Things To Do This Summer: Go Home

Toyin & I

My cousin and I: It’s been over 10 years since I saw her

I haven’t been home to Nigeria in nearly 6 years. It’s a long time to stay away but I’m glad I got a chance to go home this summer.

I spent a majority of the time with my parents. My children spent lots of quality time with their cousins, uncles, aunties and grandparents. Going home has played a part in grounding me, remembering who I am and where I come from. A busy life makes one forget.

Part of our family and friends as we caught this summer

Part of our family and friends as we caught up this summer

It was a blessing to see how big my family is (in number and in heart), a wide network of people who will be there for me but most importantly for my children.
With most of my time spent in Lagos, I was able to see the progress my country has made. In many ways, certain common practices are ahead of some developed countries. For instance, money transfer is dead easy and can be done with mobile phones using text messaging.

There is contact less payment – nothing like what we have in the UK with debit cards that don’t require pin entry at purchases below £20. Contact less payment in Nigeria makes it possible to make payments of any amount from a mobile phone as you stand right there in a shop. This is possible with 4G wi-fi portable devices that can be carried around in a handbag so internet could literally be everywhere. Indeed, IT/telecommunications are market leading sectors of the Nigerian economy, and perhaps leading in the global economy also.

A sign at a nearby GT bank: Set up a savings account via text

A sign at a nearby GT bank: Set up a savings account via text

We are a long way from where we are going but we are taking significant steps. Infrastructure such as electricity and good roads, customer service and coherent business processes are all part of what is required for the next steps. Seeing Nigeria as a whole grow and develop warms my heart. The people are innovative and have worked long and hard to prosper. A positive outlook and an amazing sense of humour get Nigerians through practically anything. We hope for the best and prepare for the worst. This is how we are able to laugh and build lasting character.

I won’t leave it this long again. Going home is important for us all. Wherever is “home” for you is where you feel loved and at peace. It’s where people you consider to be family reside. I watched my children feel at home too. For them, Nigeria will no longer be an unfamiliar place in Africa. For me, Nigeria will no longer be away from my heart.

Advertisements

Not the race card: The People & Places series (2)

Best place to be black

I swear I’m not pulling the race card (and yes, I am a black woman). But the other option was unthinkable, that is, to completely ignore the fact that it is more comfortable to be black in some countries than others.  What I’m referring to specifically is the opportunities to make something good out of your life, your career, and your dreams. My 2 cents is that one of the best places in the world to be black is the United States of America. The way I see it, a country like the US more than ever has given a perspective of the world to youngsters that I think will change the way they think forever. For example, the image of poverty versus wealth in many multi-racial countries is one of: black people are poor and white people are rich. A country where a youngster, like my 5-year old black son can look at the top of the society and see educated, respected black men and women is priceless. In the same vein, he can see black people begging on the streets. This is fine with me as  long as he also sees white people begging and educated, respected white people at the helm of society’s affairs. It’s a balanced perspective where the glass ceiling evaporates and anything is possible if you work hard.

Seeing a world of opportunities (photographed by R "Doc Enigma")

In the US, this is possible, making  it (in my mind) one of the best places in the world to be black.

Black entrepreneurs

Many African countries have prosperous black entrepreneurs. Of course, these countries are fantastic places to be black. I think African countries do count in my argument as some African countries make doing business a little easier for indigenes. In South Africa, there are several incentives for black aspiring business owners as the nation breaks away from their past of apartheid.

Also in Nigeria, dozens of indigenous companies have erupted that directly compete for the market e.g. the oil and gas services market. The government encourages a certain percentage of indigenes to be employed in international corporations. In addition, entrepreneurs like Aliko Dangote and Mike Adenuga have proven that it’s great to be black in Nigeria.

Conclusion

I’m writing about blacks because I’m black. I haven’t walked in the shoes of any other minority group. So overall, I think there are countless opportunities for smart, ambitious people, regardless of race. It may feel at times that a black person  (or any minority group for that matter) has much more to prove. And it’s probably true but it is my experience so far at most of the time, once you prove yourself, everyone else usually gives way. In the corporate world, diversity is becoming more and more important…and fashionable. Diversity makes companies look good. So if you are in the minority, put your best foot forward and I believe you’ll go places. Dust off that business idea or proposal, re-write your CV with a renewed confidence. I wonder… where else is it cool to be in-the-minority?


%d bloggers like this: