I love Vogue and my beautiful country Nigeria. These are two words that no one has ever thought to couple until now. So every Tuesday, allow me to write this open letter to anyone that cares or has the power to make this happen, especially to the people over at Conde Nast. The title of my new series is “Imagine a Vogue Nigeria.”
Dear Sir or Madam,
Nigeria is one of the most misunderstood country in the world. My goal is to correct that misunderstanding. One important conclusion is that it is a country founded on the principles of celebrating the ceremonial side of life. Nigeria therefore has a pivotal, yet widely neglected role to play in accelerating progress to achieve some of the world’s most pressing issues whether in the realm of poverty, health or even fashion. And so I would like to draw attention to the country, to discuss how its people both within the country and in the diaspora personify human solidarity, large enough to bring about any transformation.
Consider the time of this writing. If you are following the international press, Nigeria has done the unimaginable, quashed the Ebola outbreak in the most populous city in Africa. However, the country is still battling with the terrorist group Boko Haram and six months later, outrage over the abduction of the 200 Chibok schol girls remain. If you follow the Nigerian press, the presidential election campaigns are underway amid accusations of corruption by elected officials. Then there is the case of our country’s megachurches insisting they will not pay tax. Yes, this reports maybe worrisome to some of your readers. Nigeria has the unfortunate distinction of being one of the countries with the most negative media coverage, whichever way you follow. Some may say it is the worst of times as the country faces deep predicaments, from the threat of Boko Haram to #bringbackourgirls, even the never ending scourge of corruption at the hands of elected officials are worthy of critical debates.
But I will not dwell on this. Instead, I will tell you about the people, how investing in them can lead to real, radical social change, the stuff that dreams are made of, even with power to contain a virus as deadly as Ebola. This is the power of Nigeria. A country that is also experiencing it’s best of times. Look at Blessing Okagbare, who triumphed at the 2014 Common Wealth games this past summer, becoming the fourth woman to win the 100m and 200m. This was after a disappointing outing at the London 2012 Olympics that would have demoralized even the best of us. Or Jason Njoku who is rethinking how online distributorship of Nigeria’s movie industry occurs with the creation of his online internet company in Nigeria. My point is, Nigeria is such a challenging but also an inspiring country.
It is time for a change. This letter is an attempt to argue deliberately and aggressively about a country that I so passionately believe in with the goal to illuminate certain truths that many non-citizens may ordinarily dismiss. It is an attempt to speak about the Nigeria many Nigerians know of so that “other” people’s feelings and perceptions about Nigeria are not the only ones considered. Until someone speaks in a fair and unbiased manner for us, then our voices will never be heard.
It goes without saying that the only way to imagine any thing is to, well, imagine it-so imagine a Vogue Nigeria? Our cover girl Yagazie Emezi with her infectious upbeat spirit is on a glorious crusade to locate young and upcoming photographers with the intent of providing a platform that showcases their works and points of view of Africa. Her work is the most ravishing and elegant example of the extraordinary strength that lies within Nigerians when we make a concerted effort to portray our worldview positively.Yagamezi’s story, like the other stories I will share, are a powerful template upon which a Vogue Nigeria should be constructed. These Nigeria, are honest hardworking engineers, and young college professors like myself. They are also your doctors, your nurses, your lawyers, your financial analysts, your journalists, your teachers, your students, your waitress, your artists, your artisans, even your taxi-cab drivers. They are extremely passionate about Nigeria and are willing to contribute if equitable, effective, and mutually beneficial opportunities are made available. Now imagine, if there was a way to harness all their potential.
So there is a change afoot and whatever your view of the Nigerian situation, when you imagine Vogue Nigeria, you will be confronted by radically different perspectives and stories about Nigeria, from people you may not have heard of before, all eager to provide fresh insight on a country that we are extremely passionate about. What I hope you learn is that there is a country, Nigeria, so beloved by its citizens, misunderstood by others, that the only way to transform thinking is to re-imagine it anew. It is from this context that I ask you to imagine Vogue Nigeria.
Editor of Isiomastylereport.com
p.s Stay tuned next tuesday for more on my crusade for a Vogue Nigeria…