Four years ago, when I newly discovered this amazing community Bookstagram, I took a series of pictures and only posted a few. For many reasons, some straightforward, others weird, they laid deep in an onion ring of folders.
Many post-its later, fast forward to a few minutes ago, I faced the digging I’d been postponing and would be sharing them.
A lot has happened since then, my presence here has evolved and I have learnt quite a lot.
This community has grown in delightful ways and many of those whose pictures inspired me then have gone on to become award-winning book influencers.
I wasn’t called a nerd derisively here, I could just be me. I didn’t have to field ‘All these books you are reading sef, is a waste of energy when you will end up in a man’s kitchen’ type of comments
These three are part of a series of medical thrillers by Ted’s Gerritsen. I loved them! I was dreaming of becoming a physician and I had a love for literature some told me was incompatible with medicine. Thus, finding a New York Times bestselling author who was a doctor too was exhilarating in so many ways. Of course I used to enjoy Michael Crichton and Robin Cook but they were not female like me so it wasn’t as perfect as Tess. Representation matters.
My early days were thrilling. A community within Instagram where what I loved to do was shared by so many around the world! I remember the joy of having my photos liked by someone in Brazil whose page was all in Portuguese. Thousands of miles apart in distance yet bonded by our love for books.
I wasn’t called a nerd derisively here, I could just be me. I didn’t have to field ‘All these books you are reading sef, is a waste of energy when you will end up in a man’s kitchen’ type of comments. Not like these comments dented my spirit in anyway but it was exhausting having to put these ‘educated’ people in their place.
@aeesha__t, @bookminimalist @thatothernigeriangirl, @theguywiththebook, his sister @sumaiyya.books, their friends @pardonmywritings @ilhamreads and @i.reads and @alliyah.riaz all shaped my early experience. Many of them still do today. I was a silent observer of their discussions, their reviews, book shopping trips, and Lord, was there some drama! I’m happy to see they have all undergone remarkable growth. Thank you all for making Instagram pop for me.
When did you join Bookstagram?
What were your early days like?
It’s Friday! As you go to the masjid and go about worship, pray for peace, love and an end to hate everywhere. Commit to making this world a better place.
And please don’t forget to hydrate to stay fine in this warm temperature.
These are signs that about is your favourite.
1. You have more than one copy, these may include different translations.
2. You read it everyday.
3. You keep it in a special place on your shelf.
4. You have recommended and bought it for others.
5. You quote from it frequently.
6. You are familiar with the words and these in it.
7. You are heavily influenced by it.
8. You probably loved it from an early age.
9. You have a miniature version to carry around.
10. You smile just by thinking of it.
Fact: the word ‘book’ occurs more than 300 times in the Qur’an (my favourite book of all. 🙂
On either side of the Atlantic, two passionate individuals are taking the fight to cervical cancer. Both are women, have earned the Dr. title and are working tirelessly to save women from a preventable killer disease. What is particularly intriguing is the possibility that neither of them has met the other but are using different means to achieve a common goal; saving lives. These two are a source of inspiration for many. More crucially, they have become role models for millions of young women in developing countries and will motivate them to take up careers in STEM.Two days ago, the UN marked itsInternational Day for Women and Girls in Science. For centuries, the immense contribution of women to science has been obscured. It is both illuminating and painful to discover advances in physics,chemistry, mathematics, health, programming, space science etc made or contributed to by women whose names have been buried in the footnotes. It is therefore imperative to celebrate those in our time doing such revolutionary work.
Meet our Women Crush Wednesday: Dr Onyedikachi Chioma Nwakanma and Dr Eva Ramon Gallegos.
Dr Nwakanma is a Nigerian doctor using storytelling for health advocacy. She is one of the foremost health advocates in a country where lack of health information increases the burden of disease and leads to thousands of death. She is a strong campaigner for cervical cancer awareness providing prevention, screening and treatment information to half a million people online.
Her impact is not restricted to the intricate highways of the internet. She is as tireless offline where she works on a variety of health programs. She organizes free health outreaches taking quality healthcare to underserved communities. Earlier today, Her Smile With Me NGO carried out a successful free cervical cancer screening program for hundreds of women in Lagos and Abia states. You can find her here on Twitter.
Dr Eva Ramon Gallegos is a Mexican scientist who has been working for two decades to find a cure for human papillomavirus, the pathogen implicated as the known cause of cervical cancer. She is a researcher at the National Polytechnic Institute. How does one keep up such determination and hope for that long? Many would have been discouraged but Dr Gallegos trudged on until a couple of days ago, she achieved her dream. Using photodynamic therapy, she and her team completely eliminated HPV in 29 infected patients. This article details the groundbreaking achievement that we must celebrate given its potential of saving millions of women.
