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Move Back To Nigeria: “Do Not Allow Yourself To Be Overwhelmed with Fear!” Performance Arts Entrepreneur, Temi Conde Tells All About Her Craft & Her Recent Move

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Move Back to Nigeria is a series on BellaNaija which aims to encourage young and not-so-young professionals in the diaspora who are trying to make the decision of whether to move back to Nigeria. In collaboration with the brilliant team at MoveBackToNigeria.com, we hope to bring you a weekly interview with individuals who have successfully made the leap, considering the leap, as well as those who have tried it and realized it is not for them. MoveBacktoNigeria.com’s mission is to showcase stories of Nigerians abroad who have moved back home and are taking giant strides, often against all odds and to serve as inspiration to others. This, however does not preclude us from sharing stories of the people who have moved back and are facing various challenges.

Temi Conde is our Move Back To Nigeria profile for the week, and we are excited to have her on the ‘hot seat’! She shares with us her academic and professional background and takes us on the unique path she’s charting for herself in Nigeria as the founder of The Louise Marie Stage School. Read on for more on her inspiring story.

Thank you for speaking with us, can you please introduce yourself?
My name is Temi Conde and I own a performing arts school for children called Louise Marie Stage School, which focuses on building confidence through acting, singing and dancing.

If you are to describe yourself, would you say are a creative entrepreneur or a youth empowerment advocate?
I would definitely say both! I am incredibly creative but also believe that one of the most rewarding things one can do in life is to empower young people and to bless them with the knowledge of the fact that they can achieve and be anything they set their heart on.

Were you born in Nigeria?
I was born in London and when I was about nine years old, my mum sent me to Nigeria for a year to get the ‘Nigerian home training and grounding’ after which, I went back to London. So prior to moving back last year and the 1 year I spent when I was 9, I never really lived in Nigeria at all.

Please take us through your academic background.
I went to the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama in Cardiff and I actually studied B.A. Acting.

Was that what you really wanted to do?
Yes, it absolutely was, even though my mother was against it from the beginning. When I was ten years old, I discovered a place not too far from my house that focused on teaching children how to act, sing and dance. From then onwards, I fell in love with performing arts and constantly looked for ways to make it a big part of my life. To be honest going to the Royal Welsh college of Music and Drama was literally a turning point in my life. I was taken out of my comfort zone and I began to do things that I never imagined I could. It really changed my life and a big part of who I am today is because of RWCMD.

And after graduation, what came next for you?
After graduating, I appeared in a few TV shows in London/Cardiff and I also started working with a network marketing company in London. I worked with the company for between eight to nine months and early on in the business, I became an Area manager and my role was essentially teaching people how to turn an expense into an income, but the highlight was really the fact that I was able empower people. The greatest part of working with the company was the amount of personal growth I went through, I learnt that self development is one of the most important things a person can do. I found myself constantly reading and studying the lives of successful people. So, after going for a training conference in America with the company, I made the decision that I was going to move to LA.

What inspired the decision, was it career related?
Yes, absolutely. After much deliberation, I thought that was the next logical step to take. However, even though it was never ever in my plans, I ended up moving to Nigeria,

How so?
Well, my family had moved to Nigeria two years prior, so already some of the most important people in my life were there. Just before I went to America for the training conference, I met a lovely group of ladies through a close friend at her wedding, they had all made the move to Nigeria and during our several conversations I realised that they were happy and that there were so many opportunities in Africa. After arriving back in London after the training conference in America, I sat down and weighed up all the pros and cons, prayed about it and packed a few bags and flew to Nigeria with the intention of just spending a few weeks in Lagos. On arrival in Lagos, I just saw the immense amount of opportunities. I then decided to go to London, pack all my things and move back to Nigeria.

So, when did you move back?
I moved back in July, last year.

And how have you found it thus far?
It has been incredible so far. It has had its ups and downs, but my experience has been really positive. I have enjoyed the journey and the person I am becoming. Every day brings a new challenge but also new reasons to be thrilled about the future. To me, little things like going to the market, looking outside my window and just generally meeting new people has been so exciting. Settling in has gone smoothly mostly because my family were already here.

And what do you currently do in Nigeria?
When I was moving here, I had a particular business in mind, so straight away I was ready to launch my business, however even though I was certain the business would succeed, I wasn’t one hundred percent passionate about it. I then decided to begin my current project, a performing arts school called The Louise Marie Stage School.

Sounds interesting! Do tell us the story about the establishment of the school?
It was quite random. I was in church one day and there was a guest minister preaching. Long story cut short, the minister began to call people forward to donate certain amounts of money every month towards building the church, so I watched as people went forward to make donations. As the minister continued speaking I felt something in my spirit telling me to go forward, I was honestly fighting it and begging God to change his mind about wanting me to go forward; because I had just moved back, I did not even have a bank account in Nigeria.

