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Nigeria: The Brain Behind the Nigerian Blog Awards

The Nigerian Blog Awards is an annual event that rewards creative Nigerian bloggers. For the past two years, the winners of the Nigerian Blog Awards were determined by popular vote. This will be different in 2012, to reflect the shift to recognizing excellence in blogging.

This year, we sought and successfully unmasked the face behind the awards. Good Nigerian Girl has been the brain behind the Nigeria Blog Awards since 2010.

Nwachukwu Egbunike (NE): Tell us a bit about yourself. Who is Good Naija Girl?

Good Naija Girl (GNG): Good Naija Girl is a 32 year old, Canada-based Nigerian blogger. I was born in the USA, lived in Nigeria between the ages of 3 and 6, moved to Canada when I was 6 years old, and I’ve lived in Canada ever since. I am the oldest of four children, born to fantastic parents who I mention regularly on my blog.

I’ve been blogging for almost nine years under various nicknames and on many sites. I began blogging as Good Naija Girl (or GNG) in 2008 in response to a desire to reach out to others who, like me, are biologically Nigerian, but often feel more North American (or European, etc.) due to where they were raised. Immigrant parents try to make sure that they provide their children with a good awareness of their culture and heritage to balance what their kids will learn from the society they live in, and I wanted to connect with people like me who might not have had the experience of living in Nigeria for long (or at all), but who want to interact with those who have, and who want to connect more fully with their culture.

I am passionate about blogging, self-improvement, and learning graphic and web design. I’m an inspiration junkie who suffers from having too many projects on the go that I often leave some on the back burner for far too long. I have an embarrassing addiction to candy, I am a terrible procrastinator who gets easily frustrated, and I have a hard time parking a car in a straight line. I am unmarried and I hope that will change soon.

NE: How did you get involved in the Nigerian Blog Awards (NBA)?

GNG: After I joined the Nigerian blogging community in 2008, I became aware of initiatives that blogger Taurean Minx had put into place earlier, such as Blogsville Gist and the 2006 Blogger Awards, initiatives that brought Nigerian bloggers together. Then blogger Madame Sting organised the 2009 Naija Bloggers’ Award, another great initiative. After those awards finished, Madame Sting indicated that she would not be free to organize the 2010 Awards. I decided to take on the project, renamed it the Nigerian Blog Awards, and obtained a domain name to match.

NE: How long has NBA been on?

GNG:  The Nigerian Blog Awards have been operating under that name for two years now.

NE: The team of NBA seem to be faceless? Any particular reason?

GNG:   To be honest the NBAs doesn’t have an established team behind them. I am responsible for the Awards and I have been lucky to have people volunteer their services for specific tasks. This year for example, bloggers Otondo, Seye Kuyinu, and Sugabelly designed the banners and badges and another blogger AliceO contributed the most popular blog entry this season, and she helped with some of the publicity of the Awards on twitter. A dear friend, Vesna, wrote the code to program the nomination and voting systems that were used in the 2011 Awards.

NE: There seems to be a shift from “Popularity Contest” to “Excellence in Blogging?” Why?

GNG: The NBAs were originally set up to bring the (seemingly small) Nigerian blogging community together and to allow bloggers and readers to interact. Over the last year we have had hundreds of bloggers ask to be added to the list of Nigerian bloggers on our site (currently over 950 blogs are listed on our website), and new Nigerian bloggers are being added every day. The community of Nigerian bloggers is large and quite diverse, and turning the Awards into recognition of excellence in blogging will give us a chance to better highlight the best of all these blogs out there. There seems to be a feeling in the blogging community that blogs should be recognized for producing quality content, and the 2011 Awards made it clear more than ever that change was needed in that regard. It has really been a very natural evolution for the Awards.

NE: How do you intend to ensure objectivity in picking the panel members for the 2011 NBA bearing in mind that people will apply and you will also hand pick people who you “think would perform the role of panel member appropriately”?

GNG: This is a great question. Maintaining objectivity is one of the most important parts of the NBAs and each year changes are made to improve things in that regard. No system is perfect and I am confident that those who are selected as panel members will perform their duty with integrity. If you have good people who are willing to follow the rules, that helps a lot. The criteria for being a panel member has not yet been fully fleshed out, but I hope that by using both volunteers and people handpicked for their expertise in the category they will be involved in evaluating, we’ll have a good mix of panel members. The general public will also still play a role in the determination of nominees and in the voting process, so it won’t be exclusively the decision of the panel.

We won’t please everyone but the goal each year is to improve upon the previous year.

NE: Have you received any criticism or suggestions to the new method you have proposed for the awards?

GNG: There has been some criticism, which is fair since the specifics of the new method have not been fleshed out. Some people were afraid the public input of the Awards would be taken away entirely, and I think some are waiting for the details of the process to be announced before sharing their thoughts. We have also received some suggestions about how the panel should be constituted and how the process could work, and we have actively solicited suggestions too.

NE: What in your opinion has been the impact of the NBA on the Nigeria blogosphere?

GNG: The NBAs have provided new bloggers with a place to showcase their blog and a way of connecting with other bloggers (by providing a list of blogs they can visit and comment on). Some new bloggers have said, upon requesting to be listed on our site, that the Nigerian Blog Awards gives them something to strive toward. Non-bloggers use our website to find new blogs to add to their online reading collection and some have been inspired to start blogging as a result of discovering the community of Nigerian bloggers. The NBAs have helped grow the blogosphere and also helped connect bloggers who may not have otherwise met.

NE: Any plans or hopes for the future – as regards the NBA?

GNG: I have many plans or hopes for the future of the Awards. The big goal is to have a live event one day, and to be able to give out tangible prizes to winning bloggers. I’d like to increase sponsorship too, to make these ideas possible. It is also important to continue building the community that the Awards have started, and encourage bloggers to meet and interact offline.

NE: Last words…

GNG: I’d like to thank you, Nwachukwu Egbunike, for patiently waiting for me to be able to sit down and answer these questions. I’d also like to thank Global Voices for their interest in spreading the word about the Nigerian Blog Awards−your support is much appreciated!

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