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Nigeria: New diversity prize will boost young people’s work

To celebrate and encourage tolerance and diversity in Nigeria, a forward-looking group of citizens has launched the Nigeria Prize for Difference and Diversity, including a top award of 1 million naira (about U.S. $2,580).

From the African Human Rights Media Network

Graphic from the DIfference and Diversity Prize website.

Media entrepreneur Chude Jideonwo, a founding partner of The Future Project, created the prize to honor young Nigerians who are creating safe spaces for difference and diversity in the culture on their own and through their communities or organizations.

The Future Project is a social enterprise communications company affiliated with the Nigeria-based media consulting firm Red Africa.

For 15 years, the Future Project has awarded The Future Awards Africa to honor the work of young people from age 18 to 31 in fields ranging from arts and acting to entrepreneurship and technology.

Human rights advocacy is one of the categories of the Difference and Diversity Prize, as illustrated by this image from the prize’s website.

This year, Jideonwa has underwritten the additional Prize for Difference and Diversity.

Winners will be selected in multiple categories: mental and emotional health, sexuality, gender, special needs, art, faith and spirituality, and human rights (prisoners, rape, sex workers).

The mission of the prize, the Future Project stated, is “to open up the voices, hearts and spirits of young people across Nigeria, for them to embrace their true identities and accept their uniqueness without feeling suppressed, oppressed or misunderstood.”

The Future Project is currently accepting nominations through its affiliated YNaija website for young Nigerians. The diversity prize is connected to YNaija’s Non-Binary project.

The winners will be announced in September.

Ten selected individuals will be offered a residential fellowship — a “one-week workshop where they will be coached and mentored by a faculty of the brightest minds across media, rights and governance,” a group of “authentic leaders from across the country, who are advocates for inclusion and diversity.”

An awards presentation is planned for December. At that time, “the overall winner will receive N1 million [about U.S. $2,580] endowed by journalist and entrepreneur Chude Jideonwo for this first edition” of the prize.

Chude Jideonwo

Jideonwo stated about the award: “I am especially looking for those who work in states and communities in Nigeria where it is most dangerous, even fatal, to be different, people and organisations who do not know how to navigate funding, spotlights or networks. I want to help them, in my personal capacity—using my voice, brand, networks, and talents—in their quest to make us more fully human.”

“Nigerians and Africans cannot be fighting for Black lives—which are a minority in the West and the East—while oppressing their own minorities here at home, and resisting the urgency of diversity,” Jideonwo wrote. “No. Black lives matter. Gay lives matter. Trans lives matter. Women’s lives matter. Atheist lives matter. Agnostic lives matter. Autistic lives matter. Neuro-divergent lives matter.”

For more information, read his full account, “This is why I am endowing a N1 million prize for difference and diversity in Nigeria.”

RightsAfrica is a media sponsor of the prize, along with its media partners, the Erasing 76 Crimes blog, the African Human RIghts Media Network and NoStringsNG.