Self Made: An Illusion

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Growing up, I was a huge rap fan. I still am but not like I used to. I got to a point where personal glorification and self-aggrandisement of rappers almost left me gasping for air. As American rapper Jadakiss rhetorically asked in his 2004 hit-track Why, “why do rappers lie in 85% of their rhymes?”

To be fair to these artistes, their sounds and images are often being pressed on them by their record labels. Thence, creating a certain persona – an individual who grew up in the ghetto and had to delve into/overcome a life of crime, women and drugs to get away from poverty – a sensational story that gets the attention of the public. The music industry is all about business after all and money has to be made.

As a result, rap artistes end up projecting an image of a self-made successful individual who started from humble beginnings to get to where s/he is today. The self-made man is the ideal of the American success story; the core of American ethos.

This explains why Jeb Bush, a former two-term Governor of Florida State, son and brother to former Presidents of the United States and grandson of a (long-term) United States senator, played the self-made success card when he unsuccessfully campaigned for the Republic Party Presidential candidate nomination early this year. I found it ridiculous and funny; a classic case of delusions of grandeur.

This is someone whose first job after University graduation was with Texas Commerce Bank, partly owned by his father’s friend, James Baker. He may fail to acknowledge it but his background played a huge part in his success.

Last year, Alex Leary, the Washington bureau chief for the Tampa Bay Times, wrote in his column, “…but family pedigree played a clear role, allowing Bush to immediately land a lucrative job with an ambitious real-estate developer. It also gave Bush an advantage in local politics, irritating more established figures.”

It got me thinking about the world’s fixation on producing self-made men and women. The world is awash with stories of self-made millionaires. But is it really possible for one to get ahead in life without external help from others? I sincerely don’t think so because we live in a world that is inter-connected and inter-dependent. Rather, I think the theory of self-made man is an ego-fuelled illusion coated with falsehood.

Certain factors, outlined by Malcolm Gladwell in his book, Outliers: The Story of Success, play both positive and negative roles in one’s success journey. These factors include environment (when and where you were born and raised), parental upbringing (what your parents did for a living and circumstances surrounding your upbringing) as well as culture (inherited traditions and attitudes).

Warren Buffet, one of the world’s richest men and the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, echoes this view: “I personally think that society is responsible for a very significant percentage of what I’ve earned. If you stick me down in the middle of Bangladesh or Peru or someplace, you’ll find out how much this talent is going to produce in the wrong kind of soil. I will be struggling 30 years later.”

I am not trying to playdown the essence of hardwork, effort, talent, determination, or mental strength in our success pursuit. These are all core ingredients of success but the aforementioned factors afford us an opportunity which only the prepared ones like Buffet (who possess the core success ingredients) take.

Take for example, parents, family members, communities, guardians, Government, Scholarship boards and philanthropists pay the school fees of many students but the onus still lies on the students to put in the hardwork and effort to graduate. Those who pay the school fees create the opportunity for good education whilst the prepared student takes it with both hands, studies and graduates.

Another classic example (for football lovers) is the story of Marcus Rashford. The then 18-year-old was given an opportunity by erstwhile Manchester United manager, Louis van Gaal, to make a name for himself in a crucial Europa League encounter. The prepared youngster took the opportunity with both hands, scoring a brace in the match as his team ran out 5-1 winners against Midtjylland on the night.

It is evident that we all need someone to give us that big break, which we all yearn for. This may come from friends, family, teachers, mentors, coaches, antagonists, well-wishers, acquaintances, students…the list goes on and on. It is only pride, arrogance, ignorance, delusion or insecurity that can impede one from recognising the invaluable contributions and investments of others. As Fredrick Douglas aptly said, “opportunity is important but exertion is indispensable.”

What are your thoughts about the idea of being self-made?

Top Ten Anglo-Born Players That Can Improve Quality of Super Eagles

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After impressive debut of 29-year-old Carl Ikeme in Super Eagles’ stalemate with Tanzania in Dar Es Salam recently, many have questioned why it took so long for Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to woo the Wolverhampton Wanderers goalkeeper to dorn the Green and White of Nigeria.

