I didn’t know what to expect as I stepped into Raven Macaw, the startup that was hosting the Global Shapers Community Kano Hub strategic session or capacity building as some called it. I was half an hour early so I brought out my laptop to quickly finish up some design I was working on for a client. Just as I was wrapping up and was about to send my client an email with the final work, this tall well-dressed gentleman walked in together with the immediate past curator of the Global Shapers Community Kano Hub. Ahmad Galadima, my boss and mentor, has coordinated and arranged with the present curatorship for Tochukwu Efineme to give the hub a talk on the role of young leaders in transforming societies. As a curator, Mr Galadima has witnessed Mr Tochukwu give a powerful session on the role of privileged youth in influencing their communities during a retreat organized by the Abuja Hub of the Global Shapers Community. Since then, he vowed to bring Mr Tochukwu down to Kano to give shapers an equally inspiring and educative experience.
The session lasted for more than 3 hours, and as I returned home I couldn’t stop pondering about all the eye-opening knowledge our facilitator shared with us. I felt the information was just too good to be left unshared. So I decided to pen down my extract and interpretation of some of the ideas I learnt. These ideas which I’ll share as bullet points may sound a little bit vague but I promise to provide more context someday as each of them deserve an even further explanation or breakdown to fully pass on the message. However, I hope that they inspire you to dig deeper and look inward and ponder if you can identify yourself as a young leader. I hope they push you to rethink your perception and outlook towards leadership, growth and development both in a personal and societal context.
These are my key takeaways on the role of young leaders in transforming societies;
1.We can’t achieve any meaningful transformation in Africa without quality leadership, but we need to answer the questions on how to train or educate leaders? Leadership matters, people follow leaders because when a leader fails, a nation suffers.
2. The ability to create is one of the most empowering things that can happen to an individual.
3. The state of the world depends on what’s happening in Africa but is Africa ready? To build a better continent, there must be rule of law, free markets and infrastructure and until we get these things right we would still lag.
4. The three major roadblocks to having free markets, rule of law and infrastructure in essence meaningful growth and development in Africa are corruption, weak institutions and quality leadership.
5. Young people have more sense of entitlement than a sense of responsibility and that’s a key problem.
6. Creating a perfect community seems like mission impossible but can be achieved through work ethics, passion, persistence, ability to deal with ambiguity and also the ability to tackle new problems.
7. Africa as a continent is ready but will depend on inspired leadership and also on how we train our leaders, which will make the real difference.
8. The best way to predict the future is to create it. As a young person, you need to decide where you want to be in the next ten years. Your vision, mission and values will be essential as to whether or not you achieve what you set to achieve during the next decade.
9. Our facilitator posed some questions which I’m yet to answer. He asked, “How do you leverage the population and industries in Kano to create real value? And “What impact will I make by ten years in Kano and Nigeria?
10. Young people must learn to come together to collaborate, synergize and form partnerships that will be beneficial to them and relevant in reaching their full potentials.
11. He suggested we each ask ourselves, “what are the values that are critical to me becoming a leader?” For me its vision, selflessness, integrity, courage, respect and authenticity.
12. Elites are “A small group of people within a larger group who have more power, social standing, wealth, or talent than the rest of the group “, what this means to me is that any group of people with any of these characteristics that can bring meaningful progress and prosperity to their community and themselves are elites.
13. What Ideologies do you stand for?
For some weird reason I knew half of what Mr Tochukwu was talking about but I never really gave it much thought or attention. For example, I’ve read the books that were used as a reference in the presentation and also read half of the books he suggested we read. Albeit his presence reignited something in me which I haven’t felt in a very long time. When he mentioned if we know what we want to achieve in the next ten years, I thought I did. I recently launched Unleash Series Nigeria, a platform to up-skill young people on the future of work skills. My goal is to train 10,000 youths by 2030, but Mr Tochukwu’s question challenged me to re-examine some of my long term goals and also revisit the drawing board to come up with more solid goals, strategies, tactics and operational plans.
I must admit it’s a huge privilege to be a member of the Global Shapers Community and my life has not been the same since I joined. However, we don’t need to be part of an elite group of people to change the world. We can all be shapers in our individual and unique ways, what matters is the level of impact and change we’re making in our communities. That is what makes us change makers, that is what makes you a real shaper.