Trending Story

Your past does not determine your future- Osinbajo


[dropcap]F[/dropcap]irst, let me say to the 2017 cohorts of the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship programme, that it is a very special pleasure to meet you guys. By all predictions, you will be the wealthiest and most successful people in a few short years. I would like to ask that you don’t forget me when the good time comes!

But seriously, I have always known that this group of individuals, this generation of young people will do the exceptional.

Earlier this week, I spoke at the Financial Times Africa Summit, on the theme ‘What Makes Africa Work’. Here in this room are seated the answers to that question. Indeed, you are right here with us – a thousand reasons why Africa will work.

Across Agriculture, ICT, Hospitality, Fashion, Energy, Manufacturing, Entertainment, and many other fields, the breadth and depth of talent and innovation on display in the current and previous Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship cohorts have shown there is indeed hope.

In the 2016 set, we have Osakwe Chukwunonso who is building vehicles that will run on clean energy; Soji Megbowon is creating educational products that will simplify STEM subjects; Sierra Leonean Edmond Nonie from the 2015 set built a tracking tool that proved useful following the devastating flood that hit his country, Sierra Leone; Frank Mugarura of Rwanda is the proprietor of a branding and marketing agency that is set to conquer the continent.

These are merely a handful of the inspiring stories that have preceded you, and we know now that indeed Africa is set for incredible progress in the next few years.

When I considered what to talk to you about I realised that you would have learnt practically all you need to know for now about entrepreneurship. But I thought I should share with you some of my thoughts on a subject that has always fascinated me; the subject of history, especially the tyranny of history. And so I chose the theme – the tyranny of history or the tyranny of the past.

History defined is simply the past, the past of individuals like you and I and the past of nations and people. The power of history is to present the past, sometimes so compellingly in the present. History in its best form is known especially as time, where time is a healer. But perhaps the tyranny of history, the way that history seems to want to control us and control the present, it always seems to be the most interesting and at the same time most challenging.

Our history can tie us down, compelling us to look backwards until sometimes we trip. It compels us to look at the present with fear and apprehension. Our history, our past, especially past failures, individually or collectively, can become a barrier for achievements or freedom.

Our political history in Africa would appear dominated by wars, famine, coups d’etat, corrupt governments, dictators and failed or failing states. Our economic history would also largely be of large scale poverty, infant mortality, maternal mortality, mortality in literacy, disease and misery.

So our history may seek to define our future in Africa, especially our expectations of the coming years. History of this bleak sort, has a way of subduing our faith and conscripting our vision for our nation and our society and indeed for ourselves.

In the same way, a history of personal failure can cripple our hope and limit our vision, it can frighten us to having a small perspective of life. Our family history, the misery and degradations of our beginnings, the shame sometimes and the disgrace of the past, the spectacular failures of the past are the tyrannical weapons of history.

These weapons whip us in line when we are thinking big, cutting us down to size as our self-esteem rises. Our past sometimes is always yelling at us: “unworthy, unworthy, unworthy” as we struggle to do right, live right and to live with dignity.

But history, we must remember, is not merely a record of the past, but it is the past. It is gone! Our future is not determined by history or the past unless we allow it. The history of Africa does not determine its future. The days you live here are much greater and better than the past.

Thirty years ago, mobile phones didn’t exist. To speak to people in another country, you would queue up for hours for a public telephone waiting for your turn, if it ever came. Today, we can’t imagine life without our smartphones, and Facetime, and Skype. Today we can collaborate across continents in seconds from anywhere in the world.

Researches that took us months, (and I can tell you because I am a professor – I spent many years researching), are only a Google search away within seconds. Education that required us to leave towns and villages to schools far away and abroad, are now available online. So when you leave here, you can continue whatever conversation you were having on WhatsApp, Instagram or iMessage or whatever other form there is without a break.

We are today nearer defeating hunger and famine than ever before in human history. We will improve seedlings and inputs and new farming practices. Farmers can produce multiples of what they produced years ago.
We are closer than ever before in discovering cures to practically any disease. We can be more diligent in Africa, diligent in immunization, eradicate most of the issues of infant mortality.

