About a month ago, I was sitting in the car when one of my favourite songs came on the radio and struck me differently. It is a song by Asa which you might be familiar with. She sings:
There is fire on the mountain,
And nobody seems to be on the run.
Oh, there is fire on the mountain top,
And no one is ‘ah running.
It struck me differently because since I arrived in Nigeria, I have felt the heat of fire all around. Whether it’s the fires of Boko Haram in the north, the fire of ‘change’ the new government has promised, the volatile exchange rate which is literally burning money, or the fire of innovation I see in the hearts and minds of the entrepreneurs around me, there seems to be fire everywhere.
Curiously no one is ‘ah running. Instead, the Nigerian people are struggling, hustling, and fighting to survive. So coming into this society of almost 200 million people, all fighting for their survival, is much like walking into a wild party. Yes, the roof is on fire. Yes, the walls are crumbling down. But still, everyone is making moves.
Somehow, the fire in Nigeria is motivating simply because it is everywhere. The business climate is aflame with risk, and the people’s hearts are afire with passion. Everyday we are faced with innumerable challenges. They come at us per second, per second. Forcing us to move, to change, and to adapt.
Power failures, Network troubles, Traffic congestion, Flooding, you name it – It happens in Nigeria. Yet each of these must be surmounted to get through the day. This constantly challenging environment keeps us on our toes by being almost unbearably difficult. I may just have a way of seeing the good in everything, but what I see is an environment that pushes one to succeed by constantly threatening failure.
You see, Nigeria is like a refiner’s fire: Incredibly hot and dangerous, but if you last the course, you will come out tough as nails. Of course, under such pressure, it is not always easy to see the silver lining. So as I write this I am even wondering whether I am full of hot air. Nonetheless, I feel that the fire in Nigeria does not only burn, it also brands, and if we can survive it, we’ll have a mark to be reckoned with.