The Future Is Now?

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I saw an article online today. They called it the women of the future. Its a list of all the young females who were nominated for this year’s Nigerian future awards. The future awards, as far as I know is a Nigerian award that recognizes young people under 35 I think.

When I saw the list of 23 women, I saw some things they all had in common. Almost all of them had their 1st degree abroad. Most of them didn’t even go to school in Nigeria or haven’t even lived here for long. All the on-air personalities nominated are usually the ones with the foreign accents of course. But don’t get me wrong…I love them. They’re inspiring.

But the truth is, how can a woman who’s lived half her life abroad, never been to a Nigerian university classroom truly and completely inspire me? A young girl who schools in Nigeria and who has dreams of making it here? Are they telling me that I have to wait until I have some degree from a foreign country before I get any recognition?

Truth is, I’m a big fan of these women and of their accents too. I watch so many movies and can parody any kind of accent any day, a southern drawl, a Texas twang and even the New York yell . I can give you a preppy British accent and then suddenly switch up to a thick Cockney accent. Perhaps in a way, its me trying to copy what is generally recognized as “cool” in my society, but I know it’s not really me. In a society like Nigeria that is so focused on foreign education,  the odds are always stacked against you…the local student.

We are 256 in my class, but yet we use a 45 seater classroom for our lectures! I want to be great, I really do. But pray tell me how I can manage that in a classroom that is stuffed to the walls and cracking at every imaginable corner.

I remember being one of the sharpest students in Secondary School, but now, I’m struggling to be just a tiny little bit above average. Maybe since the system is different, I should get with the program. But I do not like to struggle when I know that things could be better. The Nigerian educational system is flawed, and no one…not one single person recognizes the people who excel despite that. That’s why half our shows parody American ones and why the average young Nigerian that has never seen an airport wears a faux American accent…

Of course I see all these women and I want to be like them. Everyone praises their achievements like they did it all alone,  when the bitter truth is that they had outside help. Help that someone like me doesn’t have. Very good help at that.

I recently discovered that I could write. And that was when a friend randomly read something I wrote. I’m quite intelligent, but truth is I’m not sure my forte is in the Sciences. I struggle to be at the top in my Engineering class. But I know if I was studying English, that would happen effortlessly. But this is Nigeria. I can’t afford to do what I love, I have to survive first. Again, these women inspire me, but I’m not sure if any of them would have gotten to where they are  without that good foreign education.

So while we’re awarding the “future”, let’s fix our present. Because I don’t know if I’ll have the opportunity to have a good education abroad. But I do want to be recognized, even if I lack the fancy accent and the flawless pedigree.
I want a future too. Maybe the awards should focus more on people who have made impacts on their society despite the obstacles within it. Because the bitter truth is getting an education in Nigeria is a pretty big huge obstacle. A handicap even. No one equips you for what’s out there, you have to do it all on your own. So I suppose its up to us…those who have excelled despite the handicap to step up, and show everyone that we can shine too. That we own our future and no matter what our present looks like our future will be bright!

Written By Jazmyne-frances

Jazmyne-frances is the latest @ofilispeaks guest blogger. Her identity is a mysterious mystery, she is 18 going on 80…some of her weaknesses are that she thinks too much, talks too much and reads too much. Jazmyne-frances has no idea who she is, but she knows who she wants to be. So far growing up has been frankly “lemony,” for her but you know what they say about lemons…watch out for her blog posts as she cuts through societal BS and straight to the guts!


Author: Ofili

Words by Okechukwu Ofili of
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25 comments on “The Future Is Now?

  1. I totally agree with you. Not trying to beef the ladies who were privileged enough to get foreign degrees and all…i’m happy for them, and i’m glad some of them are making the most out of it. But i really believe women who were brought up, schooled in Nigeria and are doing exceptionally well in their chosen careers should be given better recognition in other to inspire young ladies in similar conditions

  2. I’m a living, breathing example of making it with (not despite) a Nigerian degree. I can’t exactly beat my chest and say “yes, I’ve achieved” but I don’t let that stop me.

