21-Year Old Afghan Rapper Sonita Alizadeh is using her Music to preach against Forced Marriages

Sonita Alizadeh is a 21 year old rap artist/activist from Afghanistan who uses her music to fight against forced marriages

Sonita Alizadeh is a 21 year old rap artist/activist from Afghanistan who uses her music to fight against forced marriages especially the ones that involve children.

She became popular after releasing Brides For Sale where she rapped about daughters being sold into marriage by their families.

She was recently featured on TIME Magazine‘s Next Generation Leaders issue alongside other trend setters around the world using their talent for the betterment of the society.

As she told Newsweek in a recent interview;

To really end child marriage, everyone must work together. Child marriage impacts health, education, even the economy. Understanding these relationships is a good start. For example, the World Bank recently came out with a report that said that by ending child marriage we can prevent 2.1 million children from dying between now and 2030. So health programs should include child marriage. We can all act from where we are. Policy change and behavior change are both necessary. Child marriage is a tradition, so we have to work with families and communities to help them understand the power and potential of their daughters, and find other ways. We need to reach world leaders so they understand the devastating impact child marriage has on girls, but also on their country’s well-being. Fifteen million girls under 18 are married each year, but it really doesn’t have to be that way.

Watch her TIME Magazine feature below:

Your Better Self with Akanna: Lessons From Beth Moore’s Book, ‘So Long Insecurities’

“Women want to be told that they are captivating.  That they are beautiful.  Desirable.”  Said a local preacher on television,

“Women want to be told that they are captivating.  That they are beautiful.  Desirable.”  Said a local preacher on television, whose sermon was about what a woman needs from a man.

Last week, I told you I was stuck reading a book written for women.  I’m not stuck with it because I’m being forced by anyone to read it.  I’m stuck because it’s so good that I feel it shouldn’t be restricted to women.  Many men, myself included, have a lot to gain from it.

The book is titled So Long Insecurity and its author is Beth Moore.  She was the one who flipped on the TV to watch the local preacher who said that about what women want to be told, and she had this to say about it:

I won’t deny that.  What woman wouldn’t thrive under that kind of steady affirmation?

When I read those words I found it refreshing that here was an accomplished woman admitting that she would do well with some words of affirmation coming from someone other than herself – a man!  It is quite contrary to what you hear these days.  But she went further to blow my mind with the remaining words scattered around the first three chapters of the book.  And it is those words that I try to string together here – paraphrased of course!

She continues:

“But here’s my question: What if no one tells us that? Can we still find a way to be okay?  Or what if he says it because he’s supposed to, but to be honest, he’s not feeling it?  Are we hopeless?  What if a man is not captivated by us?  What if he doesn’t think we’re particularly beautiful?  Or, understandably, maybe just not every day?  Are we only secure on his “on” days?  What if he loves us but not quite as captivated by us as he used to be?  What if his computer is full of images of what he finds attractive, and we’re light-years from it?  What if we’re seventy-five, and every ounce of desirability is long behind us?  Can we still feel adequate in our media-driven society?  Or is it only possible if our man has gone blind?

… Or what if you’re single and there’s not a man on the horizon you want to take home to Daddy?  Honestly, is there no validation for our womanhood apart from a man?

I find it ironic that many of the women who defensively deny needing one single thing from a man have done one of three things: they’ve tried to make themselves into men, they’ve turned to a codependent relationship with a masculine woman, or they’ve done the Sex and the City thing by trying to beat men at their own game…

Men are not our problem; it’s what we are trying to get from them that messes us up.  Nothing is more baffling than our attempt to derive our womanhood from our men.  We use guys like mirrors to see if we’re valuable.  Beautiful.  Desirable.  Worthy of notice.  Viable.  We try to read their expressions and moods in order to determine whether it’s time to act smart and hard to get or play dumb and needy.  Worse yet, we try to tap into their inner equestrian by acting like the damsel in distress…

We’re attempting to get our security from a gender that doesn’t really have much to spare.  Our culture is just as merciless on men as it is on women.  Their insecurities take different shapes, but make no mistake: they’ve got them.  You know it. I know it.

Let’s face it.  Men want us to get a grip anyway.  They don’t like the pressure of being in charge of our sense of value. It’s too much for them.  The candid ones will gladly admit it, and for those who don’t, you’ll know it by the flapping of their shirts in the wind as they run for their lives.

