Saturday, January 20, 2007


It's time to sow the seeds of the positive and reflect on some good stuff in Nigeria. We've been lucky to meet some amazing people here who are part of the transformation. Allow me to mention just a few to begin with:

K. An entrepreneur and an intellectual with deep insights into the state of Nigeria and where it is going. K comes up with pithy phrases such as 'outsourcing to God', the 'triumph of ego over process' and 'reluctant Nigerians' that capture some of the more enduring neuroses of the current condition here. Most significantly, his sustained interest in bottom of the pyramid approaches to development, and his alternative energy solutions, will be part of a new Nigeria. He's both highly intuitive and highly conceptual (a rare combination) and an all round great guy.

F. He leads an IT company here in Abuja which has grown from 1 member of staff to over 70 in just over two years. F refuses to do business as usual in Nigeria and so will not offer kick-backs or other forms of egunje to decision-making civil servants. Against all the odds, his business is succeeding, by power of the value proposition alone. I first met him in the context of my being his client. The value-add was close to being pampered by excess advice every day. It's not been an easy journey, but F demonstrates how one does need to cave in to the 'Nigerian factor' in order to be successful here.

M. An Indian who has spent almost all his life in Nigeria, M is as passionate about transforming Nigeria as he is about his own spiritual quest. He wants to create a globally successful business from out of the multi-million dollar chemical business he has today. M has the gift of asking powerful questions at just the right time. He spends his time converting ever-present self-dissatisfaction into huge reserves of potential and kinetic energy. Again, an intellectual and an entrepreneur, M is up there as one of the most positive things about Nigeria today.

A. She grew up in Ajegunle, one of the most notorious slums of Lagos. Through sheer tenacity, she managed to get a University education. She has now returned to work in Ajegunle, and is making a difference.

E. A writer and fashion designer, E is committed to the vision of a new Nigeria. Never having had the opportunity to live or study abroad, E is testimony to the fact that Nigerians don't have to go outside to develop their powers and talents. E herself has an uncanny talent-spotting ability. She currently works for a leading women's magazine, as well as setting up her own fashion label.

O. Is a young street photographer. He has a gentle manner, and an uncanny ability to capture the essence of life in some of the more testing parts of Lagos. O is not motivated by money - if you are not happy with the images he takes for you, he will not accept payment. He loves nature. One day the break he is looking for will come.

D. D is a gardener and spiritual man. He makes a little money tending the gardens of the elite in Abuja. He loves plants so much that he gets very upset if a plant he has sold you dies. Again, money is not his motivation. He has a vision of an abundant Abuja, filled with public parks and gardens and all manner of tropical flowers.

More to come later..


Anonymous,  12:23 pm  

What's very interesting about most of the people you've listed is that they're passionate about what they do - they're not just doing what they're doing because other people are doing the same thing, or because it'll make them money (nothing wrong with that) - they're doing it out of conviction.

Sadly, a lot of people are too busy trying to find what will make them money rather that trying to find what they really care about. And even when they've made a lot of money, they're still struggling to find out what they care about.

PS - I don't like to ask, but what does one have to do to get a link to a blog from your site? :)

Jeremy 12:51 pm  

tis done AWW! You are now top of the list (all you had to do was ask!)

Anonymous,  3:01 pm  

Can I get a link too? I asked for one not through e-mail, but you didn't answer. I presumed you were too busy enjoying India ;)

PS. Wonderful to see more positive, hopeful comments posted regarding Nigeria's slow tranformation. Slowly but surely...

Anonymous,  3:23 pm  

Great post Jeremy. Inspiring examples. There is yet hope for Nigeria....if only we could get rid of those imbeciles at the top.

Anonymous,  9:10 pm  

we all can't be rich. Thats nigeria's promble

Anonymous,  2:03 am  

this is lovely. thanks so much for sharing this.

Semper 12:58 pm  

These are great stories and I know a couple more from further north.

I often wonder if it might be possible to have a micro-credit or maybe "midi-credit" system set up where volunteers put Nigerians with these characteristics in touch with people who have the cash to back them. It would have to be smaller scale and based on people who can be trusted who do not want or seek a "cut".

Anonymous,  3:30 pm  

Semper, why don't you share your stories from up North? it will be good to hear about them. Am sure jeremy won't mind you using his blog.

Anonymous,  7:11 pm  

This is really inspiring and positive. Let's hear my stories about this

Semper 2:31 pm  


1. Two older men, worried about the ghettoising happening in the North have stealthily bought houses in "muslim" areas of 3 Northern cities and are renting them cheaply to Christian students just so channels of communication and respect are kept open.

2. When there were "religious" riots in a Northern city dozens of Muslim families risked their lives sheltering church members when their building was attacked and stood up to the "Jihadists".

3. A man is working with his village elders to build a guest village for vacations for Nigerians using trad building materials and setting it up as a joint ownership venture so it belongs to the community.

I have to be a little careful about details but the North is more varied and there is more to be hopeful there than some people realise.

Anonymous,  8:34 am  

Semper, thanks for this information. we need exchanges like the ones you and jeremy have provided. It makes me think that nigeria is not all a basket case. But lets here more about this holiday village so that when it is complete they can recieve visitors.


Anonymous,  2:21 pm  

Thank you for this. We need more posts on Nigeria's unsung heroes.

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