Today is a special day in the relatively young life of African Diaspora Nation - an organization my wife and I founded in 2014 during my expatriate stint with Chevron Nigeria Limited in the energy abuzz country of Nigeria. It is the birthday of this man who deserves the highest honor I can muster, Paul Adefarasin - a man who inspired me to dust off a recurrent vision I kept putting off for many many years.
To me, he is a God-sent and commander of the army of light bearers and Nation builders in Nigeria who seek to build a Nigeria we can all be proud of. He inspired me, a young man from Nsutam - little village- to take bold steps to follow my passion for Africa- a truly magnificent obsession.
The vision was that of a world where Africans and people of African descent were reconciled with themselves and each other globally, and thriving to uplift themselves through value creation via entrepreneurship and business partnerships. My role is to be an effective agent for the realization of the vision.
This vision was very real to me - just the mere thought of it could tickle me in my innermost parts. As some one who makes meaning out of my life narrative through the vision/mission/motto of institutions I have attended, it made perfect sense. Akosombo International School - my primary and middle school taught me that "Truth is Our Light", Achimota Secondary School(formerly, the Price of Wales College) taught me "UT OMNES UNUM SINT" - that all may be one; Florida A&M University taught me that with my Head, Heart, Hands and Feet aligned, I will care/serve excellently; Tau Beta PI - the Engineering honor society taught me that "true professional success required flawless character" - oops.. I let out the secret; the National Society of Black Engineers commissioned me "To Increase the Number of Culturally Responsible Black Engineer Engineers Who Excelled Academically, Succeeded Professionally and Positively Impacted the Community" and there was the sad reality I had faced at FAMU that a sizable percentage of Africans and people of African descent - who one would have thought will have natively deep bonds by default - held negative conceptions of each other - remnants of the negativity perpetuated by base capitalists, base politicians, a. Ade media and dogmatically disillusioned evangelical missionaries to prop up institutions/systems which justified oppression based on tribe, skin color or inherent/evident differences in personal attributes.
All these considered, the vision and the thought of my agency in making it happen, made me feel whole. The reach of the vision was global and borderless, the pragmatist/tech geek part of me conceptualized the need for a virtual community of Africans and people of African Descent who will through experiential engagement and cultural travel and exchange at scale; all these prioritized for youth in the critical formative years but accessible to whosoever believed it necessary - whether they could afford to pay to sustain it or not.
The vision became my magnificent obsession, people admired it and thought it to be virtuous but it wasn't plain to all of them including my wife, parents, siblings and friends - not a soul.. because I had not solved for money and sustainability. After all, if it didn't make money, it didn't make sense right?? Leave it to the United Nations or the African Union they will say; or what does that have to do with Electrical Engineering.
Then came a career breakthrough -an expatriate Rotational assignment in Angola for 6 months, then Nigeria for 3 years and a Resident Expatriate Assignment..The best gig I thought then for a US based African in corporate America - expat pay in my own land; the Nigerians I worked with combined with the diversity of the workforce from about 50 countries made me feel at home whether in Lekki in Lagos State or Escravos in the Remote Niger Delta; and I enjoyed the experience immensely despite its inherent challenges. Life was normal and great.
One Sunday, I decided to stop by a church called House on the Rock in Lekki, Lagos State; it had an inescapably imposing structure -and a vibe of excellence and entering the edifice did not disappoint either. The Lead Pastor was not available that day but his wife Pastor Ifeanyi was and she preached about "Grasshoppers and Champions" based on the journey of the Israelites to possess their promised land. I was deeply moved and I kept going back..The more I went, the sharper and more intense my magnificent obsession became and the more burdened I felt for community impact and nation building. I became convinced that Africans and people of African descent held different parts of the key to their upliftment as a people - a strong Pan-Africanist sentiment . I also felt bolder and more confident.
I felt compelled to introduce myself to Pastor Paul and express gratitude to the profound impact their ministry was having on me - a total conviction about the sentiment "if you can dream it, you can do it"
We hit it off, I shared the vision after about 3 meetings and he gave it a resounding endorsement and I invited him on as the Founding Global Advisory Board Member of African Diaspora Nation.
We held our first kick- off at the Protea Hotel where I layed out what I think is the root cause of Africa's lag in development as seen in the UN Human Development Index. "An alienation from our authentic selves", Identity Crisis, Miseducation of the African." My main point made to the crowd of about 350 people at the kick-off was for us to find a way to satisfy the maxim of ancient African sages "Man, Know Thyself". The young people enjoyed the multimedia presentation and the good food.
In my mind, I had been given the opportunity of a lucrative expat assignment to fund the vision and I didn't hold back. At my wife's accounting between the kick-off event, the movie we produced on women empowerment - Mrs. And Mrs. Johnson, the production of the We Are One Song, the travel and Logistics to start the Florida A&M University West Africa, Native Land Chapter and other supportive roles we played we spent a significant sum.
Fast forward to today, I have left Chevron, I am working full-time on what I think is Africa's foundational issue - Suppressed Human Capability that translates into a low Human Development Index compared to other regions.
I have faced my fears and engineered a situation where my head, heart, hands and field are aligned; I am autonomous and pursuing entrepreneurial ventures which show indications of solving for sustainability for my family and the vision.
- A fashion line that will be channelled to the Global African diaspora through the power of ecommerce.
- Diaspora Development Corporation
- Renaissance Automation
I am enjoying the journey and scaling challenges and for all this I and African Diaspora Nation owe a debt of gratitude to Paul Adefarasin for believing in the potency, creativity, wisdom and innovation of the power at work within us.
Happy Birthday @Pastor Paul! ADN appreciates your foundational input. You are testimony to the truth that where two agree, the power and presence of God is unleashed in ways unthinkable and unimaginable.