The Making of Champions is a book that took a panoramic view of the problem of the Nigerian Youth, nay, the African youth and took painstaking effort, with the aid of biographical illustrations of various successes, to reinvent the wheel as it concerns what makes for true education, the path to success and true success. In this no holds bar interview with the author of the book, a genius of sorts; Barrister Ejike Nwuba, O’star Eze, Editor-in-chief of Fact Reporters picks the mind behind this magnum opus which is revolutionalising Africa in present times. Enjoy it
How would you describe your background and the ideas that formed who you are today?
I am a lawyer and I am an educator, a corporate trainer, a personal development consultant, business consultant, a transformational coach, motivational speaker, and a prolific writer. I am the founder and CEO of The Renaissanceafrica Company Limited, a sterling human capital development and management consulting firm which has impacted the lives of thousands of individuals, professionals, and entrepreneurs and business executives from myriads of multinationals, mid-sized companies, small businesses, organizations and associations across Africa for a decade.
I am also a deep Christian. I am an avid reader and I come from a family of teachers- both of my parents are distinguished University Professors.
From an early childhood my passion has always been to be an educator. I can remember vividly an experience I had in primary school many years ago. I was the best student in the class, so my teacher called me one day and asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. Immediately I told her I wanted to a teacher. She frowned and hushed me, and compelled me to say I wanted to be a doctor. So I said I wanted to be a doctor. In school the best students were expected to become medical doctors. But regardless I still had that passion to teach and improve others.
I founded our company out of a vision God gave me ten years ago to build human capacity in Africa.
If you look around you, you’d realize that Africa is behind because Africa has grossly misplaced priorities. African countries are only concerned about natural resources. They have relegated their greatest asset to the background – our human resources, our people.
The greatest nations in the world became great by building human capital.
This is why there is so much poverty in Africa in spite of our ubiquitous natural resources, while ironically nations like Japan, South Korea, Switzerland, Singapore and Hong Kong are among the wealthiest nations in the world, though they have no natural resources.
It is my passion to build capacity in Africa and illuminate our continent.
What inspired you to write this book, ‘The Making of Champions’?
It is a vision I got from God ten years ago to write a book to inspire greatness in African youths (ages 15-45). This was a corollary of my overarching vision to build capacity in Africa. I wanted to write a classic that will help young people in Africa to find themselves and maximize their potential; a book that will equip, inspire, motivate and empower them to eschew mediocrity and live out their innate greatness.
Like Shakespeare wrote in Julius Caesar: “The fault dear Brutus is in ourselves, and not in our stars”. We are our own number one problem.
God has blessed every single human being in this world- Africa inclusive, with tremendous potential. There is no telling what we can become, or what we can accomplish – but without the proper orientation we may never become what we were created to be.
In Africa there is so much despondence, hopelessness and negativity. Our young people feel hemmed in and pessimistic – but they need to realize that nobody is coming to their rescue. Regardless of the narratives of how colonialism and neo-colonialism have shortchanged our continent, we will be deluding ourselves to blame Africa’s woes on others.
Our destiny lies in our own hands. Absolutely anything is possible! There are no hopeless situations – only hopeless people. These are incontrovertible truths. It is time to wake up and take responsibility and make the changes we want to see in our continent. Like I said before, no one is coming to our rescue. We must rescue ourselves. We are the light of the world. This is our time.
This book was also specially designed to catch them young. This is why we have developed The Making of Champions Course, which is a 5-day training program for secondary schools and tertiary institutions to help young people find themselves early, develop their unique potential and impact the world.
Africa is in dire need of champions. Champions who will bring her out of poverty and privation. And these champions are our young people. These champions are you and I. God have endowed each of us with something special to bless this generation with. It is our responsibility to make this continent better than we found it. And as we impact the world, we are rewarded with all the success and greatness we could ever desire. This is what inspired me to wrote the book.
How long did it take you to complete the work and what challenges did you face (share how you surmounted them too)?
It took me ten years to put this book together. It is pretty voluminous; inclusive of the prologue it spans over 320 pages and it contains over 40 of the world’s most inspiring biographies.
Of course this kind of work demands a lot of research, attention to detail and thoroughness. The first manuscript was written in 2011 so it went through copious iterations before the final work was produced. Years of reading came in handy. If I was not a voracious reader of leadership books, personal development books, business books and biographies, I would not have been able to produce this book.
When I wrote the first manuscript in 2011, it had the basic principles I was inspired to communicate but I realized I had not fleshed out the book properly – I felt it was not ready, so I abandoned the manuscript and the project until 2014.
It is a product of real diligence, patience, compassion and focus. I was determined to fulfill my unique purpose on this planet to build capacity on the African continent.
What informed your conviction that Africa is the continent of the future and how do you think your book can be applied to prepare the next generation to take over?
