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There are hundreds of languages in the world, but a smile speaks them all

If you talk to someone in a language he or she understands, that goes to the person’s head. If you talk to somebody in his or her language, that goes to the heart. This is a famous quote by the late Nelson Mandela who was expressing the art and significance of language.

February 21st 2015 is International Mother Language day. On this day we are encouraged to preserve and keep our heritage alive by exercising our mother tongue. It is also a day where we are encouraged to speak another language. In other words, International Mother Language day is aimed to promote linguistic and cultural diversity as well as multilingualism.

Mother Language which is also known as ones Mother Tongue describes the language in which a person has learned from birth (or consequently within the critical period) it can also be used to describe the language that a person speaks best. It also becomes part of one’s identity.

This day which seeks to celebrate languages, was established in 1999 by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). The day has been commemorated in all corners of the globe since February 2000

As part of primary and secondary education (in most parts of the world), we are encouraged to learn a second or even third language for example, I learnt German and French (other schools at the time gave Italian, Spanish, Latin and various other languages as options). If you had the privilege of learning another language in school or if you have a general interest in another language, February 21st 2015 would be a great day to practice.


FRIENDS & LOVERS: Premiering on Sunday 22nd February at 19:30 WAT

After her boyfriend Kunle, leaves her for another woman, Jenny turns to her best friend Frank for comfort. Having just gone through problems with his girlfriend Sheila, Frank also welcomes Jenny’s companionship. One thing leads to another and they end up as friends with benefits during which they start developing feelings for another. But their newfound relationship is put to the test when Sheila shows up, ready to work things out with Frank. Jenny is heartbroken that Frank would even consider working things out with Sheila and breaks up with him. Frank goes to Jenny’s place in a bid to get in touch with her and sees her hugging Kunle. He concludes that Jenny has made up with Kunle and leaves depressed. When he eventually makes an attempt to patch things up with Sheila, Frank discovers that she cheated on him with her boss and had been playing him all along. Five months go by and Frank runs into Kunle who explains to him that Jenny never took him back. Frank rushes over to Jenny’s place and is shocked to see that she’s pregnant. He nevertheless promises to love both Jenny and the baby and is pleasantly surprised when she tells him that the baby is his. An overjoyed Frank proposes to Jenny and she says yes.


Nigerians & Love: Are we on the right track?

When love is not madness, it is not love. Loving is not just looking at each other, it is looking in the same direction. Anyone can catch your eye, but it takes someone very special to catch your heart. These are just a few famous quotes depicting the notion of “love”.

With Valentine’s Day around the corner, it is only fitting that we turn to the topic of love and relationships and delve into how much things have changed over the years and why. Are men and women forgetting the fundamental attributes to a successful relationship or marriage?

Based on more than a decade of research and experience, our in-house “Life Coach, Psychotherapist and Relationship Expert”, Lanre Olusola shared his top 5 pillars that Love and Relationships are built on and they are as follows:

1) Friendship – Be “Best of Friends” and build the kind of friendship that you have with your best female or male friends

2) Forgiveness – Be able to forgive one another over and over again – Know that you will always both offend each other daily and you both deserve to be forgiven. For it’s to both your benefits.

3) Knowledge and Understanding – In relating with each other well ignorance must be eliminated to a great degree, you must know about each other’s past, present, future; you must know about each other’s strengths and weaknesses; you must know each other’s personality type, styles and your preferred communication language; you must know each other’s love language but more importantly understand that you need to use the knowledge to create and maintain rapport and communication within your relationship: A key is to defer to using your partners default to engage with them instead of yours.

4) Kindness – Having empathy and compassion for your partner is very critical for the health of your relationship – Always position to outdo each other in kindness, empathy and compassion.

5) Maturity and Emotional Intelligence – knowing that each person sees things from a completely different perspective and being able to accept it and work together regardless is critical. Being together is different from when you were single and living only for yourself.