We have a personal interest in this disease and thus all efforts and news like this make us jump for joy. It has always bothered us that something that can be easily treated and prevented still kills so many women. It feels like rainbows to know we now have a cure for the causative infection. There are valid concerns that historically, medical science has not given equal importance to women’s health. It is therefore of striking significance when women achieve feats that close that gap. This cure needs to be made accessible globally so it reaches those who need it the most.
To all the nerds and geeks out there you rock! Your work saves lives and its impact is felt around the world. To all who are working on an innovative solution to the problems facing us, hang in there and be patient. Learn from Dr Gallegos- stay strong, believe in your dream no matter what, keep working at it and don’t accept defeat.
If you have never received a message like this, then it is very likely you do not have Nigerian relatives.
We live in a world where almost everything is now accessible to anyone with a smartphone and an internet connection. Hence, we have access to all the information in the world-the good, the useless and the downright harmful. This accessibility has come with new opportunities for those of us in the health space, as well as a whole new set of challenges that our medical training may not have completely prepared us for.
Social media is an important tool for anyone who wants to truly thrive in this new world, and even health care providers and advocates have to step up. There is a lot of incorrect and sometimes even harmful information floating about the sociosphere. It is up to those of us who have the right information to ensure that we nullify the effects of all the fallacies, especially as regards health. This is the reason I attended the Social Media Week Health Stories event organised by HelloCare, Doctoora and Digital Health Nigeria.
The event held at the Doctoora Health Hub in Surulere, Lagos and they had this excellent lineup of speakers.
I got there super late unfortunately, so I missed the keynote speech by Dr Salako of Redcare HMO and the panel. However, I was still able to join the masterclass with Dr Chioma Nwakanma (Dr Zobo) and I learnt stuff that I felt I just had to write about.
1)Storytelling is a skill you need to master
Think about the guys in the bus that market those herbal medications that supposedly cure premature ejaculation, cancer, TB, stroke, hypertension, diabetes and liver failure. How do they talk about their products? They weave stories that no one can ignore. Then they tell these stories with passion and persuasion.
Most importantly, they tell their stories using scenarios that everyone listening to them can relate with. They have an understanding of their audience and know that Nigerians like “multi-purpose drugs”.They realise that people are moved when they feel like they can mentally connect with a person. So, they use all these to their advantage.
On the other hand think about a typical health talk. Think about the infographics or flyers in a language the people may or may not understand. Think about the medics struggling to ditch their jargon for simpler words, and sometimes failing woefully.
Think about the last time you were counselling a hypertensive patient on lifestyle modifications. Think about how you looked at him/her and knew your words were falling on deaf ears.
Why does it seem like we are losing so many patients to “quacks” who sell them harmful medication? Why is it that, many times, the average person would believe the man on the bus without a WAEC certificate, and completely ignore what the lofty consultant with fancy degrees has told them to do? If we, as health personnel with all our training, are given the opportunity to take over the talk from the man in the bus, would we hold our audience as captive as he did?
These are points she made to highlight why it is important for us in the health space to step up and start to tell health stories correctly. As much as we have the right information, we also need to present our information in the most relatable way possible. It is important that the message in health care is crafted with the audience in mind. The end game is not just to get the information out there. The end game is to package the information and serve it in such a way that it is understood and put into action by your listeners (or readers).
2) Mentors and networks.
Networks are important. Many times, a relationship you have with an influential person is what opens a door for you. Social media has made it a lot easier to connect with potential mentors and important connections.
However, because these VIPs are now supposedly a bit more accessible, they are inundated by numerous people who also want something from them. Hence, to be able to make meaningful connections, you might have to do a bit more than countless LinkedIn messages. She shared these two thoughts:
Giving over taking
This may not be achievable all the time, but it is something to always have in mind. It is easier to forge a relationship with someone when you are giving them help or offering a service. Look at their social media pages. Is there something they are trying to achieve? How can you help? Do you have any skills they might find useful? Can you offer your services? To effectively network or gain good connections, it helps to think more about what you can offer the person, and not so much about what you stand to gain.
Interviews can help to break the ice with a potential mentor for example. You could organise an Instagram live session, a YouTube interview, or even a blog interview with someone who is an expert in the field you are interested in. It is a good way to forge a new connection with someone who is far ahead in your field.
This post does not in any way cover most of what was talked about to be honest. However, these I have mentioned resonated with me the most.
To wrap this up, I have to say that the food was an impressive component of the program. I really appreciated that it was very healthy! I think every health organisation should take a cue from Hellocare Nigeria and Doctoora. It is a bit hypocritical to talk about healthy habits, and then hand out sodas at the end of the event. Let’s practice what we preach!
Chiamaka is a final year medical student of the University of Lagos, Nigeria and the immediate past editor-in-chief of its Association of Medical Students (AMSUL). She is interested in health management, health policy and public speaking. She reads a lot of random books and has an undying love for frozen yogurt. Her work can also be found on Medium