Ms. Leiba Love is a Trinidadian-American with a passion for education and youth empowerment in Nigeria and Africa. She explained to Funmi Ogundare the impact of some of the initiatives she has embarked on in the country in the last one year, saying that when the youths are well educated and can easily monetise their various skills, it will help to curtail their involvement in crimes and vices that could affect the society negatively
The importance of education and skills development in today’s world, especially for the youths, cannot be overemphasised, as it helps them find new ways of thinking and problem solving. It also enables them recognise the impact of their actions and teaches them to take responsibility for what they do, rather than blame others.
This impact will go a long way in preventing their venturing into crimes and other negative actions that have adverse effect on the society.
Mrs. Leiba Love is a Trinidadian-American lover of education, media and entertainment entrepreneur, she told THISDAY that since she has been in Nigeria in the last one year, she has been carrying out various educational and youth empowerment campaigns for the upliftment of the youths and the betterment of the country.
According to her, “in my continuous stay in Nigeria, I have had the opportunity to network with like-minded individuals and collaborate on various projects. In Nigeria, there are many ways to work on projects through empowerment and whether you have an inclination to help. The needs are all around us.”
She said she was part of an outreach project for children and young adults interested in television and film, adding that the focus of its various projects is to instill in the young ones the zeal and determination of understanding the path to success, greatness and nation building through education and 21st century compliant skills acquisition.
Love said she believes that when the teens and youth are well educated and can easily monetise their various skills, this will surely reduce, if not totally eradicate their venturing into crimes and other negative actions that could have negative effects on the society.
The entrepreneur noted that she is currently involved in a charitable project covering registration costs for over 60 Nigerian teens attending the University in the Benin Republic, adding that its charitable project of granting tuition-free scholarship has further exposed the need and importance of priortising education for the young and old.
“There are millions of talented teens across Nigeria who are finding it challenging to focus on school because of so many reasons, including financial incapability of their parents or guardians.
So far, we have been sensitising students around Lagos public and private schools on the need to grab the scholarship opportunity to access global standard education in order to acquire necessary 21st century skills and education that are germane for societal transformation.”
She expressed hope that the scholarship programme will be spread across Nigeria in the nearest future so that more talented teenagers can have access to it, adding that with the path of education laced with important skills relevant in this age, Nigerian youths will excel and contribute positively to making the country better.
On the cinematography and film production industry in Nigeria, Love described it as the second largest movie industry in the world, saying that its potential is well-known.
“I have been writing ever since I became conscious of the power of words and stories and the cinema is a great outlet because of its reach and enduring power. An associate of mine, Dimeji Ajibola consulted with me on his movie RATNIK, which really opened my eyes to how much I can bring to the table as far as contributing to the greatness of Nollywood while embracing my roots.
“I have a lot to offer in this area, but first I need to continue my education in African culture and society. I aim to develop a deep understanding of the culture so I can provide an accurate portrayal and undermine the false narrative that exists in mainstream media.”
She said she will be hosting the business and entrepreneurship campus connect, an innovative skills and business development session designed to enhance the entrepreneurial and management abilities of young people with the aim of honing their potential to be high-earners in August this year, in partnership with Melody Fidel, one of her buzzing and energetic Nigerian youth entrepreneur. She noted that the programme will focus in detail to teach practical skills, encourage personal development and inculcate in the Nigerian youth participants the spirit of consistent pursuit of excellence in business and entrepreneurship.
Asked where she sees her initiatives in the next five years in Nigeria, the entrepreneur said, “within the next five years, I want to create job opportunities for hundreds of young people. I would like to train them to be self-sufficient and to be valuable members of society. I want to grow as a business person and philanthropist, with a focus on enriching the lives of young people and ensuring that no child is left behind.”
With Nigeria’s surging youth population, she advice them to always persevere, seek ways of accomplishing their goals and learning how to turn every ‘no’ into a ‘yes’.
Asked why she is interested in Africa, particularly Nigeria, Love said, “I am African by blood and heritage. My ancestors were forcibly displaced and shipped to the West Indies, where they created a new home in unrecognisable land. I am a child of Africa born in the diaspora. Many born in the diaspora may not have the resources to relocate or visit their home country in Africa.
“However, I have been fortunate enough to visit and dwell in Nigeria for over a year now, enriching myself in an abundance of culture representing my true heritage. In terms of my interest in Nigeria, I felt a natural calling to the country. I was visiting Nigeria when the COVID-19 pandemic halted all air travel out of the country, making it virtually impossible to travel back to the United States.
“From this, I decided to turn my seeming misfortune into an opportunity. I began to explore the region, and it didn’t take long to feel at home here. Nigeria is one of the most populous black regions in the world. Nigerians, like other Africans, are my people. My goal is to contribute to the Nigerian society and live amongst my people.”
The screenplay writer has a general perception of Nigerians, adding that some experts with businesses in the country have helped her hone her talent and skills in writing as well as conducting her business more effectively in Nigeria.
She decribed Nigerians as generally confident and positive people. “When you come here and meet the people, you understand why Nigerians in diaspora thrive better than most diaspora people. For all its political and economic troubles, Nigerians are somehow still among the most optimistic and happy people on the planet. They are always defining and redefining the impossible in everything they do. Just look at Nigeria’s contribution to international music and arts.
“Look at what young people are bringing to the sporting environment. With Nigeria being the most populous and boasting the largest economy in Africa, its potential is huge. It is important that all of us who believe in Nigeria continue to work from our own little corners to contribute to its success. I believe in Nigeria and Nigerian youths.
“Sheyman, the owner of Folixx Lounge has helped me a great deal. Through him, I have learned how to conduct business more effectively in Nigeria. Melody Fidel of BAE Connect has also helped to develop my talents and skills. Dimeji Ajibola was the first to believe in my writing ability which led me to start studying and employing it in the Nigerian and African environment. Robert Peter is the reason for my deep interest in film-making. My attorney, who is a shark, looks out for my best interest and has shown me how to navigate with Nigerians.”
Asked about her view on the media narrative of Africa globally and how she thinks it can be improved positively, Love said she believes that the global media is a very tribal business. She said the proprietors and controllers of media houses and outlets worldwide prioritize themselves, their people and their own operating environment.
“Consequently, we see that Africa’s portrayal in the media has been largely negative. Global media outlets neglect to shed light on Africa’s rich history, our heritage, our art, trading skills, intellect and talent. Mainstream media provide a more pessimistic portrayal of Africa and display a homogeneous block of violence, helplessness, human rights abuses and lack of democracy.
“Personally, I want to contribute to changing the narrative by rejecting the outsiders’ lens and showcasing life in Africa through the perspective of those who live it. Everything I do by way of business and philanthropy is tailored towards providing a more complete representation of life on the continent, outside of what mainstream media allow.”