Every young Nigerian or person from any African country, dreams of an enchanting life in America. Some successful young Nigerians have sold their wealth for the desire to live in America, “God’s own country.” It can be frustrating and to some extent, disappointing, explaining to young Nigerians that in America, life is not as fascinating as they imagined. Life is hard work and hard life, despite being a structured and functional society.
Thus, it is rare to find a young African, born in United States by immigrant African parents, exposed to the privileges provided to young Americans by that system, to abandon the land of opportunity for a troubled continent of Africa, especially a challenging nation as Nigeria, to start life anew.
Andrea Kamara was born in Rhode Island, by Liberian parents. Five years ago, she graduated from Howard University in Washington D.C, where she majored in Journalism and Public Relations. Andrea has always been mesmerised by life in Nigeria. Her mother had always reminded her every day while growing up about her unique heritage in Africa. After graduation, she moved to Nigeria and vowed never to look back. At 25 and an emerging successful young Nigerian entrepreneur, Andrea shares with Jebose Boulevard why Nigeria is a dreamland for those that dare to be different.
“I see Nigeria as the nucleus of Africa. Nigeria influences a lot of what goes on throughout Africa. I want to see Nigeria continue to grow and lead and be able to empower its youth to be game changers all across the globe. I want to see Africa in general invest in its young people, because ultimately, it’s the best investment for its future. I think if Nigeria starts that trend, all of Africa would follow. I am passionate about Africa, and extremely proud to belong to the continent. I don’t see tribal lines or cultural barriers. I see one Africa and I want the best for Africa as a whole. I want to see Africa lead the rest of the world one day, and I don’t see any reason why it couldn’t happen. We have the resources, more than any other continent; we have the human capacity, we are just as intelligent as any other race. I believe the issue is that we don’t believe in our own ability and therefore we look to other nations to define us. So, my dream for Nigeria is the same as my dream for Africa: Do better, be better, and show the world that we are better. Nigeria is not for everybody. But for me, I think it was more than worth it. I don’t believe in coincidence or chance, I strongly believe everything happens for a reason. I am supposed to be in Nigeria…God led me here so strangely and gave me a purpose here, so of course it’s worth it.
“Back in the early 20th century, Europe was a land that people were running away from. They went to America and immigrants built a land that was comfortable for them. America was brand new; it had lots of resources, land, etc. Does Africa not have same things? Why should we continue to go to America and build up a land that doesn’t belong to us as Africans when our own countries are decapitating and in need of us? I was born and raised in America. I didn’t see Africa until I was well into my teenage years. However, I realised very early that I need to come and stay where I belong and grow it into something that I am comfortable with, not pouring my talents and energy into something that will always belong to someone else. Don’t get me wrong, I love America and all it has afforded me but I see the bigger picture.
“Jebose, there is a fascination with Nigeria. I knew that I wanted to be in Africa. I have a few family ties here and I came to visit and I saw the plethora of opportunities and I felt I had to stay. I was more amazed with the business climate here in Nigeria. Business here is a lot easier than it is in America, there are less hurdles here and more people are willing to help make your dreams a reality. However, I’ve learned to be extra cautious in that area.
“The people in Nigeria are probably the thing that most attracted me. Nigerians are a dynamic group of people and I love their charisma. In America, often times people are so tied down by work, or lack of work, financial troubles and the like. Nigerian people have such a great spirit. They continue to shine regardless of the obstacles they face and I have a similar spirit; so that’s what attracted me to Nigeria. You could meet some of the poorest people here and they are so happy and willing to do what they can to help you. I am the same way, so when I arrived and felt the hospitality of the people, I felt at home right away.
“My goal is to impact change in Liberia. However because of some recent issues, I haven’t been able to do what I want to do in Liberia. I have set up a programme that I wish to launch at the beginning of the year in Liberia and I am quite excited about it. I came to Nigeria on vacation and it was a bit more developed than I remember Liberia to be, and I liked the possibilities that were here in Nigeria. So I decided to set up shop here first and then spread my legs to Liberia and onwards. The thing about Africa is this, it is still developing. Many would see that as a deterrent but for me, it is all the more reason to be here. In the Western world, they are reaching a plateau when it comes to innovation. However, Africa is still developing and can use the innovation to develop this great land. I realised that my talents would be more appreciated in a place that is so in need of innovation and fresh ideas.
“The American Dream died several years ago. There are privileges that many in other countries don’t have but life isn’t all peaches and cream in America. I encourage the young people when I speak at seminars or trainings that they need to make the best out of where they are now. If it is in their destiny to move abroad, they will. Nigeria has a lot of resources and opportunities that, if managed properly, could give young people the privileged life they so desperately seek outside Nigerian shores. I saw the potential and I want to nurture it to become what it needs to become for me. America was built by immigrants; they made America comfortable for Americans. Why not make your home comfortable for you? I encourage people to travel and see new people, cultures and explore. But take all of those experiences and bring them back home to empower your people and country so that those across the world will now travel to you.
“My parents are hardworking people. My mother always taught me not to be envious of anything, but instead work for it. So for me, when I decided to be an entrepreneur, it was because I wanted a certain lifestyle and I knew I would have to work extremely hard to get it. So as much as Nigeria is conducive for business, it’s a jungle out here. It’s not for the faint of heart or for the lazy and God blessed me with parents who made me to be very well acquainted with hard work.
“I remember growing up: I wanted a pair of Nike Air Max’s and I begged my mom for them. A few days later, my mom brought me a job application from a little restaurant/banquet hall by her job. I filled out the application, went for the interview, got the job and started working that same week. I got the shoes three weeks later, and I was only 14 years old. At the time, I hated my mom because I was the last among my friends to get the shoes, but I love her for it now because I understand the value of things because I work hard for them. Apart from hard work, my mother never allowed me to believe I was an American. I knew I was born in America but I was an African first and then a Liberian. I think that helped my transition to Africa quite easily, because subconsciously, I knew this was home and where I belong. I never really made a decision to move here. It gradually happened. I would come in and out and stayed three weeks one time, two months the next time and six months another time. In my mind, I think I am still just on an extended business trip!
“I was born in Rhode Island, the New England region of the USA but grew up all over the United States. I am in my early 20’s. I attended Howard University’s School of Communications and studied Journalism with a specialization in Public Relations. My parents come from diverse West African background. They came to America looking for greener pastures and now I am going back to where they came from to create greenest pastures.”
I share your dream, that is why I am out here after many years in America to help rebuild this country. The recent political climate changes are trending towards something positive for Nigeria and Africa. I believe that in 5 years or less and with positive leadership, this nation will be a wonderful place to live. I believe that my brothers and sisters in diaspora will make the same moves that you, I and others have made. I was a co-sponsor about doing business in Africa by an organization called AGED at USC in Los Angeles. At this event we encouraged African Americans and Africans to return home and invest their future in the Motherland. Nobody can make Africa better but us like you articulated. My business kicked off this year with customer acquisitions faster than I can ever imagine. Welcome home and God’s speed, may be someday we will meet, you can equally find me on Linkedin.
OzNet Systems Ent., Nigeria