Malavika Kannan interviewed Mirabelle Morah on her journey founding BlankPaperz, an online magazine for African youth. For our full story on Mirabelle, click here.
Why are you passionate about creating spaces for African youth creators?
Do you know how many great innovations could be lost just because someone wasn’t supported to nurture their dreams to reality? Just as other people have guided me in my journey, I would like to do the same for others—writers and non-writers—and create support for them. We all need each other to grow and we have to help ourselves.
Can you share your story of starting BlankPaperz.com?
To be sincere, I never thought I would go beyond six months with BlankPaperz. You know that fear you have when you start out something? Yes I totally had it. What if I don’t have enough money? What if I don’t have enough data? What if people don’t submit their stories? All those thoughts and more! I didn’t want to change the world, just create an online community and platform for young writers like myself. One thing led to the other, the idea kept growing. I guess I didn’t realize that changing the world also meant helping the people around us, one person at a time.
Who inspires you in life?
A lot of people actually. I get inspiration from people who are using all they’ve got to make life better for everyone around them and beyond. I like Nelson Mandela and Malala Yousafzai. God inspires me too; all that wisdom and creativity He has, it’s amazing.
You’re from Nigeria, but you came to the U.S. on a scholarship. How has the dual cultures impacted your activism?
When I first came to the U.S I was told hey! Prepare for the culture shock! Being in the U.S and also interacting with people from other countries gave me a better understanding of people and their own cultural values. Understanding and respect are deep, and are very, very important when doing any social job or working with people.
What advice would you give young activists?
I’d like to tell people to have faith in what they can do, find mentors, listen to good advice but sift away the bad ones. You are a vessel with so much potential inside of you. Use it!
What form does feminism take in Nigeria, and how is it similar and different to feminism across the world?
Nigeria is a very large country, people have differing views and thus I currently may not be able to generalize or speak for everyone. I’ve studied in school about various forms of feminism but I guess at the end of it all, we all want a planet where women are not hindered and kept aside just because they are women. If they are qualified then they should have the rights to access whatever positions or properties or make positive choices for themselves. But Nigeria has strong, driven women who have so much potentials in them! Gender equality in Nigeria isn’t as strong as it is in the Western World, but other men and women are fighting for gender equality in Nigeria.