Ikeme was first called up to the Super Eagles squad back in 2007 but finally made his protracted debut for the team as he stood in for the bereaved Vincent Enyeama, and was Super Eagles best player on the day, making some good saves to earn his team a valuable point.

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Nigeria have lost some talented players such as Ross Barkley (England), Hal Robson-Kanu (Wales) and David Alaba (Austria) in recent times due to inability of Nigerian Football executives to swiftly cap these players at senior level.

Now let’s look at ten English-born players who can be added to the Super Eagles to improve the quality of the team.

1. JORDON IBE

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Jordon Ashley Femi Ibe started his career at modest football league side Wycombe Wanderers where he became their youngest-ever Football League player when he made his debut in 2011 aged just 15.

Following his 16th birthday, Ibe was transfered to Premier League giants Liverpool but had to join the U-18 squad to continue his development. He made his Premier League debut aged 17 in Liverpool’s final game of the 2012/2013 season against Queens Park Rangers (QPR), assisting Phillipe Coutinho for the only goal of the game.

However, his progress was stunted by the emergence of Raheem Sterling and he was loaned out to Birmingham City and Derby County for the rest of 2013/2014 and 2014/2015 seasons respectively. Now 20-years-old, Ibe is expected to play a huge role in Liverpool’s season following £49m sale of Sterling to Manchester City in the summer.

He has already played for England at various youth levels but is eligible to play for Nigeria at senior level through his father. New Super Eagles coach Sunday Oliseh announced via twitter that Ibe has turned down the chance to switch allegiance to Nigeria however he remains eligible for Super Eagles until he makes a senior appearance for England.

2. Tiago Ilori

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Tiago Abiola Almeida Ilori is also on the books of Liverpool. The Portugal U-21 International was born in England to a Nigerian father and a Portuguese mother in 1993.

He started his career in Portugal with Sporting Lisbon but earned a £7m move to Liverpool in 2013. However, he has found games hard to come by at the Merseyside club and was loaned to Granada in January 2014 for the rest of the season. He also spent the entire 2014-2015 season at French Ligue 1 club FC Girondins de Bordeaux. He was farmed out on loan again this season on transfer deadline day to Premier League club Aston Villa where he is expected to see more playing time.

Ilori, 22, has already been approached by the English FA to play for England at senior level but he declined opting to play for Portugal instead. One hopes the Nigerian FA and Super Eagles can use the father to woo him to switch his allegiance to Nigeria.

3. Dele Alli

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Bamidele Jermaine Alli plays for Tottenham Hotspur but started his career in League One with Milton Keynes (MK) Dons in 2012. He made his debut for MK Dons in 2011 aged 16 and went on to make 74 league appearances, scoring 22 goals over the next two-and-a half years.

He came to the limelight after a wonderful display in the middle of the park in MK Dons’ surprise 4-0 League Cup win over Manchester United last season. He earned a £5m move to White Hart Lane last January but was loaned back to MK Dons for the rest of the season, helping them to gain promotion to the Championship.

Ironically, he made his Tottenham debut against Manchester United in this season’s curtain opener. He has featured in 4 of Spurs’ 5 games so far, scoring once to earn his team a valuable point at high flying Leicester City. He has been compared to Steven Gerrard hence the English authorities are keen to have him on Three Lions roster. It was reported earlier this year that John Fashanu will help convince the 19-year-old to play for the country of his father.

4. Chuba Akpom

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Chuba Amaechi Akpom is an England youth International who has been at Premier League contenders Arsenal since he was eight. He made his Premier League debut in 2013 at the age of 18 in 3-1 win over Sunderland.

Akpom, now 20, was expected to be part of Arsene Wenger’s plans for the new season but was surprisingly sent to Championship club Hull City on a season-long loan. He hit the ground running immediately, scoring on his debut in 2-0 win over Huddersfield Town back in August.

Akpom can add pace and power to Super Eagles’ attack which lacked bite against the Tanzanians.

