Monthly Archives: October 2011

Celebrating Women – “Matriarchs & Protégés”

Genevieve Nnaji CEO of St. Genevieve Clothing & Monalisa Okojie CEO of Nehita Jewelry.

It’s refreshing to see women in the spotlight. A couple of weeks ago, an event was put together by TW Magazine celebrating the ” Matriarchs & Protégés” of the Phoenix Gala to honor great Nigerian women who have made tremendous contributions to shaping our society in Lagos, Nigeria. A champagne brunch was held at Medici in Lagos hosted by Veuve Clicquot. In attendance was our very own Monalisa Okojie of Nehita Jewelry, Los Angeles, California, Genevieve Nnaji , Joke Silva,Bella Niaja, including  other celebrities  from  academia to entrepreneurship and artist. Kudos to you Monalisa and women of excellence all over the world.

Below are some pictures taken at the Champagne Brunch, exclusively brought to you by AfriQtalk.

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Leroy Bamidele Fagbemi – An Advocate For People With Disability

Leroy Bamidele Fagbemi, “aka” Mr. Flint” is an American based Nigerian entertainer, born to the Fagbemi family of Lagos. He is also, an advocate for people with disability for a good reason.  Leroy Bamidele Fagbemi, sustained a spinal cord injury from a road accident, late 90’s in the United States (USA), which confined him to the wheel chair, not giving up his dreams, he returned to his first love, music.

As a successful hip hop artist, Mr. Flint is back with good news for the physically challenged, his foundation “Second Chance in Life”  is an organization that is all about helping  people with disabilities to discover their passion and help them achieve their dreams in whatever career they want to pursue. Fagbemi’s  new video “You think my life is easy”  shows a young man, who deals with everyday challenges but not deterred.

In my conversation with Mr. flint, he expressed his frustration with celebrities, artist and governments in Africa for not doing enough to bring awareness about disability, especially in Nigeria, where people with disability are often discriminated against or seen as liabilities. ” Handicaps are humans beings, they do what normal people do, but the difference is that they can’t walk”.

As for any his future projects, Mr. Flint’s goal is to see that the Nigerian Government gets involve in disability awareness campaigns and foundations, provide adequate rehabilitation facilities and infrastructures to ensure that people with any form of disability live a normal life, learn life coping skills and are accepted by society.

He emphasized, how such programs has helped him to become independent. However, Leroy Bamidele Fagbemi, believes that appealing to corporate organizations and Nigerians in the diaspora is key to supporting his pet projects in Nigeria. For more information, contact Mr Flint at http://facebook.com/lfagbemiskinnyjoe

Facts About Disability in Africa

According to The World Bank, 20% of people with disabilities make up the poorest of the poor, which translates to approximately 260 million people with disabilities living in absolute poverty.  The unprecedented level of poverty among this group and the associated hunger leads to Malnutrition, which in turn can result in a number of disabilities, such as stunting, blindness, and diabetes. Also, hunger is a driving force, which push disabled persons into street begging. Generally speaking, disabled people are seen as ‘good for nothing’ and they suffer severe psychological problems in Africa.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that about 500 million people live with disability worldwide, with about 75% living in the developing countries (Mickailakis, 1997; Lang and Upah, 2008). In Nigeria, WHO estimates put the number of people with disability at 19 million or approximately 20% of the country’s population (Lang and Upah, 2008).

There are no credible and robust statistics in Nigeria about most things, including disability. There is therefore a big knowledge gap that needs to be bridged.The Nigerian government supported the UN standard rules on the equalization of opportunities for people with disability. There was also a decree promulgated in 1993 to enhance the social and societal position of people with disability.

Nigerians living with disability are no better off when compared with others living in other parts of the developing world, in terms of the challenges they face — they are poor, marginalized and excluded (The Guardian, April 12, 2009; Lang and Upah, 2008).

