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Nominations for The Nigeria Prize for Difference & Diversity is officially open.

The new prize, co-presented by digital media platform Ynaija.com and Chude Jideonwo, is “dedicated to identifying and celebrating people championing difference, diversity, inclusion, and immediate impact on the African continent.”

As stated in the press release:

The Nigeria Prize for Difference and Diversity seeks to celebrate people who are creating safe spaces for difference and diversity in the culture on a macro or micro level, through their persons or by building communities/organizations. The thematic focus for the Prize is in the areas of mental and emotional health, sexuality, gender, special needs, art, faith and spirituality, and human rights (prisoners, rape, sex workers).

Prize Mission:

The mission of the Prize -themed this year as “Difference Matters.”-, is to open up the voices, hearts, and spirits of young people across Nigeria, for them to embrace their true identities and accept their uniqueness without feeling suppressed, oppressed, or misunderstood.

The inaugural edition invites public nominations of advocates in the following categories: Mental and Emotional Health, Sexuality, Gender, Specific Needs, Art, Faith & Spirituality and Human Rights. Nominees must be between the ages of 18-35 as at the period of nomination.

10 finalists will be selected from the pool of nominations and offered a residency in September where they will be coached and mentored by experts across media, governance and human rights.

This will be followed by an award ceremony in December to mark World Human Rights Day. The 10 finalists will get one year free media publicity for their cause from Ynaija.com.

The overall winner will receive a N1 million grant, to be endowed by journalist and media entrepreneur, Chude Jideonwo.

In an essay outlining his reasons for backing the endowment, Jideonwo remarks:

The prize will find and support young people across Nigeria who are creating safe spaces for and giving voice to people who are different in seven key areas: gender, sexuality, faith and spirituality, mental and emotional health, art, special needs, and human rights…I am especially looking for those who work in states and communities where it is most dangerous, even fatal, to be different; people and organisations who may not know how to navigate funding, spotlights or networks. I want to help them, in my personal capacity​—​using my voice, brand, networks, and talents​—​in their quest to make us more fully human… By sticking my neck out and planting my flag firmly, I hope to invite conversation from people who don’t understand but want to understand; who are open to seeing this from another angle​—​that of love and acceptance. I do not desire change in doctrine or worldview, not even to convert or persuade on the rightness of this or that difference. Only the humility to say, like Paul the Apostle who once persecuted Christians: ​I now see differently​.

Know anyone in Nigeria standing for diversity and inclusivity? Go here to nominate them for a chance to win a million Naira grant.

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Brittle Paper is an official media partner of The Nigeria Prize for Diversity and Difference.

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Chukwuebuka Ibeh lives in Port Harcourt, Nigeria.

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