On October 16, 2018, I got a DM from a stranger. Considering how long it was, it was probably better as an email. He was a 19-year old designer who was stuck with shallow-thinking bosses and wanted to learn how to get them to think critically and listen to him. I gave him some generic advice but I knew it was largely useless. He was not the problem; they were.
One year later, he sent another DM for me to check out arthistoryproject. A few days later, he asked to borrow my copy of Grid Systems. After this, he continued to share websites he thought I’d like: Color Leap, Braille Institute, Cross Cultural Design, Nomad Radio. He also asked for feedback a lot. The first was a State of Jobs site for Devcenter. Then his portfolio. Then some Corona Relief website. And so on, he continued.
He’d always check in to see if the company was hiring or to compliment my essays and remind me that I was motivational for him. I never really knew how to respond besides “Thanks!” or “❤️”. Finally, after 2 years of texting, I messaged to tell him we were hiring and he could interview. We scheduled his intro call for October 21, 2020.
A week before the call, the EndSARS protests broke out. By Monday, I wasn’t in the frame of mind to take an interview. None of us were. So I postponed all our calls by a week, including the one with Obi-Enadhuze Oke. On Wednesday, the day we were supposed to meet with him, his family was looted and he was killed. Until the very end, his country failed him.
To live in Nigeria is to live against all the odds. There’s no leadership, no infrastructure, no education, no security and no justice. What you get is what you take for yourself, and even when you dare to dream, it can always be snatched from you. Oke and many others have died this week because we dared to ask to stop being killed. Clearly, the future is a mirage.
I don’t know how long I have until Nigeria ends me too, but I will never forget Oke. To me, he represents all of us who look up to the internet as a way to do better than the options we’ve been presented. He’s a reminder to care for one another’s dreams because they can be taken away with violence.
I never met the guy but it hurts a lot. I can’t imagine what it must be like for his family and friends. If you can, please help them rebuild:
In your words, ”✌🏾✨ Till we meet again. Peace”.
Maybe we’ll make it. Maybe we won’t.