Despite the declaration of full participation in the disability agenda of the United Nations by the Nigerian government, Nigerians with disabilities are still faced with these challenges (The Guardian, April 12, 2009; Michailakis, 1997). A recent review of disability issues in Nigeria identified many factors why the disability agenda continues to suffer.

Notable among them were: the absence of disability discrimination laws, lack of social protection, poor understanding of disability issues by the public, and poor access to rehabilitation services. The report recommended, among others, the collection of robust and reliable data, and advocacy for the passage of the disability bill into law (Lang and Upal, 2008).

Nehita Jewelry Brand Makes Waves in Lagos, Nigeria

AfriQtalk, first announced back in May, 2011 that Nehita Jewelry was set to go global with plans to launch in fine boutiques and specialist stores worldwide. That’s right!  On 9th of October, 2011, CEO of Nehita Jewelry, Monalisa Okojie, once again showcased her luxurious collection of some of the finest handpicked exotic stones, golds and conflict free diamonds at the Clear Essence California Spa and Wellness Center in Ikoyi, Lagos. Guest were entertained with a fashion collections by Derin of Fablane and music performances by Haykm of Serengeti music.

Her jewelry, designed from exotic stones, has been worn by Whitney Houston, Natalie Cole, Alan Cumming, Melora Hardin, Michael Henderson, Sally Pressman, CCH Pounder, Katherine Joosten, Meagan Good, Brandy, Hosea Chanchez, Carrie Ann Inaba, Quinton Aaron, Malina Moye, Jackie Long, Gramma Funk, Lisa Raye. Monalisa’s next stop will be in Accra, Ghana before heading back to the U.S.

Monalisa has a strong commitment to support ethical causes through donating a generous portion of Nehita profits to charities such as the International Center of Education and Youth Development. She also personally ensures the ethical sources of materials and conflict free diamonds. Monalisa puts artistry into every piece of her gems.

Janelia’s McNair Sanya – “Love Song in Yoruba”

Janelia McNair Sanya is the daughter of an American father and Nigerian mother, a Nigerian singer who was born in Houston and raised in Nigeria. Janelia brings a unique vibe to her mix of Adult Contemporary music. Her musical influences include; Sade, Bob Marley, Fela Kuti & Barbra Streisand. Janelia  have performed at numerous clubs, colleges, concert series, theatres and festivals including Artscape, Marylands’s biggest arts & music festival. She’s  performed opening act for artist such as Kindred Family Soul, Raheem DeVaughn, and many more.

Janelia sometimes address socio-economic problems through her music.  She’s played at Africa Malaria Day concert in Washington, DC to help raise funds for malaria treatment and prevention in Africa. Janelia’s “Love Song in Yoruba have been well received by fans across the globe, her video is set to air on BET International, and other African network stations such as AIT, Sound City, LTV, MITV, TV Continental, Music Africa and other Nigerian stations.  Janelia performed  at the F.A.C.E List Awards in New York on March 26th, 2011 where Africans committed to excellence were honored. Her music is for the grown & sexy. You go girl!

Food For Thought

By Switz Chef (Olufemi Sweet)

Click to find out  AfriQtalk’s Pick of the day @ Palmview Manor Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos. Nigeria


To have a free recipe for my pick of the day, email me at afriqtalk@yahoo.com.

Diversity Visa Lottery For 2013 is Here Again!

If you’re planning on migrating to the U.S, here is an opportunity to visit:  www.dvlottery.state.gov.  Every year, the U.S. Government makes available 50,000 permanent resident visas to citizens of countries that have a low rate of immigration to the United States, known as the Green Card Lottery. The Diversity Visa Lottery is mandated by the U.S. Congress and administered by the Department of State.  The purpose of the Visa Lottery is to diversify our immigrant population in the U.S. Therefore, the Visa Lottery is open to countries whose natives number is less than 50,000 immigrants during the previous five years.

