Interview: Samuel Okocha – Part I

When the electricity switched off late into the night in Lagos, Samuel Okocha and 88 Founder Ryan Cheng hopped on the phone together.

Over the course of the next hour, they discussed how the internet changed Sam’s life, how he chooses to suffocate excuses and the growing creative scene in Nigeria.

*This interview was transcribed from The 88’s podcast interview with Sam.
Consequently, the content has been edited where appropriate.

What was it like growing up in Lagos?

Growing up in Lagos has been a mixed bag of sorts. Lagos is a super interesting place to be –  you have the rich, poor and middle class. So there is this struggle to move from one class to next. It is a struggle for survival. Being born here automatically puts you amidst the rat race.

However this struggle has allowed me to become a better person.

What is everyday life like in Nigeria?

Everyday life in Nigeria is pretty, pretty interesting!

It all depends on where you are!

In Lagos alone you have different social circumstances – there’s the mainland of Lagos and the Islands off Lagos. The Island is where the effluent population reside, so there is a race amongst the population to make it to the Island. The Island proves you have arrived – it’s a symbol of status.

This struggle to make it and become wealthier than you were yesterday is a very good medium to capture everyday life in Lagos. Consequently, this struggle traverses across the country.

You’re a freelance journalist and a visual story teller – how have you been able to carve out your opportunities in the space?

Personally speaking, I have this mantra – the Internet is my saviour!

We live in a society where there is a whole lot of challenges that exist; you need to have the right connections, to know the right people – so we can access opportunity.

I remember when I was applying for university, regardless of my high grades, I still had to know the right people to get my name on the admissions list!

The Internet has been a differentiating factor, providing a level playing field for everyone, no matter who you are or who you know. It has put me on a level playing field not just in Nigeria, but on a global scale.

How important is self development?

I remember when I started my very first radio show – Music Mega Mix. I went to meet the University program manager, and pitched my radio concept to him.

He asked me if I had any radio experience – and I said yes – even though deep down in my mind I knew that the only radio experience I had was listening to the radio!

But I just went online and taught myself everything that I needed to know!

The Internet has provided a platform to grow, learn and then showcase what you have learnt.

Learning and developing is a continual process!

Part II of our interview will be out Wednesday.

In the meantime, find out more about Sam’s incredible work ~
Instagram: @samokocha

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