African Oracle

Wings dusts off the crystal ball to deliver hard-hitting predictions. Disclaimer: 100 per cent accuracy is not guaranteed.

Words Tolu Ogunlesi

Instead of alienating you by writing smugly about New Year resolutions and how your life will have no meaning without them, I’ve decided to do something different, something that might actually be useful to you, as you prepare for 2013: predict what the year ahead might hold. No one likes to be caught unawares. I’ve taken a long, thoughtful peek into my crystal ball (I swear it’s actually more sophisticated than any search engine) and now present four of the things that you need to look out for.

A New Social Network

Twitter and Facebook will remain  popular amongst Nigerians. Instagram and Pinterest will gain a bit more popularity, but the majority of Nigerians will not “get” them. Nigerians like to talk, and Instagram, with its emphasis on image, just doesn’t impress.
Anyway, never mind. In 2013, a home-grown answer to all these imported platforms will be born: a social networking site built around, guess what? Nigerian parties. Yes. Now you don’t need anyone to tell you that no one parties like Nigerians. You know that cliché about throwing parties to celebrate the opening of an envelope – I tell you Nigerians can do better than that. We can throw a party to celebrate the 50th anniversary of another party. Pre-party parties, post-party parties, anti-party parties, quasi-party parties, pseudo-party parties – that’s how we roll.

“Seventy per cent of Nigerians surveyed admitted to attending a minimum of five parties every weekend,” says Ian Kiddin’, an analyst at the Center for Unusual And Improbable Research at the University Of Western Africa. “At least two of these parties will typically be wedding receptions.”

So, here’s what to look out for in 2013: a platform that allows Nigerians to build connections around their annual calendar of ‘owambe’ (‘owambe’ being the Yoruba word that captures the idea of a typical Nigerian: colour-coded outfits, free entrance, as long as you fit into one of the colour schemes, loud music, pepper-laden meals, plastic souvenirs, etc).

This platform will allow users to build profiles around the parties they prefer (weddings, funerals, baby christenings, housewarmings, accident survival thanksgivings, new-car-celebrations, etc); guest limits (from tiny parties with 200 people in attendance to  upwards of five thousand); and how late they like to arrive at parties (from fairly late to fashionably late).

Complex algorithms will process the data and build connections between users, suggest forthcoming parties “to check out”, allow people to rate parties – “part(y)ing shots”, and allow users to compare images of jollof rice from different parties. It’ll also allow users to play a “Guess The Colour” game – is the orange of that ‘gele’ (female headgear) ‘burnt orange’ or ‘safari sunset orange’?

A Truly African Gadget

Africa’s the future, right? It’s where all companies are going to turn to, in a desperate bid to shore up flagging revenues. With this in mind, Apple’s going to aggressively turn its focus to the continent that the Economist dismissed a decade ago as “hopeless” and launch its newest product – the i-Frica. The details are still being worked out, but it’ll be a cross between an iPhone and an iPad. (The upscale version for Big Men and Women will have an ‘iProud’ feature that instantly alerts owners whenever they’re in danger of mixing with hoi polloi). It’ll be a triple-SIM phone, no doubt (to entice the Nigerian market). Plus, it’ll definitely come with a torchlight. It’ll be solar-powered, and also have the ability to remotely charge itself from nearby power transformers and overhead power lines. The memory will be measured in terms of the number of full-length Nollywood movies it can store. In place of a GPS it’ll have a ‘Locate The Nearest Petrol-Selling Petrol Station’ function. And so on and so forth.

The Year of Centenary Proposals

In 1914, the Northern and Southern Protectorates were merged into a single entity, what is today known as Nigeria. In 2014, we will commemorate the centenary of that momentous event. There will be thousands of activities, by Federal and State Governments, corporate organisations, and NGOs. Coffee table books will be published, reality shows launched, art exhibitions, movie projects, and awards ceremonies (“100 Greatest Nigerians Below 100”, anyone?). 2013 will therefore be the Year Of Proposals; the year in which Nigeria will sink a few inches deeper into the Atlantic, under the weight of all the 2014 Centenary proposals.

The Mo Ibrahim Prize spin-off

You really shouldn’t bother about this if you’re not an African Head Of State, or  in line to be one.

What do Nigeria, Ghana, Ethiopia, and Malawi have in common, apart from being African countries? They’ve all lost serving Presidents to illness in the last few years. Three of those deaths happened in 2012. Therefore, in 2013, expect the rise of a class of consultants who will develop complex algorithms to calculate the life expectancy of African Heads Of State, and devise cunning strategies for longevity.

And expect as well a spin-off of the Mo-Ibrahim Prize (Google is your friend) that rewards those Presidents who stay alive to complete their tenure. Hopefully that spin-off will produce the winners that the current Prize has failed to produce.

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