All the same, I stepped forward and made a pledge and then asked God “what is your plan for me?” That was when God began to speak to me about opening a stage school. I got home and started planning and two to three months later, I started the business. I honestly believe that because of my obedience thankfully I have been able to pay my pledge every single month. The stage school started on the 18th of December 2013 (we had a Christmas session for a week), but we started officially on the 18th of January 2014.

That definitely is noteworthy. Can you tell us what the reception has been like?
It has been incredible! People have started to realise (especially parents) that confidence and the ability to speak publicly is essential, regardless of the industry your child may go into in the future. Children need to be taken out of their comfort zone in order for them to know that they can achieve much more than they think. A lot of parents are excited about the work we’re doing and the children absolutely love our classes.

What age of kids do you teach?
We teach children aged 3 – 15 and classes are divided into age groups.

Thinking about the logistics, space, infrastructure, staff etc. how have you handled all of that?
The process wasn’t as straight forward as I had hoped, but eventually everything worked out well. We currently use a school building for our classes which is perfect. Also Finding and dealing with staff was initially difficult, but now I work with an incredible group of people who understand my vision and who are equally excited about changing the lives of children.

This is really what you have been wanting to do, performing in the arts and giving back to the society, seems you have found a way to kill two birds with one stone?
Yes exactly. The first time I saw the children perform I cried, I just couldn’t take it, I was so proud of them and what they had achieved, and I knew that from that moment on their lives were changing for the better. I see the Louise Marie Stage School becoming a household name; I see it as place where Nigerian children can express themselves without being judged and a place where parents bring their children in order to bring out the best out in them. The best thing about LMSS is that we actually empower the children from the moment they step through the door.

Have you found any resistance at all and if yes, how did you overcome the challenges and resistance?
Funnily enough, we have a lot of parents that say they want to encourage their child’s desire to become an actress or a singer, I was so happy the first time I heard a parent say that, I truly didn’t expect this level of support from parents in Nigeria (for performing arts) because of my personal experience growing up. Our children now take LAMDA exams (London Academy of Music & Dramatic Art exams); these exams/certifications are recognized worldwide and are especially perfect for children who have the desire to embark on a career in the performing arts world.

What do you think has contributed to the success of the project so far, what skill or tips have seen you through?
I think for me personally, some of the key things are having integrity, respecting my customers, respecting staff and mostly importantly building a business based around love. One of our mottos is smile till your face hurts.

And does this mean you are back for good or are you inclined to potentially wake up one day and decide to go somewhere else?
Do you know what? I actually don’t have a choice because I am totally in love with what I’m doing. I’m definitely here for good.

On a somewhat different note, how have you found the lifestyle differences and how have you adapted to them?
One of the most difficult adjustments has been the heat! I am certain that I’m actually allergic to heat! Driving in Lagos is……..interesting! I have learnt a few things from driving here, e.g. if you want to move into the next lane, do not indicate, because NOBODY will let you into the lane, It’s ridiculous.

In terms of business, a lot of patience is needed to keep sane in Nigeria, but things are definitely getting better. Generally, I believe that the good outweighs the bad.

And finally, what would you say to people who are considering the move back home, based on your own experience and how you have navigated it so far?
First thing I would say is to pray about it, If you feel that it’s meant to be, then just decide and move. Do not allow yourself to be overwhelmed with fear; there are so many opportunities here. People always say the ground here is so fertile and all one needs to do is plant a seed and water it.

You also need to be willing to work with integrity and that, combined with hard work will bring success. So just make the decision and everything else that is good will hopefully come after.

Many thanks for your time and best wishes moving forward.

______________________________________________________________________________________________________
The  primary objective of MoveBackToNigeria.com is to connect Nigerian professionals with various opportunities in Nigeria, ranging from recruitment drives to information & support regarding relocation processes, financial & tax advice and much more. Move Back To Nigeria also features social interest topics such as what’s on, where to live, how-to survival tips and so on. Consistently engaging with and featuring Nigerian professionals in weekly  interviews, Move Back To Nigeria regularly publishes social interest articles relevant to the general public. Everyone is welcome to their online discussions & fora and you are invited to air your views & suggestions on the topical and trending matters section. For more information and further inquiries, please contact [email protected]

MBTN helps Nigerian and African professionals from across the world connect with career and Investment opportunities. We also organise networking events, conferences and workshops that give you the required tools to get ahead in your career in Africa or elsewhere. Find out more at www.mbtnglobal.com. Follow us on Twitter @mbtnglobal and Instagram @mbtnglobal

18 Comments

  1. Kundalini

    April 18, 2014 at 10:10 am

    Do not by overcome by fear, yet BH is killing and beheading people daily. No light, bad roads, no security and proper healthcare. No thank you abeg!

    • D.W

      April 18, 2014 at 8:53 pm

      Just so you know..for as long as you remain in another man’s country you will always be regarded as the outsider..Go back…work hard and ACHIEVE! Stop Criticising your country!

  2. Concerned9ja

    April 18, 2014 at 12:04 pm

    Not related to Odetola and the rest of the Cabal…why should we come back??..after all we’ve managed to achieve against all odds…let them gobble and vomit on the mess they created!!..we all about meritocracy…how can that ever work in present day 9ja???

