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LAGOS TO LONDON: THE JAPA SYNDROME

The long-awaited launch of the fictional novel, ‘Lagos to London‘ by Lola Aworanti-Ekugo, took place on Saturday, October 30, 2021. The book launch which was held virtually via Zoom, was a complete success, with the attendance of notable speakers to grace the event.

The launch, anchored by Ejiro Esigbone, started with an opening remark which was delivered by the husband of the author, Kelechi Ekugo. He emphasized the challenging, but gratifying journey his wife, Lola had to embark on to finally write the novel, ‘Lagos to London’. Speaking about Lola’s journey to becoming an author, Kelechi said, “Life is a journey of huffs and bumps.” He also noted that the reason for the ‘japa’ exodus is as a result of the great economic decline in Nigeria and the novel is a missing piece to help reflect on the ‘Nigerians in diaspora’ narrative.

After the opening remark, there was a short session for the book review. The novel was reviewed by Oreoluwa Lesi, Founder of Women Technology Empowerment Centre, and Damilola Olisa, a Media and Communications Professional. According to Oreoluwa, “The whole book told a story and it was a cohesive story with great impact.” Damilola, in his review, said, “I’m not surprised that Lola was able to come up with a fantastic story, the realities of the novel are too vivid.”

In a video review, Founder, Terra Kulture, Bolanle Austen- Peters said, “Beautiful book. Tells the story of contemporary Nigerians in the diaspora.”

The author, Lola Aworanti-Ekugo, thanked everyone for their presence, reviews, and support. She also spoke about her experience in the United Kingdom, where she lived for 13 years, before moving back to Nigeria. Her experiences touched on culture shock, job searching, and settling into life in the UK. Lola said, “It’s important that people can have a view into life abroad so that they can decide where they want to go and if they go whether they want to stay or come back.” She went ahead to say that she hopes that her book will inspire people who are trying to find that path whether in Nigeria or abroad. To summarize the book, Lola said, “The book is like going to the UK or abroad, without leaving your seat.”

Next on the agenda, was a short panel session titled, ‘The japa syndrome: The stark reality of Nigeria today‘, moderated by UK-based TV & Radio Presenter and Producer, Esther Alade. Members of the panel included Stephanie Coker, Nigerian on-air personality and a television presenter for MTV Base Africa and Ebony Life TV; Anthony Oduwole, Co-Founder and CTO, VertoFX, Dr. Dipo Awojide, UK Lecturer in Strategy/Career & MSME Coach, and Odunayo Eweniyi, Co-Founder Piggyvest. The panelists shared their thoughts and experiences around immigration.

Stephanie, speaking about her experience in the UK, before moving back to Nigeria, said, “Back then, it was complicated to be African because people didn’t understand our culture.” Also speaking about her move back to Nigeria, Stephanie said that it was difficult to adjust. According to her, “Nigeria is not an easy place to move to, but with thick skin, you can make it big once you adjust.”

Anthony, who left Lagos for the UK about 20 years ago, highlighted the disparity in the educational and teaching culture between the United Kingdom and Nigeria. According to him, “The educational system in Nigeria is good, but could be better. Learning should be more critical thinking and analysis”.

“I grew up with the conviction that I was born to make an impact.” These were the words of Odunayo, who narrated her experience of how she had several opportunities to leave Nigeria, but eventually made a decision to build a company with her now Co-Founders in Nigeria. Speaking on the challenges that starting a company in Nigeria posed, Odunayo said, “There is no other country you will live in like Nigeria that poses a challenge to building a company.” She then went ahead to point out that those challenges are also what makes the process worth it.

Dr. Dipo, who relocated from Nigeria to the UK, emphasized the importance of having the right information before deciding to relocate. He said, “Information and mentoring would have helped me make better decisions.” He also advised young people to go out and see the world and get access to as much information as possible.

Close friends and family of the author also had a few words to say about her.

Tega Desi, Technology Risk Oversight Manager, Natwest Group, a childhood friend of the author noted that Lola is inspiring, focused, hardworking, dedicated, resourceful, and a go-getter. She also commended her on doing a great and articulate job on ‘Lagos to London’ and mentioned that her next book should be her biography.

Founder, The YD Company, Yetty Ogunnubi, described Lola as family. She also said, “Lola is a fantastic soul and selfless friend.”

The father of the author, Mr. Olajide Aworanti, thanked everyone for their participation and support and expressed his pride in Lola’s new achievement.

The novel ‘Lagos to London’ was officially launched at 1 pm by Chief Launcher, Fola Oyeyinka, Partner, Blackrose Group, and Former Presidential Advisor, who noted that the book has stirred a good conversation. He described the novel as “a well-written book with potential for great impact” and encouraged everyone to read the book.

The closing remark was delivered by the author, who encouraged everyone to stay resilient no matter the challenge. Lola also hinted that another book project, a sequel is in the works.

Proud partners and sponsors included Sweet Sensation Nigeria, The YD Company, Globuf International Consults, and Lake Investment Partners.

‘Lagos to London’ is available for purchase on:

Order from Amazon.

Order from Website.

Order from Okadabooks.