Voice.Global website

Reflections on Murya (Voice) Closeout Event in Nigeria

by Anne Mulehi – Communications Officer Voice, Aida Toye – Project Coordinator Voice in Niger, Cedric Owuru Linking and Learning Amplifier Officer Nigeria

The energy was electric in Abuja as the Voice programme drew to a close with a week-long celebration of its impactful work in Nigeria. Hosted by Cognito, the Voice Linking and Learning facilitators, the event buzzed with activity – linking and learning sessions, a conference, a press conference and a culminating gala night. But beyond the festivities, this gathering served as a powerful space for reflection. Here, we hear from some of the “Voices” who experienced the event firsthand, sharing their personal highlights and reflections on the event.

Aida and I traversed borders to ensure we wouldn’t miss Murya (Hausa name for the Voice), closeout event in Nigeria. This event was eagerly anticipated by many, but for me, it was particularly special as it offered a chance to visit Nigeria, a country I had longed to see. Having grown up watching Nollywood movies, I was excited to finally meet and interact with the people I had admired from afar.

Aida and I during the conference

One thing I have come to deeply appreciate about Voice, beyond amplifying rightsholders’ voices and supporting their work, is the incorporation of mindfulness into our programs. A standout highlight of this closure event, among many, was the mindful inclusion session that preceded each day’s agenda.

These sessions provided us with the opportunity to breathe and relax. Being my first time in Abuja, it was a surreal moment to feel at peace in a foreign land, miles away from home. We walked around in silence, appreciating the present moment and listening to nature speak. I realized that being intentional about being ‘in the moment’ is a gift most people take for granted.

The mindful inclusion sessions were a powerful reminder that self-consciousness and remaining in sync with our surroundings were vital. This practice not only helped us ground ourselves but also prepared us to fully engage with the event’s activities and discussions.

Anne

Nothing for us without us. This expression existed long before the Voice programme, but it seems that the programme was able to emphasize it. Not just through words, but in concrete terms, through actions and achievements that have left no one behind.

Ahmed and his mum before his performance

When Ahmed approached the podium, I imagined, when I saw his name on the program that he was a rising star who would come and “set the place alight” by singing the Nigerian national anthem. I had to struggle to hold back my tears as he began to sing. His voice, totally out of sync with the music, was the most beautiful proof that Voice is the most inclusive and conscious program I’ve ever seen. I later had the opportunity to congratulate his mother on the wonderful work she had done with her autistic son, who was able to sing in front of over a hundred pairs of eyes. And, even if I had always been convinced of it, the pride I could read in this mother’s eyes and all the stories I’d heard from grantees and rights-holders over the previous 3 days confirmed one thing: The learning, the milestones reached, the connections created, the voice acquired by hundreds of people in Nigeria and in all other countries, will keep the Voice program alive long after it ends. Voice does not end. It lives in each person who has been part of this fantastic human adventure.

Aida

So Voice is really ending, I didn’t believe it when you told me. Are you sure Voice is ending? These are the endless comments and questions I get during the close-out from partners and stakeholders that have worked closely with Voice. For some strange reason, this is also a question I ponder within me. Looking back at the just concluded public event for voice close -out, I feel a sense of closure as the linking and learning amplifier officer, not because of the usual technical statements thrown around in events like “program achieved what it set out to achieve” but because I know voice has not closed-out even though it has officially.

It sounds a bit oxymoronic but stay with me for a moment and follow my train of thoughts. Voice as a program is an Idea an idea that marginalisation can be a thing of the past if we, as individuals, make a conscious deliberate effort to be inclusive in the little things we do. Throughout the 8years of implementation of voice in Nigeria grantee partners and rightsholders understood the ideology, took ownership and ran with it. I hear them talk about mindfulness, the linking and learning approach and how they now adopt it in their organization and ways of working and programming. Linking and learning is referred to as the heart and soul of voice, so in answering the many questions about voice closure, in a typical Nigerian fashion I answer with a question: if you are practicing linking and learning, mindfulness within your organization and these are the heart and soul of voice, how can you then say voice has ended and close-out? As long as one or two persons believe in an idea, it never dies as long as one or two persons can pass on that idea, it becomes for a lack of better term immortal.

This for me is my ultimate closure which dawned on me when I saw the gallery walk session during the close-out event. Seeing the different grantees, CoPs and rightsholders articulate their journey post-voice gave me hope that the NOW-US idea is one step closer to being a reality in Nigeria. I may sound very optimistic but trust me when I say if you were present during this power session that is least you could be, and if you don’t feel that way at this point, I apologise for not being able to paint a vivid picture of this magical moment.

Cedric

Overall, despite the program’s official closure, the spirit of Voice lives on. The skills, connections, and confidence instilled in its participants will continue to ripple outwards, creating a more inclusive and empowered future. The closing event wasn’t just about endings, but about the birth of a lasting legacy.

This post relates to

Whistleblower

Voice is committed to providing safe spaces filled with integrity and respect for ALL people as well as for financial resources.

Click here for more information on our Whistle-blower policy & Procedure
Disclaimer