Subtle racism and insidious neocolonialism in Nigeria’s startup ecosystem: Paul Adepoju

One of the big stories in Africa’s startup ecosystem this month was the announcement of Chan Zuckerberg Initiative’s $24 million investment in Nigeria-linked startup Andela. We saw it as a great moment for the African tech space.

However, among the continent’s tech stakeholders, we were fighting a different battle with the choice of words being used: Could we really describe Andela as a Nigerian startup?

The media, particularly the Western media, has generally not portrayed Andela as a Nigerian startup. Based on the current press coverage, one would be led to believe that Andela has nothing whatsoever to do with Nigeria. However, people like me who know the history of Andela know that the company is fundamentally a Nigerian company; yet the Nigerian tale is being silenced.

This silence was loudly heard in Mark Zuckerberg’s popular Facebook comment about the investment, coupled with the global press’ obsession with Jeremy Johnson as Andela’s Co-Founder. Virtually no reference has been made to Iyinoluwa Aboyeji, Andela’s other Co-Founder – who happens to be Nigerian. This lopsided coverage got so bad that Aboyeji had to take to his Medium page to explain how Andela was founded.

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