12 years a slave, to blindness
ladies and gentlemen, I just moved from mo blind to Mont Blanc
12 years a slave to blindness
12 years of half the insights
12 years of puzzled pictures
12 years of fractured fields
DAY one of 20/20 vision.
Growing and living in Nigeria can be strange. We acculturate to strange and difficult things.
In a sense we are enemies of the simple, we hate easy, we abhor normal.
We are friends with the complex, we love the difficult, and we live for abnormality.
Don’t argue the above with me, if you haven’t lived in Lagos before and/or commuted between the mainland and Victoria island during rush hours via public transportation.
There can only be one truth or reason for this chaos, we were only designed to favor a few; the brute, the inhumane, the aggressive and the corrupt; people who will cheat their way up a road by driving against traffic on the opposing lane; people who hound you with their sirens to veer you off-road, policemen designed not to serve and protect but to criminalize you; institutions built in guise for all but mandated to satiate few.
I remember six years back, working with a client to set up a Dubai office. I had been travelling to Dubai since 2001 to train people, so I assumed I understood the city and the Emirates as a whole, but somehow the moment I had to design a business for a client, I witnessed the real Dubai. A city designed first for its citizens and to attract millions of people who ‘ll co-habit with EASE…..
Ease has to be the watchword for any modern design. So much ease
you can open a bank account in a day
set up office in one day
get your visa in one day
even travel and shop the whole city in one day. So much ease, it became the defacto shopping capital for Nigeria between 2000- 2010.As a trader, you could shop for one or two days and return with a plane load of goods for the Nigerian market.
My biggest problem then, was I couldn’t find a strategic advantage for the client. He was going to earn about the same margins with his competitors. Their costs were incredibly similar, their output same. Nigerians don’t like that. We like abnormal, abnormal profit from abnormal operations.
The only breakthrough for that business to have any advantage was for the business to use her Nigerian operations to gain advantage over her competitors there that didn’t have a Nigerian base. That is because next to our nature is anyhowness*. Use our understanding of Nigeria’s anyhowness to get advantage over them. If one inspected most of the global books of many multinationals operating here. You will quickly find that Nigeria outperforms their peers globally. Those companies understand the anyhowness of the Nigerian marketplace. I could mention names but I still need to find bread for my family too.
Some cities are so well planned that the difference between an expensive and a cheap hotel is the cost of transportation in between them and seeing that you will still have to commute to areas where the expensive hotels are for shopping, business and what have you, one is really just kidding one’s self, as you end up paying all the differential in hotel prices for transportation. Now that is a system that ensures both the smaller and bigger hotels compete fairly.
It is becoming clear that if you are in Nigeria and you are killing it (making money like it is going out of fashion) as my youngins* will say, you are possibly cheating the system or better still you are benefiting from a design flaw.
We need to stop raping our minds with the thought that Nigeria is complex. Nigeria is not complex. Nigerians are. We all need new pair of glasses today to help us see our flaws, and aid the redesign of our buildings, our values, our cities, our institutions, our families, our businesses.
We need a country for all, not for some, that embodies ease. Ease of life for all should be our national aspiration.
p.s I am still a student of capitalist systems please.
- anyhowness — chaotic situation where no rules, norms or laws apply.
- *youngins- younger ones