A Well Woven Web of Sisterhood Played Out!
The Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI) Nigeria Multi-Stakeholder Forum which was held on March 11, 2014, at Chelsea Hotel Abuja has come and gone. However, it is the beginning of a wake up call for women stakeholders like me to ensure that the Gender Technology divide in Nigeria is bridged. The needs and concerns of women remains a top priority as I continue to engage in the policy and regulatory best practices development process.
When I stepped into the grandiose of the reception area of Chelsea Hotel, matching the faces of my co- participating World Pulse sisters with their virtual images which was etched on my mind, rapturous joy welled up within me. The faces of Busayo Obisakin, Nadiye Tal and Celine Osukwu played wild cards in my head, so much that the glowing smile on my face depicted the reality that was about to unfold before me. I was about to have a live encounter with courageous personalities I had become closely connected to through the World Pulse online community. So much so, Sonia Jorge and Emilie Yam of the Web Foundation whom I became acquainted with through email correspondences. I also earnestly looked forward to new connections that will result from the much welcomed Forum.
I approached the registration desk with heightened curiosity, having sighted a pretty lady in a smart, knee length grey dress. The name tag neatly attached to the left part of her dress read Emilie Yam. The name spontaneously came alive as I recalled receiving an email from A4AI endorsed by an Emilie Yam. Without wasting time, I reached out to her and introduced myself. "Great, I am also happy to meet you" she replied warmly, as we hugged.
The meeting hall was all set up and a number of participants were already seated. I instantly took in the whole scenario as my eyes scanned the room for my World Pulse sisters. I spotted Busayo who was already seated and with an air of accomplishment, I took brisk strides towards her. "Hello ma'am, you must be Busayo" I greeted and affirmed gleefully. She stood up instantly and we exchanged an undoubtedly long anticipated hug. All too suddenly, Nabiye Tal joined in the frenzy as if to say "I am here, you don't need another round of searching". All three of us hugged joyfully relishing our woven web of sisterhood.
As we each settled into our seats, my eyes locked with Celine Osukwu's as she walked her way towards us. The four participating World Pulse sisters were finally together, and we exchanged another round of hard to end hugs. One thing was obvious- we had each eagerly looked forward to meeting one another, live! All four of us had found ourselves! The long awaited meeting was here and the air around us spelt excitement. Little wonder that Sonia Jorge the Executive Director of A4AI came over to share in the happy mood. I couldn't hold back as I told Sonia, " We are here representing World Pulse and our local works, and meeting ourselves for the first time.”I am glad we made it happen!" expressed Sonia, with shared excitement.
We had arrived early enough and still had some time to chat and take a few snap shots before the event kicked off. Nabiye, Celine, Busayo and I stayed glued together as we walked to and back from the breakfast table. Celine and Busayo had met before now and it was enchanting to watch them do a lot of catching up, never minding my attention craving interjections as I wanted to be a part of it all. Aha!
By the time the event proper commenced, there was no doubting the fact that we were in for serious business during and beyond the event. The think through sessions were very interactive and eye opening, just as our voices echoed especially during the breaks and group sessions. I can say of a certain that the Forum, particularly the break-up group sessions afforded each one of us an opportunity to be visible, heard and connect with the movers and shakers of the Nigerian Communication Technology industry. I am so thrilled to be listed among the A4AI-Nigeria Stakeholder Coalition, alongside my World Pulse sisters. I'll carry with me my evolving digital skills and greenness as always!