A man is infinitely more attracted to a secure woman than to an emotional wreck who insists he could complete her…

Insecurity refers to a profound sense of self-doubt – a deep feeling of uncertainty about our basic worth and our place in the world.  Insecurity is associated with chronic self-consciousness, along with a chronic lack of confidence in ourselves and anxiety about our relationships.  The insecure man or woman lives in constant fear of rejection and a deep uncertainty about whether his or her own feelings and desires are legitimate…

The insecure person also harbors unrealistic expectations about love and relationships.  These expectations, for themselves and for others, are often unconscious.  The insecure person creates a situation in which being disappointed and hurt in relationships is almost inevitable.  Ironically, although insecure people are easily and frequently hurt, they are usually unaware of how they are unwitting accomplices in creating their own misery…

I won’t argue that a good man and a good marriage can’t vastly enhance a woman’s sense of well-being, but you can mark my word on something: if a woman is married to a man who somehow feeds her sense of inadequacy, she has double the issues of her single friend.  A bad marriage can make you feel worlds more insecure than singleness.  The answer for the married woman is not to dump her husband, nor is it for a single woman to marry someone just for emotional coverage.  The answer is to deal with the insecurity, believing that everything God says about us is true.

You see, the trap is not only in placing our security in something that gives a false positive.  It’s also in fighting like a mad dog to keep it there.  Whether our false positive is appearance, marriage, moneymaking, position, education, or notoriety, it only works enough to keep us seduced and distracted, and we never get to the real issues.  Even if we could make everybody believe we were “every woman”, we ourselves would know better.  Self-doubt would devour us.  In one way or another and sooner or later, we’ll give ourselves away.  Security in any earthly thing simply cannot be sustained.”

Wasn’t that an amazing read?  That last sentence really sums it up for me.  Putting our security or sense of value in earthly things – including men and other humans – is futile.  We have to work on ourselves to realize that God doesn’t make junk, and so we have some value that we are capable of increasing infinitely, through the infinite One who created us.

Understandably, we’ve seen women revolt through certain movements that seek their emancipation from men.  Yes, no man should have power and dominion over another, but the problem is that most of them are not looking to the true source of their true value and security; and so they continue to seek this emancipation everywhere else.  They will be ever learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

So what do you, especially the ladies in the house, think of this? If you want to read the entire book, click here to purchase a copy.

Tech Entrepreneur & Digital Marketing Guru Editi Effiong of Anakle is our #BellaNaijaMCM this Week

This week, our #BellaNaijaMCM feature shines the spotlight on Editi Effiong, the Founder/CEO of Anakle Limited, one of the leading

This week, our #BellaNaijaMCM feature shines the spotlight on Editi Effiong, the Founder/CEO of Anakle Limited, one of the leading tech businesses in this part of the globe. It describes itself as “a digital agency, building experiences for online and offline audiences.”

He is also the founder of Anakle Labs, which he describes as “an investment company and incubator for technology businesses.”

Editi’s story is an interesting one. Out of curiosity, he taught himself how to use a computer with the system in his friend’s house. Later on, his parents got a desktop PC for his family. With the desktop computer in his home, Editi learned how to use MS Paint, MS Powerpoint and MS FrontPage (which he said changed his life).

Prior to this, he had learned how to use free web services to build WYSIWYG websites. How did that happen?

An 18-year-old Editi and his friends were waiting for one last friend with whom they had planned to leave the house together for an outing. When the friend arrived, he apologised for his lateness and told them he was building his website.

Editi told TechCabal that that was his “lucky day.” He had been curious as to how websites were built, and here he was, standing with someone who is already doing so. He asked the friend how it’s being done, and he shared the information. Editi proceeded to try it out himself.

In a matter of days, his website was done. And it was a website advertising a web development business which he said was birthed after his friend’s revelation days earlier. Mind you, he didn’t even know how to code!

In one week, Editi got his first client who paid N8,000 for a new website he built without spending a dime. A month later, the same client paid N12,500 for another website.

At this point, Editi knew it was not a drill. It was happening. He was on to something and he needed to move fast!

He decided to write a 9-page proposal with his “company’s” letterhead changing “I” to “We” in its content. Editi detailed the importance of websites and how his company can help businesses get their websites ready. He also had business cards which he printed on cardboard paper and cut neatly with scissors. He sent this document to some companies and in a few weeks, got a call.

