Today our guest post is one of the youngest social entrepreneurs I know. She has used social media to tell untold stories, emboldened so many young lives and healed people from their nightmares. Let’s welcome the bubbly and beautiful Mirabelle Morah
AMOAFOWAA: You’re welcome to amoafowaa.com
MIRA: (Laughs) Thank you so much Her Royal Majesty, Amoafowaa!
AMOAFOWAA: Briefly tell us about Mira, from childbirth to now.
MIRA: I came into this world one beautiful Monday in April, during the late 90’s and I grew up in a family where the reading culture was very much encouraged so I developed a healthy love for literature while young. In between studying English & Literary Studies at the University right now, I also volunteer for different youth or societal based organizations whenever possible. I also am the chief editor of Blankpaperz.Com, a digital platform I founded for promoting and amplifying the stories of young African writers who are using words to address societal issues. Stories and written words are really powerful tools for raising awareness, changing paradigms and even for advocacy, hence I want to encourage and support as many young writers as I can by publishing stories on Blankpaperz and organizing events or workshops for bloggers and writers. I also studied Social Entrepreneurship at California State University, Chico as a SUSI student leader and I’m also a 2018 Global Teen Leader.
AMOAFOWAA: Wow! Who did you grow up reading?
MIRA: Interestingly, I think I grew up reading Cyprian Ekwensi, Chukwuemeka Ike, Zaynab Alkali, some other Nigerian authors and even some Harlequin and Silhouette novels. Chimamanda Adichie came into my life during my early teenage years and she was really a huge influence. AMOAFOWAA: Favourite food?
MIRA: (Laughs) Anything African that tastes really good!
AMOAFOWAA: Blankpaperz. What motivated your inspiring venture?
MIRA: I just wanted an online website where I could post my stories and also post the stories of some of my friends, and maybe their friends too because I knew really amazing writers who just wrote and didn’t put up their stories or poems any where so people could read them and be inspired. I started a little bit afraid and unsure, but the idea of publishing my friends’ stories online grew. Blankpaperz is growing past online activities into bloggers & writers meet up and writing workshops. I look forward to working on more ideas and partnerships to encourage and support more teenage or young writers, and to also cover deeper stories and articles from people who are afraid to speak up.
AMOAFOWAA: How noble. How old is your venture?
MIRA: I started Blankpaperz in April 2016.
AMOAFOWAA: Has Blankpaperz met your expectations since you started?
MIRA: Just like a baby grows everyday, Blankpaperz is growing and the expectations are growing alongside. My expectations overtime have been met and exceeded but for the goals I have right now, no, my current expectations have not been met yet and they’re still growing.
AMOAFOWAA: Any role models?
MIRA: Jesus because He’s tagged as one of the most influential persons who have ever lived. Nelson Mandela because of his selflessness, his great big heart, his love, his humanity— how did he do it?! Chimamanda Adichie because she writes about societal issues in such sublime ways.
AMOAFOWAA: Won any awards?
MIRA: Yes, a medal of honour from Street Priests foundation in their work to reduce the population of street children, being honoured as a YALI RLC West Africa Alumni, awarded the Study of the U.S Institutes for Student Leaders scholarship by the U.S Department of State, being tagged an Ashoka Changemaker, etc. I can say those are awards too, right?
AMOAFOWAA: Of course. What is your dream occupation and why the choice if any?
MIRA: Haha! Dreams grow! One time I wanted to be a professional roller skater, then the best female guitarist in West Africa. Then the best singer. Then another time the best paint artist and even a missionary (laughs). Currently? It’s hard to paint everything into the picture of “an occupation.” But being human, lending much ink, lending my voice to the voiceless and amplifying the stories and plights of people that need to be heard across borders is what impassions me the most. I will like to work with IDPs and help them. I will like to hug young boys and girls, make them laugh and tell them everything will be alright.
AMOAFOWAA: An inspiration you are. Between power and failure, where would you put social media on the scale of 10 to 0?
MIRA: Okay this is tricky! I will say 8 for power and 2 for failure on a scale of 0-10. 8 for power because social media is so powerful! You can reach out to all the people you never expected to reach out to beyond borders. You can get people to fund your cause, you can use it to raise awareness and advocate for a cause, you now know what’s happening in different parts of the world and so much more! It’s also powerful for negative reasons like the nasty things you put on social media can come back to haunt you years later. For failure also because we connect less with people physically now. We are always on our phones, missing out on the real time and real life conversations we could be having with people and all the beautiful moments we could be taking into our memories. We also spend time online admiring people’s —too often ingenuine online — lives more than we build our lives.