5. Dominic Iorfa Jnr.

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Iorfa, 20, is a right back by trade and also the son of former Nigeria international Dominic Iorfa. At club level, he is team mates with Carl Ikeme at Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Iorfa has become a fan favourite and a first-team regular at the Molineux Stadium following his impressive displays. He was adjudged Football League’s Young Player Of The Month in January 2015. He is expected to move to the Premier League at the end of the season when his contract with Wolves expires.

He was called up to England U-21 squad for last week’s International games and was also promoted to train with the senior team by England coach Roy Hodgson for their Euro 2016 qualifiers against San Marino. His father has reiterated that his son will represent Nigeria at senior level but with his stock rising, it is only a matter of time before he is capped by England so NFF need to act fast and give him a call-up to Super Eagles.

6. Sammy Ameobi

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Sammy is younger brother of former Super Eagles striker Shola Ameobi. Just like his brother, he started his career with Newcastle United but is currently on a season-long loan to Championship club Cardiff City.

The 23-year-old left footed winger pledged his allegiance to Nigeria in 2014 following his brother’s appearance at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. He had featured in friendlies for Nigeria U-20 side against Saudi Arabia and Egypt back in 2011 ahead of 2011 African Youth Championship.

However, he returned to England U-21 set up the same year but hasn’t featured for them since 2013. Ameobi deserves a look-in and may be a good asset to Nigeria. He can be added to the national pool to increase the quality of players available to Sunday Oliseh for selection.

7. Tom Adeyemi

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Christened Thomas Oluseun Adeyemi, he was born to Nigerian parents in Milton Keynes in 1991. He started his career at Norwich City in 2008 after coming up through the ranks at the club.

He had to forego a University offer from the prestigious Cambridge University to focus on football. He later gained A* grades at Advanced Level in Biology and Chemistry and an A grade in Mathematics.

He was named League One Apprentice of the Year at the Football League Awards in March 2010 but subsequently found himself on the fringes of the side and was loaned to Bradford City, Oldham Athletic and Brentford. Following expiration of his contract, he joined Birmingham City on a free transfer in 2013.

He was the spine of the Birmingham City team that went ten games unbeaten last season but suffered a back injury which affected his performance. However, he did enough to be voted the club’s Young Player Of The Year at the end of season awards. He surprisingly put in a transfer request amid interest from Cardiff City in the summer of 2014, days after being appointed vice captain of the club, and completed the move days later.

Following the managerial shake-up at the Welsh side, Adeyemi was loaned out to Leeds United for the 2015/2016 season. He has been described as a gifted, athletic and powerful midfielder. He is still uncapped at International level and could provide steel to Super Eagles midfield.

8. Alex Iwobi

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Iwobi is the nephew of former Super Eagles captain Austin ‘Jay Jay’ Okocha. The 18-year-old midfielder was born in Nigeria but moved to England as a kid.

He featured for Arsenal in Pre-Season, scoring a sublime goal against Olympique Lyon in Emirates Cup. Arsene Wenger has rebuffed offers from various clubs to take him on loan and insists he is part of his plans this season. A move away from the Emirates might be what he needs to continue his development.

He has represented England at different under age levels but recently accepted to play for Nigeria, citing the influence of his father, uncle (Jay Jay) and Kanu Nwankwo on his decision. However, he remains eligible for the Three Lions of England until he plays a competitive senior match for the Super Eagles.

9. Dominic Solanke

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Solanke is just 18 years but has been tipped for a bright future in the game by many. He has been at Chelsea since he was seven but came to the fore in 2013/2014 season when he scored 20 goals in 25 games for Chelsea U-18 side.

This prompted Chelsea coach Jose Mourinho to declare that he would have himself to blame if Solanke fails to become a senior England international under his management. Thus, he promoted Solanke to train with the first-team squad for the 2014/2015 season and gave him professional debut, as a 73rd minute substitute for Oscar, in 6-0 trashing of NK Maribor in the Champions League. This made him the youngest player to debut in the Champions League for Chelsea.

However, he found himself way down the pecking order behind Diego Costa, Didier Drogba and Loic Remy. At youth level, Solanke continued his prolific goalscoring rate, finishing the season with 41 goals enroute to FA Youth Cup and UEFA Youth League triumphs. He has been loaned out to Dutch Eredivisie club Vitesse Arnhem for the 2015/2016 season to gain more first-team experience. He has since been given the number 9 jersey and also opened his account for the club in 4-1 drubbing of SC Cambuur in August.

