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Laolu Senbanjo Artist proves that the Nigerian dream is a nightmare

Laolu Senbanjo's beautiful story shows that the Nigerian dream stifles creativity and passion.

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Laolu Senbanjo play

Laolu Senbanjo

(Instagram/laolunyc )

Nigeria isn't an incubator for creativity dreams.

The rigidity of the older generation and societal expectations have frustrated many young Nigerians from chasing their dreams.

Fortunately, Nigerian artist Laolu Senbanjo did not buckle to the pressure of being a lawyer, a banker or an engineer- the golden professions according to Nigeria's older generation.

Laolu Senbanjo with Ibeyi play

Laolu Senbanjo with Ibeyi

(Instagram/laolunyc )


In 2013, the now internationally famous artist moved to New York to fulfil his dreams. He did this because Nigeria and his family were stifling his creativity.

"My education was very strict. It was all about getting straight A’s and being the top in my class, and going to the best University. Anything but being an artist. That was completely unacceptable and discouraged at all costs" Laolu Senbanjo told Naij in 2016.

Laolu Senbanjo wearing an Ori mask play

Laolu Senbanjo wearing an Ori mask


ALSO READ: Laolu Senbanjo's work heads to Grammy museum

Laolu's story was the same old story, his parents didn't understand the 'art thing' and wanted him to focus on Law which he studied. They thought art wasn't a serious thing to do.

"My parents said that art wasn’t practical. They kept having relatives call me and tell me I should go and study nursing or take the Bar here in NY. They just didn’t understand why and how making art could make me successful, but it’s only about success through their eyes which is about having a house, a top position at some company, cars, etc. That isn’t my dream" he said to Naij.

Laolu Senbanjo play

Laolu and Lupita

(Instagram )


Laolu Senbanjo was bold enough to strike out and relocate to New York, a clime that was more supportive of his talents. Three years after his move to the Big Apple, Nike tapped him to design a line of its sneakers with his patented Art of the Ori drawings which he calls Afromysterics.

Successful in chasing his dreams, many young Nigerians are held back by the society and their family. The Nigerian dream leaves no space for creativity, ingenuity and passion. This is the progression of the Nigerian dream, get a degree, get an okay job that gives you an official car, get married, have kids, work till you retire and die.

Laolu Senbanjo featured in Beyonce's Lemonade play

Laolu Senbanjo featured in Beyonce's Lemonade



This might have been perfect for the colonials and post-colonial folks but kids from the 80s, 90s and 00s will not settle for this uninspiring life.

There is more to life than being an engineer or a banker. Nigeria truly can't progress if people are forced to live a life that is not theirs. Laolu Senbanjo's story proves that Nigeria doesn't help the dreams turn into reality.

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