  3. tina bright

    April 18, 2014 at 12:10 pm

    I thank God I was born in london where I intend to remain unless im relocating to America I would never dream of moving to nigeria as no amount of money can keep you safe in that country.

  4. olu

    April 18, 2014 at 3:40 pm

    I’m still waiting for a day when some regular person will be featured. Some with no wealthy parents in Nigeria. Someone who had to find their own accommodation in Lagos/Abuja

    • Fountain of Paper

      April 18, 2014 at 10:22 pm

    • BubblyBliss

      May 23, 2014 at 10:29 am

      You have followed people’s stories then. Read this one for example bellanaija.com/2013/09/27/move-back-to-nigeria-life-is-tough-in-general-in-nigeria-life-is-tougher-enarime-mueller-shares-her-tips-on-how-to-get-back-into-the-swing-of-things/ I liked it a lot because it resonated with a lot of people that only went abroad for their masters and had to struggle when they moved back to begin their professional careers. And trust me, even for someone that has spent just a year abroad, the difference is clear. You become so accustomed to sanity, stability, organisation and convenience abroad that it is a struggle readjusting to what you were used to.

  5. babysco

    April 18, 2014 at 4:51 pm

    Only rich men kids are featured in BN Nowadays #hiss

  6. Ivie

    April 18, 2014 at 5:08 pm

    Lol…these comments though? Love the initiative dear. My opinion on moving back is know what you want to acheive in life , make it work and be a blessing to God,Family,Self and Humanity… That’s all that matters at the end anyway.

  7. Concerned_Boyfriend

    April 18, 2014 at 8:40 pm

    @Olu #Gbamest!

  8. uche

    April 19, 2014 at 4:06 am

    who are her parents? i must have missed it cuz i dont get the comments on here

  9. Mzlyrics

    April 19, 2014 at 4:21 pm

    This is such a heart warming story. I salute your courage and I absolutely love what you are doing. I would love to see your children perform. This is definitely a business idea that would thrive. Just pay close attention to your staff (they must be courteous,warm and professional) and keep giving the children what they can’t get from their drama classes in school. You would go far! Welldone.

  10. temibigal

    April 20, 2014 at 12:51 pm

    you dont need to know her parents to understand that shes from a rich home…come on, she moved back just last year and already has a school set up in less than a year..please if that doesnt sing rich to u, i dnt knw what will…BN please feature regular people that struggled..i am a law student in europe graduating this year..i was meant 2 do my law school in niaja this june but with the insecurity in abuja, i am taken a year out..also i have no connection in nigeria, my family back home is just avearage, i will appreciate if u feature a story of someone is similar situation as me because the fact is, majority of people are in similar situation

  11. M.O

    April 21, 2014 at 10:27 pm

    Why are people hating, please? We never like to see others succeed, we always want to bring them down. This girl seems to be doing her best to make things work in Nigeria, it’s an inspiring story to me and thank you Bella Naija for posting this story. Please post other similar ones that show young people taking initiatives and not waiting for ‘miracle’ or ‘oil job’.

  12. jirla

    April 21, 2014 at 11:26 pm

    @temibigal: what part of : “The process wasn’t as straight forward as I had hoped, but eventually everything worked out well. We currently use a school building for our classes which is perfect. ” didnt you read ? Does it mean she has built a school? To some people you would be considered rich you know….how many average people get to go to law school in Europe? There is something to learn from everyones story abeg!

  13. FunkyW

    April 23, 2014 at 4:53 pm

    Instead of speculating about the wealth of her lineage, consider for a moment that she’s serving Nigeria with her international experience and imparting knowledge to the future generation.

    All these comments about never coming back… are so unnecessary, feel free to add value in whatever country you are, but don’t make comments as if you know the future of Nigerians at home or returning.

  14. Free

    April 28, 2014 at 4:54 pm

    I’m glad to see other people comment on the true state of Nigeria. Even before leaving its shores, life was never easy there and one had to stress to get the bare necessities of life. So, all these articles on move back to Nigeria need to be more in-depth as to the true reasons they are moving back and what the struggle really is when they get there. I am sure it is very hard to just move back start up and face the challenges back home ( no electricity, bad roads, traffic jams, area boys, no law enforcement to name a few), without have some sort of connections. This might be a recipe for disaster, please if you are thinking of moving back without adequate connections and wealth, do your research properly and don’t be deceived. I admire the courage of those that have done it, but the reality is it might be tougher than described on here.

  15. wellofwaters

    May 9, 2014 at 10:59 am

    The answer is not in running away. For what if you have been given the potentials/gifts/vision to build a better Nigeria and in fear and doubt, you escape to another man’s land? What if that idea you harbour is what Nigeria has been waiting for? What if destiny has somethings for you to do here in Nigeria to make you a great person after all………
    wellofwaters.com/
    wellofwaters.com/about/

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