Bukky Shonibare is
•2016 Mandela Washington Fellow. Also known as YALI FELLOW
•Founder, Girl Child Africa Founder/Coordinator, Adopt-A-Camp (Providing educational assistance to Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and out-of-school children in host communities in the North East of Nigeria.)
CEO, 555 Consulting (HR | Strategy | Management Consulting
•She has a Master’s degree in Peace and Security from Addis Ababa University and Certificate in Entrepreneurial Management from Pan African University.
•Also a Certificate, Social Sector Management from Pan African University (Enterprise Development Services).
•Certificate in Journalism and Creative Writing from London School of Journalism
•She is a member of Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).
She has won several awards among them are;
•Award for Excellence
•Award for Excellence in contribution to nation building.
Special Recognition Award
•Special Recognition Award for meritorious service to TBC Business Summit.
•Award of Honour – Excellence in Charity Award
•Tabitha Heritage Foundation
Honorary recipient for excellence in charity award in recognition of exceptional contributions, consistency, and tenacity in the support for less privileged in Nigeria.
•Most Innovative SME Toolkit Trainer, 2010.
I know there are lots of us here, so having everyone introduce themselves may take time. However, during the Q&A, it’d be good to have your name and what you do, then your question.
The introduction above has given a very succinct detail of what all that I do…
So, to structure the conversation today, I’d focus on three broad areas: Then (my background), Now (my current path), and Later (future career aspirations.)
You may ask questions without and outside the context, and I’m hoping I can do justice.
I grew up full of aspirations. I wanted to change the world. I see the poor and I want to give. I cry watching movies (I still do…🙄).
I was that girl that, though I wanted to change the world, I was limited.
Our circumstance, in the family, was so poor that I believed people from such backgrounds shouldn’t see too far.
I believed, then, that it would be out of place to – for instance – want to drive a car or travel out of the country. It just was too big for my smallness.
Things got worse after my parents divorced. None of them could afford paying for our school fees. I’d go to people and beg them to send me to school. I got all ‘No’s and no ‘Yes.’ I guess they didn’t see the need to invest in me.
It was bad. Very bad.
While I’d dream, I cautioned myself and told myself not to forget that I didn’t go to school.
To make money for survival and schooling, I did all sorts, except prostitution. That’s why I relate to street begging and I connect to house-helps. I was once that girl.
I really wanted to be a Lawyer. I wanted to defend women like my mother who didn’t have the strength, courage, and the wherewithal to fight wife-beaters.
My passion to empower girls span from building girls into women that can stand on their own and not have to stay in an abusive marriage because they cannot afford to feed themselves.
To worsen my circumstances, I was sexually abused. Brutally!
Till date, I still carry scars from the beating and slamming my head to the wall, all in my abusers’ bid to overpower me.
I lost everything that makes me a girl.
I grew becoming a young woman with no sense of self esteem.
I wanted to be protected.
I wanted to be safe.
I wanted to be loved.
I wanted to be accepted.
I wanted to be groomed and nurtured.
But, I didn’t.
All was ‘THEN’…
Things started changing after I got a job as a Receptionist.
My salary was ‘millions’ to my household.
At least, we could afford to by a TV, a charcoal iron, and a used radio.
I still remember how happy my mother was!
While my income wasn’t sufficient to pay for schooling for myself and my siblings, it could do same for 1 sibling at a time.
I painted this image of my ‘THEN’ so it gives you an idea of why I do what I do today.
There is always an emotion – a story, a connection – to the fields we find ourselves.
I have now earned a B.Sc in Business Administration and in the process of completing a Masters Program in Peace and Security…
Now… I have done some Certificate and Executive programs in my fields of interest.
I started my NGO – The Light Foundation (since 2005) because I want to reach girls who were once like me – those who wish to go to school but cannot; as well as support poor people who knows daily experience hunger.