So, there you have it from the Catalyst himself! With Valentine’s Day on the horizon, let us take the time to consider our relationships or marriages and get them on the right track. Let’s pursue relationships with genuine and pure intentions, put love at the heart of it all…start with these 5 pillars and you’ll be almost there!


Dear Singletons…

Let’s talk “the single life”. There are some people who cannot do without being in a relationship whilst there are others who prefer the single life. The thing is if you can’t be happy during the single periods of your life, chances are it will cause problems in the future in regard to relationships, eg. Low self worth, clinginess or the ability to think for yourself.

I know Valentine’s Day is upon us and it’s now more than ever that society makes the singletons feel like outsiders, but my advice to you is enjoy the single life while you can! Some people try to avoid the “single status” as though it’s a disease but I’d say wear it, rock it and own it like it’s an award you’ve won. It can be the most glorious time if you embrace it.

Being single gives you the chance to find yourself (especially after a break up). You’ll discover that you’re a different person to how you were before you went into the last relationship so you’ll have to discover yourself again. Find out what you do and don’t like…

This period will also give you a chance to explore what you want to do with your life whilst creating your own rules without having to think about what your partner will say. You’ll be free to take chances, explore other countries for months on end. Try your hand in this industry or that industry, the possibilities are endless and the freedom is like none other.

Regain your health! I came across one of the funniest but most spot on quotes once which read “break-ups produce the best body builders”. Most times after a break up, men and women head straight to the gym, the men say “I’m going to bulk up and make her wish she didn’t leave me” the women say “I’m going to work out in the gym and make him cry for this Kim Kardashian body”. This is all well and good but I’d say get your health back for YOU! You may have picked up a few unhealthy habits whilst in the relationship so there’d be no better time than now to work on your mind, body and soul.

After saying all this you should know that I’m not saying relationships are bad, relationships (the right ones) are great but whilst you’re single it would be wise to invest in yourself. So this Valentine’s Day, love yourself (even buy yourself a gift) and embrace the single life!


House On The Rock Church takes a stand for peace and non-violence with movie premiere

Ahead of the forthcoming 2015 general elections, House on the Rock, one of Nigeria’s leading churches reinforces its call for peace and anti-violence in Nigeria with the screening of one of the most important movies ever made as regards to Peace, Struggle and Growth; the award winning movie, SELMA.

The movie Selma which chronicles the true life story of the late Dr. Martin Luther King jr. depicting the struggle against racism and inequality is billed to premiere at the church premises in conjunction with the United States Embassy February 8, 2015.

“Peace and harmony is important to us all. Regardless of our ethnicity, religion or political persuasion, our country Nigeria must remain united and peaceful. This is why House on The Rock Church, positioned as a center for Social Justice and Equity has decided to bring people from various classes in the Nigerian society together for a remarkable event where we can all stand united for peace at a time like this. We also seek to remind individuals with the Selma movie premiere event that regardless of any differences or grievances we may have, violence is not the answer, thus non-violence must continually be our stance.” A statement from Pastor Paul Adefarasin, the Senior Pastor of the church reads.

Adefarasin also iterated the need for the Church to be the voice of reason promoting non-violence in the times leading to the elections and beyond. “The pulpit of God is not for partisan politics but for promoting the Kingdom of God” he further stated.

According to information from House on the Rock, the United for Peace campaign will also be visible across social media with the hashtag #United4Peace. This social media campaign will provide people the opportunity to also participate by taking a stand for peace and non-violence before and after the elections.

The Selma movie premiere event is expected to feature high profile personalities from corporate Nigeria, various cadres of the government, the media, the diplomatic corps, politicians including governorship and presidential candidates of various political parties amongst other eminent personalities.

 Beyond the movie premiere, the House on The Rock nationwide peace initiative aptly christened, United4Peace is expected to run from now, all through the elections and afterwards to remind the Nigerian citizen that peace is non-negotiable and highly important for the stability of the nation.

