By Onifade A Bello
“Anything he touches turns to gold.”In fact, he is “the man with the golden touch,” excited Ghanaian President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo,said about the young Nigerian who helped him and his Nigerian counterpart to win their elections in 2015 and 2016 respectively.
Perhaps, 31-year-old Adebola Williams might have dined with the retired iconic Brazilian footballer, Pele, who averred that “Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do.”
A co-founder of RED and chief executive officer of StateCraft Inc, Williams is one of the young Nigerians who have been accentuating the great potentials and striking talents hidden in African youths across the continent and in the global community.
Although he was born in wealth, but everything was lost before nine. Against the difficult situation, he took his destiny into his hands and struggled with passion in the pursuit of excellence. Earlier in his life, he started working with conscious effort to making a better life for himself and revamping the image of Africa.
His passion for acting fueled his interest in the media. According to him, “I have been into stage acting. I was paid N100. All my life, I have always wanted to be an actor. So at the age of fifteen, I started working with a counselor and psychologist as his assistant without any qualification and pay. I learnt to channel my interpersonal skills at a young age towards realting with people to my advantage. Before then, I worked with NTA for three years. It was after a year that they started paying. But I gained so much experience and all that experience finally paid off at the right time.”He performed in the plays The gods are not to blame, Wedlock of the gods and Oke Langbodo, which was his last major production at the Nigerian National Arts Theatre.
Today, RED which was co-founded by Williams has a network of four media companies focused on Africa’s youth: Red Media Africa, a Public Relations company working in West Africa for Facebook, Uber, Union Bank and Heineken; Generation Y!, a TV and online content company with one of Nigeria’s most popular online newspapers and The Future Project, a social enterprise that hosts Africa’s biggest youth social change event, The Future Awards Africa.
As he journeys through life, he keeps writing the image of Africa positively. He has been doing this to redirect the focus of African youths from hopelessness to optimism and fulfillment. Speaking alongside notable personalities like the award-winning actor and musician Common, author and journalist Anand Giridharadas and founder of the Equal Justice Initiative Bryan Stevenson at the ongoing Obama Foundation Summit, Williams addressed how youths and the media in Africa can rewrite the hopelessness that has for so long defined the continent.
He has charged African youths to realize some salient facts which many have been oblivious of. He emphasized that talent is the currency of this generation because the African continent is filled with unique promises. He, therefore, urged African youths to jettison hopelessness and believe in the power of their inherent gifts. They can actually transform the continent because it is only they who can do it, he reiterated. After all, no one can be gifted and not be needed.
Furthermore, amidst quest for African solutions to African challenges, Williams has stated that young people in Africa have to apply their talents to solve specific needs in the continent. Importantly, he stressed how the media should be used to define the choices being made by African youths; making it explicit that the media is a powerful tool for driving change in Africa.
Likewise, he said that the time is ripe for African youths to use the media to provoke positive conversations and narrations about Africa in order for citizens to engage in productive actions that will make the continent great.
How else can one fathom the power of a committed group? Williams highlighted the importance of commitment. Commitment is key, he said. It is key to achieving success. It is key to achieving desired change. When Africans unite and get committed to a cause, they can achieve anything.
Equally, he spurred African youths to end the conspiracy of silence that has hindered the progressive development of the continent. The demand for accountability of elected officials must be furthered with action. Invariably, if hope is made a weapon and action as remedy to African challenges, a more responsive media and active citizens must hold leaders accountable. This is where the quest for sustainable change must begin, Williams opined.
Making the African continent a better place has to be fueled with a fearless resolve to promote its potentials. Leaders are in power to serve; not to be feared. Hence, as elections draw closer in some parts of the continent and Nigeria per se, young people with reputable character have to get involved. Also, the electorate must never fear to negotiate their future or negotiate their future out of fear.
What can be learnt from the story of Adebola Williams is that African youths have the potentials and talents to transform not just their continent, but the world. Also, in the pursuit of success, man needs his difficulties because they are necessary to enjoy success.