Putting words to paper and documenting history is a mixed bag. It’s like slicing
knife through butter and forcing a camel through the needle eye in one breath.
Bitter, yet sweet. In the end, it’s always a joy when the storyteller finally births
her story, just like a new mom cradling her mini-me after a laborious creation
This was my first practical takeaway from Orange. And ever since, I have been proactive at telling my own story, blowing my own trumpet and controlling
my own narrative. If I don’t do it, someone else will.
My Orange odyssey was a beautiful and unforgettable experience which climaxed
one chilly Saturday morning at the academy. Due to lateness, we had all missed his early-morning class the previous weekend and a stinker had been issued.
By 7am that day, everyone had breezed in and joined the queue like life prisoners awaiting parole consideration. I imagined his questions and rehearsed my lines hoping to impress. Then came my turn as I took my seat before the Orange Doyen, the
irrepressible Kenny Brandmuse. “So tell me, what do you do?” he began. Errr… I
sauntered into staccato mode, reeling out English upon English.
By the time I was done, he softly and gently prodded again, “Sam, what do you do?” And by that he meant, what is THAT ONE THING that makes people remember me when my name is mentioned? Or what is that one thing I’m good at – the fulcrum on which every other thing I do rests on.
That day, Professor Kenny opened my eyes to THAT ONE THING – the vertical
stretch of the symbolic letter T. Prophet Kenny taught me to seek ye first the
VERTICAL kingdom and all other HORIZONTAL things shall rest upon it.
That powerful insight changed my life forever, propelling a significant shift in my modus operandi as a Brand Strategist at AfroTourism – an organization dedicated to
promoting untapped African destinations and changing the narrative of the African
tourism landscape. THAT ONE THING has catapulted me to various tourist
destinations in the continent; and deepened the art behind my deployment of the new media in showcasing the rich heritage of Africa to Africans and to the world.
From Lamu-Kenya to Gisenyi-Rwanda to Jinja-Uganda to Bouaké–Cote d’Ivoire and
back to Obudu-Nigeria, my sharpened Orange mind has helped me see beyond the
obvious and capture beyond the lenses. THAT ONE THING has been instrumental in
my quest to redefine and amplify the hidden treasures of our beautiful continent
to its residents and visitors alike.
Of a truth, the snail-slow pace of Africa’s human and infrastructural development
could be a sour thumb in the narrative, but my Breaking-The-Schema-Orange-Mind
approach at AfroTourism has helped to open my eyes to the multi-billion dollar
opportunities in the industry. Yes, you heard that right. Africa’s tourism industry is a multi-billion dollar industry employing millions of people within and outside the
continent. The amount of cash flowing daily across the sector is staggering and
mindboggling. Only the Orange Mind can join the fray. From the airlines, to the tour operators, to the tourism media, to the travel agents, to the tourism asset
owners, to the hotel operators, and even to the locals, the industry is a fat cash
cow been milked by many ‘Orange Minds’ that never passed through the
prestigious Orange Academy.
My post-Orange experience has revealed that being an alumnus of the academy
does not automatically guarantee success or separate you from the crowd. It takes
a deliberate and conscious effort to stand out and make your mark. It all begins
with your personal brand. It is an unravelling of sorts, an arduous journey of self-discovery that could take months and years to finally carve out.
Your journey will be faster if you commit to voracious learning, nerve-wrenching thinking and unapologetic doing. You must first BE, then DO. Not the other way round. The Orange Mind is not just a cliché, it is an idea, a mind-set, a personality, a lifestyle
and of course, a movement. It is not enough to KNOW THAT ONE THING, you have to BE THAT ONE THING. The Orange Mind is not only one who passed through the academy, he or she must be one who thinks Orange, talks Orange, walks Orange
and works Orange.
This chronicle would be incomplete if I do not share the wisdom I gleaned from the
academy’s Provost, the legendary Femi Odugbemi. As the sun was setting on my
apprenticeship days at the academy, I began to think of what next after Orange.
Fortunately, an opportunity for postgraduate studies opened up for me at Nigeria’s University of First Choice. But I had a dilemma. MSc or MBA? So I looked up the Provost on social media and asked for his opinion.
His response was epic: “Frankly,
if you have the wherewithal please do an MBA. The fastest growing economic
sector is the Creative industries of which Film and TV is very vibrant. That economy will continue to expand and will need support services in the area of strategy and business engagement. That is the ‘space’ most people are currently not occupying. You may have the unique opportunity to pioneer those areas of the sector. Broadcasting and digital content is also on the verge of expansion in Nigeria. Your fastest way to stay ahead of the curve in a profitable way would be to understand how business works so that you can tap into the ‘business of the business’ in this area of your interest.”
I have nothing more to add. So welcome aboard, dear freshly-minted Orange
Minds. The journey continues and I look forward to reading your success stories,
soon. Wishing you Godspeed!
This article was written by Sam Adeleke and first published in the Orange Academy magazine for the 2016 Immersion Ceremonies.