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Ife Tokan: 5 Ways Our Culture & Environment Hinders The Youth From Success



Success is doing what you love and making money out of it. Essentially, it is generating income from that thing you can do for free, the thing that makes you happy or the thing that gives you the feeling of fulfilment after it has been achieved.

A youth is someone who is between the ages of 18 to 28. I have heard people say a young person is 30 something years of age, in my opinion that person is just young at heart. Young people are the future but then why do our culture and environment hinder us from tapping the greatness within? Here are a few reasons why.

‘When Do You Plan To Do Master’s?’
I have heard this saying from so many aunties and uncles. Mind you, this was when I was just in my second year of university. As young people, we are pushed to learn more theory, pushed to further our education with no practical knowledge or being sure what we actually want to do with our lives. Jumping straight into a Master’s program is like reading a book on how to drive a car without no practical lessons for a year, and driving on the highway at the end of the 12th month. You will crash and burn! A Master’s degree is a great tool, when done at the appropriate time and for the right reason. It is not something that should be done ‘just because’.

‘That Is Not A Degree’
I had a friend who could draw, like wow this guy could draw. He did it effortlessly; if you looked at all his study note pads you would see cartoon drawings. Basically, while he day dreamed in the library he did some drawings. He wanted to do a degree in animation engineering, guess what his father said? (I bet you guessed it) ‘That is not a degree.’ He was forced to do mechanical engineering, hated the degree then got a job in an oil company and hates Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sunday evenings.

Our Perception of Respect
A lot of people tie money and success to respect. In some people’s mind this is also tied to the older generation. Let me explain: it is frustrating when you have worked hard, developed yourself, have the relevant experience and you are in a situation with an older person and you can’t argue a point with them because it will be seen as being rude. This seriously hinders the progression of the youth and makes our youth lack confidence when compared to our international counterparts.

Our Mentality of Success as Young People
Everyone wants to be successful, we have great ideas, we want to be the leader but we forget that leadership doesn’t start at the front of the room but behind. The number of times I have seen young people who have never worked a day in their life (whether in form of volunteering, desk job or part time job) and want to run a company. It makes no sense! A great idea is not the only thing that makes an idea successful; it is the leadership, team working, problem solving, interpersonal skills and work ethic you have that makes the dream work. These skills can only be built effectively when you have served under someone else, learnt a trade, been bossed around and been given work you don’t want to do but yet you still did.

‘It’s too late to go out’ (Freedom)
Success is not a destination but a journey. How can the youth get to that destination without being allowed to journey? I have heard that phrase ‘it is too late to go out’ or ‘it’s not safe to go there’ from so many parents. What’s really interesting is that the thing out there that most parents are preventing their kids from will still be out there if not worse 5 or 10 years down the line when they move out for independence or marriage. It is good to be security conscious especially in a nation like Nigeria, but a leash too tight will either strangle or cause rebellion. Everything should be done in moderation.

I conclude with this: a wise friend once told me that the moment you realise that every decision you accept or reject will shape your own life and not your parents’ lives is the moment you become an adult. So stand up for what is yours because you have to live with yourself for a very very long time.

Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Mimagephotography 

"Ife was listed in the Top 100 Outstanding Graduates by the Future Leaders Magazine, UK. He has interned in top global brands like Accenture, PwC and Deloitte. He is a big believer in giving back to the community through any capacity possible. He describes himself in three words: Purposeful, Passionate and Proactive. Ife loves building and mentoring future leaders." Twitter: ife_tokan LinkedIn Ife Ade Tokan


  1. ElessarisEllendil

    September 6, 2015 at 3:43 pm

    “Success is doing what you love and making money out of it.”Ehn Nope! Success is “Success is doing what you love and making money out of it.”Ehn Nope! Success is achieving your desire simple!

    “Essentially, it is generating income from that thing you can do for free,” Ehm, so Prostitution???????

    “the thing that makes you happy or the thing that gives you the feeling of fulfilment after it has been achieved.”- Sexual!???

    “Young people are the future but then why do our culture and environment hinder us from tapping the greatness within?”: Because….is this a rhetorical question?? The answer seems obvious enough

    “When Do You Plan To Do Master’s?’” Talk about first world problems, some people don’t even send their children to school. Surely that hinders greatness more No?

    “‘That Is Not A Degree’”: I sympathise, but guy! your friend landed a oil company!! his parents were right!!. Naija no get video-game/anime industry.

    “Our Perception of Respect”: I agree wholeheartedly, though I would argue that if you can’t respectfully make an erring adult see the ignorance of his ways then your arguments are poor. Historical point, do you think it was the old converting people to Islam and Christianity?? Conversely just join “quora”.

    “Our Mentality of Success as Young People”: Gbam!! though to be fair, a vast majority of our youth have experience, think the market apprentices, the hire/purchase motorists, even the young Farmer learning from his Father. This problem is majorly among us “English literate” folk, in Nigeria we’re the minority.

    “‘It’s too late to go out”: Conversely, a leash too loose will get your kid stabbed, I liked jumping fence in Secondary School too, but if I had a pound for the amount of times we were “obtained”, I’d be a naira millionaire. Lagos no be Tokyo, when you move that adage to Onitsha circa 2010-2013, Kaduna during the Sharia riots, the North-East now and the South-East in Ember months during the blood money era. O boy eh!!

    • lotusflower

      September 6, 2015 at 5:00 pm

      It is clear that a lot of the author’s point went right over your head.

    • ElessarisEllendil

      September 7, 2015 at 12:28 am

      Or maybe my points went straight over yours??? Dilemma No?

