Quick Fire 🔥 with Buchi Onyegbule

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Published: 2022-06-17
Buchi Onyegbule

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Narrative 4 is a global organization that uses storytelling as a tool to rebuild and revolutionize existing systems. Buchi Onyegbule is the Director of Africa Operations at Narrative 4. Beer aficionado and runner of maze marathons are two of Buchi's favorite things to do in his spare time.

Describe what you do to a child who is five years old.

I am the leader of a group of educators on the continent who believe that we have the power to change the world by teaching young people empathy through the mediums of art and storytelling.

Which piece of guidance do you most wish you'd received earlier in your life or in your career, and why?

Every bit of experience is valuable, and many of them can be applied to different fields even. In my current position as the continental lead for an arts and education non-profit, I've found that I'm putting a lot of the knowledge I gained early in my career as a beer salesman to use. This includes everything from relationship building to the cultivation of leads, and perhaps most importantly, in-person BTL marketing. This last one is applicable in nearly every industry as it was twenty years ago, and it continues to be applicable today.

Which (specific) accomplishment do you feel the most satisfied with?

In a little under two years, I led a team that established this nonprofit organization in seven countries on the African continent. These countries are Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. We developed multiple partnerships, built sustainable (and replicable) projects, and are currently on track to expand to nine countries by the end of 2022.

The details of this achievement are still being worked out, but I have no doubt that it will be the most significant thing I've accomplished up to this point in my life.

What kind of misunderstanding do people have about the work that you do?

that it is a skill that is light and airy. It is the complete opposite of that.

People are able to locate multiple communities to which they can feel a sense of belonging in today's world, which is known as a more connected version of the past. Because these communities are encouraged even more to function as silos and mainstream a kind of siege mentality in those who identify with them, the statement is factual without really being truthful.

As a result, the concept of empathy, despite the fact that it is becoming increasingly important, is also becoming increasingly difficult to imbibe and practice. And perhaps even more challenging is the task of turning it into a natural, reflexive response.

However, does it actually work? Is it possible for individuals to truly become more empathetic through the act of sharing stories?

Yes. It does.

But beyond the scientific aspects of it all, there is a significant amount of research from Yale Intelligence and the University of Chicago, both general and specific, that relates to the work that we do at N4. It really comes down to how straightforward the idea is. Both role-playing and storytelling are powerful methods that can be used to teach empathy.

These are the two methods that are utilized by the N4 Story Exchange.

Again, yes. It does work. Unequivocally.

You get the opportunity to travel throughout numerous African countries as part of your job. What does it feel like? Please describe both the positive and negative aspects.

It seems to have worked out for the best. Because I was a child who read voraciously, I had already traveled to these countries in my mind, but getting the opportunity to visit them now brings valuable insights and learnings to the table. The fact that I believe I am literally a human Rolodex of important contacts in the education space in anglophone Africa is perhaps the most beneficial aspect of the situation.

Bad? It's the same old thing. You will find that the same things that frustrate you in Nigeria will frustrate you elsewhere, possibly even more so. The never-ending red tape, the restricted access to funding, even for projects that we regard as being of the utmost significance. There is also the almost immediate mistrust that is placed in one as soon as they are identified as Nigerian, the strange delays at immigration even in smaller countries, and the casual comments made by citizens of other countries that are extremely hurtful.

If you are a man of Nigerian descent who is at least 30 years old, you are almost certainly a suspect of having some questionable dealings both in and outside of the country.

What is one activity that you really enjoy doing but are not very good at, and what is one activity that you really do not like doing but are very good at?

Although I'm not very good at it, I really enjoy singing in my spare time. Your ears will ache from listening to my singing voice.

Although public speaking gives me a lot of anxiety and I don't particularly enjoy doing it, I've been told that I'm an excellent presenter. People believe that I am successful in what I do because I have clear thinking and keen insight. I believe the primary reason for this is that the size of my head causes people to focus less on determining whether or not I was talking nonsense. In any case, I hear very few complaints, so there you have it.

Is there a specific movie or piece of literature that you believe everyone ought to see or read, and if so, why?

Because I am always hesitant to recommend books, I won't do it here.

However, I believe that everybody ought to watch All Hail King Julien. He is the kind of king that I aspire to be like. I will not explain why. Just give it a look!