Tag Archives: Lagos

What’s Your Hustle?

When I first moved back to Nigeria people asked me a lot of questions:

Why would you leave a civil country to live here?

Do you think your accent will make you successful?

How will you keep your colour?!

I heard a lot. Ignored most but was asked a question that to this day I continue to ask myself:

What do you do?

This seemed at the time a rather daft question considering the question came from my colleague at my new television job. I was a reporter at NN24 — chasing stories, writing scripts, editing and in my head an all-round bad-ass. This response it turns out was more daft than the question. After an unwanted but necessary discussion I came to discover that when a Nigerian asks you here what you are doing, they mean what do you do to get money aside from working for someone for a salary… or in essence, “what’s your hustle”?

Being an entrepreneur wasn’t in my immediate plans. I wanted the chance to be a journalist in Nigeria. I longed to report on stories close to my heart and help change the Africa narrative one story at a time. When I graduated from Columbia in 2010 I was offered a job where I would have the chance to make my dream a reality. My dad advised me to get more experience in the West before I did so and I reluctantly listened. More than a year later having worked for Fortune, the United Nations and the Atlanta Post I decided it was time to make the big move.

So there I was, with an Ivy League Masters degree and a new job under my belt yet, unable to impress my Nigerian questioner with my achievements. Now having moved back (again) to Nigeria two years ago, I fully understand why.

My working life in London and New York post graduation provided me with a salary I was happy with and a day in which I knew without fail my hard-earned money would be paid to me monthly. Now, let me tell you a bit about what it’s like working in Nigeria. In a nutshell, I have come to realise that working doesn’t guarantee payment or payment at an agreed time. Don’t get me wrong, it is possible to work here and be paid on-time as I have experienced this but I have also experienced the flip-side and I am far from being alone. There are many state workers across the country that are owed salaries and pensions. I’m not talking about the odd month or so (as if that wouldn’t be so bad) but more than 12 months! Picture that. Working for more than a year without pay! T.I.N — this is Nigeria.

Living in Nigeria makes having an entrepreneurial spirit not optional but necessary. You simply shouldn’t or in most cases can’t rely solely on your salary. I got my thinking cap on and thought about a key follow-up question to what do I do — what can  I do. The answer and support from my amazing husband is what pushed me to think out of the box and register a company called OOTB Media Concepts.

I may have felt that being a journalist was the beginning and end of my story but Nigeria has helped me discover that there are more chapters to my story than I realised. This year has been a year of change giving me so much to adapt to yet I am still hungry for more change. My mind is constantly thinking of what’s next and that excites me.

Never stop questioning yourself:

What do you do?

What can you do?

Work these out and get busy!

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Should The Nigerian Stock Exchange Change its Name?

I came across an article this morning that said Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State wants  to rename the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) after Lagos. My first reaction was why but after reading his reasons, it seemed perfectly reasonable:

“I think the time has come for us to begin to look at the legislation that was passed during the military administration, that is decrees and acts. I think that was when the Lagos Stock Exchange became the Nigerian Stock Exchange, in unification for the country,” Fashola said.

helloThe NSE was established in 1960 as the Lagos Stock Exchange but it was renamed in December 1977 as The Nigerian Stock Exchange. Put into context, this name change is understandable as it occurred seven years after Nigeria’s civil war (Biafra). This is why it’s likely Fashola was correct to say that the change in name occurred in an attempt to unify Nigeria.

Yet, when I looked at the comments for this story on Linda Ikeji’s blog, (I know, great source right…) I discovered most people didn’t seem to agree with Fashola and I:

“Story, Story. Why should we copy them.”

“Nigerian stock is better.. Sounds united.”

“Padi mi, calm down pls. Lagos is NOT everything.”

“Oga Fashola you are not the one to decide…leave dat one for our oga at d top Joe.”

Hmmm. These comments made me pause and take a moment to think about why people would oppose changing the NSE’s name to what is best global practice. After all, as the Governor rightly said,

“…we have the Johannesburg, Paris, New York and we don’t have the American Stock Exchange or German Stock Exchange while there is a Frankfurt Stock Exchange and so on.”

I asked a few colleagues what they thought about changing the NSE’s name to the Lagos Stock Exchange and the first thing they said was that it would spark controversy. Really?

I understand that many Nigerians feel there’s an ideological divide among those in the North and those in the South, so the timing of the name change isn’t great. Also, it is true that we are again in desperate need for policies to help unify our nation. BUT what’s in a name?

I mean this seriously.

What difference does it make if the NSE is called Naija Stock Tings (NST)? I’m being serious.

So, my questions to you (because I’m attempting to write shorter blog posts from now on), are:

  • Is it actually rational to oppose changing the NSE’s name for sentimental reasons?
  • Do we not have more important issue in Lagos to change like the terrible state of the water on the Island?
  • What if any will the impact on the country be if the NSE’s name is changed to the Lagos Stock Exchange?

What’s clear to me is that Nigeria isn’t united BUT I’m not convinced changing the name of the NSE will change anything (for better or worse) other than its current name…

Why I’m Glad to be Back in Nigeria.

If you read my last post you’ll probably find the title of this one ironic. Two months ago I happily left Nigeria thinking I’d only return once my family there complained I hadn’t visited in years. Yet, here I am – back where I almost vowed never to be again.

Most of the people closest to me have asked me why I’m crazy enough to want to be back. I had just settled afresh into life in London and it felt so good being around my family and friends. Despite feeling adamant I was ready to plant my roots in London for good, I found opportunities (well they sort of somehow found me), pulling me right back to this troubled West African land.

