Friday, July 06, 2007

Touring the World in Search of...

Peopleized by: Ishtar - Friday, 06 July 2007

When discovering the Loomnie Blog, I was immediately intrigued as we could very well have traded geographical lives with one another. Born in Nigeria and an expert on Naija affairs, he still makes a better Westerner than myself in many regards, and therefor I just had to interview him...

Copyright Loomnie 2007

Ishtar: When you started your blog in 2006, you were looking for a job in Nigeria. What made you start a public blog? Did you let your friends and family know about it?

loomnie: Ehm... actually, I started blogging in 2005, even if I had only one post in the year. Now, more seriously, I started blogging just when I was about to leave Sweden to go back to Nigeria. I just discovered Blogger then, and I knew next to nothing about blogging. It was a time when I was pretty much confused about what to do with myself. I had finished an MA programme in a really good university, didn't know what steps to take after that, and, after stumbling on blogging, I decided to write a message to an imaginary audience. If you read the first blog - and the next few ones too - they were written in a sort of reflective way, without much thought about the audience. Also, when I got to Nigeria and started looking for a job it was a bit disappointing in a way, and writing about the disappointments was therapeutic in a sense.

So, in a nutshell, I would say that I started blogging without really knowing why I did. But then, when I left Sweden I found that it was a pretty easy way to keep all my old friends updated about things happening to me. All I had to do was to send them an email with my address, and with a request that they bookmark the page. I guess that answers my question about letting my friends know about it. My family? Well, you would find that I haven't mentioned anyone of them in a direct way in any of the posts. We are four children in my family, and one of my younger brothers now knows about it. It wasn't like I was hiding it from anyone, it is just that I never got to give talk to them about it. I would gladly give them the address... you can see that it is not an anonymous blog.

Ishtar: From reading your blog, you seem like a guy with pretty high standards, who doesn't settle for second best, unless forced to do so. So tell me, what are your life aspirations? Have they changed over the years?

loomnie: Pretty high standards? Oh yea, I have pretty high standards, but I probably would not agree with you if I thought that would be a good thing. I think it is not a good thing when one sets standards that would almost be impossible to attain. Most people like that are almost never satisfied with whatever goals they achieve because it could always be better. Ishtar, I hope you understand what I mean.

Life aspirations? I guess when I decided to do a degree in development studies I thought about working with a development agency or an NGO. I wanted to 'do' development, and to 'help people'. But coming back to Nigeria showed me that most of the people in the NGO 'industry' are actually there because they can make more money than they would either in the public or private sectors in Nigeria. After looking closer I saw that 'development' as an intervention might not work because people who work with the organisations are not knowledgable enough to take the perspectives of the people into consideration. Ok, maybe not knowledgable enough is not the right expression, maybe I should say they just don't know enough about the issues they are supposed to be dealing with, and they don't take many contextual issues into consideration in designing development programmes. This is not only in Nigeria but in the 'developing world' in general. I thought that the discipline that might actually be able to provide this bottom-up perspecive would be Anthropology because it is reputed to give 'voice to the voiceless' by listening to 'local voices' that otherwise would not be heard(actually, I was going to do a degree in Anthropology if I didn't get on the Development Studies programme). These thoughts eventually led me to thinking of anthropology as a field of study.

Thinking about it now, I don't know if I would say that my life aspirations have changed because I really don't know if I had any clear life aspirations. Even now, what I am thinking about is doing a damn good work of my PhD, and on time, and other things will follow. I am thinking about doing a post-doc after that. I see myself working in a research institute and teaching in a university for some years to come. But I am flexible enough to accept another course. 'We'll see how it goes' would be a good thing to say at this point.

Ishtar: When you started your blog, you were living in Nigeria. Now you're working in Germany. What is your take on the difference between the Western and the African continent?

loomnie: Living in Germany is definitly different from living in Nigeria. For one, there are so many things you take for granted here that you would be happy to have in Nigeria. I could mention the electricity and security issues as examples. But then other side of this is that you constantly miss your family and friends. I also miss some feeling of warmness that I would get in Nigeria for instance... but I have to be hasty in pointing that that too could get too much in Nigeria. I guess that what I am trying to say is that there is no perfect place. Wherever one chooses to live one should know that one would never have everything.

Ishtar: What do you think the next ten years of your life will look like? Feel free to speculate!

loomnie: What do I think the next ten years would look like? I have no idea. I probably would be able to answer a question about what I would like the next ten years to look like. I know that part of it would be rough as I have to finish my dissertation and decide what to do with my life after that... and I am sure you know that it is not exactly the best of times writing up a dissertation. Also, a wife and kids would be nice in ten years from now.... and you can add the house with a white picket fence to the picture. :D Really, I would like to have a family and a place that I can call home. Anywhere in the world would be home as long as the family is there. And no, I don't even have a girlfriend now.

Ishtar: Finally, what did you know about Niger before you encountered Ishtar News, and what is your take on Eden Foundation?

loomnie: Well, I knew that Niger is at the northern border of Nigeria, and that the country shares a lot in common with Northern Nigeria. But I must confess that I didn't exactly know so much about Niger. I think I told you sometime ago that I have been in more countries in Europe than in Africa, and I plan to make up for that sometime next year, starting with a tour of West Africa. So watch out, I may be in Niger sometime soon!

I think that the foundation you described in the posts on your blog sounds really interesting, and I daresay even great, but I really don't know so much about the foundation to be able to make any conclusive statement. But knowing that the organisation takes a long-term perspctive on issues is comforting because I am tired of the fire-brigade/ big bang approach of most of the NGOs around.... I think I really have to learn more about Eden Foundation.

Copyright Eden Foundation 2006

loomnie's Page
Authors Page: Ishtar

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Ugo Daniels said...

Great concept, the interview thingy. The answers are also quite uplifting. Kudos to Loomnie and YOU!

Ishtar said...

Thanks, Ugo man! Let me know when you join Peopleized and I get the Cyprus-Naija take!

Szavanna said...

Great to hear Loomnie's story - I am about to ask him some music related questions (of course) great questions & answers - Ishtar - looking forward to many more of your interviews! Take care - Szavanna

Don Thieme said...

Great Interview! Loomnie is one Nigerian blogger whom I had yet to come across.