Already, we are living longer and more healthily than any time in human history. All the IQ tests, when you look at progression over the years, show that the current generation are smarter than the past. So you guys are smarter than us!

As President Obama said, “we must always be suspicious of those who are always talking about the good old days”. Today the great days have come.
As for our personal failures and shortcomings of the past, you are in good company, everyone who has ever succeeded must have their own stories of failure. Their own personal failings and their shortcoming.

Indeed success is only success because you can compare it with failure.

Permit me as I close to make a few, in some cases controversial statements;

I would like you to remember this, even if only a few years from now, you may find out that it is not true.

The first is that dreams pursued with single mindedness are more powerful than facts.

Courage and persistence can triumph even over experience; no matter whose experience it is.

The third is that hope and imagination are more potent than history. Because your history is not necessarily your destiny.

So let me wish that in the years to come through, your vision, can bring you, your nations and our continent prosperity.

Thank you very much.


Leave a comment

Related Articles

Billionaire philanthropist Tony Elumelu mulls buying NPFL team

As part of his corporate social responsibility, billionaire banker and philanthropist Tony...

Terry G speaks on Davido, Wizkid, and Burna Boy rivalries, faces backlash from fans

Nigerian music sensation Terry G, also known as the Apako master, has...

Dani Alves pays €1m bail, set to leave Spanish jail

Former Brazil and Barcelona star Dani Alves, convicted of rape in Spain,...

World TB Day: 70 percent of TB cases in Africa now being diagnosed and treated – WHO

The World Health Organization (WHO) has disclosed that about 70 percent of...

13th AAG: Tobi Amusan wins gold in women’s 100m hurdles

The Nigerian sprint star, Tobi Amusan, won gold in the women’s 100m...

FG approves N12.7bln for mass metering of army barracks nationwide

The Federal Government says it has released N12.7 billion to provide electricity...

Women’s Day: Tinubu felicitates women, vows to prioritise their welfare, rights

President Bola Tinubu has promised to prioritize the welfare of women, protect...

All African Games: Nigeria’s Flying Eagles start their campaign on a losing note

The Flying Eagles of Nigeria started their campaign in the men’s football...

EFCC sets up task force to combat dollarization of economy, mutilation of naira

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has announced the setting up...

How Bafarawa diverted N4.6bln from ex-NSA for prayers, election, acquire luxury vehicles

A startling revelation has been made about how a former governor of...

CBN redeploys 1,500 staff to Lagos

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) says it has redeployed 1,500 staff...

AFCON: Pres. Tinubu says unimpressed with Super Eagles’ performance

President Bola Tinubu has expressed his displeasure over the performance of the...

I’ve not met a man kind enough to marry —Ini Edo

In a candid revelation, renowned actress, Ini Edo, has hinted about the...

Ogun CP visits shot Nollywood actor, Ijaduade, vows to punish trigger-happy cop

Nollywood actor and Director, Azeez Ijaduade, who was shot “accidentally” by a...

Breaking: Actor, Azeez Ijaduade, allegedly shot by policeman in Ogun

In a shocking incident that has sent shock waves to Yoruba section...

Fast and furious actor, Vin Diesel, accused of sexual assault

Vin Diesel, known for his role in the Fast & Furious Series,...

Anyone asking for money this festive season lacks conscience, fear God – Comedian AY

Amid Nigeria’s challenging economic downturn, renowned comedian, Ayo Makun, popularly known as...

Octogenarian actor, Dejumo Lewis, dies

Nollywood community was on Friday night thrown into grief as the news...

I’m lucky to have you as my wife, Lateef praises Mo Bimpe on 2nd wedding anniversary

Celebrating their second year wedding anniversary, Nollywood actor, Lateef Adedimeji, has expressed...

Frank Edoho faces backlash for controversial remarks on infidelity

Renowned media personality, Frank Edoho, is under fire after making contentious comments...