The Nigeria Prize for Difference and Diversity has announced Oluwatobiloba Ajayi as winner of the maiden edition of the N1million Prize. The announcement was made on December 10, 2020, to commemorate World Human Rights Day.
The maiden edition of the Prize was endowed by the co-founder of human flourishing company, Joy, Inc., and host of #WithChude, Chude Jideonwo, to identify and support individuals and organisations creating safe spaces for difference and diversity to flourish in Nigeria.
Oluwatobiloba Ajayi is the founder of the Let Cerebral Palsy Kids Learn Foundation. Born with cerebral palsy, she turned a personal pain-point into a mission that empowers parents of children with cerebral palsy in Nigeria to aspire for and create more options for independence and contributions for their children.
Founded in 2017, The Let Cerebral Palsy Kids Learn Foundation advocates for inclusive education for children with cerebral palsy. In the last 3 years, over 360 families have been reached directly and 75 children with Cerebral Palsy now have access to an education that prepares them for life on their own terms.
“Ms Ajayi’s work inspires me deeply, as it should inspire all of us,” said Jideonwo. “I really, deeply hope that this prize gives her all the attention she and her work need to expand their reach and impact. The work is so important in creating a space to nurture and support difference, to expand society’s definition of normal, and to force us to pay attention to what truly matters – our common humanity.”
The finalists, all below the ages of 35 and actively creating safe, warm spaces for diversity, inclusion, and equality were graded and selected by a distinguished panel of judges including actors Nse Ikpe-Etim and Eku Edewor, consultant psychiatrist Dr Gbonjubola Abiri, decorated journalists Kiki Mordi and Harry Itie, fashion designer Adebayo Oke-lawal, CNN African Voices’ Arit Okpo, and consultant Ndukwe Igbokwe.
The finalists also attended a week-long virtual workshop in October 2020 where they had access to and were mentored by a faculty of some of the brightest minds across media, human rights, and governance. Facilitators at the workshop were Olumide Makanjuola, Kiki Mordi, Busola Dakolo, Fu’ad Lawal, Ayodeji Osowobi, Othuke Ominiabohs, Jude Udo Ilo, Gbenga Sesan and Ayisha Osori. Other facilitators included Seun Onigbinde, Walter Ude, Aisha Yesufu, Edwin Okolo, and Chude Jideonwo.
The prize is supervised by a global board of advisors whose members are: Lin Kobayashi, Co-founder, and Chair of Board, UWC ISAK; Olumide Makanjuola, Director of Programs, ISDAO; Perinatal Psychiatrist, Dr Zainab Imam; Noah Tsika, Associate Professor, City University of New York; Lisa Teasley, Senior Editor, Los Angeles Review of Books; Tony Muthee, a public health specialist, Larissa MacFarquhar, Staff Writer, The New Yorker; Cobhams Asuquo, musician and producer Wiebe Boer, CEO of All On, and Ike Anya, co-founder, Nigeria Health Watch.