Friday, 25 September 2009

No White Flag!

Dear Blog,
It’s been a while, hasn’t it? I haven’t been writing because I haven’t been travelling and it would be futile to write a travel blog when there’s been no travelling wouldn’t it? So you must be wondering if I’m travelling again since I’m writing this blog. No, I’m writing because I need to talk about the challenges to Celebrate Africa.

We’re now 6 months behind schedule. Ordinarily, 6 months is not a long time, it’s just 180 days, half a year, no big deal right? Wrong! It’s a big deal, it’s 180 days we could have spent travelling through 12 countries. It’s 6 months of hawking proposals and waiting for responses from potential corporate sponsors. 4320 hours of anticipation and being in limbo. Half a year of dodging questions and emails about which country we’ll be visiting next and where we are ‘right now’ because it just felt silly to keep telling people we’re still in Nigeria.

In those 6 months, we’ve been ‘advised’ by a certain pan-African bank to ‘seek funding elsewhere’; Been informed by one Nigerian telecommunications company that our budget was ‘a drop in the ocean’ only to have them turn around and say they couldn’t afford to sponsor us.

We’ve been asked to change our proposal to fit yet another telecommunications company’s media strategy which we did since it was in line with our project. Then to have this proposal misplaced by this company, not once but twice! Eventually after weeks of phone calls, visits and general ass-kissing, we got a verbal promise that our project would be sponsored. Imagine my frustration then when we were turned down after submitting the proposal a third time with that old line ‘budget constraints’.

We’ve even gotten the services of a PR company to help with presenting our work, just in case we were not making any headway because we didn’t know how to write proposals for corporate sponsorship. We’ve had to answer the question, over and over again, ‘what is in it for our company?’ We’ve sized and re-sized our budget to suit every possible sponsorship combination.

Now, 6 months behind schedule, I’m asking myself, what next? Should we forget about this whole celebrating Africa thing and get a regular 9-5 job like everybody else? Is Africa really worth any of this? As I think of giving up on this, I remember the hundreds of emails we received from total strangers encouraging and supporting us by telling us how they have been inspired by our work. The radio station that has been inspired to start a ‘good news’ segment, the secondary school student who has taken up geography just so they could learn more about Africa.

Thinking about this, I realise that we’re not only doing this for ourselves but for all these people. For this alone, it is worth it. Now, it’s back to Plan B which used to be Plan A until Plan B became Plan A. We’re asking everybody to donate and not just to donate but to ask somebody else to donate. As Dido says in her song, White Flag, “there’ll be no white flag above my door…” we can’t give up now!