The Future . . . 2009, http://www.thefuturenigeria.com/, kicked things off with an official launch party on September 30th, 2008 at Studio 868 in Victoria Island, Lagos. The green carpet event attracted numerous Nigerian celebs like Actress Stella Damascus, Beauty Entrepreneur Tara Fela-Durotoye, Fashion Designer Joan Okorodudu and Wedding Events Planner Funke Bucknor.
West Africa Idol’s runner up, Omawunmi and RoofTop Mcs were also some of the names that gave exciting performances through the evening. The highlight, however, was according to reports, The Future’s Chude Jideonwo, Creative Director. Jideonwo delivered a Barack Obama styled “Yes We Can” speech that won him standing ovation. Read his speech below.
YES, WE CAN!
(Text of Keynote Speech delivered at the Official Launch of The Future.. Awards 2009)
30th September 2008 Good evening.
Approximately four years ago, three young people sat in one of the back rows of the Shell Hall, MUSON Center during a random stage performance and they started to talk. All three of them were below the age of 20. They were full of dreams.
Their mission was quite ambitious as they asked each other: what do we do to re-define the profile of our generation? We had our work already cut out for us: with internet fraud at its prime, the Niger Delta impasse, examination malpractice, the deteriorating quality of our graduates and undergraduates, and queues in front of innumerable embassies with young people fighting tooth and nail to get out of the country, it appeared that Professor Wole Soyinka had spoken a bit too soon; the consensus was that ours was the wasted generation.
But we couldn’t understand it! We couldn’t understand why the narrative of our generation should be skewered so dramatically in the negative. In our work as TV producers and presenters, young though we were, we had met the majority: an army of young Nigerians, just like us- who had refused to be frustrated and weighed down by a difficult economic situation, a broken down value system, and a disappointing leadership. We met young people who had refused to let their faith in their nation die, and even better, they were proving it in concrete, practical ways.
Young people were making SUCH giant strides in business, in technology, music, movies and the media. Their exceptional creativity was also felt in fashion and beauty, sports and advocacy, comedy and even the corporate environment.Why wasn’t the media talking about those ones? Why wasn’t the government trumpeting those examples? Why wasn’t the true story being told that young positive role models were actually in the majority?
We realized – in that moment – in that hall – that we would have to do the job ourselves.WE would have to present to the country the concrete proof of the fact that the preponderance of young Nigerians are resourceful, retain faith in the nation and are prepared to do the hard work to move their nation forward.We said to ourselves, twenty years from now, let it not be said that there was a time when young Nigerians were vibrant and fervent and passionate … and then it fizzled out.
It was in that moment that The Future Awards was born. Ladies and gentlemen, when we decided on this, on the day we decided to present to Nigerians something that no one had ever done before, none could at the time raise – from family, friends or work – even a tenth of the amount required to pull that event off.But, like Barack Obama would say, we told ourselves: Yes we can! Yes we could we bring a change that everyone would believe in.
But believe me, building this dream from scratch; was the most difficult journey: there were debts, there were losses, there were sacrifices and it was the hardest work possible… for the cause we had set our hearts and minds upon. Now,I remember all three of us under the Maryland Bridge at 9pm and making long treks into campuses to place our posters ourselves because we couldn’t even afford to pay anyone to do that for us. At that time, very few people believed in this dream to invest in it.Of course with each step, we won more converts, and I must take a moment to thank God for sending us angels: who stood in that battle with us, and saw our vision. Most of them we didn’t know them from anywhere, no one called them on our behalf, we just went and told them our vision, they shared that vision… and they re-assured our faith in the vision.
So slowly but steadily, we inched, through the most intense disadvantages, to launch the first edition of The Future Awards, 2006, in Lagos.It was hard. Ah! It was hard. No one wanted to believe in a new project, and young people still have to fight to be taken seriously.But, you see, this is the point: there is nothing even remotely unique about our story. No. What I just narrated to you is the story of many young Nigerians working hard in different segments of the Nigerian society. And those are the people that we celebrate.
Do you know how hard it can be for Nigeria’s youth? Do you know the victory that it is to hit the age of 25 in this country with a quality education and no hand in crime???? Listen, we have a political leadership that is essentially bankrupt, a society that views corruption as normal, no support systems for its young people, scarce employment opportunities – that is the kind of dead environment in which we raise up our young people.So let me tell you this; it is a miracle – a miracle – that there is still a majority of young people who have refused to turn this country into Kenya, Zimbabwe, or indeed Darfur.
So, fellow Nigerians,it is imperative – it is a moral obligation – for us to celebrate those ones that can still shine even though the entire system is wired to stop them from shining. And if no one will see that imperative, we have and we will continue to celebrate the spirit of the young Nigerian – no matter how arduous, no matter how frustrating, no matter how difficult it is to get the support that we need.
A project like The Future.. Awards has to succeed, because, this is a labour of love – for our generation. What we are doing with The Future.. Awards is… we’re creating history.We’re celebrating the Nigerian spirit, we’re correcting present destructive stereotypes of the young Nigerian, we are fostering national integration, we are presenting to Nigerians authentic role models, we are putting on display the immense capabilities and endless possibilities of Nigeria’s youth … we are building our nation, and securing its future.
We have to admit that, with The Future… Awards established as Nigeria’s biggest youth event, it has gotten easier: every year we get more corporate support, a broader coalition and institutional backing. The media blitz, a bit of which you can see here tonight, has been consistently amazing.
Still in some respects, no, in many respects, the journey isn’t as easy as it should be. It isn’t. It isn’t…But let us assure you of one thing: come January 2009, we will unveil to Nigerians another spectacular show that in detail, hype and substance rivals the best anywhere else, and we will do it because … look around you – even in this hall today – there are many, many examples of young people like us in their 20s and 30s who only believe that they can do it, and are ready to work as hard as they can to achieve it. So we invite you today to join us on this four-month journey.
We invite you to be a part of this genuine and proudly Nigerian success story. We invite you to share in the sense of fulfillment and substance that comes from doing something truly worth your while that adds real value and makes real impact. Join us, ladies and gentlemen, as we celebrate the young Nigerians moving the country forward and as we celebrate The Future.. Awards, 2009!
Thank you, and God bless Nigeria.