If Nigeria overwhelms you, focus on your region or your state or LGA or community or village or street or family or SELF. Start somewhere…
I read the above tweet this morning and it resonates with an experience I had whilst I was still living on Lagos Island in Lagos, Nigeria. I remember there was a group of young men that we were probably of the same age bracket and some of them were unemployed or underemployed and I remember a random thought that became an idea to me then. I had a discussion with some of them on how to turn an abandoned space into a small bakery or fish farm, because on Lagos island it’s not difficult to get to water source in the ground and it was quite affordable to dig a borehole even back then and Lagos Island is the home of bakeries and I don’t think one could get it wrong there in terms of setting up a bakery. Although, running it successfully is a different kettle of fish.
The classrooms to learn from are in abundance; a six month apprenticeship in a bakery by an educated individual I believe is enough to understand the basics of the trade and as for the nuances, we all get to learn them on a daily basis.
I think my idea did not sink with these guys and the idea just died there and then, but the challenges of unemployment and underemployment persisted (I don’t know about the situation now). But an interesting development occurred some few months later; a bakery was opened right across the road by a resourceful young man and in a blink of an eye, the bakery had become a hive.
Young women particularly from outside Lagos Island started turning up in the morning, as early as 5am or thereabout to get supplies and hawk in the morning (they had so many obstacles to overcome – from trying to avoid getting arrested by government officials for “illegally” trading by hawking on the street; to catching up with customers who wanted their bread hot and fresh with blue band butter spread on the two surfaces in between the loaf of bread that has been cut into two neat equal parts by these ladies, with the dexterity and concentration of an artist. For the act of cutting a loaf of bread and spreading butter on the two surfaces is an art that demands its own tutelage and perfection.
Back to the bakery issue, so the bakery grew in its successful operation and became a part of the physical and social ecosystem of the street and the young women hawking the bread increased in number, and hopefully were able to fulfil some of their own individuals’ life aspirations. And I remember seeing one of the “locals”, who usually enjoyed sitting by the roadside on a bench, allowing: time, people and traffic to pass her by, whilst she did nothing; asking one of the bread hawkers for a loaf of bread!
So, there you go!