A hotel in Calabar needed his services. Prior to seeing the person in charge, Editi had decided to charge N75,000 for the job. On getting there, he changed his mind, and ended up signing the deal for N300,000. Yet, no coding experience.

Using MS FrontPage, Editi produced a demo, and then proceeded to learn HTML. He got his first laptop from that job.

Having worked as Country Manager for XEQ Technology, and then as Product Manager for Thompson & Grace Group, Editi decided to start Anakle in 2010. The brand specialises not just in web and app development, but also digital marketing, social media & online reputation management, as well as user experience design.

Anakle is well known for creating viral campaigns on social media, chief of which is the Brideprice App of 2014, the Call Your Mum App of 2015, and its Things Come Together ad for Wikipediain 2017.

Anakle also gives back to the society through its Forward by Anakle platform that organises training bordering on digital marketing, user experience design, photography, among others, for SMEs in the country. It also shares digital marketing advice on its blog.

Editi also recently built a computer lab for the primary school he attended in the 90s.

Editi has been featured on CNN, BBC, and CNBC.

We love stories of how people have created businesses from virtually nothing, or with little resources. Editi’s is one of them, and we celebrate him today.

Money Matters with Nimi Akinkugbe: Don’t Plan for a Royal Wedding If You Can’t Afford One

What a wonderful weekend I’ve had watching every last detail of The Royal Wedding. The dress, the music, the pipe

What a wonderful weekend I’ve had watching every last detail of The Royal Wedding. The dress, the music, the pipe organ, the choir and orchestra, the flowers, the pomp and pageantry!

If you grew up on Grimm’s Fairy Tales, you were conditioned to dream of a fairy tale wedding perhaps to a real prince. Parents are often under a lot of pressure to give their children the ‘perfect’ wedding; this can be extremely expensive. To avoid getting overwhelmed by all the expenses, look carefully at the cost implications and prioritize right from the start.

Many couples get carried away with the idea of the wedding and do not stop to contemplate the actual marriage. Sit down with your fiancé and talk about your goals and what you would like to achieve in the next year, five years and beyond, such as starting a family, buying a new car or paying a deposit on your first home. Write these goals down and keep them in view as you discuss the wedding plans. This should help you keep things in check as you prepare for life’s journey together.

Prepare a budget
A good first step to keeping costs under control is to prepare a budget. Make a list of everything you can think of; include pre-wedding events, the traditional and religious wedding ceremonies, the wedding reception and the honeymoon. What matters most? Build in a contingency fund for unplanned expenses; there will always be some.

Costs will usually include invitations, the wedding dress, hair and make up, outfits for bridesmaids and groomsmen, church fees for choir and musicians, DJ, band, reception venue, caterer, wedding cake,
photographs, videographer, florist, guest favours, hotel, transportation, pre-wedding entertainment, honeymoon etc. An event planner takes so much off you and they are usually able to negotiate with a network of vendors for significant discounts, extras or to waive certain fees.

In Africa, a marriage is much more than a union between two people; it is a marriage of two extensive, extended families. One of the biggest cost factors is likely to be the number of guests that will attend,
often without formal invitation. If your average cost per person for food, drink, and rentals is N10,000, removing thirty people from your guest list will save you N300,000.

A buffet menu tends to be cheaper than a plated one. Guests have come to expect and enjoy a good selection of mouth watering “small chops” that are filling and are reasonably priced at between N600 – N2,000 per head depending on the menu.

Drinks are a major cost, particularly if spirits, fine wines and champagne are on the list. Even where you bring your own drinks, corkage rates can be prohibitive. A way to limit bar costs is to provide guests with basic drinks including water, fruit juices and soft drinks and drink tickets specifically for alcoholic drinks; after using their tickets, guests can purchase additional drinks with cash should they wish to do so. This is fairly common in other societies, but may be sniffed at here!

Guest favours need not be expensive; a small meaningful memento of sentimental value will do. Large wedding cakes are a huge waste as desert is usually served at the wedding. A wedding planner mentioned that about 50% of the wedding cake goes to waste as half the guests have left before it has even been cut and shared! Apparently, you can still achieve the glorious look of the multi-tiered wedding cake billed to impress, if you replace some of the tiers with “dummy” cakes!

What is most important to you? The ring, which you will wear, hopefully for decades, your wedding dress, or the photographs and video that capture the memories? You can buy an inexpensive yet beautiful ring, and then upgrade as a sentimental gesture on a future anniversary and as you refine preferences. Bridegrooms and groomsmen routinely rent their outfits, but most brides will gasp at the thought of renting the dress of your dreams at a fraction of the cost of a new dress!