In the twenty years of its existence, House on The Rock has been in the forefront of many community development initiatives notably in the areas of health and social justice, most recently Project SPREAD which reached over 4,000 families in Lagos during the yuletide celebrations.


Out with the old, in with the new!

16th Jan 2015 As we have just said goodbye to 2014 and welcomed 2015, I’m sure as we do year in and year out, some of us have made New Year Resolutions. I’m not going to discourage you from taking on New Year resolutions neither should you feel condemned if you have already fallen off track with the resolution. Truth is, we all have areas in our lives that need improvement so instead of giving yourself the added pressure of “I’m going to stop doing this thing this year” or “I’m going to start doing that thing this year” why not explore the idea of becoming a better and stronger person in general?

Let me break it down, making New Year resolutions means you pick one area of your life or one habit (most likely negative) that you want to kick out the pan. But making such promises or resolutions can put added pressure on oneself, furthermore if you were to break that resolution, let’s face it most people would say “I’ve broken the resolution, I might as well quit now” and that’s a very normal way to react. But if we turn it on its head, choosing to become a “better me” has no expiration date, it’s an ongoing process. Prodding further, it covers every area of your life. If you fall off the wagon, you can get back on it.

So, how do I become a “better me?” I hear you ask, well here are a few pointers from the top of my head.

The first one is obvious, eat healthier. When we fuel our bodies with good food filled with nutrients, it is the beginning of self love. This is the body you’re going to be lugging around for the rest of your life, so you may as well love it and be good to it, right? Eating healthier not only makes you feel great, it reduces the chances of developing numerous diseases.

Simplify your life. Every so often you need to re-evaluate your situation. Don’t forget you’re constantly evolving and changing. There are some people who you may not need in your life anymore and are currently holding you back; someone who was there for a season and that season has gone. Cut them off. Let me illustrate further…just like a baby’s umbilical cord is cut at birth for him or her to be free from their mother, so you must metaphorically do the same. I once heard this striking phrase “Evaluate the people in your life, then promote, demote or terminate. You are the CEO of your life!”

Spend more time with loved ones. It’s easy to get tied up with the hustle and bustle of life that we tend to get side tracked and forget to spend time with our loved ones. Make it a practice to visit family and friends at least once a month (especially older relatives, remember nobody lives forever and you don’t want to regret anything).

Show gratitude. A report once revealed that those who show gratitude regularly have higher levels of positive emotions including life satisfaction, vitality and optimism. Here’s a scientific fact for you: Materialistic people have all the “tangible” things but they’re low in well-being…the reason? They lack gratitude.

There are many more but I’ll end with this one…leave your comfort zone and challenge yourself! No one ever became great without breaking down the invisible walls they formed around themselves. Try new things, fail a few times. Take up a new hobby or travel the world. Whatever it is, just do something.

So like I said, forget the New Year resolutions and begin creating a “better me”. Not only will you feel the difference; people around you will be impacted positively.


Africa’s Most Successful Women: Mo Abudu

Africa’s Most Successful Women introduces you to the most outstanding African women who are making giant strides in business, politics, technology, entrepreneurship and leadership on the continent and elsewhere around the world.

Mo Abudu, a 50 year-old Nigerian media entrepreneur and talk show host, is the founder of Ebony Life TV, a fast-growing black African multi-broadcast entertainment network, which showcases informative and entertaining programmes that portray Africa at its best. Abudu, who has been described by international news outlets as ‘Africa’s Africa’, is keen in her resolve to rewrite Africa’s story. And it’s time you took notice. In a recent email interview, she recounts her entrepreneurial journey and reflects on the lessons she has learned along the way.