AMOAFOWAA: Who are your favourite singers and athletes of all time and why?
MIRA: For musicians I’m a fan of both Hillsongs and Bethel Music because they move my soul to worship. I like Falana music too and Alicia Keys because they sing about the society often. My favorite athletes are Seun Adigun, Ngozi Onwumere, Akuoma Omeoga the Nigerian Bobsled team and Usain Bolt because these are people who worked hard despite limitations and looked beyond their circumstances.
AMOAFOWAA: What is the naughtiest thing you’ve ever done?
MIRA: Me? Don’t I look like an Angel? (Laughs).
AMOAFOWAA: (Laughs) Well… If you were made president of Nigeria presently, what are the things you’ll change to transform your country?
MIRA: Being the head of a small group or a large country is never easy! There are always things that will work for and against you! But for your question, I will pay better attention to Nigeria’s failing educational system by allocating better and adequate funds, enforce stricter national security actions to stop all the mass killings, improve Nigeria’s electricity and infrastructure, encourage #MadeInNigeria products by making systems much more entrepreneur friendly, enforce stricter laws and actions on rapists and sexual predators, etc.
AMOAFOWAA: May you live to be a president of Nigeria. What do you think are the underlining problems of Africa?
MIRA: Greed of leaders
AMOAFOWAA: What would you look out for in choosing your future husband?
MIRA: (Laughs!) Oh my God! This is such an interrogation, Amoafowaa don’t you think?! Someone who has God at his core. Someone with vision and is kind hearted towards the needs of those around him even though unconnected to him. Someone optimistic too!
AMOAFOWAA: Sorry for the interrogation, I am a mind harvestor. Are women at par with men in enjoying rights of humans in Africa in this 20th century? Justify your answer.
MIRA: Africa is such a huge continent so I cannot make a conclusive statement for an entirely diverse group of people. In certain places women do enjoy basic human rights as men do but it’s not everywhere! So to the best of my knowledge and effort at generalism anyway, no! Africa as a continent is not yet at the point where women and men are both at par in enjoying basic human rights. Many African communities and families still do not see the essence of female education. In the work place there is still disparity between the wages of women and men as well as the uneven and low percentage of women in positions of power — but this is actually improving.
And also, girls mostly in rural communities are still being (sometimes secretly) subjected to Female Genital Mutilation and even when they have the rights to say no to FGM, it goes against deaf ears because their families want to “prepare” them for their husbands and “reduce their promiscuity.” Wow!
AMOAFOWAA: Hmmm. What in this world do you think we need to check in order to maintain the earth?
MIRA: We need to check the rate at which we trash mother nature with our dirt! We need to be more aware about recycling! Stop dumping plastics in the rivers! Stop deforestation! Even after drinking a sachet of water, I usually put my wrap in my bag or hold it until I get to the nearest trash can and I put it in there. I don’t enjoy littering.
AMOAFOWAA: What is your favourite line in Nigeria’s National Anthem?
MIRA: Every single line in the second stanza of the anthem which we don’t sing too often.
“Oh God of creation
Direct our noble cause
Guide our leaders right
Help our youth the truth to know
In love and honesty to grow
And living just and true
Great lofty heights attain
To build a nation where peace
And justice shall reign”
AMOAFOWAA: Powerful stanza. Your dream for Nigeria in fifty years?
MIRA: Selfless leaders and individuals at every level — including myself — with conscience and genuine care for the growth of the country and people.
AMOAFOWAA: Advice your followers and followers of amoafowaa.com
MIRA: Keep being creative, ask questions, work hard, have integrity and remember to always TRY!
AMOAFOWAA: Thank you for your time here.
MIRA: You’re awesome! Thank you so much.
AMOAFOWAA: You’re “awesomer”. Her inspiration came in this form:
FOR MIMI MORAH
A young flower blossoms
In beauty, plastering care in many bosoms
Her nicely scented nectar of rightness
Healing stems of broken flowers without tiredness
With a huge future to share
She starts uprooting many a nightmare
From weedy minds
Breaking chains of suppression of power blinds
Her hopes of a world with no fault
Making her a rich and blessed vault
Though her road be long
She waves always with a smiling song
You lotus flower in muddy grooves
I cheer as your power moves
Amoafowaa Sefa Cecilia © Jan. 21, 2018