Start early and plan ahead
In an ideal world, parents should have been setting aside funds for family weddings as with other major goals such as funding your child’s education. Once you have passed the education funding hurdle, this is
likely to be the next big spend.

Invest according to your time horizon. For a wedding that’s just less than a year away, funds should be placed in a bank fixed deposit or a money market mutual fund. If the expected marriage is still over five
years away, you might invest in a portfolio of blue chip stocks or property for the prospect of long-term capital growth. An equity fund offers flexibility, diversification and professional management. Remember that investing comes with risk so be sure to seek professional advice.

Who pays for what?
In the past, the bride’s family was expected to cover most of the costs. Nowadays both families tend to play a role and the division of costs is largely dependent on each family’s financial standing and of the bride and groom themselves. It is less about protocol, but rather, about circumstances and common sense, that should dictate who pays for what. Determine what the budget is and try to stick to it.

Attempting to split the bill between two families can be complicated so there must be absolutely clarity about how much each is willing and able to support. The couple and their families should meet for a frank discussion as early as possible. Don’t feel bad if you are the brides’ parents and can’t afford to pay for the entire wedding. Don’t be railroaded into wiping out your retirement savings just to keep up appearances.

Sometimes the family that is contributing more might feel entitled to more control and make the others feel like the poorer relations. Avoid strained relationships ahead of the wedding. Be sensitive, as money
conversations can be awkward.

For late in life marriages, as the couple might have been working for many years, they should be able to finance their wedding themselves. As often this can come with “baggage,” discussions should include,
health insurance and even prenuptial agreements.

Here are some things to avoid.

Don’t jeopardize your retirement plans
It is nice to always want to put your children first, but you can’t afford to sacrifice your retirement to fund your children’s weddings.

Avoid borrowing to finance a wedding
It is never wise to begin a marriage carrying significant debt. Try to avoid going into debt unless there is an expected inflow.

You don’t have to invite everyone you know; invite only those people who are most important to you. You will upset some people.

Yewande Zacchaeus, CEO of Eventful Ltd, a leading Nigerian event planning company says, “Most of the weddings we organize range from 1,000 to 2,000 guests. Our African heritage of large circles of family and friends, who simply must be invited to the event, does make weddings extremely expensive. We now recommend a small engagement and a larger wedding or a large engagement and a small intimate wedding, as a practical way of reducing costs. We keep telling our clients, there is life after the wedding day!

It is about the marriage and not the wedding.

Financial concerns are a leading source of tension in relationships and have some part in most divorces, yet most couples go into marriage without ever broaching money matters. It may not be romantic, but it is important. Don’t let the wedding ruin your marriage.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Be Inspired! This Nigerian Amputee is a Footballer, Goalkeeper, Bus Driver, Hustler

Meet Victor Sani. Footballer. Goalkeeper. Bus Driver. Hustler. Victor Sani inspiring us this morning. He is an amputee and he’s not

Meet Victor Sani.
Footballer. Goalkeeper. Bus Driver. Hustler.

Victor Sani inspiring us this morning. He is an amputee and he’s not letting that stop him.

Victor lost his hand while working at a plastic factory and things have been difficult for him ever since. But he’s determined to make things work.

Watch his inspiring interview with BBC News Pidgin below.

Nigerian Author Farida Ado makes TIME’s 2018 “Next Generation Leaders” List

Farida Ado TIME Magazine has released the 2018 edition of its annual list of “Next Generation Leaders” and our girl Farida

Farida Ado

TIME Magazine has released the 2018 edition of its annual list of “Next Generation Leaders” and our girl Farida Ado has been featured.

Featuring 11 people from around the world, including pop stars The Weeknd and Ariana Grande, TIME describes Farida as “Kano’s Jane Austen.”

32-year-old Farida is known for her romance novels. Picture a Mills & Boon novel, but in Hausa.

Speaking to TIME, Farida said: “Women turn to romance novels to figure out how to live their own lives.”

And her books draw inspiration from real-life events, too!

Discussing her series “The Block of Ashes,” Farida revealed she was inspired by the story of her neighbor who, trying to solve her marital problems, decided to see a juju priest. She said:

I try to reflect the reality of society in my stories. These juju doctors had become a menace in many homes.

Visit HERE to read Farida’s full story, and HERE to see the full list.