On a clear, cool and beautiful Monday morning at San Francisco International Airport, a figure emerged from the baggage claim. Dressed in traditional Yoruba attire and surrounded by servants destined to remain by his side for the remainder of his life, his official announcer declared: “His Imperial Majesty has arrived!” He shouted loud enough that passengers made no mistake that Nigerian royalty has arrived, and what followed was pure pandemonium. Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi Ojaja II is the 51st Monarch and Ooni of Ife. This title is reserved for the King of some 50 million Yoruba Nigerians. While there were plenty of fanfare for the arrival of the King to the Bay Area, it was clear he had one thing on his mind — business.
Photo by: Muyekconcepts
Silicon Valley Nigerian Economic Development (SV-NED Inc.) in partnership with the African Technology Foundation led by Stephen Oziogbo were responsible for hosting the Ooni of Ife in the Bay Area. SV-NED Inc. works to build a bridge between Nigeria and the Silicon Valley’s powerful technology community. SV-NED leader and a notable figure in her own right, Chief Temitope Ajayi, known more affectionately in the Nigerian community as Mama Diaspora, arranged for the King to be welcomed at a number of powerhouse Silicon Valley companies.
The King was swiftly ushered by SV-NED VP of Innovation and International Affairs Hayden Williams III to the State Capitol in Sacramento. There, the King spoke and negotiated business dealings with leading state legislators including: State Sen. Steven Bradford; Sue Kateley, his Chief of Staff; Jay Dickenson, the head consultant to the California Senate Committee on Energy, Utilities and Communications; Jason Law, Special Advisor for International Investment Relations; and Diane Dominguez, Special Advisor for International Trade. This brokered potential deals with an estimated worth of up to $1 billion in trade between Nigeria and California. The King also met with Shirley Weber, the first African-American to be elected to the California State Legislature south of Los Angeles. It was a meeting of historical proportions, which can spell big business between the United States and Nigeria in the very near future.
Due to the tight schedule, the King then traveled to Silicon Valley for an official welcoming dinner. With the beautiful backdrop of downtown San Jose at the renowned Silicon Valley Capitol Club, an immaculate dinner was arranged and hosted by SV-NED Vice President Denise Ajayi-Williams. Attendees who were lucky enough to dine and dance the night away with the King were in awe at the class and sophistication that comes along with seeing a real-life King.
However, that wasn’t only thing that happened here. Presentations from Silicon Valley Companies such as Sky Clinic Connect, IBM, Cisco International Strategic Solutions Consultant Samuel Washington, the Black Commerce Chambers CEO Carl Parkers, Sam D. Hadded of Stanford University, and countless others were there to broker deals with the King. The King also told the crowd how he has read the best-selling Nigerian children’s book Akiti the Hunter I and II, and looks forward to working with its author, Denise Ajayi, on the series. Although the King had to return to Los Angeles for additional visits, he promised to return in quick fashion. Stanford, Intel and many other Silicon Valley companies are looking to get the King’s attention with the prospects of big business in the future.
Without the SV-NED Inc. initiative, these meetings and the King’s visit would not have happened. What is clear is that SV-NED is active in creating a new future for not only Nigeria, but also American companies looking to expand internationally outside a saturated American market. With the King’s arrival to the Bay Area, this is just a premonition of things to come. As America searches for a new identity in regards to its financial relations to the world, the King of Ife has made clear that Nigeria will be an important part of the US new international trades agreements.
Hayden Williams III is a Pre Medical student at the University of San Francisco and the editor of the Voices section at Bold. He is a modern day renaissance man who blends biological and political theories to birth a new approach to philosophy, which he calls the “Biolithical” method. Hayden served in the United States Air Force after attending Morehouse College as a Psychology Major. While serving in the Air Force, he studied and became nationally certified as a radiologic technologist. Hayden hopes to one day help bring quality healthcare to developing countries around the world through the use of telemedicine.