Tuesday, 3 July 2018

The Fallacy of Area.

Culture is the most powerful force available to Man. Lagos has a rush culture, it’s part of the reason living in Lagos is tough. Lagosians are always in a hurry, hurry to beat traffic jam, hurry to catch up with work, many of the downsides of Lagos is why I cherish Warri.
The rush in Lagos is good, the rush is a result of the millions of people living and sharing scarce resources, the millions of people living in Lagos is the reason why Lagos is the economic capital of Nigeria, if not Africa.

Amidst the rush, there’s also a culture of finesse and refinement in Lagos that is driving the Nigerian economy, this culture of sophistication, discreetness, keen to detail and proper organization is missing in Warri, especially among young entrepreneurs and change agents working and living in Warri.

Warri has been known to have a culture of “Gragra or Area”(Area/Gragra is colloquial that means a crude and unrefined attitude, or way of doing things, a person with a reputation as a bully, an intimidator, someone who fights for scraps, etc) This has made a good percentage of residents to be considered crude and unrefined, even when they are over competent or skilled and qualified.

This is sad. It’s sad because this culture of “Area or Gragra” is a fallacy. This fallacy is a rot in Warri. Although to an extent it has delivered at the local leagues, a good percentage of residents especially the emerging market in Warri, plan on sticking to this culture as they grow, they fool themselves into believing that this ‘Area, gragra’ mindset will deliver at boardrooms or international platforms. It won’t.

There's a selection system, in Nigeria and the world in general. A sorting system that considers gragra and area as dishonest, incompetent and unintelligent.

Don't act all righteous, we sort people all the time, sometimes on trivia things like looks. In Nigeria, we prefer the easy, useless sorting system e.g. Religious background, Gender, Tribe, State, Disability status, Nationality, Height, etc. 
While these sorting are easy to do, imagine a sorting system done on the basis of option B : Humility, Expertise, Kindness, Skill, Loyalty, Attitude, Character, Emotional intelligence, Honesty, Generosity, Persistence, Care, Intelligence, etc...as against the fallacious gragra, area, dishonesty, vulgarity, venal, etc culture in Warri.

It’s a daily battle, an uphill climb to intentionally change this fallacious culture in Warri, when gragra and area add to the list, we don’t stand any chance, we’ve lost the fight even before it started.

We have to change this gragra culture and adopt finesse and sophistication. To drive home my point, I’ll use analogies that the emerging market can relate with.
Olamide popularly called Badoosneh was touted as the replacement of Dagrin, but over time he has changed into a more acceptable brand, What’s Erriga and Shunnbebe waiting for?
Oristefemi was part of a musical group called Junglist, well you can’t compare then and now.

Blackface, was considered the crude one among the plantation boys, you know the story.

When Dbanj came out with the Koko, there was a touch of class, and then he exploded to the international scene, not only for his talent, that element of finesse was key to him winning a BET award, this is also why I think Davido won a BET.

Wizkid was not just Dolce & Gabana first African artist model to walk on the runway, his song Soco, was also on the runway track list in Milan. Dolce & Gabbana is an Italian luxury fashion house, you don't start a modeling CV with a monstrous name like D&G on the shoulder of crass or gragra. By the way, there's a Ghanian Musician (ShattaWale), I knew because he was dissing Wizzy, for me no song to remember, except is Wizzy beef. 

Imagine, Eedris Abulkareem singing Wizkid's Ojuelegba?, 
let's not talk about Terry G, please. Many once said 2face Idibia is crass, look at him now, he’s a regular in corporate functions. He's the Nigeria Ambassador of popular Italian beverage company, Campari worth over 1.5 billion euros.

Gragra takes us nowhere but rather drags us back to the stone age. Alibaba once said that he does not do dirty jokes, not because he cannot, but because every dirty joke he does cut down his value. He went further to say, a corporate senior executive might be among the audience and he tells a dirty joke, that executive will only not employ his service, but stop any top executive from employing his services. This is what I know and have seen this culture of area and gragra do to people from Warri and the city itself.