You are the host of ‘Moments with Mo’, one of the most successful syndicated talk shows on African regional television. And now you run an African television network. Walk me through your journey as a media entrepreneur

My passion to help change the narrative about Africa began to grow as far back as when I was a teenager living in the UK, schooling in Tunbridge Wells in Kent, a town that had just a few blacks at the time. As I have said many times in the past, here, I had to learn to stand up for myself, to defend my identity and my race in an environment where you continually got asked the most ridiculous and mind-boggling questions like “Do you guys live in trees and holes in Africa?” “Do you guys dance around fires?” “What do you eat for breakfast?” Very ignorant questions. Those sort of questions could either make or break your spirit but I was very determined that I was going to stay strong. This kind of afro-pessimism simply fuelled a burning, deep-seated desire in my subconscious to one day help to rewrite the African story; to get people to talk about the issues that affect our society and to tell the African narrative in a contemporary and interesting way; to change the perception the world had of us; to let the world know that in spite of our challenges as a developing continent, Africans are not a bunch of savages but mostly a breed of gifted and remarkable people. So, after my education and a flourishing modelling career in the UK, I returned to Nigeria in my late twenties. My children had reached their teens; I had begun enjoying a successful career as Head of Human Resources and Administration for oil giant, Esso Exploration and Production Nigeria Limited (ExxonMobil). I always say that this experience at ExxonMobil was the best thing that happened to me at that time because the job gave me an invaluable understanding of corporate structure and business discipline, which would eventually prove very useful in my future business endeavours, to include the Protea Hotel Oakwood Park, of which I remain a shareholder and director; Vic Lawrence & Associates, now one of Nigeria’s leading outsourcing firms, where I also remain founder, and so on. However, as successful as all these business ventures have thankfully been, nothing perhaps has given me the most fulfilment as the prospect of exploiting the media as a tool to affect global perceptions about Africa. So, with no TV experience whatsoever, I had approached DStv back then with the Moments with Mo proposal which I had hoped would persuade them to see that it was time Africans had a talk show that projected all that was positive, progressive and celebratory about the continent. I had seen a gap in the market for talk shows that were quintessentially African on the DStv bouquet. I had observed that there were talk shows on NTA, and other Nigerian channels but there wasn’t a single Pan-African talk show at the time. I did not get a positive response from DStv as I was told they were not looking for a Pan-African talk show on the platform at the time. But interestingly, in response to the need for local content on the platform, the window of opportunity soon opened for us and that was how, in 2006, Moments with Mo was born out of the vision to build and project a new, stronger, more independent and more confident Africa; an Africa that speaks for itself; that celebrates its people and achievements and solves its own problems. I had taken about 5 pilots of my talk show to them back then but they were all rejected and eventually, one was accepted. And even at that point, I was told they were not going to commission, that they were only going to license, which means they would buy the content from you at an agreed price. So I was told to go and look for sponsors, which I did, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Why did you choose to then start EbonyLife TV, Africa’s first global black entertainment network, and describe the transition from talk show host to head of a television company, navigating a teething media business sector with no prior experience?

The irony was that as far back as 2006 when I first approached DStv with the proposition that Africa was ripe for its own Oprah Winfrey or Ellen DeGeneres show, I was at the same time already requesting for a global TV channel opportunity. At the same time I was exploring channel possibilities with SKY in the UK. I have always reckoned that the vision to project Africa in a different, more positive light, needed a big platform and this was what spurred me to start thinking of establishing EbonyLifeTV. Looking back now and considering how ambitious the dream was and all we had to surmount to arrive at where we are now, one has to admit that God’s appointed time is always the best. I think, for the media however, the sector may have been run by people who are very passionate about the sector rather than people who are business managers, suffice to say it is crucially important to understand the business of the media. You have to be very passionate about what you do and at the same time, be a business manager, which includes having a solid business plan. I don’t think the financial sector in Nigeria understands our sector, I can tell you this because we spent a long time at strategy sessions with expatriate financial consultants who really understood media business to help identify what the revenue streams in TV are because in every business, there has to be a way to make money. It’s not just about the passion to sell Africa’s story, if you want it to generate money, there’s got to be something bankable in it. Sometimes, you may not have all the expertise required to make what you dream of in terms of profitability, you then have to find someone that is business savvy enough to show you how this business works. He will also tell you how long it is going to take for you to break even, especially if the business is media. Media is one of those businesses that take off very slowly, so you know that borrowing money at a high interest rate to run the media business is not the way to go. Gaining this understanding was key in getting EbonyLife TV off the ground and running till today.