    I remember almost bowing to the pressure to get an MSc outside the country, and then I looked at my colleagues, some had these said Masters and we all got hired on the same level. So surely there were other places where people would see me for what I had to offer not where I had schooled.

    The Nigerian education system sucks but it does teach resilience and persistence.

    Long story short, you love writing, keep pushing, don’t let other people’s rating systems discourage you as long as you’re being the best YOU there is. Maybe someday soon, they’ll look and recognize people regardless of where/how they made it
    Sisi Jacobs latest post is Misconstrued: The Peril of a Single WitnessMy Profile

  3. jazmyne frances on said:

    thannk you all so much for the advice. :D…. It means a lot to me, and yep, definitely proudly naija!!!

    • Chinyere Anyaji on said:

      @Jazzymne Frances…….This is my umpteenth time reading this post and no truer story of my life than dis,,,,,i have been looking for ways to write dis down not in ur exact words but sometin dat I can get people to relate too and u did a fine job at that…..that’s me that’s my story,,,, ,thank you so much…..I keep pressing on towards the mark of a high calling…….

  4. Iroko Oluwasayo on said:

    Nigerians kill fellow Nigerians drive n passion ‘cos of lack of 1 will praise us if we don’t ourselves

  5. Mustapha Hassan on said:

    This is an amazing write up! We’d give you an award anytime anyday Jasmin! Goop going girl! I love your blog…

  6. God bless you Jazmyne for writing this awesome piece. Sadly, too many people see it as being hateful or having low self-esteem. God bless you for the many students in Nigerian universities! AWWWWESOME!!!
    Owgee latest post is PLUS ONE.My Profile

  7. Empress Tamera on said:

    Ofili i love this article. The truth hurts and its bitter taste lingers in d mouth long after but its very real.
    Just like you i like and admire these women and would wish to be like them if not better. But i like so many young and aspiring Nigerian women don’t have the kind of opportunities they have. The fact that i discovered my flair for I.T and other skills late is a sign of my lack of exposure to these things while growing up. I beleive the average Nigerian whether male or female are great because despite the little we have and through all the rough paths we have to pass through we still come out great in our own little way.

  8. Gbemisola on said:

    God helps and save us in Nigeria. I feel you Jazmyne, same shoe here; but one day I know this country will become better not because of those schooling abroad only (I truly admire the ones who are back home to contribute their bits to the growth of the nation) but of the ones that are ‘true son of the soil’. Go girl!

  9. Abiodun Fayunminu on said:

    ‘am with u on this…good write-up and really shows the holes in our system. It shows how prejudised our society is…do you know dat singers and entertainers from abroad make it easily than does coming from abroad…why? Because they have the money, the money provides them connections and Gbam! They are out there @ the top of the industry dishing us their best, not because they are more talented but the society has made it so. We only have the extra hardworking and the fortunate few with little resources getting on in the industry. As it is stated in the write-up am not against the imported-export acts but let everyone at the top either in the govt or not should help to mentor, support and sponsor those talents around them. And to those giving out the award, they should also appreciate the ones that had made it against all odds buy doing so it will inspire their counterpart to believe they can also achieve the imposible.

  10. Snipes on said:

    You’re indeed a great writer and motivational speaker.I’m always inspired whenever I read your article.
    More power to your elbow!

  11. Nwobu Ursula on said:

    Shucks!!!……Jaz I love you right now!!! Like seriously you dug it right out of my soul and left goose pimples on my skin….its an amazing piece hun…they can shove their awards up their you-know-what.,buh you know what,we celebrate you.and a time will come,and soon it will,when that won’t be done just in here….keep writing o jare!!

  12. tvision on said:

    Great Piece! Really thought provoking! I believe we need to begin to look for ways to improve our educational system. Doing our bit no matter how little. But most importantly speaking out!!

