nigeria leadership initiative


the future leaders seminar went by like a whirlwind. inspiring. enlightening. filled with good people, information, food, and fun at the protea hotel in lekki. we discussed readings from and about nelson mandela, gandhi, george orwell, machiavelli, dele olajede, lee kwan yew, aristotle, and others, pondering what it means to be a leader, good society, and good government, all in the context of nigeria.

it had been so long since i'd been in a proper classroom and i don't think i was quite ready to debate and discuss my views. in fact, i usually figured out what i wanted to say ten minutes after the conversation had shifted to something else. (i felt like an idiot, lol. ;) i guess, being a writer, i take all the time i need to formulate my opinions and present them when I'm ready.

the seminar convened nigerians from across the diaspora, working in different sectors, to discuss leadership and nation-building. i figured that it would be a good litmus test for the potential viability of working in nigeria. i've fantasized about starting a production company in lagos, but really had no clue about all the bureaucracy involved in that before now. after discussing electricity, roads, water, interest rates, taxes, the loan problem, infrastructure, corruption, and good governance (or the lack thereof), i'm actually no more optimistic than i was before.

though i might possess the brazen will, determination and courage necessary to make it work, i'm not quite sure i'd make that choice in such an economically unfavorable climate. that's probably the saddest part about the whole thing, because plenty of diasporeans would come back and work and live if the circumstances were better. although i definitely acknowledge that i'm privileged. in a country where 70% living on less than $1 a day and 49% of people aged 18-35 are unemployed, there we were chilling in a four-star hotel with our a/c and catering and PowerPoint presentations.

all in all, the person who probably shed the most light of all was uche, the founder of bella naija, who was one of my classmates. for the past year she's been able to run her blog full-time, finally leaving behind the 9-to-5. i still don't know exactly how she did it, though i found her experience to be a useful model. and despite all of the other success stories in the room, politics was pushed as the main path to making change to the detriment of those of us who had no political aspirations.

i suppose if i had to pick a poison, i might make a good peacemaker, mediator, or ambassador. but i'll always make a better artist than anything else. since i was a kid, i've been floating up in my head making up stories. a bit of a dreamer, somewhat unfettered by reality, given to flights of creative fancy. case in point, StandUp Naija, the group project I'll be working on over the next few months. we'll be interviewing the average Nigerian about the issues important to them in the 2011 election, then posting the videos online to start an interactive conversation. there seems to be much skepticism and pessimism surrounding the election, but i still think that it's possible for some good to come of it. we shall see. --AL.

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  1. I like the short video. Very poignant. Love the background music. Nice work to the team that put it together.


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