How would you describe EbonyLife TV and the kind of programming it provides?

EbonyLife TV creates content that speaks to the continent’s most important demographic, the custodians of the present and of the future, the youth aged 18 to 34. We believe no one is speaking to this key demographic of the continent the way we do. This is a demographic that is extremely passionate and confident; tremendously creative and global-minded. It is one that craves a platform for self-definition and self-expression; one that sees a different Africa, an Africa that tells its own story through the showcasing of the continent’s best talents, from lifestyle and entertainment to fashion and music, education, information, love and relationships. So, with the mantra “Live the EbonyLife”, our channel is proud to be broadcasting premium, original and exclusively African programming which is both inspirational and aspirational, celebrating style and success while motivating the audience to dream and dream big. Our programming is one that leaves the viewer with a cool, glossy, polished and sophisticated experience, from reality to talk; drama to entertainment and comedy. Through our programming, we also avail companies amazing brand integration and placement opportunities like never before. We believe it is very vital to give African brands, big and small, the opportunity to be seen on a global scale, showing the world that African brands can compete with the world’s best.

What lessons have you learned in business?

I have learned that information is power. The media business in Nigeria and indeed, Africa is grossly underestimated and the windows of opportunity need to be further explored. A lot of people do not understand the power of the information. One needs to be armed with information in order to successfully navigate any venture. Information is your compass. If you know better, you will do better. Before deciding to enter into any venture, one must, to the best of their ability have explored possibilities for growth, foreseen challenges, made projections, thought exhaustively through every inch and breadth of the venture and researched what other people have done to succeed and where they failed.

What advice do you have for those who desire to follow your entrepreneurial footsteps?

Anyone who wishes to be an entrepreneur must know that bright ideas are great, however, they are not even half of the work; execution is everything. Yes, as the saying goes, ‘there is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come’, but when that time comes, you must be prepared to bleed sweat, tears and blood to bring your ideas to life. For women, never ever see your gender as a handicap. Never think yourself inferior. Be ready to do twice the work for half the usual reward. When the door isn’t opened, kick down the door. Take the regular harassment and other obstacles women face in stride. In fact, be prepared for them. Be prepared to be told off, to be told you are not good enough, to go unrewarded for even doing the same work your male counterpart has done. Work with your passion, let it consume and drive you. Do not be distracted. On down days, it will keep you going. Also, surround yourself with like minds. In fact, you should exhaustively curate those who will go along with you on your journey. I can’t say that enough.

Article written by Forbes contributor Mfonbong Nsehe


Christmas Does Not Come From A Store, Maybe Christmas Means A Little Bit More

What does Christmas mean to you? To some it means family time, to some it means presents and to others it means a few days off work to relax and recuperate. For Christians however, it is a time in which they reflect on the birth of their Saviour, Jesus Christ. Whatever the meaning for you, you should take some time to appreciate the gift of life and thank your lucky stars that you’re alive to see Christmas 2014.

If I was to ask you, how do you bring Christmas home (to Africa)? What would you say? Can you imagine a Christmas without the tree, decorations, bright lights and Christmas music? Oh, and not to forget “Santa Claus” (did you know that the red and white theme was actually initially used to promote Coca Cola?) Think about it, until you see and hear these things, no matter how hard you try, it would never feel like Christmas. I guess it adheres to the “seeing is believing” adage, (even in Nigeria). Regardless of where you are in the world, one would always know when it is the festive season. At the build up to Christmas, there is always crazy traffic (more than usual) and don’t get me started on the unbearable long queues in supermarkets, shopping malls, (and just about everywhere). I’d say that the long and short of it is that no matter where you are in the world, the fundamental elements that exemplify Christmas are there… on different scales of course, but they are there nevertheless. One could argue that these are the ways in which we “bring Christmas home” wherever we are.