  13. Ahalu Rukuba on said:

    Eyeah, what else will anyone say again that wouldn’t tally with your observation? Foreign Degrees are the status symbol today so much that professional agents now Occupy our abandoned classrooms as offices recruiting students for Universities that names can’t. Be remembered.

    We yearned for a graduate President, but we all know what ” Our Fellow Widows” regime is doing.

    When Ministers are now picked on “Been to” as first choice, why can’t we start awarding and recognising the young and prospective Ministers today?

    It’s shamefull that nobody is shouting against the imperialist inclinations, most of us have not noticed the deliberate insults placed on the entire nation by the nomination of foreign schools attendees only as having been the peculiar great achievers.

    In Plateau State, Schools have opened for 2 months only in 24 months, so………………

  14. I couldn’t agree with you more. I am a living proof that schooling abroad don’t make a damn difference. It’s the person who decides to grab life with both hands that ends up winning. I did my Masters abroad and to be honest,I haven’t done nothing with that particular degree. The only thing I am thankful for is having schooled and lived abroad,my mindset shifted.I became more confident and even decided to shove the masters and follow my passion. No one teaches is that here. It’s a dog-eat-dog here in 9ja. Everyone is thinking survival. Nice piece J, it hits home 🙂

  15. Ben OT on said:

    Jazmyn has a creative and fecund mind. The decay in our physical structures may atrophy talents in some youths. Not Jazmyn who is determined to push back the frontiers of seeming problems. Good write-up!

  16. I know this is late but oh well! *shrugs*
    Your article is really good but there are some areas I vehemently disagree with.
    ‘Everyone praises their achievements like they did it all alone, when the bitter truth is that they had outside help. Help that someone like me doesn’t have. Very good help at that’.
    I studied Chemical Engineering in Nigeria for 2 years before moving to one of the top 10 schools in the United Kingdom. By very good help do you mean the same textbooks I currently use and used in Nigeria? Or the concise powerpoint notes lecturers read off both here and in Nigeria?

    . Again, these women inspire me, but I’m not sure if any of them would have gotten to where they are without that good foreign education

    Schooling abroad widens your perspective, births an attitude of doing things properly even, but how far you climb up the ladder of success boils down to YOU! Yes, their degree might have opened doors but that is all it can do. It’s what they did with it (it here can also represent the exposure) that took them to great heights. Your foreign degree or lack of it doesn’t keep you on/off the job. It is what you can do, your initiative that does.
    But the truth is, how can a woman who’s lived half her life abroad, never been to a Nigerian university classroom truly and completely inspire me?
    She inspires you because she excelled. If anything YOU have the headstart! You know the ins and outs of the Nigerian system don’t you? If she in her ignorance could excel in Nigeria…Rejoice for you can go even further 😀 She inspires because Steve Jobs who didn’t live in Nigeria does. You take the principles and apply them. Principles are no respecter of location of University!
    I may be wrong but I sense a tinge of self pity…. No the odds are not stacked against you…. they are stacked against those who do not leverage on their abilities and selling points. Excel in whatever you set your heart on and you will be recognised.
    Proudly Naija! 😉

  17. This is so true, the environment where you are educated matters a lot. But that doesn’t mean foreign educated peeps are better than the locally made ones. At the end of the day it all boils down to the individual

  18. I have less than 14 days left to round off my NYSC program. If persons could see me, I’m always holding back from shitting in my pants because of fear. Not because I’ve got no ‘great plans’ for the future. But because, well, Nigeria is just some unpredictable jungle (my opinion) where you’ve got to sweat buckets (maybe blood) to make huge wads of clean, legal cash….If we’re looking to tell a better story in the future, we might as well start to love the grind today. If the hustle-to-make-it-through in Nigeria won’t be appreciated, ditch that. Let the best of us who believe in the great vision called Nigeria keep giving our best. In time, the difference will be clear who truly the son of the soil is. (Like I ‘said’, just my opinion).

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