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Mathematician: Grace Alele Williams

Grace Awani Alele-Williams was the first Nigerian woman to receive a doctorate degree. She was born in Warri, Nigeria, in 1932. She attended the Government School in Warri, then Queens College, Lagos, and the University College of Ibaden (now the University of Ibaden). After completing her undergraduate education she became a mathematics master at Queen’s School, Ede Osun State, from 1954 until 1957.

Dissatisfied with her situation at Queen’s School, Alele managed to obtain financial assistance from the Nigerian Head of Service to attend the University of Vermont as a graduate assistant with the goal of becoming a secondary school teacher. She found the weather in Vermont to be cold and also experienced forms of segregation in the rural setting. Soon, however, Sputnik shifted America’s attention to the importance of mathematics and education, and Alele had the opportunity to go to the University of Chicago, Columbia, or Harvard. She chose the University of Chicago, and in 1963 obtained her Ph.D. in mathematics education with a dissertation on “Dynamics Of Education In The Birth Of A New Nation: Case Study Of Nigeria.”

Alele also married in 1963. Upon her return to Nigeria she became a postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Education at the University of Ibaden. In 1965 she joined the faculty at the University of Lagos where she worked until 1985, becoming the first female professor of mathematics education in 1974. During this time she also directed the Institute of Education where she introduced programs to benefit teachers. She participated in the African Mathematics Programme, based at the Educational Development Center of Newton, Massachusetts, whose goal was to consider changes in mathematics education in Africa. She said in a 2004 interview that “I tried to review the teaching of mathematics in schools, to make sure that the teachers understood the new concept which was already in use in Europe and America. It think we made an appreciable progress. But one of the saddest days of my life was the day the federal commissioner announced in 1978 that modern mathematics was abolished in schools.”

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Hadiza Bala Usman: Her father’s daughter

The initiator of the #BringBackOurGirls campaign in Abuja draws inspiration from her parents and the potential for a united Nigeria. 

She’s the mother of two young boys, a wife to an economic analyst, and they all live together in a delightful home tucked away in one of Maitaima’s quiet, tree-lined streets near Ministers’ Hill. She works in her home office surrounded by a massive bookshelf with books organized into categories likes “development” and “autobiographies.” Rachel, the cook, manages the family’s meals. Juma, the nanny, watches the boys and the driver tends to the luxury cars parked out front.  

Everything in her life seemed relatively fine, routine and normal, until Boko Haram kidnapped almost 300 female students in Chibok in April. 

Hadiza Bala Usman’s comfortable life was jolted.

“I couldn’t sleep,” Hadiza says. “I couldn’t sit back in my world to say it doesn’t affect me.” That’s when she contacted her older friend, the renowned barrister Mrs. Maryam Uwais, and together, they decided to start a chain of emails to mobilize others, mainly women, to get on the streets to pressurise the government to bring the girls back. She says she was shocked about how nothing had been done, weeks after the abduction and about how Abuja residents seemed to carry on with life as usual.

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Get your daughter ready for married life

Motherhood does not start and end at bringing up children into well behaved adults. At a point they must leave home and, sometimes, permanently too. Here are some of the things your daughter must know before getting married. Shopping for the perfect dress, filling out invitations, finding the perfect wedding setting - all of these are part of a girl’s dream of getting married. Before the big day, though, there are a few things you may want to discuss with your daughter.

By the time your little girl gets married she probably already knows all about the birds and the bees. One thing she may not know, though, is how difficult it is to live with another person. Although everything is lovely in the beginning, things can go sour very quickly, if your daughter doesn’t know that the marriage will be a challenge, to say the least.

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Nollywood actress Patience Ozokwor

Patience Ozokwor, popularly known as Mama G, was born on March 28, 1958 in Amaobo in Ngwo, Udi Local Government Area of Enugu State. 

She attended Abimbola Gibson Memorial School, Lagos, and Methodist Girls, Yaba, but had to relocate to Enugu due to the civil war. She got admitted to Girls Secondary School, Ngwo. Later on, she attended the Teachers Training College in Afikpo where she had her first ever performance, she played the role of Hamlet in William Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet. From where she proceeded to IMT Enugu where she studied Fine and Applied Arts, specialising in Graphics. She never had the intention of joining the film industry. She was a teacher by training and taught for about four years before venturing into broadcasting. She was employed as an announcer with FRCN Enugu and was later retrenched when they closed down all the medium wave band stations. 

During her teacher training days in Afikpo, she had a competent literature teacher who made them present a play each term. When it was the turn of her set to present a play, she was given the role of Hamlet in William Shakespeare’s play of the same title and the production came out fine. Other schools that offered Hamlet as a subject paid to watch their production. In fact, they were invited to stage the play in so many other places in Southeastern Nigeria. She was very popular then and everywhere she went people called her Hamlet. 

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I started modelling by chance - Talatu

Miss Talatu Yawe is Benue Carnival Queen 2015. A 400 level student in the Psychology department of Benue State University, she speaks with Miriam Humbe on her activities during her reign including her pet project; the cancer awareness campaign for women and girls. Excerpts: 

How did you emerge as Benue Carnival Queen?

The Benue Carnival Queen beauty pageant is organised by Geelo events management. It is a Benue state sponsored event; and every year, they organise the beauty pageant as well as the carnival, Benue Youth cultural carnival. They have a lot of events and the pageant is also organised during one month of activities starting from the first of December till the last day of December when you have the procession. Within that one month, the pageant is organised. I bought the form and went to camp and God willing; I came out as Benue Carnival Queen.

So what triggered your interest in beauty contests in the first place?

I entered into pageantry when I didn’t really plan it. I was through with secondary school and was trying to get admission but I had difficulty so to keep myself busy, I just started modelling and I found myself doing pageantry and it is more like a passion now. It is not just something that I do to keep myself busy. It is a passion for me so I keep doing it from time to time and its rewarding and now I am a Carnival Queen.

Read more: I started modelling by chance - Talatu