basket mouth Sam who never stopped wearing polo and shorts and talking trash; the pretty stingy Ifeoma who can dance from morning till night (Not surprised, she's from Owerri). There was Uncle Reg, another 'basket mouth' and the fair Gloria whom everyone hated to love. And so many other awesome friends.
The next two days, we were fed with varied skills and seminars on how to utilize the new media (Internet, Social networks, multimedia) with expertise and discipline. And most importantly, how we can employ these tools in the propagation of faith and morals.
Mrs. Linda Osuala, (3rd Right),SSA to Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State, with some of the participants
A NEW CONTINENT IS DISCOVERED
Some two hundred years ago, white missionaries came to Africa on a mission to evangelize the 'newly discovered' African continent. Today, a new continent which boasts of an increasing population, participation, sophistication, dynamism and solutions has been discovered. Just like the experience of the early missionaries, the emissaries to this new land will be faced with many challenges, dangers, and temptations alongside the benefits. So anybody going into this new continent must have to acquire all the skills required to survive in this continent. That new land is the INTERNET! If you don't know how to use the internet, the internet will use you, it will harm you-knowingly or unknowingly, directly or indirectly.
Last 10-15 years, where was the social media and internet? And now…? What about the next 10-15 years? You still have the chance to be among the early birds. Learn computer today. Acquire useful internet skills. Use your phone and gadgets to enrich yourself morally, financially, academically and otherwise.
There are thousand jobs awaiting the capable hands with expert skills. For example, FIDES needs an IT consultant web developer, Social media manager, App developer. Can you do it? Come forward. If not, why not? Learn it! The time is now!!!