The Danger of a Single Story: Marek and Nigeria

I just read last week’s sensation on the Nigerian news radar, titled Marek Zmyslowski’s “How Building the Amazon of Africa put me on Interpol Wanted List”. It came to my attention because a friend sent me the link to the response by Edmund Olotu titled Marek Zmyslowski lies & deceit in his quest to build “Amazon of Africa”.

Summary (long version): Polish guy comes to Nigeria, gets investment from an American company, an Ethiopian investor and an Indian Angel investor, to run a Nigerian firm called HotelOga. Then he proceeds to mismanage and spend the money financing a lavish lifestyle. He also moves assets and shares around and does not declare income or profits – every transaction remitted to the company account has gone AWOL. Then he runs back to Poland, cries foul when Interpol tries to extradite him and then writes a book.

Summary (short version): “In short, you CANNOT sell our investment at a price we don’t know about, to investors we haven’t been informed about at terms we didn’t agree to.”- HotelOga Investor.

I will give it to him – he is a great storyteller. It was easy to identify with his struggles within the Nigerian ecosystem. Its what every local entrepreneur actually experiences – well almost all of us. I must exclude those who have their parent’s money to fall back on in tough situations. I found myself nodding to his points until it struck me that he has refused to name the “Godfather” in his epistle. Then when I read the response, I found it to be so detailed, it could not not be the truth (yes that’s correct grammar, thank you Grammarly). There have been other responses, one of note, is from O.O. Nwoye, and I have to say, that I hope that the truth drowns out Marek’s lies about my beloved country.

What it all leaves me with, is a bad taste in my mouth. Nigeria has already been labeled as a fraudulent country by the rest of the world. The fact that 90% of the ‘Nigerian’ scams perpetrated online are not done by Nigerian citizens does not seem to matter. The minute you say you are a Nigerian on any correspondence, people take to their heels. Its sadistically funny how other countries’ citizens are not all judged by the behavior of a few individuals, but all Nigerians are judged corrupt, loud, ignorant and greedy just by virtue of being born in the country.

Marek’s post is one type of misinformation that just puts us all in a bad light. Too many instances of being painted black, when there are so many good citizens of this country. We are not even the most corrupt country in the world, so why all this flack?

I have been looking for the reason why I keep getting a “No” for all the applications I push out. Every other person I have asked is getting the same treatment, even those Nigerians not living in the country presently. I guess I have my answer now.

I know that truth can be trampled on, beaten and hidden for a while, but it always triumphs. Always. In the meantime, I hope we can change the Nigerian narrative to that of positivity instead of the lies being bandied about as truth.