From the courtroom to the workshop

Many have known their calling from the cradle, others learn or discover their calling as they go through life. However there are a few who stumble upon a dream and by hard work and dedication carve a niche for themselves in their chosen crafts.
This is a brief story about Mona Matthews, a Nigerian company that produces one of Nigeria’s finest customised shoes and bags for women and men.
Monalisa Abimbola Azeh is the founder of Mona Matthews, her passion for shoe-making was born out of necessity. As she could not find her shoe size, she commissioned a pair to be made. Numerous compliments later, the brand Mona Matthews was born as a proper leather product manufacturing company.
Coming from a background of fashionable people, shoe making became a great outlet for her, it takes her about 3 weeks to make a pair of shoes. She likes to get a feel of her clients to determine what their style may be. She works with very skilled craftsmen who create comfortable and trendy shoes.
Monalisa Azeh was a lawyer who found her calling in leather work, it was an outlet for her creativity. She’s a strong believer in Nigeria and the future of this blessed country and one of the benefactors of My Authentic Leather Projects.

Check out the Mona Matthews store at


Blasts in Kano city

There were reports that 10 people were killed in a predominantly Christian neighborhood in Kano which had previously been attacked by militants from the Islamist group Boko Haram. Witnesses say that the blasts took place at about 9.30 pm late Monday evening where people had gathered to enjoy the nightlife of the area. Police also say a number of people were injured in the blasts that took place on Monday 29th of July 2013.

One of the reports that came in claimed that one of the blasts appeared to have come from a Mercedes-Benz parked next to a kiosk selling alcohol and soft drinks. Various eyewitnesses said they heard about three to four explosions. Sometime in March an explosion at a bus station in Kano killed about 20 people, no group has claimed responsibility yet.

Boko Haram the group suspected of these blasts is a group whose name means “western education is forbidden”, they have been targeting schools and civilians.

Earlier in the week reports have been heard about Vigilante groups being formed in the northern Nigerian city of Maiduguri to fight the militant Islamist group Boko Haram. These civilians have joined to help the military fight against boko haram insurgency. They could play a vital role in saving lives and disrupting the plans of these militant groups.

It was finally reported that there is anxiety amongst the Muslims in Kano state as they fear reprisal attacks as a result of these blasts.


Zamfara state violence

Dozens killed in an attack in Kizara village, Zamfara state.

It was reported that the attackers arrived at dawn, took positions on a hill near by and indiscriminately opened fire after which they went on house-to-house attacks looking for members of local vigilante groups.

The attack is believed to be linked to an ongoing feud involving cattle thieves in the northern state and not the recent insurgency by militants.

Amongst those killed were the local chief, the chief Imam and the head of a vigilante group in the village. The attack is said to have been carried out by cattle rustlers who have been terrorizing the state for some time now.


Leather works in Niger by Paul Priest

Hello everyone, here’s a personal story from a leather lover…. Enjoy

In July 1994 I traveled to Niger with a group of young people. We spent 4 weeks traveling across the country, visiting missionaries, experiencing the culture and praying. We were taken to the ‘Co-operative ACMO’ in Maradi where we could buy leather goods. One option was to have a leather case made to measure for your Bible. I left my Bible with them and they created a leather case around it with the Cross of Agadez emblazoned on the front. My leather Bible case is still going strong 18 years later and still looks good; a Bible case that looks manly, not like a woman’s handbag!

My understanding is that the leather workshop in Maradi was initially set up by missionaries, as an employment opportunity for people who had been cured of leprosy (Hansen’s disease). They are able to earn a living as well as the work with leather being good occupational therapy for fingers contracted by the Leprosy.

I think the leather workshop was still operating last time I visited Niger in 2006.

It is a great example of how a simple thing like making leather goods can really make a difference in people’s lives.

Pictures of the bible cover posted on here….

