By Nzube U.
London has a knack for attracting talent. In a city full of options, I recall feeling a sense of belonging within six months of moving to London to pursue a career. To be fair, I never really gave my birth place of Birmingham the opportunity to professionally woo me.
Not too long ago, one was a bit too quick to remind whomever asked that they were not born abroad but born in the UK. The word foreigner had not-so-subtle dehumanising undertones. Today, only a handful of my professional colleagues in London were also born here. I have had the pleasure to work with several foreign–born professionals currently based in London; French, Chinese, American, Togolese, Moroccan, Iranian and Kenyan to name but a few. Though the word ‘immigrant’ is bandied about politically, I believe it is much more inclusive and fair to refer to most of the aforementioned folks as expatriates or expats.
Last week’s 11 Billion USD ruling in the UK High Courts in favour of Nigeria might have restored some faith in governance however, the green passport is still not the easiest to carry. From music to food, fashion to entertainment, and lots more, Nigerian culture is certainly on the rise! Therefore, I would love to give flowers to some Nigerian expats I have had the distinct privilege to work with over the last few months. Their grit, tenacity, trailblazing vision, relentless passion, resourcefulness, respectfulness, and zest for life never ceases to amaze me. I continue to be inspired by and learn from these professionals, who feel more like brothers and sisters to me than clients / colleagues.
This is far from an exhaustive list of cultural ambassadors, however please join me to celebrate these living legends:
Mazi Godson Azu MA. BA. (Hons). FOSHA. AILM: This leading political analyst, award-winning author and community champion is an alumni of Birkbeck College, University of London and the London Metropolitan University. He is also part of the Institute of Leadership and Management, UK, Member of the Conservative Friends of Nigeria Association UK, Institute for Government UK, Co-convener and Director London Political Summit and Awards UK, Publicity Secretary of the Council of Igbo Communities UK (CIC), Welfare Officer of Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation Europe (NIDOE), Member of Cambridge Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Member African Security Forum UK and actively serves in many other organisations. Godson convenes high profile business and political roundtables within British and Nigeria communities.
COLLABORATION: Delivered an IoD partnership for a recent roundtable at the Nigerian High Commission that also inspired this post.
Dr. Babangida Y. Kure: Born in Lagos Nigeria, he is a Lecturer and Course Director for BSc. Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management at Kingston University, London and Founder / Managing Director of MyDeeds Limited. From leading procurement in a Nigerian conglomerate, to postgraduate studies in Malaysia & UK, to various projects with the World Bank, his global wealth of experience cuts across the private sector, public sector, and academia. As an entrepreneurial finance professional and a catalyst in the world of new venture creation and capital investment, he is also active in regional development and angel investing.
COLLABORATION: Partnered to deliver the first Crown Castê Live at Kingston University.
Cyril Nri: A versatile classically-trained super-talented Nigerian-born British actor who hails from the South Eastern part of Nigeria. He has played in countless hits from the theatre to the big screen and everything in between. More recently, Cyril Nri plays the role of Lord Danbury in the Netflix series Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story (2023). He is best known for playing the role of Superintendent Adam Okaro, later chief superintendent, in the long-running ITV police drama The Bill. He has played in too many impressive roles to mention including Cucumber, Noughts and Crosses, Law and Order UK, and Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker. He had a role as Graham, a barrister colleague of Miles and Anna, in both series of the cult hit BBC TV drama series This Life (1996). With his baritone notes, it comes as no surprise that he is also a regular voiceover in animations, audiobooks, and video game characters.
COLLABORATION: Guest hosted The Reel Happy Hour podcast to interview Cyril.
Peace Itimi: Born in Benin-City, Edo State Nigeria this writer, growth marketer, YouTuber, and digital marketer is known for her work in online marketing, digital advertising, and training. She teaches digital marketing and assists businesses in growing. In 2019, Peace Itimi was nominated for The Future Awards Africa For Media and in March 2020, she was shortlisted as a finalist for the Young African Leaders Initiative Mandela Washington Fellowship. She has worked as a digital marketer with a number of well-known brands in Nigeria, the United States, and the United Kingdom, and in a variety of industries. She teaches for Google Digital Skills, Facebook for Creators, Haptics, and Orange Academy, among other places and has instructed over 6000 professionals, students, and business owners.
COLLABORATION: Served as MC/co-host for the first FC Live in London.
Bisi Alimi: Founder and Executive Director of the Bisi Alimi Foundation, a bold organisation working to accelerate social acceptance of the LGBTQIA+ community in Nigeria. Bisi was born in the Mushin district of Lagos, Nigeria. Alimi has a BA in Theatre Arts (2004) from the University of Lagos Nigeria and MSc in Global Governance and Public Policy (2011) from Birkbeck College University of London. Bisi is a multi-talented storyteller, actor, activist and angelic troublemaker. He has over 15 years experience working on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in Africa. Before starting Bisi Alimi Foundation, he was a lecturer at the Humboldt University in Berlin teaching “Pre and Post Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in Africa”.
COLLABORATION: Delivered a business start-up workshop to a cohort organised by Bisi.
Adebayo Jones FRSA: Couture Designer born in Lagos Nigeria studied fashion at the Central School of Fashion in London and spent several years working with high profile British designers such as Katherine Hamnett, in London, before branching out to establish his own brand of expertly made, functional and versatile clothing. His fascination with couture soon heralded his rise to prominence as a leading couturier in the UK and beyond where his stunningly handcrafted garments have never failed to impress fashion watchers, the fashion industry and the public. Adebayo Jones has built a brand name that is synonymous with exquisite fashion and has a reputation of being a respected and recognisable designer at the forefront of women and men’s fashion.
COLLABORATION: I moonlight as an AJ model, including at London Fashion Week.
Oba Nsugbe KC SAN: An experienced legal practitioner with a broad international practice with a particular interest in Africa. He has had numerous appointments as arbitrator and Counsel in arbitration (LCIA, ICC, ICSID). He has a plethora of experience in both civil and criminal litigation in some of the UK and Nigeria’s most high profile cases. He was a part-time judge at the age of 35 and KC (fka QC) at 39. He is also cited in all professional guides to the Legal Profession as a leading practitioner both in the UK and Nigeria. He is also the Chair of The Africa Centre charity which he has volunteered at, for nearly 15 years.
COLLABORATION: Serve as a trustee to The Africa Centre charity and actively supported our Chakula programme launch.
Adesegun Adeosun Jr: Popularly known as SMADE, is a Nigerian-born British event promoter, creative industry expert and cultural entrepreneur. SMADE was born in Lagos Nigeria. He is co-founder of Afro Nation, one of the largest annual music festivals established to bring together the best African artists in Afrobeats, Hip hop, RnB, Dancehall, Amapiano, Afro House and more. He is also the founder of SMADE Lounge, and SMADE Entertainment, a UK-based entertainment company.
COLLABORATION: Delivered a corporate partnership for Afro Nation Portugal 2023, and fintech activation for SMADE Lounge.
From the law to tech, academia to politics, activism to entertainment, this is an exceptional bunch of talented individuals that are building cultural bridges while operating at the highest levels within their respective professions, don’t you agree? I have not even talked about our bread-and-butter of tech innovators and capital allocators whom we appreciate the opportunity to serve.