World Pulse

NIGERIA: Mama Philomena

Posted November 17, 2015 from Nigeria

By Olanike Olugboji

A few weeks ago, the digital side of me got stirred up when I visited Mama Philomena Lahu Fokchetke in her home. At the age of 94, I wondered if this nonagenarian knew anything about computers and if she could possibly have interest in technology.

In carrying out my spontaneously planned research, I showed her a laptop, an iPad, and a Blackberry smart phone. I went on to explain how each of these devices can be used to document information and connect with people, information, and opportunities globally. Mama Philomena’s face beamed a radiant girlish smile as she listened with childlike curiosity.

Done with my unsolicited lecture, I picked up the iPad and accessed a video I had produced and posted on World Pulse. Her eyes glowed in amazement. She chuckled intermittently as she watched the video.

Suddenly, she stretched out her hands towards the iPad, and said, “Please can you give me thisone?”

Her request caught me off guard. I was speechless and became lost in thought as I tried hard to figure out what she was up to. “I want to connect to and see the world too!” she announced.

I was quite excited by her keen interest in accessing and experiencing the wealth of resources the Internet offers, but could not ignore the fact that it would be a Herculean task for her to productively navigate her way online without help: Mama Philomena can neither read nor write. I am, however, certain that if she ever gains informed ability to use digital tools, she will find joy in using it to share her wealth of life’s experienceand wisdom with the rest of the world.

About This Story


Women Weave the Web Campaign

crowdsourced nearly 600 voices from 71 countries. We have synthesized these stories and solutions for inclusive technology policies in a new report—Recommendations for Women's Digital Empowerment. This story is part of the larger report, which can be downloaded in fullhere.

Comments 7

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Nov 25, 2015
Nov 25, 2015

Very intreresting!this is why we should not look down on most old women,even those in the rural communities.

Dec 03, 2015
Dec 03, 2015

Certainly sister Joy! No woman should be looked down upon. Every women deserves to be heard!

Hugs, Olanike

Chi Yvonne Leina
Dec 01, 2015
Dec 01, 2015

Mama Philomina  is such a beauty and a huge resource to the world.I wish the world could hear more of her experiences.Thank you for sharing  her story with us Sis Ola!



Dec 03, 2015
Dec 03, 2015

Yes sis Chi, the world needs to hear more of the life's experiences of Mama Philomena and many others like her, as there's much that generations after them can learn and apply to make the world a better place. With all the opportunities that digital innovations presents humanity, there is just no reason why any aged person's wealth of life's experiences and wisdom should go undocumented and or remain inaccessible.

You got me thinking about how I can go about exploring this idea further. If we can think it, we can make it happen!

You remain an inspiration.

Much love, Olanike

Dec 03, 2015
Dec 03, 2015

Thanks for sharing Olanike, Maman Philomena can't write nor read but you you can.

We are loosing many valuable ressources when our old women and men die; what if you could use those digital tools to record some of Philomena's experiences when she is still alive!


Dec 03, 2015
Dec 03, 2015

Hello Stany,

Thank you so much for reaching out with your thought provoking comment. Though I currently don't have access to Mama Philomena, because she's been relocated back to her village; I will explore the possibility of doing and documenting a live interview with her and maybe too, some other aged folks.

Yes, the sustainable development goals will be a fluke if women are not pro actively engaged. This means- 'No more paying of lip service to the issue of gender equality and women's empowerment in all sectors of development.

Best regards, Olanike

Damilola Fasoranti
Apr 13, 2016
Apr 13, 2016

Quite interesting post Olanike,

I support the comment by Stany. And these old people are assets to our development in terms of culture, values and productivity.

There are gems of insight they can offer this generation that will empower us to use these digital tools more effectively and to break barriers in our development work.

Keep up your great work. Hearty cheers.