The Nigeria’s Ants And Building The Ant-Hills

The Nigeria’s Ants And Building The Ant-Hills

The ant-hills are not built by the elephants but by the collective efforts of the little “rejected” ants.

– African proverb

Young people, I know the tension because of the paralysis in Nigeria. There is no debate that many are concerned about what the future will bring as opportunities continue to diminish. Yet, in that miry clay, there is something to be hopeful. You are the HOPE Nigeria has. More than 90% of those running the affairs of Nigeria today graduated when there was largely zero unemployment. Those days, graduating from a PRIMARY school was celebrated with a gun salute because the student will begin a good job within weeks!

An Igbo proverb says that  the “the ant-hills are not built by the elephants but by the collective efforts of the little ‘rejected’ ants”. Certainly, no one is rejected. But the point is this: we are the future we are asking for, says the big brother in America (Obama).

We are the “ants” that will build Nigeria. And there are many things to learn from the ants. If we “become” like them (ants can teach us many things as I noted in this Harvard Business Review piece – The Leadership Lessons of Ants), out of the global capitals, the world will see a hopeful, prosperous, and honourable nation on the horizon. The fact is this: the government has failed and even investors have made that a constant, even as they invest in your startups. Like ants, we can build the ant-hills of Nigeria!

As I challenge the Nigerian youth, I want to specifically challenge the Igbo young men. Uwa bu ahia [the world is a market],  and I will introduce a new meaning (not literal and axiomatic within ancestral Igbo usage of words) to write that if you win the markets, you will win your world. Calm down. 

From that HBR piece, we learn the following:

  • The ants worked as a team: I will form a team, bringing professionals together.
  • The ants trusted one another: I must do away with the notion that only by working alone can I ensure quality.
  • The ants were open: I will share the idea with like-minded people. I later got a Boston area professor to lead the design. When ants discovered food, they informed others, who came along and helped.
  • The ants were partners and of different sizes: I will bring help and make the task our project, not mine. As much as possible, each team member will get assignment based on his capability.
  • The ants were diligent and focused: The team must keep working, even slowly. Deadlines will give us focus.
  • The ants regrouped: I will be open to try new ideas if present ones are not working.

Build the ant-hills.


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One thought on “The Nigeria’s Ants And Building The Ant-Hills

  1. It is one thing to have ideas flying all over the place, and it’s a different thing being able to articulate frameworks that encourage a participatory economy for all.

    Those who graduated decades ago had job offers within reach, but the current generation have something better: Internet and its constituents.

    It is not true that there were more opportunities for young people decades ago compared to now, rather the disconnect is in using the old techniques and playbook to prepare today’s youths, despite the fact that opportunities have evolved.

    Today, a kid can create something in Somalia and receive funding from New York, another can build a business in Abakiliki and receive support from Canada, these weren’t possible decades ago. What does that tell you? That if those with the knowledge and capability can build economic systems that are digitally anchored, which can enable millions of their compatriots to participate in both local and economic opportunities, great things will happen; with hopelessness and despair disappearing.

    Tomorrow, TheMhagic will announce another product under development, whose framework can enable people anywhere to receive support for their works from the global community.

    Humans build humans!


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