It was a big surprise to Nigerians earlier in the year to learn that Mark Zuckerberg, the 32year old founder of Facebook was walking the streets of Sabo, Yaba in Lagos! Did I hear you say – For real? Yes for real. A friend of mine who lives in Abuja even sent me some pictures of him in cybercafés in Sabo and engaging the owners and customers of those outlets. I also happen to catch up on the 10 pm news on Channels TV on Tuesday.
Mark is worth 54.5billion in “correct” money (USD), if you do a quick and dirty maths with the prevailing parallel market rate, you will begin to appreciate what we are talking about.
Reminds me of one of my very good friends who receive CIA security reports regularly with details of where to go and where not to. I have not seen one of those reports (I am not really interested in them), but I can bet the report would have outlawed a place like Sabo, Yaba totally! The truth must be said, we do have major security issues in our environment, but when I learnt last weekend that the casualties figure from gun violence in Chicago from 2001 to 2016 is more than American deaths in the war front of Afghanistan within the same period, I have decided how much emphasis to put on CIA reports.
Flashing a little bit further back, I remember riding back to the office on the Island with some of my colleagues from another colleague’s event on the mainland, and one of the young ladies was talking about how scared she was to come to the mainland “but for an event like this, I don’t cross the bridge…….I am always worried that someone will mug me”, she said! I was disgusted! Back to Mark, so why will a Mark, a man worth an equivalent of over N23trillion, leave the comfort and affluence of an organized America, to come and walk on the backstreets of Sabo, entering business offices and engaging with “ordinary” people, ignoring CIA reports and travel advice, and without siren and a retinue of marines….wearing same T-Shirt and corporate shirt he has been found around with several times?
The entire Hebert Macaulay Street including the Sabo axis is wired end to end with Optical Fibre; Mark is an internet business entrepreneur, there are 20m people in Lagos! Resources meet opportunity, and a passionate and gifted entrepreneur must have been thinking of how to create a melting pot of magic with all of these! So how come the Nigerian internet entrepreneur did not see this? Were they scared of being mugged by their own people too….for being too successful?
Why did a western business like UBER come to Nigeria to create wealth and employment ….in this same dangerous and chaotic terrain? Now, suddenly a couple of local players have woken up to copy the model, but the question is why did it take UBER to open their eyes to this opportunity? Could it be that we are beclouded by complaints about what we don’t have and cannot see what we have? Maybe we need to start asking ourselves more – “what is in your hand” like God asked Moses when he was called to a purpose, or Elijah and the widow of Zarephath?
Mark Zuckerberg, all the way from the US, has seen something at our backyard, that we the owner of the backyard have not seen, I wish him well, I also wish that we as a people will start to ask more often, that important question – “what is in my hand?”
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