Posted by Olaniyi Abodedele on Sunday, June 8, 2014 Under: Our Headline Articles
If there are Nigerians so passionate about the image of Nigeria and Nigerians in South Africa, Mr. Afeez Olatunji Olugbemiga should be counted and recognized for his role of dearly upholding the prestige of the Green White Green color of Nigeria with dignity and pride. He is definitely a unique Nigerian worthy of emulation because he always stands tall to tell the world that he is proudly Nigerian irrespective of where he finds himself.
The Nigerian Voice Newspaper had an interview with this great Nigerian in his Pretoria office on the 28th of May 2014. Among all issues discussed, his passionate commitment to the worrisome image of Nigeria and Nigerians in South Africa came top. Mr. Afeez charged his fellow country men and women to be Nigeria’s ambassadors to the world. His thoughts:
“For me, I tell myself, I want to be a Nigerian ambassador, and what does it take for me to be a Nigerian ambassador? It simply means I must stay away from the don’ts of the country where I reside and adhere to the dos of that country. If we all do that, all shall be well, that’s what I always tell people”. “Secondly, I always tell fellow Nigerians that let us be our brother’s keepers; meaning if I am in a position to offer that assistance or help, I should. So, let us encourage one another to assist each other so that person in need will not spoil the good image of Nigeria. Let us look out for one another and let’s see how best we can help one another. Those are the little advice I give people who I am opportuned to talk to on issues that relate to Nigeria and Nigerians because at the end of the day there is only one Nigeria and that is our country. So, it takes me and you to get it right and make sure that the image of Nigeria is always protected”.
Mr. Afeez is the Program Director of Pan African Training, a Training Institute in Pretoria. The institute provides short-courses training programs and services for junior and top management staff of organizations across Africa. Their courses range from HR Management, Program Management, and IT etc.
Afeez left the shores of his fatherland Nigeria in 2001 because of the need to explore the other side of the world. His pursuit of further education abroad strengthened his resolve to leave Nigeria. His first destination was Swaziland in 2001 where he did his Masters program before moving to South Africa. During his stay in Swaziland, he engaged in a self-development training program with an organization. He then moved to South Africa in 2008 and saw the need to continue with his area of expertise of capacity development. This led to the establishment of the Pan African Training Institute the same year. Ever since then, Afeez gladly admits that the institute has been growing from strength to strength, and it is arguably one of the biggest and busiest training institute run by a Nigerian in South Africa presently. Yet, he says, they are still pushing for greater heights.
As individuals we all have our success stories and our difficult moments in life, and Afeez is one of such individuals who made use of those difficult moments and turned them into success stories. He recalls one of these difficult moments in Swaziland. “The difficult moment I would say was when I was in Swaziland, I was earning a very small amount of money and I was doing my Masters Program. It was difficult joggling education and livelihood. I needed to sustain myself and I also need to pursue my master program so it was more of a challenge to me”. That sacrifice he made back then has made it possible for his organization to attract hundreds of clients every year from almost every country in all parts of Africa.
For a training institute such as Afeez’s Pan African Training Institute to be where it is today, it must be a strong organization. We asked him what is the leading edge for the institute, he responded:
“I will say ever since I started Pan African Training I made sure it has a multi-cultural approach where we say different African nationals are staff and are working with Pan African Training. Again we have this team culture where we work together as a team with shared leadership and everybody sees their self as a leader to lead the group. So it’s not only about me but every other staff that works within the organization. We also bring in creativity and innovation, when we see what is innovative we try to experiment it within our organization, see how best it fits within what we do and of course in most cases it creates a competitive edge for us to be able to compete out there with other competitors”.
Pan African Training Institute won the Most Supportive Nigerian Business Organisation at the 2013 Nigerian Community Excellence Award organized by The Nigerian Voice Newspaper in South Africa. Afeez was grateful for the award because of the newspaper recognition of his organization the little support given to it. Of his Institute support to the Nigerian Voice, Afeez remarks:
“We call that Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Pan African training for an organization is So I want to say thank you on behalf of myself, our organization and staff to the Nigerian Voice Newspaper for giving us that award, and we will continue in our own little way to ensure we support Nigerian Organisations and every other African organization because we are Pan African. We are not only limited to Nigeria alone but every other African organizations who are resident in South Africa. We want to see how best we can offer our little support to them”.
Something struck our attention during the interview with Mr. Afeez and that was the fact that during the interview he was getting different telephone calls and interacting with a few of his staff, all this was in different languages, we had no choice but to ask him how many languages he speaks in other to satisfy our curiosity, and he confirmed to us that he speaks seven (7) different languages. “I don’t know how it came to be, I am from the South Western part of Nigeria which is the Yoruba. I did my youth service in Imo State, but for one reason or the other I was able to pick the language during my youth services days and I am able to speak Igbo at least averagely well now. So, when I moved to Swaziland too, the language is SiSwati which is like Zulu in South Africa, and Ndebele in Zimbabwe. I wouldn’t know but for one reason or the other I speak the language averagely well now. I am also speaking French averagely. At least, I can interact with people meaningfully well. So, the number of languages are increasing; when I finish with French I will move to Portuguese, but for now I speak like seven Languages”.
Like every other Nigerian personality we celebrate on our front cover, Afeez he had a few words of advice for Nigerians in South Africa and the Nigerian Voice Newspaper. For Nigerians, he advises: “My advice would be let us appreciate the fact that this is not home. This is not Nigeria. In that case, let us understand the basic socio-cultural nature of South Africa and see how best we fit into it. Invariably, what that means is that let us appreciate their way of life and see how best we can integrate it into our way of life. Also, let us stay off the don’ts of the society”.
And for The Nigerian Voice Newspaper his view and advice is that “when the Nigerian Voice Newspaper first came out, most people were skeptical about it and where wondering if it will be able to survive the media environment and also the little constrain here and there, but surprisingly the publication has gone places and for that we are one of the ambassadors for the newspaper. We make sure we have copies of new editions for all our delegates and also distribute on behalf of the newspaper. Definitely, the cloud is the beginning for the Nigerian Voice Newspaper. We know it’s going to grow from strength to strength and we also want to be partners of the publication as it grows.
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