At international level, he has represented England at U-16, U-17 and U-18 levels. He was named England Men’s Youth Player of the Year 2014 in January 2015. He also picked up the Young Player of the Year award on 25 March 2015 and was invited to train with the senior England squad. He plays primarily as a striker but can also play on both flanks and as an attacking midfielder. His versatility could be useful to Sunday Oliseh and his new look Super Eagles.

10. Nathan Oduwa

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Oduwa is an England U-18 International, who plays as a winger for Scottish team Glasgow Rangers, on season-long loan from Tottenham Hotspur. He has been at White Hart Lane since the age of eleven (11), rising through the ranks to sign his professional contract in July 2012 following his 16th birthday.

He is the least known player on the list but following his scintillating displays for Rangers this season, it is just a matter of time before the 19-year-old grabs media attention. He is still a raw talent but has enormous potential and it would be good to keep an eye on him.

Desperation

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Every football fan looks forward to transfer deadline day as varied teams make last-ditch efforts to save their season. European clubs scamper to get certain deals over the line before midnight of September 1 (this year the times varied).

The transfer deadline day gives one a practical insight into desperation. Fans/managers are desperate to see new players walk through the door at their respective clubs.

This year, we saw Manchester United break the transfer record for a teenager as they coughed out £36m (which could rise to €58m) for 19-year-old Anthony Martial from AS Monaco. This may sound like a calculated risk to the management of Manchester United due to the huge potential of young Martial but the truth is that he is a panic buy, purchased to solve United’s striking problem – an act of desperation.

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Desperation is marked by despair and a strong desire. It is unattractive to most people..maybe everyone. It is easy to decipher; it can be spotted from miles away.

Once you appear desperate, you become an easy prey. Desperation often impairs one’s rational and critical thoughts hence affecting his/her judgement. No wonder the Irish describe ‘desperate’ as something very bad.

To be fair, it is hard for one not to be desperate in this clime after some period of anguish and despair. Our economy is in a worrisome state; corruption rules the day, unemployment is at all-time high and most of the employed ones are underemployed and underpaid.

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For example, you just married the love of your life and have a baby on the way but you have no job because you were sacked from your last job. You have bills to pay, responsibilities to meet but you don’t have money to pay or meet them. Let’s be honest, who wouldn’t get desperate after a while?

Also, just like job search, quest for true love can often result in desperation. It is that time for you to settle down so you attend every wedding and register on every dating site till you give into desperation. Being too eager and needy can backfire and creep people out.

Desperation often leads to self-destruction. Desperate people rarely make good decisions. They lower their value in the eyes of others and tend to settle for anything.

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Desperation is never a good negotiating tactic. It makes one over-react and over-price a product or service just like Manchester United. It is okay to be desperate for a job/love/product/service – whatever it may be – but it is important to maintain your cool. You don’t have to act like you are.

Tottenham Hotspur supremo David Levy is known for his calm and collected approach to transfer negotiations. In the end, his counterparts become frustrated and buy his players at an inflated price.

On the contrary, desperation can also be a good thing – like a springboard to productivity. This may sound weird to many but believe it. Some people develop overnight courage and spring to action when they are desperate. After all, you know what they say “desperate times call for desperate measures.”

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About 3,000 Syrian migrants have already died this year in the Mediterranean as they try to escape the violence in Syria but that hasn’t stopped others from migrating to Europe. When you are desperate, you leave your comfort zone and embrace your last resort.

Nothing matters to you other than this moment. You can’t second guess yourself when you have run out of options. This can give one a certain kind of power. It shows us who we really are; whether we are complacent or willing to go far. Hear Evan Esar, “Success is the good fortune that comes from aspiration, DESPERATION, perspiration, and inspiration.”

It is good to be full of zing but moderation is key. Once you act cool and collected, your confidence will rub off on people hence making you attractive. Desperation is like a dirt on the wall – cover it up with paint and it’s all good!

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