I was curious to speak to a few young Nigerians about how the hustle culture has pushed them to a point where they feel it’s either they get rich or die trying. On my search for subjects, Bolatito* (25) reached out to talk. 

During our conversation, she talked about how her struggles to kick off her life post-uni set off a chain of events. An offer to study abroad seemed like a silver lining, but her aunt who promised to sponsor the programme will only get involved if she quits her MBA programme for nursing instead.

This is Bolatito’s* story, as told to Akintomide.

Silent Beads

Let me start with a few things about my dad.

When I was seven, he told me about his secondary school days. When his friends asked him if he knew what he wanted for his future, my dad would tell them in Yorùbá, “kí àsírí máabò.” Roughly translated into English, this means “being comfortable.” 

So when he married my mum and started our family in 1995, his goal was to make us as comfortable as he could. It was his life’s work, and he always showed up.

Let me put this in context: Growing up, we had the best of things. My three brothers and I went to the best primary and secondary schools. We had the newest devices and furniture. It filled us with pride. And I’m sure my dad was also proud of himself.

But the biggest thing he made sure to teach us was contentment. He must have done a good job at it because it trickled down to my adulthood.

Sadly, my dad died in 2014 and we settled into life without him. The responsibility became my mum’s, and everything was fine until I graduated university in 2019.

The country got tougher and money became harder to come by. It was wrong timing for me because adulting had just started happening to me. I was in that phase where I needed a job, but none was forthcoming. I applied for a crazy number of jobs between 2019 and 2023. None of them worked out. I was broke. I fell into depression. I fell out.

In 2020, I found a quality control job, but the pay was shit. ₦90k per month. My transport fare alone in a month was more than ₦30k. I quit the job. 

Then I tried launching my clothing line. But I found out I don’t like people, which is an important part of the business, so I gave all the clothes out to my younger brother. Later, I reworked my clothes business idea and invested into my mum’s Ankara and Lace fabric business. I also collected samples to help people buy in bulk. Anytime my stuff sold, she’d give me a cut of what we earned.

My search for a more sustainable model led me to tech in 2021 when I started learning data analysis. In 2022, I doubled down on it.

But shege began facing me properly this 2023. In January, I got a job at a Nigerian bank, but I didn’t start. My contact there was a manager and family-friend. After the interview process, the man made them send me their branch in Sagamu because he wanted to sleep with me. I didn’t go, and I haven’t spoken to the “family-friend” since then.

On the side, I was applying to schools in the U.S and Canada. But like my job applications, none of them worked. In April, I finally got an admission for an MBA course at a university in Vancouver, Canada. It seemed like a silver lining and a small win because three weeks earlier, I had a bike accident that made me lose an internship with a U.S. tech company.

Now, tuition money was an issue. But it wasn’t supposed to be.

My aunt used to ginger me to apply to schools. According to her, money wasn’t a problem and she’d be happy to sponsor the cost. When the admission letter came in, I excitedly informed her and was met with the same positive response. After a week, my aunt reached me and said money had become a problem. Ah.

Honestly, I think that she and her husband couldn’t come to an agreement, hence the U-turn.

After many back and forth emails with the school, I was offered a fair option to pay a very low amount first to begin my studies and spread the rest of the payment. But my aunt still couldn’t help.

I deferred my admission to January, 2024. But now, the school has emailed me that my file has been closed for now because I haven’t shown any preparation for next year.

In June, my aunt circled back and told me she’d prefer I studied nursing instead of an MBA. She said I could always do the latter after settling down in Canada. I refused and tried to make her understand nursing wasn’t for me.

Imagine wasting two years studying something I don’t like. Abeg, it can’t be me.

The back and forth with her evolved into a little fight. She said it was nursing or nothing. And she was serious about it — she went ahead to apply to different schools on my behalf.

I don’t even want to use my undergraduate Microbiology degree. So what’s that about?

One thing that’s become clearer with the events of the past two years is that I need to have money: not just enough to be comfortable but enough to be wealthy. It goes against everything my father taught me. But people want to pay ludo with my life because they want to help me.

They say your 20s are supposed to be your fun years, but I’ve seen shege for the most part. Money from the clothing business isn’t enough to take big steps. People say the universe is always looking out for you, but it’s like the universe versus me right now. It wants to kill me.

Man, I just have to make it. So I’m crazily motivated by what I’ve faced this year. I get inspired when I’m on Instagram and see my mates doing beautiful stuff — things I’ll also like to do.

To be honest, the financial quality of my life hasn’t improved since I left university. I haven’t been hungry, but I can’t take big steps because I can’t afford them. It sucks.



Zikoko amplifies African youth culture by curating and creating smart and joyful content for young Africans and the world.