A few months ago I was privileged to be able to attend our new President’s inauguration dinner. I was particularly excited to see the daughter of one of Nigeria’s most famous billionaires, DJ Cuppy perform her set as the official DJ for the event.
After she had completed her set, one of the gentleman on my table leaned over and whispered in my ear ‘Whenever, I see this girl (Referring to Cuppy), I become more disappointed in my father’. ‘Why?’ I asked confused at this rather odd comment. He replied ‘…..because, if my father was Mr Femi Otedola, then I could have been the official…anything for this event. What was my father doing when DJ Cuppy’s father was starting his oil company??’ He laughed. I smiled back unsure as to whether or not his comments were made in jest. But on my drive home that night, I did begin to wonder, how much a young Nigerian’s success depends on the wealth and success of their parents.
There is no doubt that the advice, financial support, connections, relationships and comfort that rich parents offer, give their offspring a good start in life and a reasonable chance of becoming successful. But the outcomes from these wealthy homes are not universally good. Many rich kids become so reliant on their parents wealth, that they are unable to create an identity of their own. For other rich kids, the wealth becomes a curse as the money is spent on drugs & alcohol, they spend their time in and out of rehab centers. Unlike DJ Cuppy, many rich parents don’t allow their kids to do what they are passionate about. They often end up running family businesses which don’t interest or appeal to them. A number of these businesses are run poorly, often losing money rapidly when the rich kids take over operations, some become bankrupt within a few years.
One of my most vivid childhood memories was how my loving friend and mother to my best friend in Primary school, Kath Temple used to bring used clothes to our house so we could have quality clothes to wear. I wondered if my friend would ask why I was wearing the clothes that she didn’t want to school. She never did.
Memories like this made me spend my few years in business in an uncontrollable fit of envy. I wanted to be a rich kid. I looked up at my ‘business inspiration shrine’- the pictures of Dangote, Wole Tinubu, Richard Branson and Femi Otedola often wondering if where I would be and how much my business would have grown if my father was a billionaire.
As the years have gone by, I have gotten to know a lot of rich kids and the more I meet, the more I realise that success in life is 80% about what actions you take for yourself and maybe 20% or less what actions people-including parents, take on your behalf. As a poor kid, you may have to take bigger risks, wait longer and hustle a little harder, but at the end of the day there is only so much one person can do for another.
So, back to the original question, do the rich kids have it all? Certainly they are born into situations that give them obvious advantages. But can poor kids in Nigeria be successful too? Cc: Linda Ikeji. I think so. You are so much more than the circumstances in which you grew up.
The ability to take nothing and turn it into something is in your DNA as a Nigerian. You don’t need to be a rich kid