08 April 2011
Finally, I made it to Nigeria, a country I expected to visit much sooner than now, given its strategic importance in Africa and CSR. I got back from Lagos via Paris this morning. The CSR training for Trucontact went well and seemed appreciated. My hosts, Ken Egbas and colleagues, were gracious and generous. As it turned out, I saw very little on this first trip, beyond the training venue, my hotel and the crazy traffic in between.
I come away with mixed feelings. Certainly, the raw vitality and aggressive ambition (or is it just survival instinct?) is palatable. And as in so much of Africa, the culture and its people are colourful, hopeful and friendly. But there is also the malaise of powerlessness in the face of endemic corruption and greed among politicians, not to mention the inertia of crumbling state apparatus and economic injustice.
The greatest hope being clung to is rediscovering good, public-serving leaders, who remain a fantasy. The greatest source of faith is a Pentecostal brand of Christianity that gives its followers strength in knowing that God is on the side of the oppressed. What is somewhat depressing is knowing that Nigeria’s hardships are largely self-imposed, inflicted by the power-hungry on the opportunity-starved. The society is culturally robust, but morally and economically weakened by the cancers of raw greed and desperate need.