  2. The Bull

    September 6, 2015 at 4:59 pm

    Good points, most of these things are caused by Nigeria’s failed system thanks to corruption. few good jobs so parents believe you need a master’s degree to get an advantage, insecurity: so leaving the house makes some parents paranoid etc. In the west for example individuals become independent from a young age, they can get part time jobs while in uni, save, travel etc. It is not the case in Nigeria for example. The environment has helped create these cultures and in a way hindered people’s independence and success in Nigeria.

  3. Ada

    September 6, 2015 at 5:04 pm

    Well said! The negative mindset in the populace hinders people from being themselves and enjoying life.

  4. Anonymous

    September 6, 2015 at 6:28 pm

    Nice one Mr Ifektive and very well said. I’m sure some people have a lot to learn from this.

  5. fleur

    September 6, 2015 at 7:26 pm

    First, there is a technical consensus definition for youth – 15 to 24 years of age. Second, the main hindrance to individual success as defined by the attainment of a state of physical, financial and emotional well-being that is optimal relative to the average state of those who are in the highest income decile or perhaps quintile in the country is lack of opportunity and lack of wherewithal to harness opportunity. (yes, comparing to the west when the context is very different in terms of values, culture and the things that make one feel fulfilled financially and in other ways get as e be) These are deeply entrenched systemic problems. Lack of opportunity means that everything except breathing is a deep struggle. If God had not made oxygen to be as abundant as it is, there will be no life in Nigeria because someone would bottle it and ensure that it is not available for the sake of proving that they have that kind of power. Our lack of opportunity is a state that is driven and perpetuated by a class system we have so embraced, we think its normal and dont even see it. THere is a class system (that I see Fayose trying so hard to defy and taunt), which suggests that there is one separate and distinct path for the elite and their offspring, and another path for the “nobodys”. The paths are so distinct that unless one be graced with heavenly intervention, it is impossible to cross over to a parallel path. It is a deeply entrenched inequity that says without so many words to the bulk of NIgerians, “you are unworthy of anything other than financial lack”. It is in the processes we have in place that celebrate nepotism to the fullest. What this does is create a damaging mindset for those unable to recognize it as a poison – and that is the bulk of the population. It is in the subtle messages sent out each time an individual is looked down on or outwardly denied an opportunity because of who they are or told that there is no place for them in a place occupied by fellow humans. THis type of thinking changes the mindset in fundamentally detrimental ways. It says to the individual, “you are not supposed to be up there”, “you are nobody”, you dare not ask for that because you do not deserve to be there”, “how dare you think such thoughts that belong to the high and mighty”. These thoughts eventually becloud one’s vision and become an unsung but deeply embedded formulator and scavenger of opportunity. It stifles innovative thought, it causes people to not even try what might seem like an opportunity. It paints a damaging myopic picture of the world and the opportunities available in it. In fact, those made to believe they are worthless shut out what is considered a part of the world that has no place for them and is therefore of no relevance. They inadvertently create a ceiling for themselves based on what society has told them is their place. This manifests as the second problem – inability to harness opportunity even when it is poking you in the eye. You hear people make up excuses. “The idea craze”, “Na who give me mouth to talk that kind thing”, and even “dem go laugh me.”

    AS simple as it sounds, people need to see the world as a place where life is about transitioning from one state of financial, physical and emotional well being to a much higher state. This means, they have to be treated as humans and equitably so. Until people stop seeing those who have succeeded as gods or children of gods because of the oddness and rarity of success in our society, and the machinations (like stealing and corruption in places of power) that are the only observable paths to success, people will continue to suffer acutely from self-protectionism that only breeds mediocrity, and entrenched poverty and disadvantage. People need to begin to view other people in similar circumstances progress to the next level or they will never envision such progress for themselves!!.

  6. Steez

    September 6, 2015 at 8:32 pm

    I beg to disagree on your definition of youth. Youth is anywhere from 18 – 45. Thank you.
    Nice article though

    • ade

      September 16, 2015 at 2:11 am

      18-45 ke?
      aren’t youth teenagers? 13-19?

  7. molarah

    September 6, 2015 at 10:12 pm

    Ok. It may be me, or it may be something about this post, but I think this is one boo-hoo-nigerian-parents-are-the-reason-for-our-stagnation rant too many. Seriously. There comes a time in life where you take responsibility for the choices you made that succeeded, and those that failed. And this is what distinguishes a mature individual. If you’ve not gotten to this point, chances are you are still reasoning as a child. Own your life and stop blaming your parents and the environment. You don’t hear Rasak-Okoya, Adedoyin, Dangote and other like successful individuals talmabout what their parents or the society did or didn’t do for them. It’s only a person that’s looking for an excuse for failure that needs excuses like this. And while we are still on the topic, what stops art-loving Mr Oil and gas from quitting his job, gathering the cash he’s amassed and going back to pursue his dream? Living a life you hate as an adult and blaming your parents when you have the resources and freedom to do it differently? That’s what hampering the development of the nigerian youth, not the parents or the environment.

  8. Miss Mo

    September 7, 2015 at 12:59 am

    Nice write up. Good points,

  9. Ifiokobong R

    September 7, 2015 at 4:37 am

    Thank you for this writeup. This is exactly what I have been preaching.

    Wealth does not have anything to do with age. Therefore, youths should be given an ample opportunity to explore his/her destiny while still young.

    By so doing, they will have a longer duration to race through it.


  10. Tosin

    September 7, 2015 at 7:31 am

    problematic intro.
    comments too.
    5 great points though.

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