Photo Credit: Tofunmi Ilori
Black Woman Excellence: Tofunmi On Leaving And Living In Nigeria As A Young Black Woman Creative
As we are now in Women’s History Month – we’re excited to present some awesome examples of Black Women of excellence. We do this because the contributions of Black women within the travel space are endless. Tofunmi is a perfect example of the wildly impressive – and unmatched – contributions that exist today. In this Travel Noire interview, we talk with one of Nigeria’s most promising talents to discover the realities of the creative scene in Nigeria.
Tell us about yourself
Hi! My name is Tofunmi Ilori. I would describe myself simply as “my mother’s daughter”. Although I started describing myself in these terms because of how keenly I resemble my mother, I have realized that this statement’s truth is founded on how much I embody her soul.
My mother has always been the great combination of traits some would consider opposites; cautious and unassuming, kind and unwavering, “mommy” and “madam CEO”. I also am this way; creative and analytical, believing and skeptical, patient and igneous.
What was the motivation behind your podcast?
When I decided to move back to Nigeria from the U.S., most people just asked why and/or told me it was a bad choice. While I appreciated their concern, what I needed at that time was helpful information to prepare me for this move. I decided then that I was going to document my experiences and create a guide to help others through this process. My podcast, Diaries of an IJGB (I just got back), has become my way of supporting people that are moving back into the country or just anyone going through a transition.
Talk to us about what you've noticed as living, leaving, and returning to Nigeria
Nigeria has changed so much since I left a few years ago as a toddler. I could barely recognize it when I moved back. In some ways the changes are great. The tech space for example is blowing up and there are so many brilliant young minds doing fantastic things. The internet has also played a huge role in bringing growth to Nigeria. Being able to access the rest of the world has allowed us to dream and share our authenticity with a global audience. It seems like a Nigerian song is always trending globally these days and I am loving it.
There is also so much culture to explore within the country. The food, fashion, and creative landscapes are ever so exciting.
Would you say Nigeria is a hotspot for young Black entrepreneurs?
I wouldn’t call it a hotspot unless you are in Fintech. I would say, there are a lot of gaps and needs in the country so I consider it a pretty good place to create solutions. As a Nigerian entrepreneur myself, I think it might be misleading to suggest people drop their day jobs and start businesses in Nigeria, but it would be a smart move to invest strategically in some Nigerian businesses as quite a few of them are very promising.
Advice for anyone hoping to make the move to Nigeria?
Listen to my podcast! Honestly, the most helpful factor for me has been my support system. Moving to Nigeria, like any other transition, can trigger a ton of emotions, so I would suggest having people in your life that can help you navigate some of these feelings. I would also advise anyone in that space to be flexible. Nigeria has a way of morphing your plans so don’t be too attached to any one way of achieving your goals.
What are your favorite Black woman-owned spots/businesses at the moment in Nigeria?
Soft Landing has to be number one on my list. Traveling to Nigeria with SL makes all the difference; they make navigating and experiencing the country so much easier and I just love the CEO, Omolola Adele-Oso.
Oriki, a spa and wellness brand is also a favorite and trust me, spa days are a necessity if you live in Lagos.
Finally, I would recommend a visit to Terra Kulture by Mrs. Bolanle Austen-Peters. It is a great place to indulge in authentic Nigerian culture.