My most memorable Christmases as a child were those where I was surrounded by family and loved ones, music and mum’s food…memories that linger for years. I would encourage us all to create loving memories this Christmas, make it the best one yet…instead of focusing on the negative things that have occurred in the last 365 days, concentrate on the positive.

Christmas is most known to be the season of love, kindness and gratitude. If you’re not feeling in the festive mood yet, put some music on… a good old sing song of Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You” will soon put you in the festive frame of mind, or if you’re more of the traditional type, a nice song of “O’ Holy Night” will surely do the trick.

We asked some of our ELTV fans what Christmas means to them and what they’re most grateful for, here are some of their replies:

“Christmas means showing love and being compassionate to one another”, Queensley Okoye

“A time to show more love and share happiness”, Olaniyi Oluwatosin

 “I’m most grateful for life and good health”, Ganiyu Olaide Williams

 “I’m grateful for good health & God’s blessings in my family. For my friends & relatives. For promotion & a new job. For love.”, Ugonna Lancaster Okoro

A very Merry Christmas to all our sponsors, partners, clients, staff and of course our fans! Wishing you all the blessings this season has to offer and see you in the New Year…!


One in one hundred men are diagnosed with breast cancer

One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. One in eight. Let that sink in for a minute.

Throughout the year we have awareness months for all kinds of causes, but we don’t know anything past the title itself. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

What is Breast Cancer? Breast cancer is a disease whereby malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the breast. This form of cancer is the second leading cause of death among women.  Everyone whether male or female, is born with some breast cells and tissue. Regardless of the fact that the male sex does not develop milk producing breasts, a man’s breast cells and tissue can still develop cancer. As a matter of fact, 1 in 100 men are diagnosed with breast cancer, surprising isn’t it? But it is all so true to American Football Fallbacker Ernie Green who is a survivor of breast cancer amongst many others. The most frequent type of breast cancer for men is “Infiltrating Ductal Carcinoma” which simply put means, cancer which has spread to the surrounding breast tissues that started from the milk ducts.

Wish to know some of the symptoms? The most common and recognised one is a new lump or mass in the breast. Others include nipple discharge or redness, breast/nipple pain, swelling of part of the breast or dimpling of the skin over the breast. For men, the most common symptom is a lump beneath the nipple.

As one gets older (men and women), the risk of getting breast cancer increases. Family history also plays a part; men and women who have close relatives with the disease (mother, daughter, sister) are twice as likely to develop breast cancer. If one has personal history, for example having been diagnosed with breast cancer in one breast, the chances of cancer in the other breast or an additional/reoccurrence in the original breast increases. Women who started their menstrual cycle at a younger age (before the age of 12) are also at a higher risk and on the other side; women who went through menopause later (after 55) have a slightly increased risk. You may or may not know this but having no children or having your first child after the age of 30 increases the risk of breast cancer. There is an increased risk of breast cancer for men who have elevated levels of estrogen, previous radiation exposure as well as a rare genetic condition called Klinefelter’s syndrome.

Now, I’ve stated quite a few high risk factors, let me flip it around and tell you a couple of ways of lowering the risk of developing breast cancer. The most obvious one because let’s face it, it’s good for one’s health in general is exercise! Exercise in the postmenopausal phase in a woman’s life lowers the risk. Another one is breastfeeding, doing this for at least one year over a woman’s lifetime has been shown to lower the risk.

It is not all bad news though, screening tests are conducted for those who may appear healthy and are not suspected of having breast cancer. The purpose of this is to detect breast cancer early before any symptoms can develop and the cancer is usually easy to treat. Yearly screenings are recommended.

Well known figures who are survivors of breast cancer include, the former U.S first lady, Nancy Reagan, popular singer Anastacia and the popular tv personality and journalist, Giuliana Rancic.  While many have beaten breast cancer some have succumbed, don’t let that be you. Educate your friends and family, be aware!