Friday, September 14, 2012

NEXT Articles

From February to July 2011, I worked for a media company called NEXT.  It was a fabulous job.  As Digital Editor, I ran the team that ran the site that did the Wikileaks exclusive and new-media-style election coverage.  (FUN!)  We were number one for a moment there, and then the company died.  The superstar staff scattered in a dozen award-winning directions.

I wasn't hired as a writer, but everyone at NEXT wrote occasionally at least.  Here are the two articles I wrote for NEXT in 2011 (before they disappear completely from the internet).  Thanks to the pirates that kept this data alive.

Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver announce separation
 10th May 2011

Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver have announced their separation after 25 years of marriage.
Arnold is former award-winning body builder, Austrian migrant to the US who became a hit movie star with hundreds of millions of dollars in the bank. When the drab Democratic governor of California was recalled (eight years ago?) like a hundred Californians threw their hat in the ring to take over, but it was Arnold that won, with his promises to terminate the problems of California.

Arnold ran as a Republican, but he was fully supported by the entire Kennedy family, which literally stood behind him on the podium, on the day of his crucial announcement.

Maybe it was partly his rippling body that endeared him to the American princess Maria in the seventies, when they first met. Maria is a first cousin of John F. Kennedy, a true case of an American blueblood marrying a commoner. Maria Shriver is also a broadcast journalist and very good long-term friends with Oprah Winfrey.

Maria and Arnold have known each other for most of their lives. The couple has done very well for themselves, with four kids, great careers, and we hope an enduring friendship.

Back with the queens

The Queen's College (QC) Annual Speech and Prize-Giving Ceremony held on Thursday May 12 2011 at the College Hall on the premises of the school in Yaba, Lagos.

I arrived around 2pm during a spirited Atilogwu dance that meant I had just missed the National Anthem and Opening Prayer.
As for invited guests, the chairperson was not present but sent a representative, while the special guests of honour also had to cancel at the last-minute due to flight delays and work emergencies.
The former principals were in attendance; you can rely on them.
The guest speaker was Dayo Olumide Benjamin-Ajayi.
She was lively, in the tradition of the Black American Baptist preachers. Her performance began with her kneeling down, stilettoes and all, to greet ‘our mothers.'
She spoke of each person as ‘unstoppable' and taught about the Queen inside each one of us.
A Queen's College Old Girl herself, she had enthralling stories from her days stomping the same grounds, navigating some of the same challenges that the girls might face today, including the temptation to cheat, the fear of public speaking, and uncertainty about the future.
Before the guest speaker took the stage, the principal gave her report which showed, as usual, a very high pass rate at the West Africa Examination Council (WAEC) Senior Secondary Certificate Examination (SSCE).
93.5 percent of students had credit and above in English. 98 percent had five credits and above.
However, only 68 percent had five credits and above including Maths and English.
And the problem was with Mathematics - too many students still do poorly in Mathematics.
As a lifelong math-lover, I would like to offer my services to remedy this. The highest fail rates in SSCE in 2010 were in Mathematics, Accounting (each with five percent fail) and then Hausa and Yoruba (each with about 20 percent fail).
Other than these, most subjects had at or near 100 percent pass rate (by pass I mean ‘P' and above.)
As usual, the results in National Examination Council (NECO) were weaker than WAEC SSCE. It is thought that students just don't pay as much attention to the NECO exam as they do the other.
I attended Speech Day last year as the guest speaker. See July 2010 at for the speech. There was an utterly attentive young student in the front row during my speech, and later in the afternoon. She turned out to be the highest-scoring student in her class.
This Prize-Giving day, Phinuella was back, and she carted off so many prizes that there were jokes in the audience about her getting a Ghana-must-go to hold them. Currently in SS3, she had the highest SS2 score in English Language, Igbo Language, Further Mathematics, Physics, Biology, Geography, Economics, and Music. At least she ‘allowed' another student to take the Mathematics prize, while another daring colleague snatched the Chemistry prize.
In QC tradition, we love watching the superstars at Speech Day, but not only in the core subjects. The choir was lovely, but would not match the angelic vocal performances of Lara Bajomo (now the famous Lara George) back in the nineties. The band was raucous fun, and the traditional dances were very good. I think the 21st century dancers beat us - the 90s girls - not only in costuming, but also in beauty and gait. I noticed that there was art and freer expression everywhere, likely reflecting the current principal's love of art.
Mrs Ogunnaike, the PQC (Principal, Queen's College) was my beloved art teacher. I still remember drawing and shading this metallic flask with the correct light and texture effects. As my art teacher, she was pretty and she was good. She taught my little sister, who is now, finally, an artist. She had been the art teacher (as a youth corps member) of the guest speaker too, thirty-something years ago. Now she was the principal, seven months running, of Queen's College and about to retire. I can't believe that she is anything near 60 years old, and it strikes me that many of our teachers are retirement-age but not tired. They still have a youthful spring in their step.
Also in Queen's College tradition, the highlight of Speech Day is the standing ovation. It usually goes to the "Best all-round student" who is usually the girl (now ‘Old Girl') with the best result in the last WAEC SSCE. Yetunde Noah won that in 1993 as I watched and plotted my turn. She was a "yellow" girl with frizzy hair and she turned up smartly for Speech Day in a sailor-inspired suit (smart white skirt, navy blue suit top, nice legs, frizzy hair.) Ah, yes, three years later I donned my own sailor suit. Well, this year, the standing ovation was shared. Ayodele Kadiri (Best all-round student in 2010 WAEC/SSCE) and Odigwe Osato (Best all-round student).
No sailor suits this year; Speech Day is a bit more casual these days.


koye said...

I remember the glory days of 234Next, it was a decent brand and it seem they were set to be more, I still wonder where it went wrong.
Though the history of broad-sheet papers in Nigeria isn't good, the company could have forged on with it's online new site and try to develop some paid services around it.

t said...

The obituaries keep coming :(
What do you think is the next best thing in journalism/news/edutainment, I mean now, since we can't go back only forward?

t said...

Correction: Her name is Dayo Olumide Benjamin-Laniyi
and I just found that she was on the cover of the popular weekend magazine (newspaper insert) This Day Style in April.
See here