STACK CONFERENCE; A review from an Usher’s stand point, by Iruoma Osonwa

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A colleague of mine, Friend, and classmate did me the honor of inviting me to his club’s – KBKlub – Stack Conference, the first of its kind which took place in the New Great Hall, College of Medicine, University of Lagos on Friday, July 14, 2017. It was an honor since I had never been to a KBKlub organized event before. Yes, I came as an usher but trust me, it was a thing of delight for me considering the objectives of the program. And, Oh! I forgot to mention; one of the privileges of my job was to come unregistered *wink*.

In the words of my friend and a handsome KBite, The Stack project was structured to help the growing innovative space in Nigeria through selective knowledge dissemination. This year, it tried to inspire young people to be conscious of the changing trends by inviting notable speakers in different fields for sensitization.

The morning of the event was like every other normal one – kicking off from 10 am – aside from the fact that some of my friends and fellow ushers came over to my hostel so we could proceed to the hall together. We decided to be the responsible ones and make it there on time. I mean, how would you be an usher and come after the guests have arrived right? Oh well, we waited for about two hours before the event started. The guys seemed to be putting the finishing touches to their arrangements way after the proposed time. So African time applies here too, I thought.

In the words of the former KEEBITE (president), Damazio Adesegun “The KB club is a philanthropic body of young male medical students, a college fraternity if you may. It was established in 1969 by Prof Oladapo Ashiru(OFR) with the sole aim of bridging the gap between male students of the college of medicine of UNILAG who are seeking to pursue virtues of social excellence, academic empowerment, and philanthropy, amongst  male medical students and also the society at large.”

Bearing that in my mind, Let me proceed. The event seemed like it was going to be organized from the start but I was wrong. But let’s say my initial disappointment was waved off by the amount knowledge amassed that day. One after the other, some of the speakers trooped in and were beginning to get seated. An amazing beautiful doctor walked in while the hall was still being set-up, way beyond the time the program should have started and was kind enough to tolerate the time lapses.

Oh well! After the pods, which were to take different fields were all set, the program begun with no more than twenty people. I became a little discouraged at the turn of events, but not for long. Since it was a conference, we all had to be on our feet. No chairs. I thought it was going to be stressful but  thinking of it, it probably was the best bet to keeping the participants attentive to long talks and be carried along by the speakers.

We started with the “Business Section’. The smart looking lady gave a straight-to-the-point engaging speech on steps to take in creating a business; Strategy, Skills, People (target population), Process (the steps you’ll take),… It was insightful and I couldn’t wait to hear more. We were encouraged to ask questions while we proceeded to the next pod. The number had steadily begun to increase.

 

Some of the ushers had gone back to the registration table but who am I to refuse such a good opportunity for learning. This next pod was on “Technology”. The engaging young man made us calculate the fractions of huge amounts of money that were in the Nigerian’s budget for health but were mostly not used. It was astonishing to hear billions of naira budgeted for the health sector and how none of it is being used for what it’s met for. We were encouraged to be interested in our country’s budget and dispensing of the budget using websites like tracker.com for instance. This would actually enable us to know the leaders who were “working” or not.

I had seriously begun to enjoy this conference and the way the speakers delivered their message.  Till I got to the pod on “Conservable Energy”. I mean I was really excited when I saw the projector was all set up with slides. He was the first speaker to project his points, so the learning had to be fun right? I was never more wrong!

He started with a good fact about how Nigeria had very little achievement in the energy sector and the percentages of localities who may have never witnessed electricity, but that was pretty much I could get. He seemed to be reading point blankly from his slide and that wasn’t cool at all. Some people looked like they were getting every detail so I cannot complain… The lesson I took from there was, “we should go for conservable forms of generating electricity like solar power and the rest”. Please don’t beat me, I actually tried remembering what he spoke on.

It was at this moment the KBites began to unravel the “menu menu” much to the delight of the people. Some of the ushers were called to start distributing the drinks and somehow I escaped that job again, lol. The participants were becoming cranky about standing as time went on and I could feel their pain, I mean I was also standing but what could I have done after meeting the President (KEEBite Ogedengbe Shote) and the MC, KBite Nwadinigwe Emeka (he looked like that was his assignment) and they convinced me to kindly tell the participants that the standing was the highlight of the conference.

