Akintunde Disu on his Lagos shoreline hike

An illustration of the hike - Google Earth
An illustration of the hike – Google Earth

Environmentalist and owner of Pop Beach Club, Akintunde Disu is currently on a 60km hike from Ilashe to Badagry along the shoreline, he started on 23 February.

By Akintunde Disu

I expect it to take three days and I hope to accomplish three things. Firstly, to set a path that others might follow. There is no greater way to see and experience the natural beauty of the great outdoors than by hiking through it. Hiking, apart from its obvious health benefits, physically and mentally, is a cheap way to have a great holiday. I believe the future of Lagos State economically lies in tourism. I also believe it is our duty to protect the environment, our unique natural gift. The Western peninsula which has no road access is where our advantage lies.

I aim to showcase its potential for low impact tourism and to encourage the government to protect this special status. One in eight jobs in Spain is provided directly by the tourist industry. We have neither the man power skills nor the infrastructure required to operate at the high end of the market across the state. We have enough capacity on the Eastern peninsula and in Ikoyi, Victoria and the historic Lagos Island to cater to the demand for that end of the market. Differentiation is the key to establishing a robust industry.

I intend to confirm such necessary facts like exact distance, native assistance and logistics to aid others who may wish to follow in my path.
Back packing and sleeping in tents on the beach above the high tide mark, I intend to walk during the low tide at the water’s edge covering approximately 20km a day, early in the mornings and late afternoons, resting during the high tide period which fortunately falls across the midday.

I expect to return to this trail many times over the years to come and to add various detours of natural beauty to it with time.

Secondly, I aim to showcase the proliferation of ocean plastic along the shore line and record at regular periods the density of beach plastic . I will also record fauna and flora I am opportune to see and hopefully set a bench mark we can improve on as the years go by.

The effects of climate change and global warming are upon us and can no longer be denied. We can not deny the change in our weather and the uncertainty must be terrible for farmers. While we are inundated with the #megacity mantra from government and developers alike let us remember that the peninsula is our only protection from rising sea levels and ocean surge. The protection of the peninsula and it’s fragile nature can not be overemphasized and the government must and is duty bound to protect it from the ignorance and short sightedness of those who would seek to abuse its resources.

Proper monitoring of all its resources is required. This includes its sand, mined for construction purposes, protecting the quality of its waters for drinking and securing the breeding ground for fish stock. It is the responsibility of good government. I believe a public audit is way overdue and call on our great institutions, Lateef Jakande University which seats on the Ogun River basin axis of the great Lagoon to rise to the occasion. While man can protect nature only nature can protect us from nature, a stitch in time saves nine.

The third reason of this hike – I will be walking to kick off fund raising efforts on behalf of our club Pop Beach Club towards actualizing our pet projects and one of the core reasons I have been on this peninsula running a beach club for the past eight years.

There are over 10 million children out of school in Nigeria today and possibly as many as 35 million. Every single one of these children was born under the present democratic regime. There is no excuse for this. Over half of all the children out of school in the world today is Nigerian, a shameful statistic that does not bode well for our future prospects.

Four years ago we raised just over £5000 on indiegogo and created a swimwear line made from recycled plastic. This enabled us to carry out extensive research on primary education in hard to reach areas i.e. this peninsula. The logic is easy to see, it would be hard to design a solution for rural children from an urban perspective, the things you take for granted do not apply, the barriers to learning are so nuanced they will be easy to miss in the city.

We carried out summer schools in both locations and I observed how the children learnt and also what they knew considering their ages, class and a few other factors. Having two locations in the later stage also helped throw certain things in to the light. At the last count we had over 300 pupils attending our summer schools.

From what we learnt we were able to establish the greatest factor influencing learning is language. Your first and most important teacher is your mother.

If we are to move the needle on education in Nigeria forward it must be technology based and it must be preschool focused. With this in mind we have developed a free app accessible through Facebook and Whatsapp. It is community based, crowd sourced, organic, viral, adaptable. It’s easy to use, adopt and manage, we have designed and established the development stages and have cost estimates. to build a minimum viable product. A working model.

We use combination of multiple technologies to aid learning. We tested the concept to rave and joyous reception in situ across the Christmas holiday. And we are hundred percent sure of its suitability to have an impact on this massive problem. Of course the work is just starting, a project like this would require a gargantuan effort. The complexities Involved in creating something so simple and sublime – it meets the needs of a two year old in the African bush – can’t be overstated. It requires all our contributions. We hope that in Nigeria alone it will be available for free in over 260 languages, it’s a living thing, like language. It will require hordes of volunteers to nurse it to existence and keep it alive. As a club we have been responsible for its incubation.

One of members at POP, Sandra Alonge, summarized the app as follows: “It’s a grassroots-based learning system, that engages parents in communities to share their knowledge of local languages. Producing the short videos enhances their own knowledge and use of digital platforms and social media, while creating a repository of their own culture and history. Children should not have to make a choice between a local language and what allows them to progress academically. This app promotes consciousness of their roots while unleashing the power of multi-lingual thinking in young kids. This participatory approach also benefits inter-generational exchange and collective learning, history and a vision of the world that integrates the complexity of concepts and terminology.”

I now ask you to join us to bring it to life by donating to its development here.