Unsung Heroes of the Nigerian Hustle

Ololade Ajekigbe

Ololade Ajekigbe

Editor’s note: Our Guest Writer this week, Ololade Ajekigbe, strikes her harp strings to sing eulogies of the millions of Nigerian heroes living and dying unheard, unrecognized and uncelebrated. In this piece, she shifts the attention of Nigerians to the democratization of heroism and the bigness of small things. Ololade Ajekigbe had her first Degree and MBA at the University of Ibadan and LAUTECH respectively. Ololade, who likes reading, writing, watching TV and dancing, blogs at www.lolosthoughts.com and wrote from Lagos.



The streets are not smiling. The times are tough. A look around my environment each day reveals a society where the hustle has never been more real. The average Nigerian wakes up before the crack of dawn each day to commute several hours to work. A typical commercial bus conveys passengers who sleep through the journey to work because they never get enough sleep at home. From the menace of the Boko Haram sect to the spate of kidnappings, from the epileptic power supply to the death traps we call roads, from the incessant strike actions by various bodies to the dearth of infrastructure in the country, Nigerians are constantly plagued with myriad of problems…yet we stand.

In year 2010, Gallup Global Poll rated Nigerians as the happiest people on earth out of 53 countries around the world. While some greeted the news with shock and disbelief, others found it very believable as we have always been known to be a people who smile through pain, confusion and chaos! Little wonder the late Afro beat legend, Fela sang about the typical Nigerians penchant for smiling while suffering. We are an ever optimistic breed of people who continually keep faith that there will be light at the end of our tunnel. Nigerians are the most hardworking people I know, and the average Nigerian will stay on the grind till he makes it.

The heroes are definitely not those who are in positions of power, despite the fact that they take decisions on behalf of the general populace (as a matter of fact, they are unarguably the cause of our unending problems) and can decide to be heroes if they so wish. The real heroes are not even the soldiers who are sent to the war front to fight a cause; even though they may lose their lives in the process (at least they were aware of what they signed up for). Neither are the many “activists” (who sometimes have underlying intentions) the heroes contrary to what a lot of people think. The average Nigerian is the real, unsung hero. We didn’t sign up for what we are currently experiencing. Every 4 years, we become the beautiful bride who gets wooed by some legendary liars, promising heaven and earth if we vote for them. And whether we do or not, they rig themselves into power!

During the last presidential elections, one of the prominent candidates had a neighbor-to-neighbor program which involved his foot soldiers going from door to door to campaign for him. Fortunately [or unfortunately], they didn’t get to my door, I had prepared a tongue-lashing package for them! Yes…call me a frustrated Nigerian and you won’t be too far from the truth! With each successive government we keep hoping things will get better, and each time our hopes are dashed! It’s amazing how we are still able to get up each day with renewed zeal, determined to make something out of our lives. We trudge on in the midst of darkness and terror in the land.


The Unsung Heroes

The Unsung Heroes



The unsung hero is Mama Nkechi who struggled to raise 5 children into graduates successfully out of her roasted plantain business. The unsung hero is Haruna, the cobbler who treks the length and breadth of Lagos plying his trade in a bid to feed his family. The unsung hero is Bola, an orphan who defied poverty by taking up menial jobs to pay her way through school, refusing to take the easier route that prostitution offers. The unsung heroes are the highway managers and garbage collectors who unashamedly wear their overalls, making our streets a good sight to behold for a paltry N18,000 minimum wage. The real heroes are those of us who are passionate about the entity called Nigeria, trying to make it a better place by shunning a life of crime and working our behinds off to make an honest living. We are the unsung heroes…you and I.

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6 Responses to “Unsung Heroes of the Nigerian Hustle

  • well spoken. the unsung heroes are u student kept in an animal’s cage called school where they cant feed on anything they NEEDand deliver dem to d cage keeper(lecturers) but can only b fed with wat d cage keeper WANT. doing odawise they are seen as trying to show off and dey get penalized every now and den by d cloth on dia skin(dat least to define dem) (result )DAT doesn’t really showcase how well are or being fed.

  • yet dey still manage to ad value to demselves just to go beyond d cage and to meet up with the ability to devour and display of soda free animals(students/ brains in d world) these are d unsung heroes too

  • …yet dey still manage to ad value to demselves just to go beyond d cage and to meet up with the ability to devour and display of soda free animals(students/ brains in d world) these are d unsung heroes too

  • KOLA' Johnson

    The unsung heroes are the true believers in a better Nigeria. Ajekigbe Ololade, you are the unsung melody of this generation, the lyrics unheard and the script unread, so am I, so is every change Agent. I believe in a better Nigeria, I better in a better Africa. I believe that ONE DAY, our songs will together echo to the ends of the earth, our voices will rush out like an avalanche, sweeping away the days of melancholy. ‘The labour of our heroes past shall never be in vain’. I believe that with God’s help in one voice NIGERIA SHALL FLOURISH AGAIN.

  • This is beautiful and quite thoughtful of you. Keep the fire burning.

  • beautiful piece.

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