(Naija Mondays, Theme: Teamwork)
Teamwork!! Hmm…reminds me of my soccer team in church. Wonderful young, energetic girls with two goals in mind: first to win, second to have fun! I was gonna tell you all about how we work together as a team, defenders, midfielders and attackers alike to accomplish these two goals. But some hours ago, as I was flipping through channels looking for Heroes on NBC, I came across Ocean’s 12 on AMC.
So yes I am one of the 3 million females on the planet that think that Brad Pitt is extremely fine. I also think George Clooney is absolutely beautiful. So when the producers of Ocean’s 11, 12 and 13 decided to cast both of them in the same movie, I agreed it was a wonderful idea. So even though I had seen the trilogy before, I decided to watch it again just this time.
And then I realized how ironic the situation was. The Ocean’s trilogy is a perfect example of teamwork on so many different levels. So I decided to write about it instead. For those of you who haven’t seen the movie, I recommend you do and to that effect, I promise not to include too many spoilers in this piece.
Ocean’s Eleven in general is about a group of thieves led by Danny Ocean. Their thefts involved well thought-out plans in which every team member had a specific part to play. As a disclaimer, I am not endorsing any kind of criminal activity but I just have to admit that there are many lessons one could learn from this unique team.
Unity in Diversity
Their team was unique in the sense that it was diverse. There was a young Asian whose remarkable flexibility served as an asset. There was Danny Ocean himself whose intelligent mind thought up the genius schemes required for every bust. Likewise every other team member brought something different to the table. Reminds me of Nigerians. We are so different yet so similar in the sense that we have a common goal: greener grass, a better life, wherever that may be found.
What stereotype defines you or are you an exception to? Are you the stereotypical Ijebu man considered by others to be stingy? Or are you the stereotypical Igbo man cunning like a fox? Are you the naija hustler in a foreign land that would do any thing to afford the next meal? Are you a straight-A student always buried in your books? Are you the popular rock star life-of-the-party? Are you a neat freak whose room almost appears not to be lived in? Are you a talkative always eager to share something new with whoever’s willing to listen?
Whatever category you fall into, you are unique. You are necessary. You are an equal.
Playing Your Part
I remember a scene from Ocean’s 12 where they went over their master plan to steal a relic. Each team member in turn recited what part he would play and they did this minute by minute. They were so precise and every detail counted. In the same way, we all have a role to play in Nigeria’s greatness whether or not we currently know what it is. Needless to say, the earlier we find out the better. Every unique trait- stereotypical or not - is an asset to Team Nigeria!!
Indulge me for a moment and let us journey to the Nigeria of my dreams. Imagine the stingy Ijebu man as minister of finance; no wasteful spending. Imagine the neat freak as minister of culture/tourism; museums, beaches, zoos, historical sites kept in good shape, instead of rundown establishments. Imagine the talkative as minister of education or information; eager to share knowledge, and enlighten the masses. Imagine Mr Popular as minister of foreign affairs; quick to learn new cultures and ways of interacting with all sorts of people; excellent international relations and fair international trade. Imagine our straight-A genius as minister of science and technology; Nigeria at the forefront of alternative forms of energy (solar, wind, nuclear) instead of our shameful oil dependence. Imagine our cunning Igbo thinker as president co-ordinating and harnessing the talents in all the other team members to achieve a common goal. Maybe a little Utopian- but possible, even probable, practical and priceless.
Having an Inside Man
Another special thing about Ocean’s 12 was the inside man. By the way, if you haven’t seen the movie, you may want to skip to the next section. Consider yourself warned. Major spoiler on the way.
LaMarc, “the greatest thief of all time” was their inside man. Because of him, Ocean’s team was sure to win against the Night Fox, the other thief that had challenged them.
My point is there is value in wisdom that comes with age and experience. Despite the ineffectiveness of recycling old people as our leaders in Nigeria, let us not devalue the wisdom of our elders. Wole Soyinka and Gani Fawehinmi are a few examples of older people we can learn from.
Indulge me again but this time not in dreamland. Whenever you get a chance, don’t hesitate to talk to your parents about Nigeria in its glory days and how things worked at the time. Don’t hesitate to share your own ideas with them and get their perspective. Never hesitate to read an inspiring book whose author’s life reflects a zero-to-hero kind of journey. Never hesitate to once in a while, sit in serenity and be inspired from within. I believe that our leadership is in desperate need of young, fresh minds and ideas. Nevertheless our elders are essential parts of our team so that we do not repeat our past mistakes as a country.
Nigerians in Nigeria also serve as inside men and together with Nigerians abroad, we are sure to make a difference.
Before I conclude, I have to mention this essential ingredient for progress. Peace is essential for teamwork. We need to learn to embrace one another as fellow Nigerians regardless of ethnic group or religion. We need to put our country before ourselves instead of voting for leaders based on where they are from. We need to stop inter-tribal wars and realize that our real enemies are corruption, ignorance, nepotism and complacency.
That said, I repeat “Whatever category you fall into. You are unique. You are necessary. You are an equal.” In addition, you are Nigerian. Nigeria needs you. So step out of your comfort zone. Step out of complacency. Stop waiting for someone else to do it. Teamwork is what we need. Welcome to Team Nigeria. Welcome to N4C!!!