Back of the cover

Front of the cover


Paying it forward: Beneficiaries passing on benefits

In the course of our research, we discovered a community named Naraguta in Jos, Plateau State Nigeria. It is a community where more than 80% of the population earn their living in the agriculture and livestock sector. This was a thriving sector and was a major source of livelihood for most families who inherited leather processing and producing skills from their forefathers.
Here we met a man who had an accident at the age of seven and had one of his legs amputated, as a result he lost hope and like many people in that part of the world, resolved to beg for his daily needs.
In 1978, Alhaji Abdul -a beggar in the streets of Naraguta with little or no hope for the future, fell in love with the leather craft. Seeing the patronage the leather products were attracting from the international community, he was convinced that the world would one day know him as he was very fascinated with the products.
He met a man who told him to quit begging and come to learn the art of leather.
He soon mastered the craft and began the production of leather goods: wallets,sandals, folders and leather jackets; his products were an instant hit in the university community and amongst missionaries and foreigners.
Realizing that he had been given a new lease of life, he was determined to become very successful in the business and achieved his goal acquiring several properties in the course of the business.
He was however not selfish with the knowledge he had gained and began looking for persons like himself to teach the skill and give their lives new and productive meaning. Today he has graduated over five hundred trainees and still has about 50 students pass through his training school every year.
When people help people we make our communities and the world a better place.
You will meet Alhaji Abdul in our documentary film project on enhancing skills in communities.

Keep visiting this page for more inspiring stories of change created by people every day.


Under attack

A militant group in Nigeria claims to have killed seven foreign hostages from Italy, Britain, Greece and Lebanon, who were captured from a construction site in Bauchi, Northern Nigeria.
This militant group which announced its formation in January 2012 backed their claims in an online statement confirming that the captives had been killed.
The U.K Foreign Secretary William Hague as well as the Italian Government and the Greek Foreign Ministry all believe that their citizens are dead and condemned the action as being an act of blind and barbaric violence.
However the Nigerian Interior Minister has said it has not been confirmed that the hostages have been killed and so efforts to secure and rescue them are still on.
The militant group said the hostages had been killed because of a rescue attempt by the British and Nigerian forces; Britain’s Military denied these statements saying that the warplanes which were spotted in the Federal Capital Territory had been there to carry soldiers taking part in the French-led operation in Mali- not to rescue hostages.


Positive change through skills enhancement

There are some key areas within northern Nigeria that have been traditionally known for their commercial activities. Recent riots have led to little movement, little to no development and unemployment in these areas. One of the industries affected and which will be highlighted is the leather industry.
Our initiative is geared towards raising awareness of these communities who have suffered de-industrialization and also to see how minor interventions such as a skills enhancement program will make a positive impact and bring about enterprise and peace.


Security and Nigeria

A news report of an attack on a police base (special anti-robbery squad) in the Federal Capital of Nigeria, Abuja by unknown gunmen on Monday the 26th of November, 2012 and a previous attack a day earlier on a church in the military barracks in Jaji, Kaduna state, points to the level of insecurity in the country. These attacks have been on-going in some regions in the northern parts of the country and escalated after the violent attacks on 1st October, 2010 during the Independence Day celebrations.

We have no knowledge of those responsible for these attacks as no group has come forward to take responsibility. But how safe are we in a country where gunmen can successfully attack security agencies is a question on almost every mind.

Another report claims that the attempted attack on the unit in the FCT on Monday was repelled. The details of this report are yet to be confirmed.



Impact of the northern crisis on the economy…

The growing insecurity in the north of Nigeria has affected the Nigerian economy greatly. The manufacturing industry is being crippled as the volume of sales continues to drop drastically in these regions.

Business activities have been slowed down and this consequently affects the revenue pool for the country. Further to this investors from outside the country find it hard to invest their resources in a country that is faced with these recurring crises.

A report from a business man affected by the crisis tells about insecurity, constant violence and loss of property and business caused by the closure of over 70% (seventy percent) of the industries operating in the region due to the volatility.

Every day we have people leaving the North and in search of greener pastures, making their homes in other parts of the country.



Welcome to My Authentic Projects!

Northern Nigeria has been traditionally known for beautiful handicrafts and skilled workforce. In recent years, however, the region has endured significant deindustrialization and an increase in social conflict, with escalated tension between Muslims and Christians. Riots have stunted industrial activity and led to segregation of social groups and the desertion of small towns, as unemployment is very high…

My Authentic Projects is exploring international design influence on this region while respectively bringing the influences of this region to the world. We will also narrate and explore whether small but specific interventions can create positive impacts on the community.