10 things to celebrate and learn about Nigerians

 It goes without saying: Nigerians are plentiful. In fact, one in five Africans is Nigerian and they certainly represent throughout the Diaspora.  Much of the time, however, the over 150 million Nigerians in the world are unfairly associated with 419 email scams.  More often than not, Nigerians are contributing to the international business and cultural landscape in a major and legitimate way.  One stereotype that is true is that Nigerians are some of the hardest working people on the planet and they have the accolades to show for it.

This year, Nigeria is celebrating the 50th year anniversary of its independence from the United Kingdom. In honor of this very important milestone, we decided to highlight a handful of the country’s international superstars who have propelled their country into the spotlight and shine as an example of how to thrive creatively and professionally in their respective fields.

Without further ado, here’s our list of 10 very interesting things you can learn from a Nigerian.


1. How to Write a Universal Literary Gem Set in Africa

From the time that Chinua Achebe released his landmark novel “Things Fall Apart” in 1958, Nigerians have continued to make waves in literary circles. The playwright Wole Soyinka won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1986, and today, authors like Chimamanda Adichie, Chris Abani, Helon Habila, and numerous others have garnered international acclaim for their literary portrayals of African life and identity. Their significant works will continue to shape the perceptions of curious readers worldwide and paint a more balanced picture of West African life.


2. How To Make Art A Weapon for Revolution

The father of Afrobeat has no counterpart. Often referred to as Africa’s James Brown, Fela Kuti not only ushered a new musical genre onto the world stage but used his music as a political weapon to speak out against corruption, military dictatorship and cultural imperialism. The human rights activist died in 1997 and, today, his children Femi and Seun Kuti carry on his powerful legacy through music. His story is currently being depicted on Broadway in the hit musical; FELA!


3. How to Leverage Your Knowledge of Petrol and Start a Multi-Billion Dollar Oil Business

The irony of Kase Lawal’s story is that he left his oil rich country and eventually hit it big in Texas in none other than the oil business. His company CAMAC is one of the largest black-owned businesses in the U.S., generating over $2 billion dollars a year. He founded the company 25 years ago after working as a chemical engineer with Shell Oil Company. It started off as a small agriculture business but expanded into oil in 1991 when Lawal “made a deal with the oil giant Conoco, agreeing to jointly operate and share production from any Nigerian discoveries. Today, CAMAC has offices in London, Johannesburg, Lagos and Port Harcourt, Nigeria and is involved in oil exploration, refining and trading.”


4. How To Bring African Flavor To The International Fashion Scene

Folake Folarin-Coker founded the very successful Nigeria based fashion line called Tiffany Amber in 1998. Despite its very Anglo name, the label’s designs are inspired by Nigerian prints as well as modern Western silhouettes. Folarin-Coker’s market is international and she’s the only Africa based designer who has shown twice in New York Fashion Week. It’s nice to see an African and African-based designer utilizing and promoting the African flavor in fashion worldwide.


5. How to Own a Major Airport In The Country That Colonized Yours

Buying an airport: not something you would think of; would you?  Well, Adebayo Ogunlesi certainly did. Nigerians make up a large portion of the immigrant population in the United Kingdom so it’s only fitting that a Nigerian would own the airport through which most of his fellow country men and women arrive in the UK. Ogunlesi acquired the London Gatwick Airport, which is one of the largest and busiest airports in the world, in a deal worth over $2 billion U.S. dollars earlier in the year. The Harvard and Oxford educated Ogunlesi leveraged his years of experience in global finance as one of the leading executives at Credit Suisse First Boston Corporation to launch his own independent investment fund called Global Infrastructure Partners, through which he acquired the airport.


6. How To Make Films on a Budget and Fuel The Movie-Making Powerhouse of Nollywood

Move over Bollywood, it’s all about Nollywood these days. While Nigeria’s $250 million movie industry is not exactly about top grade theater releases, the resourcefulness and budget defying tactics of filmmakers is certainly a lesson for all business-minded hustlers. 200 videos are produced every month, with average budgets ranging from $17,000 to $23,000. Izu Ojukwu and Chico Ejiro are two of the more popular and award winning directors.


7. How To Maintain Your Artistic Brand Effortlessly

When Jay-Z dissed Nas by saying he only has a “one hot album every ten year average,” it was seen as a low blow. But if you’re Sade or, rather, Helen Folasade Adu, that average is indicative of your star power. After all, she only needs to put out an album when she wants to so even though she now puts out albums once a decade, those releases go straight to the top of the charts. The British and Nigerian songstress has managed to do what very few others in the music world have and that is to effortlessly maintain longevity solely based on her talents, not publicity. Everyone from rock lovers to hip hop heads know and appreciate Sade. The music world’s woman of mystery emerged on the scene singing and dancing to her unique fusion of jazz and soul. That combination, along with her deep and sultry voice, has captivated the ears of listeners worldwide. We may be unable to precisely break down the alchemy of Sade’s brand but it’s certainly one worth celebrating.


8. How To Be a “Genius”

John Dabiri, a 30-year-old Nigerian biophysicist and Associate Professor of Aeronautics and Bioengineering at the California Institute of Technology has been named one of the 23 new Fellows of MacArthur foundation for 2010, meaning he receives a $500,000 “genius” grant to do his thing with no strings attached. Mr Dabiri works on a wide range of fields, including theoretical fluid dynamics, evolutionary biology, and biomechanics to unravel the secrets of one of the earliest means of animal locomotion.


9. How to Create and Own Media For Black by Black

Bob and Sheila Johnson made history when they launched the first Black-owned cable network, BET,  in the U.S. in 1980 but since then, TV networks dedicated to Black content have been few and far between. In comes Alistair Soyode. The London-based media entrepreneur started the Bright Entertainment Network in 2002 as the first African and Caribbean-focused television channel in the United Kingdom. The channel offers a mix of news, entertainment, and sports, which is supplied to television stations in Nigeria and the UK. The impetus behind Soyode’s media endeavor is promoting positive perceptions of his homeland.  He is very actively involved in working with other Nigerians to “re-brand Nigeria from the ground up.”


10. How to Leverage Your NBA Earnings and Keep Your Business On The Low

Professional athletes are notorious for blowing their millions in a short time. Although not the case for all, that tale of financial mismanagement  gets exposed in the media over and over again.  For Hakeem Olajuwon, it’s quite the opposite. The NBA Hall of Famer and former Houston Rockets center finished off his 18-year professional career and came to be just as well known for his real estate investing skills in Houston. The New York Times praised his savvy approach to home-flipping, stating that “following an unorthodox yet disciplined strategy, he has managed to make as much in real estate in the last 10 years as he did in his 17 seasons playing professional basketball.” On and off the court, the devout Muslim has made his work ethic work for him.


SOURCE – atlantapost.com


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