“All I kept thinking was how much can I change?”
Toluyemi Nathaniel remembers when she had the awakening moment of making the decision to return home to Nigeria. It was close to the end of her two-year stay in China studying for a Master’s Degree in International Economics and Business.
“For me, I just had to come back. I love Nigeria and I can’t imagine being somewhere else for so long without itching to return,” she says.
“All I kept thinking of was how much can I change over there? I just feel sometimes, it’s more difficult to change things you haven’t experienced. Everyone that has made a change in this country are people that lived through the Nigerian story and made up their mind to change things when given the opportunity. I decided to join that group,” she continues.
When asked about her message for those still struggling with the decision to come back home, she talks about “sobering realities” but insists there are revolutionary solutions waiting to be applied in several spaces.
“I can’t lie, it’s a bit tough. You can never be prepared for some things. The heat was almost unbearable for me initially. I also had a bad bout with cholera off the first glass of water I drank. So yes it can be rough but being strong and focusing on the motive for coming back keeps me going. For me, that is contributing daily towards being an agent of positive change in my country. I also have to add that for a young black woman, it can be extra difficult. The career ladder doesn’t favour us already but the way I see it is these are the very dynamics that make the prospect of change appealing.”
Tolu recognizes the importance of opportunities when she talked about lessons she’s learnt over the past 5 years.
“If I was to write a letter to my younger self, it will be to take opportunities as they come. A Colombian friend in China used to tell me that If you don’t taste the food, how do you know if you’ll like it? A life lesson for me has really been that taking advantage of opportunities can unexpectedly change a lot in a short space of time.”
Tolu works as an Admin and Procurement Associate for software company Softcom Ltd.