When I first moved to Lagos I never really understood the deep cultural and tribal dimensions apparent in pretty much everything you do in Lagos and Nigeria. Each tribe has its stereotype which ultimately can help or hinder your progress depending on what you’re doing. I hope the Internet world is not pulled too much into this tribal world, but ultimately the companies created will be mere extensions of the social, political and cultural dimensions of the average Nigerian. When I first landed at JJC in Lagos, extended-family and friends forewarned me about how my Mbaise-Igbo heritage would accelerate me in some areas and frustrate me in others. I largely ignored them, I think to the benefit of iROKO culture today, where we are a massively diverse organisation.
The Hausa, Yoruba and Igbo Story…
A Nigerian-born Yoruba friend of mine who was in Lagos during my first Christmas was telling me the story of a guy pulling up in a convertible Rolls Royce Phantom at a party in Ikoyi. He was super animated at how this Igbo guy stepped out looking crazy with white snake skin shoes, ripped jeans and a tight fitting shiny top. I asked him whether he knew him? In fact, how did you know he was Igbo? His explanation.
* If it was a Yoruba guy, the guy would be in the back with his boys and some chicks. Driver in front.
* If it was a Hausa guy, he would be in the back with his friends chilling and chatting. Driver in front.
It was definitely an Igbo guy because the guy was driving himself. Simple.
I have re-told this story many times and 99% of the time people (especially in Nigeria) agree and identify with the above. I think it’s super dupa important that to conduct business in Nigeria you need to be very sensitive to the motivations and cultural idiosyncrasies within the people you are trying to make customers or begin business partnerships with. Nigeria is fraught with this. So, young guns of tomorrow, pepare yourself to navigate the social minefield which is Nigeria.