My Favorite Side Projects of 2014

These are side projects outside my usual work. I had planned to do plenty fun work this year but circumstances limited my efforts. But these ones happened:

* Nigerian Celebrities as Diseases
This and the next project take the cake. They both went viral. But this was more fun. My name notifications on Google Alerts & TweetDeck were out of control. I had to disable them temporarily. I was surprised to receive notifications from foreign countries, especially Ghana. I wrote most of the definitions in Lagos traffic. I got an email from a famous blogger who mentioned that some people, I guess some of the celebrities, took it personal while most laughed at it. I'm considering updating it with new definitions. It's really a fun project.

* Facebook Relationship Status as Form of Protest
This is cool because it’s for a cause. I conceived it in order to stir conversation about an anti-gay bill passed by the Nigerian government. It’s a simple idea that requires same sex friends to be “in a relationship” with themselves on Facebook and then change their Facebook Cover Displays and Profiles with posters created. I partnered with a friend on this, and it went crazy crazy mad. Expectedly, it was controversial. It became a lesson on how people respond to certain creative works. And I got shitloads of calls and messages. Interestingly, it was featured on an international creative archive and I’ve resisted the urge to enter it for creative awards. My friend still thinks I’m stupid because I currently have a fuck awards attitude. ;)

* Word As Mischief-makers
I enjoy condensing new stories (or about anything) into minimalist words or phrases, mostly to amuse. It’s interesting to me how anything, concepts or tangibles, can be stripped down to their tiniest versions, without losing meaning. With a lot of interesting events this year, I had fun creating minimalist headlines and phrases. As tempting as it was, I avoided using graphical illustrations. Only words. It’s been particularly rewarding as I see people respond to the words excitedly. Some of them are puns even though the scope was to expand outside predictable derivations. The most popular were:
- “Pope Francis vs. Pope Ratzinger” (2014 FIFA World Cup Final).

- “Oscar Victorious” (After the first judgment on the Oscar Pistorius murder case).
- “Rage Rover” (About the outcry around popular Nigerian blogger - Linda Ikeji, after she announced the purchase of a Range Rover, which became a point of derision during allegations of plagiarism against her).
- “Myles Mournroe” (Following the death of the popular Bahamian preacher).
- “Weep Not, Children” (In consolation of Africans and fans of Kenyan writer, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, after he wasn’t announced as the winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, after being widely tipped to win)

The rests are here in a previous post.

 * Thenetng Column
I’ve been thinking about having a regular column. Some of my friends in popular newspapers have contacted me. I never get to do it because the requests came when I was still on a 9-5 job, and I worried about meeting deadlines and not having the freedom to choose my topics. I took the Thenetng’s request with a caveat to do it at my pace, even though reminders from editors – stubborn editors, were good at ruining my mornings. I intended to send articles more than I did but some things are hard to keep up with if you’ve got major external distractions. The piece about Nigerian celebrities first appeared on Thenetng and it’s interesting when folks and I meet and the pep talks include the piece I wrote about St. Janet. 2015 is a promise to do more.

* Books Giving
My standard way to press people to read the books I think highly of is to buy them the books. (I think the publishers of these books owe me big time, lol: Frank McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes and Teacher Man, Gregory David Roberts’ Shantaram, Gabriel Marquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera, Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion, and some non-fiction). This year, I decided to give books outside my usual reason – not recommendation. Starting with the determination to get rid of the books in a carton in my room, I found excuses to give them away. It’s been cool and, unexpectedly, some of the people I give engage me in discussions about some books, which remind me of the things I’ve forgotten and bring different perspectives to the things I know.

* Some Random Acts of Kindness
Not necessary to be detailed here. :)

2015 should be better, creatively.