When I asked myself why I was leaving again, I was disappointed to find that it wasn’t because of a natural pull towards my motherland, or the belief I was needed in Nigeria to make it a better place. It just isn’t that deep. I’m back because of an opportunity that’s arisen. If a great opportunity came up in Syria I would probably move there because I just don’t love my homeland or any land enough to forgo a new opportunity just because it’s out of my comfort zone.

I understand that this way of thinking isn’t for everyone but neither is my profession. Right now I have the energy to travel around the world and learn new things while I’m at it. I don’t have baggage in my life to complicate my passion for travelling so I can’t think of a valid reason to avoid beginning a new life away from home, if there’s a chance it will make me, a better me…

Here’s the thing with a new experience, it can be daunting and sometimes feel really uncomfortable but the really important things happen outside of your comfort zone. Someone once told me when I was getting nervous about moving to New York that I would really find out who Enô is while I was away. Being stripped of the influence friends and family have over you will do that to you – make you really find yourself. Sounds super corny but its true.

I found this note. Can’t remember where but it really made me smile:

20120912-101812.jpg

Couldn’t have put it better myself. The title of this post perhaps should have been, “Why I’m glad to be relocating.” Nigeria might not have been my first choice but my new job is. I can’t wait to share what I’ll be doing with you but until then, wish me luck. In Nigeria, delays in job start-dates are unfortunately common.

Be adventurous, see the world and learn something new.

Where is my Motherland?

As I prepare to embark on a journey that I ironically haven’t mentally prepared to make, I thought what better way is there to grapple with my anxieties about traveling than sharing them on my forgotten beloved blog! I am currently packing (yet again) to move to a country I call my mother land despite having spent less than two months there in my twenty-four-years of life! I have accepted a television reporting job in Lagos, Nigeria and have a few more days until I’ll say adieu to my hometown Barnet, England. Question:

Since I am “returning” to my motherland, should I feel guilty about feeling slightly apprehensive about going?

Barnet is my hometown because I was born and raised in these neck of the woods. I attended nursery, infant, junior and secondary school in Barnet. I even half supported Barnet for most of my childhood — until I decided to remove the shackles of inevitable disappointment! In a nutshell, Barnet has always felt like home. Perhaps this is what rattled the cages of kids I grew up with that were angered that I supported Nigeria rather than England in the World Cup! To my fellow students, I was not only a traitor but off my trolley as well for supporting a country I had (at the time) never even visited. Bless their hearts — my Nigerian patriotism was probably too complicated to understand at the tender age of sixteen…

I grew up with my father telling me that on paper I am English but in my heart I must remember that I’m Nigerian. Aided by detailed lectures from my dad after asking questions such as how many states are there in Nigeria, I became deeply interested in Nigeria’s past, present and future. I didn’t travel to Nigeria until I was thirteen but from a very young age, I felt deeply connected to this far away place. In short — I’m a Londoner but a Nigerian at heart.

So as I soak in all the love I can get from my family and friends in the last few days I have left until I travel, I cannot rid myself of the feeling that I am going to miss my hometown more than ever. But why? After all, it’s not the first time I have had to say goodbye to my birthplace for an indefinite amount of time. I returned to London a few months ago– more than two years after moving to New York to study for a Masters. So what is it that makes this departure feel a million times more drastic? Funnily enough, it’s not the risk of armed robbery, shortage of electricity or even the increased kidnapping rate that’s got me rattled! Unfortunately it is the very industry I work in that has vastly contributed to my uneasiness about emigrating…

My sister was half amused yet afraid when I told her that because of all the Nollywood movies I had seen with demons fiercely present, I was scared most demons choose Nigeria as their home! Can you blame me?! If you have ever seen a Nollywood movie, despite “to God be all the glory” or “Praise be to God in the highest” and so forth being written at the end of a film, Nigeria is depicted as a God forsaken land! Watch the clip below to get a good idea about the use of demons in Nigerian films.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zP7JlipXNnM&feature=youtube_gdata_player

Perhaps the fact that I’m a bit of a scaredy cat is partly responsible for my fear of confronting a demon. In Nollywood movies, shouting “Jesus” seems to be a successful demon repellant but I’m praying beyond measure that I will never have to test this out :l

Jokes aside, I have received mixed reactions from friends and family members about my decision to further my career in Nigeria. I have definitely taken both the negative and positive comments on board but I have been most moved by words of encouragement about my upcoming move. When I was told by an auntie that Nigeria needed reporters like myself, I was reminded about a conversation I had with one of my favourite teachers while studying for my A levels in sixth form. After telling my teacher about some sort of misfortune that had occurred in Nigeria, his response was along the lines of this:

People like you really irritate me. You receive education here and receive knowledge that could benefit your motherland but instead of going back, you stay here with all the other knowledgeable people and complain about the place you won’t even help yourself.

More than five years after Mr. Khan said this to me, I find all the encouragement I need to move to Nigeria in his bitter-sweet dig. Wow, writing really is therapeutic! If I can use my British charm to get blood out of stone (get politicians to talk to me for a story) and contribute to accurate news stories Nigerian’s want to see, then it’s worth me facing some demons — not literally, please God not literally!

Anyway, I’m off to get some last-minute injections from a clinic to keep me disease free in Lagos. I will leave you with a video about the very best state in Nigeria — Akwa Ibom.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o1w7BotgXWc&feature=youtube_gdata_player