Mark Zuckerberg addressing techpreneurs . That shirt had its own following. Pic courtesy: techcabal.com

Mark Zuckerberg And His New Nigerian Friends

The day Mark Zuckerberg visited Nigeria.

Mark Zuckerberg addressing techpreneurs . That shirt had its own following. Pic courtesy: techcabal.com
Mark Zuckerberg addressing techpreneurs . That shirt had its own following. Pic courtesy: techcabal.com

He saunters into the room with a bit of anxiety, not knowing the type of reception he’ll get. He needed not to have worried, for when Mark Zuckerberg walked in, everybody would lap up everything he does AND says. Indeed in this instance, he was the King walking into court to address his subjects.

His simplicity could not be overlooked, they expected a dragon, but they got a Koala. Unsurprisingly, Facebook was in meltdown (well, he owns it) meme creators had a field day and technopreneurs fell over themselves for a photo opportunity, a touch, a smile…. anything. Celebrities did the same. They have just seen their messiah. Naturally, he blew them over. He encouraged, he advised, he corrected, he took questions and gave answers, he ate with them. The Nigerians and Kenyans started their own cold war because of him. Nigerians shared a picture of him eating ‘pounded yam and efo’. The Kenyans insist it wasn’t, it was a Kenyan delicacy (since he stopped over in Kenya too). A Social Media Diplomatic dispute between two friendly nations over what Mark Zuckerberg ate had started? You couldn’t make this up.

The Meal that sparked a Facebook war between Nigeria and Kenya. Pic courtesy: the-star.co.ke
The Meal that sparked a Facebook war between Nigeria and Kenya. Pic courtesy: the-star.co.ke
He taught and encouraged. Pic courtesy: techpoint.ng
He taught and encouraged. Pic courtesy: techpoint.ng
He 'ran' with them. Pic courtesy: nigerianeye.com
He ‘ran’ with them. Pic courtesy: nigerianeye.com
Celebrities fell over themselves to be seen with him. Pic courtesy: businessinsider.com
Celebrities fell over themselves to be seen with him. Pic courtesy: businessinsider.com
The Nigerian President and Vice President got in on the act too.
The Nigerian President and Vice President got in on the act too.
Mark Zuckerberg in Nigeria
Mark Zuckerberg in Nigeria

Mark Zuckerberg took a walk on the notorious streets of Lagos, and even the area boys behaved themselves. Kidnappers? what kidnappers? They all maintained, as if in an unwritten agreement to allow this techie have a pass. He was treated better than some of their own. And that Tee shirt? never in the history of humanity will a single piece of clothing be the source of so much conversation. The Tee shirt itself was a star, a celebrity. Long after he left, he is still spoken about; his visit brought an instant feel-good aura, such that has not been experienced by many entrepreneurs in a lifetime.

This was a state visit in all sense of the word. The difference is Mark Zuckerberg is no head of state or politician, he is not the leader of the free world neither is he a global arbitrator. He is just a….. well… he is just the man behind Facebook, with a pocket full of dollars; $54.4 billion to be precise. No wonder everybody wanted a piece of him.

The instant connect with the youth was clear to see. His social vehicle speaks for him and is in all our homes, in all our handsets. He knows our habits and social preferences, and gives them to us wrapped in a red bow. The level of activity that surrounded his presence begets the question, where is the level of support for Nigerian entrepreneurs from their own government? Perhaps that is a topic for another day.

The genius, productivity and general awesomeness that remain unseen, untapped within Nigerian entrepreneurs can only be considered legendary. And if they will not be appreciated by their own, then it is only fair that one of the very best the world has to offer, fly down to their corner of the world and appreciate them.

For all the negative publicity he must have heard about Nigeria, he chose to visit, and he was not disappointed with what he saw. General Zuckerberg, behold your Army.

Kole Obasa

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