Also the number of eligible countries change from year to year. According to Deputy Assistant Secretary for services David Donahue, there are a few changes to the program this year, South Sudan and Poland will participate in the 2013 program,  while Bangladesh no longer qualifies and will therefore not participate this year because of high rates of immigration to the U.S.

The online registration period for the 2013 Diversity Visa Program (DV-2013) began on Tuesday, October 4, at noon, eastern daylight time and will conclude on Saturday, November 5, at noon, according to the department’s website. There is no charge to complete the Electronic Diversity Visa Entry Form, as usual fraudulent websites are posing as official U.S. government sites.

Some companies, even Law firms are posing as the U.S. government and asking for money  to complete DV entry forms. Any e-mail requesting an applicant pay a fee up front is fraudulent. The entire process will be done electronically, from registration to the interview scheduling process.  It is very important that you keep and save your confirmation, or registration number.  If you are selected, the website will also be where you  should go to find information on the date, location, and time of your visa interview.

You will need to complete the immigrant visa application, submit required documents and forms, pay required fees, complete a medical examination, and be interviewed by a consular officer at the U.S. embassy or consulate to demonstrate you qualify for a diversity visa. While those who file for adjustment of status in the United States will receive separate instructions on how to mail DV fees to a U.S. bank.  Any omissions on the application, particularly names of dependents, may result in disqualification of the applicant.

The Kentucky Consular Center will provide application information either by mail (for DV-2011 selectees) or online through the Entrant Status Check on the E-DV website www.dvlottery.state.gov (for DV-2012 selectees). After you receive instructions, you will need to demonstrate you are eligible to receive a visa by qualifying based on education, work, and other requirements. The law and regulations require that every DV entrant must have at least:

A high school education or its equivalent; or

Two years of work experience within the past five years in an occupation requiring at least two years’ training or experience.

It is important to understand that as soon as you confirm that you have been successful in the process, you should pursue the immigrant visa immediately because it must be completed by the deadline of September 30, 2013. If the deadline is missed, so will the opportunity to immigrate. Also be aware that typically more than 55,000 winners are selected, but only 50,000 visas may be issued, so there is a rush to complete the process. It is a first come, first served basis.

Good luck to all DV applicants.

October is the perfect and pinkest time to bring awareness about Breast Cancer

News Release:

For more than 25 years, National Breast Cancer Awareness Month has been a time to reaffirm our commitment to fighting breast cancer and to remind ourselves of the importance of prevention and early detection. Breast cancer remains one of the most frequently diagnosed cancers among American women and despite remarkable advances in treatment and prevention, it remains the second leading cause of cancer death. This year alone, it is estimated that more than 230,000 U.S. women will be diagnosed with breast cancer and nearly 40,000 will die of the disease.

Regular mammography screening can help lower breast cancer mortality by finding breast cancer early, when the chance of successful treatment is best. If 90 percent of women 40 and older received breast cancer screening, 3,700 lives would be saved each year. Costs, even moderate co-pays, deter many patients from receiving these important screenings. Under the Affordable Care Act, women’s preventive health care – such as mammograms and screenings for cervical cancer – is covered with no co-pays or other out-of-pocket costs.

In addition to regular mammography screening, there are steps that women can take that may help reduce their risk of developing breast cancer. Women should talk with their doctor about their personal risk for breast cancer, when to start having mammograms, and how often to have them. Women should also try to maintain a healthy weight, exercise regularly, and reduce their intake of alcohol. If a woman is found to be at increased risk of breast cancer because of her medical history or a known high-risk gene mutation, she should talk with her doctor to decide what her best options are to reduce breast cancer risk might be. With the release of new Women’s Preventive Services Guidelines, a well-woman visit is available to women to have an opportunity to discuss her health care needs with her medical provider—at no additional cost to her.