I am reaching out to girls like Kauna, who wants to be a Doctor… Lydia, who wants to be the first Pilot from her community, and Hauwa, who wants to be a Nurse, having being inspired by the Nurse who saved her mother.
Now… I advocate for girls who are daily experiencing the horrendous abuse from their abductors.
Girls who were abducted over 855 days ago…
I didn’t just plunge myself into the #BringBackOurGirls movement. I do so today, tirelessly, because I can only imagine them going through the same kind of sexual abuse I endured at different times.
Now… I am also reaching out to girls who courageously escaped. Speaking to them and hearing their brave stories tells me that residual in girls – as weak and feeble as they may be – is the power to transform nations. We only need to empower them and give them the enabling environment you be and do.
Also… now… I’m on the Strategic Team of the ECOWAS Early Warning and Rapid Response Directorate where we monitor community resilience and ensure communities are less prone to conflict.
I’m also on the Strategic Team of the African Union ‘Humanitarian and Natural Disaster Support’ Operations.
I am a Working Group member on the Resolution 1325 (Women, Peace, and Security) of the United Nations Office for West Africa.
I also go round to speak at events, especially on issues affecting girls…
Under my NGO, I coordinate ‘Girl Child Africa’ and ‘Adopt-A-Camp.
Through the first, we provide access to education for girls (and boys) in underserved communities.
And in Adopt-A-Camp, we provide support, especially educationally, for IDPs in IDP Camps and host communities.
I also go round to speak on the humanitarian crisis, including speaking at last year’s 70th United Nations General Assembly.
Now, we have also designed a solar-powered collapsible classroom for communities where there are no schools.
For instance, my trip to Chibok last year revealed how there’s no functional school in the community, yet, there are thousands of school-age children.
My work in the North East also revealed same.
But with the collapsible schools, we can immediately mount pre-designed classrooms/schools in communities where there are none.
We’re hoping to deliver the first newly-designed ‘Learning Hub’ this December.
Although, in Biu (Borno State), we’ve already set up a Learning Tent which is aiding learning for the 600 school children in the IDP Camp.
Also, now… I have my money-making business… which is 555 Consulting Limited through which I/we consult on HR, Strategy, and Organizational Development
We have a training arm called ‘School of Human Resource Management’
And I lecture Human Resource Management at the Pan Atlantic University.
As part of my consulting, I have been a Consultant on the Federal Government YouWIN Program from inception.
I hope I’m able to communicate the linkage between my ‘Then’ and ‘Now’…
As a Career Plan, I intend to groom and position myself for the rebuilding of the North East. The task may seem little, but my work there reveals how it’d take a generation to rebuild that ravaged land.
My turf is in ‘Education for the underserved and I intend to play, primarily, in that space.
I also acknowledge that as a way of building community resilience, education plays a key role… therefore; we’d be conducting yearly research to identify states that are prone to conflict as a result of lack of access to education.
When girl and boys are educated, what we are doing, invariably, is to empower them for nation building.
Later, also, I hope I can advocate for and drive the process of Nigeria redefining what we call ‘Education’ to the extent that our educational actions is one that can be easily translated to peace, development, and better living conditions for people.
Later, also, I hope to have Learning Centres in rural communities where we can nurture kids to be key players in nation build. Nothing like our conventional education; something new. As the saying goes, only a foolish person (nation) will keep doing the same thing and expect a different result.
It is unwise for us to keep teaching and learning the same thing as my grandmother and expect a new outcome.
To position myself for these ‘Later’ tasks, I am starting a Law degree next month (September), after which I’d go for a PhD in a field that’d help me act effectively in my aspirations.
My recently completed YALI Fellowship has also helped and I intend to act in accordance with the leadership lessons learned.
In closing, I’d challenge you all (including myself) to ensure that in our respective field of endeavours, we define, shape, and contribute to the future of a nation that’s comfortably habitable for our children and the generation yet unborn.
I thank you!