Motivation & inspiration are not enough
Being a speech by Chude Jideonwo, Executive Director of The Future Project, delivered at the launch of The Future Awards Season 7 & the ‘Tear Down These Walls’ Media Campaign, on May 29, 2012. Lagos.
By some stroke of fate, all three founders of The Future Awards are not here at the launch of Season 7, spread across the globe as we are on assignments, albeit for this project. But as we see it, this is actually a good sign: you see, we have always been secure in the knowledge that we might have founded The Future Awards, but it is owned by young Nigerians across the world.
And in the past seven years, as we have taken its message across 24 states and at least 7 countries, we have come to keenly understand this one fact: that because of that essence; because The Future Awards belongs to the generation that inspired it, its mission must be dictated by the realities of young Nigerians.
And this is the reality of young Nigerians: there was a time when many of us had lost hope in our country and when the only news you could hear about young people was about the Yahoo-Yahoo guys, the ones at the embassies trying to leave and young girls being sold for prostitution abroad. They had become the symbols of youth in a country emerging into democracy.
The Future Awards led the charge to change this: presenting over 1000 Positive Role Models (especially outside of entertainment) to young Nigerians and Africans over the past years, we have succeeded in establishing faith in country amongst blocs of young people, fundamentally altered for good the way young Nigerians are viewed as leaders, innovators and entrepreneurs, become a launch-pad for change projects, businesses, ideas and collaborations across the country, and in pioneering the merging of pop culture with development and advocacy, made it cool for young people to get involved in Nigeria.
But the work of a change-maker is never done. What has emerged is an entire industry given to inspiration and motivation, and this is not a bad thing. Talk has its place, and always will. But there is also a place for action. Young Nigerians now understand the power of potential, there is enough belief in self and nation. Now, we need more.
We need a country that is worthy of its young people. From technology to fashion, this nation is littered with brilliant youth-driven start-ups, minds with ideas and innovation, leaders and entrepreneurs that are ready to change the landscape of our country for good.
What do we need? We need for government to get out of the way – to stop being an obstacle to the revolution powered by these young people. We don’t really need government to create jobs, we need government to create the atmosphere for these brilliant minds to create jobs for themselves and for other Nigerians. We do not really need the private sector to extend hands of charity; we need it to restructure itself to begin to meet the legitimate needs of a youth population that’s rearing to go.
Where are the investors ready to take risks on our own Facebook or Groupon? Where are the venture capitalists able to drive and to push these young people far and beyond what even they think they are capable of? Where are the hubs structured to give rise to a flurry of ideas that work? Those are the walls that limit many young people from doing all that they can do, from being all that they can be. And we say: it’s time to tear down these walls.
This year, The Future Awards will again present brilliant young minds who are ready and able to re-focus our nation. But beyond the awards, we will also be calling on government and the private sector to get involved so that the award winners and the nominees can real full potential. To start that, we will launch our will be our Ideas and Innovation Fair, where the best ideas and the best innovations and the best businesses will meet with the opportunities to enable them soar, but our campaign this year seeks to ensure that that is only a start; inspiring others across the country to get involved and to get invested..
“We are unable to hold on to the past or wholly embrace the present,” a mentor told me just this morning. “So all we have left now is no more than the future.” That future of this country is here already: the young people of Nigeria have spent the past few years tearing down walls with nothing but grit and vision and passion. But there’s so much more that we can do; so much farther than we can do. This year, with The Future Awards 2012, we want to show Nigerians how far we can go.
As a generation, we must refuse to be held back anymore by the limitations that Nigeria imposes on them. We don’t need them. And we don’t have to accept them. It’s time for these walls to come down and we invite you to join us this year on this exciting journey.
God keep us, and God bless Nigeria.