The habitually hurly-burly boulevard of Yaba resurrected to its daily commercial routine oblivious of the impending coming of a global big wig to its environs. A personage of the caliber that would naturally be found in eminent gatherings, bedizened with exotic adornments, and ferried around with a retinue of motorcade.
And when the founder of world’s most popular social networking site Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, promenaded along the streets of Herbert Macaulay (to meet with developers and entrepreneurs at Co-Creation Hub (Cc Hub) and his investment, Andela), it was much of a wonder as it is an irony, that the first visit of the 7th richest man in the world to Africa would be to their modestly looking locale.
While most of geriatric residents – unfamiliar with Facebook – looked on in astonishment as to who this white man with a handful of entourage could be, their younger counterparts – undoubtedly familiar with the Caucasian figure – bellowed with unbelievable joy. To every chants, he reciprocated with either a wave or a smile.
In a modest style atypical among top dignitaries of this current age, Zuckerberg’s visit was deliberately devised to be devoid of pomp and pageantry. Quiet and subtle, his prudent PR move ended up giving him more glowing and positive publicity than he would have been accorded had he elected to be viral about his visit. In truth, Zuckerberg has never been one predisposed to bravado or inordinate elaboration. His personality has often revolved around simplicity and humility. Be it in dressing – occasional sartorial elegance notwithstanding – or manner of approach, or conduct towards fellow humans, he exudes class and deference wherever he goes. A sharp and marked contrast to the prestigious figures who parade themselves in the political, social and religious spheres of our country, and the world by extension.
For sure, if Zuckerberg had been a Nigerian, the amount of security detail and entourage that would have accompanied him would have been enough to form a state in some countries. Doesn’t end there. As to whom would carry his personal effects, that independently would have created a micro-competition between his security detail and entourage. Amidst the commotion to impress this big figure, there would be others who would diligently and frequently ensure any bead of sweat is swiftly wiped from his face. His entrance to his destination no doubt would have been magisterial with a red carpet rolled under his feet to prevent even the most minuscule of sand from tainting his footwear.
Unlike the original Zuckerberg who introduced himself and greeted the security man stationed at his destination, the Nigerian Zuckerberg would have wanted and lapped up a royal obeisance.
For those who were privileged to interact with him, their common comments were ‘he was very easy to relate with’. Couldn’t have been a coincidence, for sure. Conversely, the Nigerian Zuckerberg would certainly have, through his demeanour, alerted those within his surroundings of the astronomical gulf in status that exist between him and them.
Why It Was Good He Came Like A Thief In The Night
It’s worth noting that of all the places Mark Zuckerberg visited recently, only the visit to Nigeria was unannounced. His visit to Rome the previous day before coming to Nigeria was fully announced. Except those entrusted with the knowledge of his coming, his visit caught everyone unawares in Lagos. Knowing the nature of terrain he would be visiting and the effects that would be generated should his visit be publicized, his expectations most certainly informed a low-key entrance to Africa’s most populous country.
Be that as it may, one can’t help but feel the right decision was made. Economically at least. Going by our penchant to be lavish, especially when foreigners are involved, there isn’t a modicum of doubt that millions (if not billions) of taxpayers’ money would have been devoted to give him a grand reception, economic recession notwithstanding. Not just that, most State Governors would engage in a severe competition to extravagantly host him at the expense of the suffering populace.
While it would be plausible and understandable if security were strictly beefed up around him, the customary superfluity particularly with mobility – especially with a man of his calibre – will no doubt have left pedestrians and commuters greatly inconvenienced.
Quite crucially though, unruly fellows typically known as “Area boys” and pickpockets would have maximized the situation to their pecuniary advantage. Beyond the shadow of a doubt, the state of order would have been under threat had his coming be widely publicized.
By and large, Zuckerberg’s visit – and personality by extension – is laden with life lessons that we all will do well to emulate.
For a man worth $54b (about 22 trillion in Naira – effectively a trillionaire), making humility, modesty, and simplicity the epicentre of his personality is a phenomenon that nearly transcends logic; and it is by that very fact that he remains more endearing, but most sacrosanct for all and sundry, more exemplary.