Seven or eight months ago, I stumbled across an ad for a fellowship program to develop Africa's storytellers. I decided to dig it up and... it seemed so wrong! I was expecting a formal, serious and perhaps boring concept note explaining the fellowship. Instead, there was this blog post that had the colour and breeze of a sanguine and fun character behind it making me feel like I had known the writer all my life. The best part of the wrongness, though, was that the name of the writer of the post (and co-founder of the organisation behind the fellowship program) was Chidi. A Nigerian name! This was looking very much like a "for Africa by Africa" experience, yet with an innovative, world-class feel.
So I applied. And then, I got the email informing me that I had been selected. And after thinking about it, I decided to turn it down.
You see, I already had a very busy schedule- running a school of media and creative arts, working on a video portal, working with clients to create short documentaries, hosting a big annual conference, doing some public speaking... I knew I needed something like the Amplify fellowship (which was why I applied in the first case). However, being confronted with the reality of making the list, I was very unsure of my ability to cope. I would have to spend time meeting with co-fellows and communicating online, working with peers, developing content, attending classes and working on projects- which could be more complicated for me considering that I was more resident in Ibadan than in Lagos where meetings would take place. It sounded a bit like enrolling for a Masters course- and er... there's a good reason why I don't have a second degree, isn't there?
Anyway, I talked to my wife. She asked me to take it. I sent in my acceptance late.
A few weeks later, I realised that I had missed the very first meeting. I hadn't been following updates on the designated messaging app, expecting that the official start date would be communicated via email. When I learnt that I was the only Nigerian fellow who had missed the message, it finally hit me: in a world of social media and mobile, I had actually become quite outdated! I was thinking like an old man!
To start with, I needed to purchase a good smartphone. More importantly, as I began attending classes, I came in contact with other content creators- fantastic people- and got challenged. So, I set a target for myself: to upgrade my production facilities. The Amplify fellowship came with a stipend which I dedicated to the attainment of this goal. Before long, I discovered that the fellowship had become one of the commitments I was most proud of. We found ourselves working on projects for huge brands, and suddenly it did not seem out of place to keep thinking bigger.
It's 6 months since we started and we are in Kenya to round off, make final presentations and graduate. I'm already having nostalgic feelings about the fellowship- although we've been informed about a separate program aKoma will be launching called Tribe.
I think I'm blessed to have been part of this. I wish also, that it could be extended to other places and people. I know of fantastic content creators in Ibadan, for instance, for whom this could be life-changing. And yes, dreams come true. One year ago, there was no Amplify by aKoma. Five years from now, Africa's storytellers will dictate the story trends of the world- thanks to Amplify by aKoma!