The Affordable Care Act is also helping women who are going or have gone through costly breast cancer treatment. Beginning in 2014, it will be illegal for insurance companies to discriminate against anyone with a pre-existing condition. In the past, insurance companies could deny coverage to women due to pre-existing conditions such as breast cancer, and if coverage was attained, insurance companies set lifetime and annual limits on what the companies would spend for benefits. We have done away with lifetime limits, offering women the peace of mind that their health insurance will be available when women need it most. We are also phasing out the use of annual dollar limits over the next three years until 2014 when the Affordable Care Act bans them for most plans.

These changes are making real differences in the lives of American women and families. Prevention, coupled with continued research, will help save more lives and improve the quality of life for all of us touched by breast cancer.

~ U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Health & News – President Proposes $320 Billion in Health Care Cuts

 September 29th, 2011

As part of a plan to reduce the federal budget by more than $3 trillion over 10 years, President Obama has proposed $320 billion in cuts to Medicare and Medicaid. Most of the savings ($248 billion) would come by slowing the projected growth of Medicare in the coming decade, according to the White House. The remaining $72 billion would be shaved from Medicaid and other health programs.

Details of the plan include:

  • Pharmaceutical companies would be required to lower their rates to some beneficiaries. The change would allow the federal government to receive the same brand name and generic rebates for low-income Medicare patients as are provided to Medicaid beneficiaries. This proposal accounts for the single biggest savings for Medicare, an estimated $135 billion over 10 years starting in 2013.
  • New beneficiaries would be required to pay higher deductibles. The current, inflation-adjusted deductible ($162/year) would increase by $25 in 2017, 2019, and 2021.
  • Medicare premiums would increase by approximately 30 percent for new beneficiaries who buy private insurance to help fill gaps in Medicare. The protection afforded by Medigap policies “gives individuals less incentive to consider the costs of health care and thus raises Medicare costs,” according to the White House.
  • Starting in 2017, some new beneficiaries would be required to make co-payments for home health care, which is now exempt from such charges. The co-payment would be $100 per episode (defined as a series of five or more home health visits not preceded by a stay in a hospital or a skilled nursing home).
  • Higher-income Medicare beneficiaries would pay higher premiums for Medicare Part B and Medicare prescription drug plans.
  • Medicare payments to nursing homes, home health agencies, and rehabilitation hospitals would be reduced. Medicare payments to nursing homes with large numbers of hospitalized patients (because the patients did not receive appropriate care in the nursing home) would be reduced even further.
  • Doctors would have to seek approval from Medicare for the most expensive imaging services.
  • A revised formula for calculating Medicaid payments to states would save a projected $15 billion over 10 years (but would shift those costs to the states).
  • Over the next decade, $3.5 billion would be cut from a prevention and public health fund created by the 2010 health care law.
  • Medicare would cut payments to hospitals and other providers for bad debts that result when beneficiaries fail to pay deductibles and co-payments.

The President’s proposed savings would represent less than 3 percent of what the government expects to spend on Medicare and Medicaid in the next 10 years, but nevertheless generated protest from many quarters. The drug companies, through the industry group Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), lashed out against what it called “price controls” for the Medicare prescription drug plan (Medicare Part D).

Senior groups also denounced the plan. “AARP reiterates its strong opposition to any proposals that would raise costs or cut the hard-earned Medicare benefits that millions of seniors depend upon every day for their health and retirement security,” said Nancy LeaMond, executive vice president of AARP.

“The cuts to the Medicaid program in the president’s proposal … shifts the burden to states and ultimately onto the shoulders of seniors, people with disabilities, and low-income families who depend on the program as their lifeline,” said Ron Pollack, executive director of the consumer advocacy group Families USA.

The American Hospital Association (AHA) also criticized the Obama proposal, saying that reduced Medicaid and Medicare provider rates would lead to 200,000 job cuts by 2012 for hospitals and businesses they support. Rich Umbdenstock, AHA president and CEO, called the president’s plan, “The wrong prescription to create a healthier America and sustain job growth in a sector of the economy that is actually adding jobs.”

Medicare and Medicaid insure more than 100 million people, and account for nearly a quarter of federal spending.