My name is Chioma Nnani.
And I am a storyteller.
When I decided to return to Nigeria, after a long sojourn in the United Kingdom, I heard so many things, ranging from the hilariously ridiculous to the painfully amusing.
Every writer in Nigeria is starving.
You can’t do or succeed in business in Africa, without being a fraud.
It doesn’t matter if you’re miserable in London; fake it, you’re abroad – that’s all that matters.
Ebola is a sign from ‘god’ that you shouldn’t come home.
There is nothing for you or anyone else in Africa.
There’s something to be said for engaging your resources, because your heart’s already vested. But there are times when you do something, because to do otherwise would be so counterproductive – that it would threaten everything you have and are.
I don’t believe in sugar-coating or pussy-footing around stuff.
Therefore, I will state the blindingly obvious: Africa has many problems, Africa needs salvation from itself, and such salvation can only come from Africa. Problems do one of two things – numb your mind to the possibilities, or open your eyes to the opportunities. Many times, problems on a business landscape are just an offshoot of the ones in daily life.
I was amazed by the sheer volume of opportunities I could see, when I first returned to Nigeria. All I could think was, “What is wrong with people? Can’t they see?”
Then, I started to meet certain individuals and I was then blown away by their lack of vision, entitlement mentality, moral bankruptcy and the absence of backbone. People spend more time giving you a dozen reasons that something cannot be done, when they haven’t even tried, than focusing on how it can be done. Some Africans will do anything to ‘appear successful’, as opposed to actually ‘being successful’. That is why there is such an emphasis on acquiring the visible trappings of success – the designer clothes they can’t afford; the cars to be driven at neck-breaking speed for the admiration (and envy) of others; and foreign holidays whose pictures they can share on social media. I’m not being funny, but if you live in Nigeria, earn N250,000 a year and somehow think you deserve to wear the same dress Angelina Jolie wore to the screening of her last movie; you’re not very clever. You don’t have her body, or more importantly, her bank balance! If you live in a rented apartment, yet own a car that costs N10million or above; you’re very dense. A car can be seen by everyone, not so with a house – therefore, you got a car for the admiration of others, so that you can return to a rented apartment and panic when the landlord tells you (s)he’s raising the rent.
I wouldn’t call myself an economic adviser, but I have a fair understanding of human nature. Therefore, I believe that the mindset of “I want to be perceived to be X, Y, Z” is responsible for many of Nigeria’s economic problems. I had a business meeting with someone, whom I will refer to as Barrister T.N – who was more interested in taking me out to eat fish. Apparently, there’s this place in Abuja, where they do ‘point and kill fish’. All I could think was “This dude thinks there was no fish in all of London?” Then, I wondered – how many times has Nigeria been robbed, because young men and women with genuinely transformative ideas, collided with such entitled individuals as Barrister T.N?
I’ve been accused of arrogance. And in a way, I agree – because I believe you need at least a dose of arrogant self-belief to achieve certain things. It’s one of the reasons I recently launched the “Fearless Storyteller Course” – no, not to ‘prove anybody wrong’. I’m past that. Because I believe that external opinions pale into nothingness beside internal conviction. It’s the point at which you decide you deserve better, your business can do better, and your country deserves better than grudging handouts.
Chioma Nnani is the award-winning author of FOREVER THERE FOR YOU. A ghost-writer, producer and presenter, she holds a Law (LLB) from the University of Kent, Canterbury. She also has a Postgraduate Certificate in Food Law from the De Montfort University, loves the challenge of consultancy projects, blogs at www.chiomannani.blogspot.co.uk and was nominated for a BEFFTA in 2014. Her online writing course can be accessed at http://smnr.me/nkq4hn
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