We have lost opportunities and placement, worst off we are losing the best minds to refined cities and organizations outside Warri.

There are no data to support my analogy. Sure, some people succeed by being expert in gragra. There are many people in Warri who have succeeded by not being one, but by keeping their word, by quietly creating value, running their organization and doing business with finesse and sophistication.
You can decide to be an “Area Fada” or a corporate executive right now. The presence of Agbero chairman and Area overlords living the good life is encouraging the gragra fallacy, and so should the predominance of good folks who are championing change in Warri.

The symbol of civilization (Delta Mall) in Warri is not managed by Area Fadas, but by refined Nigerians.

We can change this culture of Area and Gragra, we can change everything. This might be the most important work we do today, and every day. The city of Warri deserves it.

We can’t do “area” in boardrooms or be locking horns with gragra mentality when good enough has stopped being good enough a long time ago. So why not be great, refined and emit finesse. No one likes being seen as stupid.

Why are you going ballistic with "Area or Gragra"? you may ask There's a good side to it. It's because of this gragra that makes people perceive Warri as a die-hard city, fearless people, it also means people who are not afraid to take risk, doggedness etc, Yes, true, but can we do it with excellence?

In the first-ever 
TEDx event held in Delta state, the last speaker, was not far from the truth. He opined that Mediocrity is the Thanos in Warri, obliterating good in the city and encouraging crass and depravity. Mediocrity thrives in a culture of Area, The Pursuit of Excellence is the solution.

Seth Godin once wrote about the "The four horsemen of Mediocrity", and I can relate with him. These Horsemen are Deniability, Helplessness, Contempt, and Fear.

We Deny that we are not part of the problem, We are not government or the bosses and we are not the ones that make the big decisions, whatever happens, is not my fault. Denial is the first stage of grieve, we can keep on denying, but denying will not erase what's happening only accepting the truth that gragra is not the way, we can be refined and polished and have a never give up mindset in pursuing our goals and doing our business excellently well.

When we keep living in denial, we put ourselves in a place of Helplessness, waiting for outsiders to come help us. If you don't use your doggedness for good of Warri, who will? As a city we've been branded crude and unrefined, we've been tagged crass people when in close look, there are thousands of residents in and outside the city doing excellent work with a high moral compass.

This habit of helplessness is predominant in Warri, especially with sales rep. Sales rep is one of the mass jobs in Warri. You hear things, like "My Oga nor go let me" "Madam nor go let me" Sales rep don't take initiatives, not just sales rep, many of us don't take initiatives, we have this "e nor concern me" approach to things. Taking initiatives, adding a touch of finesse and excellence in our work, irrespective of ownership is not doing the business owner a favor, it's you improving yourself for your own good. It's you stretching and developing yourself.

Many will argue, "why will I put in my best when I am not paid enough?" "Who send you?" "Over sabi housewife", "This nor be shell work", these explain the third horseman according to Seth, Contempt and also the last, Fear "People will talk," "what if it does not work?". 
The goal is you, you are the change. Taking a decision to be excellent is a worthy investment in yourself, no one takes that away from you.

In conclusion, in Alibaba last visit to Warri, he said, when he decided to take up comedy full time, his father asked him who he was looking up to and he mentioned the known comedians back then in Nigeria. As the story goes, that added salt to the injury. Alibaba could have gone the gragra and Area way, but he decided to pursue excellence. He began to work locally but thought globally. Alibaba pursued excellence. You can't be excellent and not be sophisticated, and you can't exhibit refinement if your mind is not refined, refine your mind, enhance your capacity.

If you are reading this, you have the responsibility to change the culture. The choice to do or not is on you.

You may think that this solution is intangible, trust me, there are thousands of people who place real value on the services and things that are intangible. 

Martin Luther once said, If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michaelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, 'Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.

I hope that you'll read this post and say here's a great advocate of a New Warri who writes very well. LOL!

Gragra or Area neither will mediocrity be enough, we are capable for so much more. We can do great, excellent and amazing things in small, refined and beautiful ways.

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