It is obvious. The world has evolved and advanced at a rapid pace in recent times. But Africa is the continent still in the woods. There is so much to be done in Africa. Africa is plagued by mounting problems- but these are immense opportunities. Opportunities for greatness for those who will rise to the occasion. A golden opportunity for our youth to make a difference. An amazing opportunity to let our lights shine. Africa is the rendezvous for the emergence of champions and heroes who will change the narrative. Africa is a land of opportunity.
My book, “The Making Of Champions” is orchestrated to prepare our youths (from ages 15 to 45) to look inwards, discover their unique potential, develop their potential and deploy it to impact the world and change the African narrative.
Every human being created by God has immense potential. The reason Africa is locked in the doldrums is that we have not developed our innate human potential. Our schools have not helped. Our educational system is otiose and archaic. More so, our young people need to embrace self-education and personal development rather than the general education they acquire from formal schools. Like Jim Rohn, the American business philosopher rightly said: “General education will earn you a living but self-education will make you a fortune”. As the Scottish writer, Sir Walter Scott rightly said: “All men who turned out worth anything have had the chief hand in their own education”. This book is a complete guide on how to go about it; and it is replete with practical and inspiring illustrations.
Youth unemployment, underemployment and restiveness are some of the teething problems militating against the African society. Does your book have an answer?
Why is there so much unemployment, underemployment and youth restiveness in Africa? Simple: Africa has not invested in her people. We have neglected our human capital which should be the paramount concern of any visionary well-meaning government. We are a continent of consumers rather than producers. We can’t build our economies by selling raw materials to advanced countries! Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy lives on crude oil in 2020! We produce next to nothing. Even most of our staple foods are imported. Yet we complain there are no jobs. Of course, how do you expect jobs when we produce nothing – all we do is share and steal proceeds from our crude oil exports and taxation.
China has more natural resources than we do. But China became the world’s second largest economy with an annual GDP of over $19 trillion dollars through production. China is the manufacturing hub of the world. And this is because China has a very skilled population of over 1.3 billion people, with one of the most robust educational systems in the world. Today China has bested the United States to become the number one exporter of goods in the world. This I repeat was only possible because they have invested in human capital development.
This is one area African leaders have failed woefully. Our educational system is in shambles. Our vocational and technical schools have been abandoned. Every year, millions of our youths graduate to find no jobs. And worse still a lot of the graduates are even unemployable because of the dismal standard of education. And the idle youths become restive. As the saying goes: “an idle man is the devil’s workshop”.
Unemployment in Nigeria for instance is scandalous! According to Nigerian Bureau of Statistics the current unemployment rate is a 27%! That is atrocious! And this is a very conservative estimate. Millions of our young people are underemployed, doing all kinds of menial jobs to survive. The truth is that we cannot all uproot ourselves from here and migrate to advanced countries in search of greener pastures.
We have to “fix” our country! We have to “fix” our continent. My book provides the answers.
It empowers our youths to take their destiny into their hands and consider the difficulties around them as immense opportunities to make their mark. If there was no apartheid in South Africa, a Nelson Mandela would not have arisen. If there were affordable automobiles there would be no Henry Ford. And if there was no need for social media, there would be no Mark Zuckerberg. The needs around us are our opportunities. And the opportunities in Africa are ubiquitous because the needs in Africa are staggering.
No government in the world creates jobs. Even if they tried, they cannot create sustainable jobs. The role of the government is to create enabling environment while it is the duty of the people, individuals – the youths – to create wealth and create jobs. The biggest multibillion-dollar corporations you hear about today: Apple, Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Alibaba, Dangote, were all created by youths! While we demand accountability from our political actors, we must play our part. Entrepreneurship is the panacea to unemployment. It is the responsibility of our youths to create jobs. Unemployment is an opportunity. But success only results when preparation meets opportunity. My book, “The Making Of Champions” and the training program, “The Making Of Champions Course”, are orchestrated to prepare, equip, educate, energize and empower our youths to seize this opportunity for a great and impactful future by becoming successful entrepreneurs. The book is laden with biographies of over 25 of the world’s finest entrepreneurs who built their successful companies against all odds in their bid to meet the needs around them.
It is said that the average African is not a reader; how do you intend to get this book studied and applied?
That is a very good question.
One of the major reasons Africa is in the dark is that most Africans don’t read. As the saying goes, “If you want to hide something from an African, put it in a book”. Ignorance is Africa’s number one problem.
Foolishness is doing the same thing and expecting a different result. Africa is paying dearly for her ignorance. We cannot continue in ignorance anymore. Ignorance in the 21st century is extremely expensive. This is the Information Age. If we must change the African narrative, we must promote good reading culture. Readers are leaders. Information rules the world.
And I have come to CHANGE the status quo, not to maintain it.
This is why we are taking the program to the secondary school students and students of tertiary institutions across the continent. We want to catch them young. It is easier to build the young ones than to repair the men of old.
This is why this book and the accompanying training program for schools is very pertinent. The book also has a Workbook which the participants in the training program must use to practically apply the principles taught in the book. And you must read the book to use the Workbook.