Motivational speeches have a short shelf life when it comes to matters than run deeper than words. What is faced by millions of Nigerian youths is far beyond the deft touches of a nice talk.
Having left Nigeria some five years ago, I live in the United Kingdom still feeling a part of me lodged in the Nigerian scene, mirroring the struggles and everyday grind of young men and women, replaying on my mind, memories of my most intense and desperate moments, when I had no job and straddling like all regular youths do, occasionally feeling despondent, but like a gene-dye Nigerian, I learnt to live on the cutting edge of hope.
For the most of my years in the UK, I have spoken to, written some contributions on major African and Nigerian media; I keep getting one response from some youths. Much of it borders on the notion that life could be far better abroad than it is in Nigeria. True! Only if you haven’t lived elsewhere.
There’s something about Nigeria that mingles hope and desperation, the rare chemistry of a people managing to live out their potential even in the most stifling conditions.
It was something of a mixture of sheer courage and spontaneity, the day I walked into a studio and recorded my first talk on “How to discover your talent and run with it”.
That event was also a discovery voyage for me. Being a new comer in the business, I could not believe the surge of gleeful remarks and admiration on what I just did. It opened new opportunities for me and I went straight on to do more recordings on some other more topics. More than the recognition and small cash I was getting which served more than enough “cushion” for my unemployed state, having lost my job in the banking sector, more than anything I read or hear, that very experience redefined my personal fundamentals.
Staunch hope flew out from the depth of loss and self-despairs into a tall edifice of self-enterprise, pride and all-conquering mentality. To create something out of nothing, own a brand, to place a finger on something you own, not what was handed to you, lives on you a permanent imprint of satisfaction and confidence.
More than anything, Nigeria is a grooming field for champions. At the back of it is a frightening mosaic of issues, negatives, and resignation.
I have learnt that no one needs to speak to anyone to ignite the mind. Deep inside each one of us is an unconquered hope.
There are so many youths trapped in the middle of a journey, forgetting to live with the realities. I remember a secondary schoolmate of mine who took a dose of some poisonous drink because his parents could not send him abroad. Many young people are harbouring the hope of getting abroad someday by hook or by crook.
Many of his peers who never travelled abroad braved the odds and got on with life, and are today modestly successful. Nigeria remains my sowing ground. I have set up some concerns that are going pretty well in Nigeria, an attractive incentive to keep coming home now and every often. With all the ugly narratives that seem to trail Nigeria, investors are yet jostling to get on the good side of Nigeria.
When you have tried all you know to do, there’s one more thing that is forbidden in the dictionary of success: Don’t give up, try and try again.
Sitting quietly in the inner recesses of every human being is an unploughed acre of ideas and untested adventures. Nigeria with a 170 million people has a plethora of needs that someone can begin to meet with one bright idea no one has tried out.
That is where to begin, a time to sit back, outside the mind-whacking Nigeria scene, into the technicolour laboratory of constructive and creative thinking. The world reckons that Nigerians are bright and innovative people. We are way beyond the stereotype of gangsters and low lives the world make of us.
It’s time for fresh thinking. Time to get past the bad times. The money and wealth we can create by own ideas will surely outlive the money we were given no matter the amount.
The challenge is to think hard, think and keep thinking. What comes off our mind could be bigger than Nigeria and will surely outlive it and its imperfections. That could be the one gift the world is waiting for.
Steve Orji, London, United States. firstname.lastname@example.org