After the little break, with the hall already fairly full, we were called to the pod of ‘Healthcare”. It was that fine lady I had seen earlier on. Nothing beats a pretty face with good brains! She motivated the medical students there to not be “conventional” in the line of their career. She became a consultant but she had a passion for doing more especially in the critical healthcare sector (INTENSIVE CARE UNIT). Now, she sets up the ICU section in various hospitals and gets well paid for it while helping lives (her biggest love). She set this fire in my heart about leaving the status quo sometimes.

After the lady finished up, the ushers were directed to help split the participants into two different groups so as to get to the next pods. Since I have no clone, I was only in the “environment pod”. At first, I was compelled to stay there since most people opted for the business part (trust the youths and entrepreneurs). But no sooner had I made the decision than I realized it would be worth it.

The first to speak to at my group was a lady from  “SHE LEADS AFRICA”; a community that helps young African women achieve their professional dream.  The boys by my side kept saying that this was all a feminist scam. But in the end, they were convinced that wasn’t the objective.  She was interactive and very fun.  You can check it out on sheleadsafrica.org!

Sustyvibes was the next in line for my group. Meanwhile, a majority of the participants were at the other end listening to the speaker in the “Business pod”. Sustainability vibes is a Nigerian enterprise positioned to deliver trends and engagements on sustainability and development in Africa. The lady who spoke to us is the founder, Jennifer Uchendu. She gave a brief account of how sustyvibes came to be. Then, she encouraged us to be conscious about the state of our environment and the effects of our actions. You can also check them up on sustyvibes.com.

So, the program was coming to an end but a few speakers were given ample time to present. The delectable young 500 level student of College of Medicine, LUTH- Chiamaka, gave a speech on the “adverse effects of crude oil rigging”, having firsthand experience as a resident of Port-Harcourt when she’s not in school. It was eye opening to even know about these things. The sole objective was to make us aware and have unrest about the poor attitude our government and various oil producing companies have towards the states that produce the oil. I got to learn about the soot that pervaded the whole of Port Harcourt from Nov. 2016 to about June 2017. Unbelievably true, but more than half of the country didn’t even know such a hazardous thing was occurring.

Why is our country so dependent on black gold that the masses are left in a dark mess? Really disheartening.  I don’t even want to imagine what those directly affected go through daily.

Finally, my group was the last one standing as the business pod was already done by the time we were having our final speech. A young architect, also a volunteer at sustyvibes, spoke to us about the greenhouse effect and told us about “Heritage house” (you are free to visit by the way) and how it is an example of a building that is environment friendly. He made me feel horrible for living in a building that contributes to pollution but, oh! well… I can’t wait for a time when our architects take all “these” into cognizance while designing buildings! But we have to start from somewhere.

Now, my feet were hurting as I had stood for over four hours yet I was encouraged to listen as the representatives from CAFÉ NEO began their presentation. I pretty much couldn’t hear what the first representative said but the man and white lady did a good job explaining their brand and giving us a lot of reasons to visit their café; free wifi, delicious pastries, lovely coffee!  I took a mental note to.

Alas!  The wonderful conference came to an end. The participants were not left empty handed. Their minds had been fed and now were their stomachs. My friends and I also left with the special usher’s package ( I dare say, a well packaged dinner and soft drinks is special) There was a lot of picture taking and laughter.  In the beginning, I would have scored the organization a 5 out of 10 because I expected so much more but the structure and turn out made me temper justice with mercy, so an 8.5 would do. Nice work KBites (and all the unsung workers). All in all, it was a beautiful experience and various contacts were made and hopefully would be sustained.

 

Iruoma Osonwa is a year 3 medical student of the University of Lagos. She has soon realized that beyond the certificate is the need for service. An outgoing introvert, Iruoma loves writing on anything that catches her fancy and the idea of capturing moments with words intrigues her. She can be reached via, iruomaosonwa@gmail.com

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