Being Nigerian is hard enough. But these breakthroughs felt like collective wins and made it a little bit easier to believe in project Nigeria.
Burna Boy gets his Grammy
Second time was the charm for Burna Boy as he landed a Grammy for his album Twice As Tall which won the best global music album category. This after losing to Angelique Kidjo’s Celia the year before. Accepting the trophy from his home in Lagos, Burna declared the prize “a big win for my generation of Africans all over the world.” He had earlier performed at the Grammys pre-show. Wizkid was also recognized for his duet with Beyonce on Brown Skin Girl which won the best music video.
Chess in slums initiative
The Chess in Slums Africa two-week program to rehabilitate children living around Oshodi Underbridge was one of the most heartwarming stories of the year. In the pilot phase that quickly went viral on social media thanks to the efforts of founder Tunde Onakoya, fourteen out of about 40 children were awarded prices worth N100,000 both in chess and mental maths after the training was concluded. After the chess competition, donations poured in to support taking the kids out of the streets and presenting them with a better life.
Chikwe Ihekweazu heads WHO’s hub for pandemic intelligence
The World Health Organization appointed Chikwe Ihekweazu, former director general at the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, as the agency’s assistant director-general of health emergency intelligence. Ihekweazu resumed this role in November and is now leading the Berlin-based WHO Hub for Pandemic and Epidemic Intelligence. The hub, a partnership between the global health body and the German government aims to prepare and protect the world from global disease threats like, you know the one we are currently dealing with.
Climate change bill signed into law
In the wake of his participation at the United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP26, in Glasgow, President Muhammadu Buhari signed the Climate Change bill into law. The Climate Change Act owes its origin to a bill sponsored by federal legislator Sam Onuigbo, and provides for, among other things, the mainstreaming of climate change actions and the establishment of a national council on climate change. In Glasgow, Buhari committed Nigeria to cutting its carbon emission to net-zero by the year 2060.
Coronation of Olu of Warri
There wasn’t a lot of good news to unite Nigerians across differences on social media this year but the splashy coronation of the 21st Olu of Warri Kingdom, Ogiame Atuwatse III managed to do just that. Streamed live on YouTube, the whole of Nigeria was for a few hours in Warri as the dashing, youthful monarch claimed the throne of his ancestors. For a spell, the pomp and pageantry of the event sparked a resurgence in royalty, tradition and ancestry among some young Nigerians with the young king impressing with his progressive attitude and aptitude for leadership.
Eloghosa Osunde’s stunning short story, Good Boy
The Paris Review awarded writer Eloghosa Osunde the 2021 Plimpton Prize for fiction, a $10,000 award celebrating an outstanding story by an emerging writer published in the magazine, for her astonishing story Good Boy. Carl Phillips, a member of The Paris Review’s editorial committee, cited among the story’s strengths its “vulnerability and its honest handling of joy—celebrating joy without ignoring the complicated psychology that, for so many of us, getting to joy has required.” Osunde’s first novel, VAGABONDS! will be published in 2022. Excited much.
Ten years ago, it was rare to see a Nigerian startup raising $10 million. Now the country’s fintech unicorns are becoming just as valuable as its banks or perhaps more so. Today, Interswitch and Flutterwave are valued at over $1 billion each, while OPay is valued at $2 billion. Nigeria now has the most unicorns of any country in Africa. The largest share of startup investment in the country has gone into the fintech sector. Out of about $4 billion startup funding that Africa, especially attracted in 2021, Nigeria earned the largest, chunk of $1.37 billion.
Iheanacho, Ndidi win FA Cup with Leicester City
Nigerian stars, Wilfred Ndidi and Kelechi Iheanacho won their first trophy with Leicester City in May. The Foxes defeated Chelsea FC 1-0 in the FA Cup final played at the Wembley Stadium. Iheanacho was prominent in Leicester City’s campaign, scoring the only goal that landed the club in the final in the previous match against Southampton. Iheanacho and Ndidi have now joined Daniel Amokachi, Celestine Babayaro, Nwankwo Kanu, John Utaka, John Mikel Obi, Alex Iwobi, and Victor Moses on the list of Nigerian players who have lifted the English FA Cup trophy.
Non-oil revenue grows by 15.7%
According to the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, Nigeria’s non-oil revenue grew to N1.15 trillion, representing 15.7 per cent above the set target rate in response to the federal government’s efforts at diversifying the nation’s economy. The growth recorded in the non-oil sector was mainly driven by trade and telecommunication. Other drivers include financial Institutions, Manufacturing, Agriculture and Transportation and Storage. Little win but we’ll take it.
Wizkid rules the world with Essence
Wizkid’s international breakthrough single, Essence became the global soundtrack to not just the summer but a cautious reopening of the world after covid shutdowns. The song, a brilliant duet with fast rising singer Tems captured the world with its addictive rhythm and message of longing and quietly became the most successful Nigerian song in the United States. Essence broke onto the elusive American charts, debuting at Number 82 on the Hot 100. Thanks to a recent remix featuring Justin Bieber, Essence went for a top 10 finish and is now nominated for a Grammy.
Wilfred Okiche is a medic, reader, writer, journalist, culture critic, and occasional ruffler of feathers. One of the most influential critics working in the Nigerian culture space, his writing has appeared extensively in platforms like YNaija.com and 360nobs.com. Okiche has provided editorial assistance to the UK Guardian and has had his work published in African Arguments, Africa is a Country and South Africa’s City Press. He has received trainings and acquired experience in multimedia and online journalism. He also appears on the culture television show, Africana Literati. He has participated at critic programs in Lagos, Durban and Rotterdam.