10 quotes from Funmi Iyanda's talk on black British leadership

Friday, 30 January 2015 23:16

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Funmi Iyanda, a much-admired broadcaster and media entrepreneur from Nigeria, presented her vision of the future of black British leadership at a talk given at the University of Cumbria’s Institute for Leadership and Sustainability. She wove into her talk personal stories spanning generations from her growing up listening to her grandmother's oration, to her own daughter's experiences of being a young African in an environment where unfamiliarity breeds social discomfort. These personal accounts provided additional context to the legacy that colonialism has left in current day Nigeria, and its lasting effects on young Africans living in the diaspora.

Funmi's underlying message was that we, as Africans, need to reconstruct an Africa that is fit for Africans, and that when we marginalise and devalue humans we lose the opportunity to learn from them and absorb the positive benefits that the skills, knowledge and experiences of ‘others’ can bring to society. The challenge for future leaders is to learn to see diversity as less of a problem and more of an opportunity.

Here are ten more quotes from Funmi Iyanda’s ‘Future of Black British Leadership’ talk.

The future of leadership will be about cooperation, not competition.


I became black when I moved to the UK. Previously, I was a Yoruba woman from Nigeria.



We cannot live in a world where 2,000 die and there is a stopgap before there is a reaction.



For something to have a social construct, it must have a cultural construct – and there is no black culture.



We wear jewellery because when the sun hits the metal it sparkles, and if it sparkles and it’s 40 degrees, who needs clothes?



The colonial masters left to be replaced by Western-educated elites who continued to exploit Africa’s resources.



When I’m in Nigeria, I feel fully human, more so than in London – and feeling human matters.



There were more children born in Nigeria in 2014 than in the whole of Europe.*



Imagine if the skills of slaves were absorbed into the new world, rather than them being deemed subhuman…



There is a difference between tolerating difference and accepting difference.


*This one raised several eyebrows, and will be fact-checked. If true, this is quite astonishing. 

Many thanks to IFLAS for their hospitality. The university will also be making a special announcement very soon about Funmi, so it might be worth following her on Twitter to find out first what it is. 



We have fact-checked the following quote: 'There were more children born in Nigeria in 2014 than in the whole of Europe' and have found it to be true(ish).


In Nigeria, there was an estimated 6.7m births in 2014.

Across Europe, there was an estimated 8.9m births in 2014.

However, across the European Union countries, there was an estimated 5.2m births in 2014.

In conclusion, there were more children born in Nigeria in 2014 than in the whole of the EU.

Data available from the CIA World Yearbook was manipulated by Onliris and is available for download here.

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Last modified on Saturday, 31 January 2015 11:17

David Osei

Ghana United-Kingdom

Onliris guy | Audere est facere, ergo don't ask 'can I?'; ask 'I can!' | Mediaphile | Onliner | Sportaholic | Theatre > Cinema | GUBA | Ol' SOASian & Alleynian | Scorpio | Bachata-lovin' British Ghanaian


Website: www.dkosei.co.uk/blog