2017 has been a fantastic one so far for the Ventures Africa team and hopefully for you. Well, we are still in January (which our copy editor believes is three months in one) but stories keep spinning out of the newsroom because that’s what we do.

So far we’ve given you What Nigeria stands to gain when Badagry becomes a maritime city, #BBOG1000: Is the search for the Chibok girls a lost cause?, Barack Obama’s farewell speech gave us chills and The book revolution in South Sudan. But we’re not here to talk about 2017 just yet, because the year 2016 left the VA team in awe of the work of other journalists (well, more envious in a way) – why hadn’t we published these stories.

My Bloody Valentine (from Buzzfeed by Monica Mark)

Stuck in Sierra Leone during the height of the Ebola crisis, we follow Ms Mark’s tale about Valentine Strasser, the country’s youngest dictator who is more mystery than man. The story relieves the glamour of successful coups in West Africa albeit through the eyes of an inexperienced classroom of men who were high, a shy dictator who could speak passable English and blood diamonds.


And then we meet Strasser, washed up and fallen from grace, yet educated by the world and the quiet existence he now leads in a country that he calls home amidst friends and foes, familiar faces alike.

  • Iroegbu Chinaemerem Oti, Contributor

The way ahead (from The Economist by Barack Obama)

How has a country that has benefited—perhaps more than any other—from immigration, trade, and technological innovation suddenly developed a strain of anti-immigrant, anti-innovation protectionism?


Former President of the United States, Barrack Hussein Obama asks where his successor (before the Hilary vs. Trump covered the headlines) will lead, not just America but, the rest of the world in the face of populism become the new trend as opposed to capitalism. He mirrors the concerns of hardworking citizens in the face of reports that the rich-poor gap continues to widen as 1 percent of the population holds the wealth of 99 percent (yes, including me and you)

  • Akinkunmi Akingbade, Contributor

The life and times of Strider Wolf (from The Boston Globe by Sarah Schweitzer)

“How do you spell long tongue?” he asked his grandmother.


Sarah Schweitzer takes her reader on a journey through the everyday life of fatally abused 5-year old, Strider Wolf, and his family. Her storytelling was so detailed, colourful, and poignant that it moved people to action. A GoFundMe page was set up for Strider and his family, the story spurred a supporters group on social media, and several follow up articles from different publications.

“As a writer, the story is my kind of story–the sort of stories I love to tell,” says Hadassah Egbedi, one of most prolific writers at Ventures Africa. “The fact that it made quite an impact shows the significance of our role as writers; how important it is to tell the stories around us,” she enthuses.

Schweitzer was a finalist for the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for this masterful narrative. It also earned photojournalist, Jessica Rinaldi a Pulitzer Prize for feature photography.

  • Hadassah Egbedi, Staff Writer

My President Was Black (from The Atlantic by Ta-Nehisi Coates)

In the curtain call of Barack Obama’s American presidency, we remember the smile that launched the first black Presidency of the US. An episodic tale that chapters the life of the American president, which broods with a sense of “this might not happen again” – a black US president.


The article is so good that the January/February issue of The Atlantic magazine for which it was the cover story sold out and 40,000 more copies have been printed. Ta-Nehisi Coates takes the reader inside the mind and inner circle of America’s first, and probably last, Black president. He succeeds in making me care for someone I knew very little about and in making me understand America’s racially charged system and what people of colour are up against in the world.

“He succeeds in making me care for someone I knew very little about and in making me understand America’s racially charged system and what people of colour are up against in the world,” says David.

  • David Adeleke, Copy Editor

Cheering for the First Female President, Until They Weren’t (from The New York Times By Jodi Kantor)

It was supposed to be a defining moment in America’s history and the women were prepared to celebrate the first female president, Hilary Rodham Clinton, but it was not meant to be. Donald Trump won the electoral votes needed to become the 45th President of the United States.


Jodi Kantor shares the reactions of women to Hilary losing the US Presidential elections – the highs, the lows and seemingly optimistic view regardless that the glass ceiling can still be broken

  • Torinmo Salau, Contributor

The rise of the Chinese Super League (from Mailman by Tom Streatfeild-James)

Tom Streatfeild-James explains the evolution of the Chinese super league that has now gained traction all around the world. It describes how the super TV sports channel CCTV has been deployed to boost followership and how the Chinese business tycoons are luring top talent players and coaches alike, to the most populous country in the world.


It’s a brilliant overview of the success of the Chinese project, the CSL, so far, as well as what the future holds for the fast-rising football league.

  • Olumide Jokotade, Contributor

Outrage over actor Rahama Sadau’s hug highlights Nigeria’s divisions (from The Guardian by Jason Burke)

The banning of popular Kannywood actor Rahama Sadau after appearing in ClassiQ’s music video for the track “I Love You” caused reactions across Nigeria as the divergent views showed a major divide in the country, not just along sectarian lines, but also ideals.


After briefing hugging the musician in the music video, the actress was condemned all over the northern part of the country, a condemnation which ended in a lifetime ban from acting. The 22-year-old didn’t find sympathy from her colleagues as well.

But with every storm comes sunshine, despite the ban the actress is staring in bigger roles outside the confines of “Nollywood” and has met with Akon and Jeta Amata, on the subject of starring in Hollywood.

  • Felicia Ochelle, Online Editor

What the fall of Aleppo means for Syria’s civil war (from Huffington Post by Nick Robins-Early)

Aleppo had finally fallen back to government forces after years of civil unrest and countless atrocities unaccounted for. As the implications of the city being regained are expressed from a weakening hold of power by hard-line terrorist groups, it broaches another angle to the multifaceted theme called war.

Buses are seen parked in Aleppo's government controlled area of Ramouseh, as they wait to evacuate civilians and rebels from eastern Aleppo

Robins-Early’s article ignited the need to be on the ground in Syria to tell the different angles of the situation in the country – I started to brush up on my meagre Arabic and collate social media mentions on the situation.

For me, the situation in the Middle East might seem far for many because of geographical implications but the potential of such conflict to be mirrored in West Africa always makes me unnerved, a feeling I wish is felt by readers alike.

  • Abdulmalik Fahd, Contributor and Curator of stories we wish we wrote in 2016

Elsewhere on Ventures

Triangle arrow