We are not where we ought to be or who we are meant to be because we either need help to escape from our self-imposed or societal prison… And sometimes both
The first book ever to be forwarded by Dr. Strive Masiyiwa, the Founder and Executive Chairman of Econet Group and the first black billionaire in the United Kingdom.

Bashiru Adamu writes striking words that will probably resonate with people everywhere, facing challenges at different times in their lives

Are We All Prisoners?

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“I was dead while alive. I was hopeless even when surrounded by opportunities. I just didn’t see life beyond the pain, hunger, helplessness, and the chain that held me down in my head. My life was not just a joke, it was junk. It was a miracle I broke out of the chains.” 

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Meet the personalities


The fifth of seven children grew up feeling like a fish trapped in its aquarium. He was held back from achieving his potential because of the mental prison he ignorantly crafted for himself. His life, however, took a new turn after he had encounters with prisoners during his National Youth Service year. And ever since, he has made a commitment to help people to break out of jail. Of course not literally, but from mental prison or societal prison. The journey wasn't exactly a smooth ride but he took out time to share the experiences and lessons thereof.

A Mother.

Bashiru shares about the life of his entrepreneurial mother who though has no formal education but can speak eight different Nigerian languages. Through hard work and an aspiring spirit, she built a business that helped her take care of her family. She supported her husband when he was alive & continued to be a strong pillar in the family after his death. Her native intelligence is impeccable.

Mr. Strive Masiyiwa

The founder and executive chairman of the international technology group Econet Global. He was particularly impressed by the eloquent young Bashiru, who held the entire audience's attention throughout his brief pitch. He took upon himself to be a part of Bashiru's journey.

Bashiru Adamu

Bashiru Adamu is a social change maker who has brought light and hope to so many inmates across the correctional space in Nigeria and is now extending his frontiers through Africa

Bashiru boasts about a decade’s experience in building a nonprofit from scratch, beginning with a sub-rural community in Otukpo, Benue State, Nigeria. Today, the organization Dream Again Prison & Youth Foundation is in full operation in several parts of Western and Northern Nigeria.

A Book About...


Despite the overwhelming obstacles in this young man's life, he had the audacity to break free of every form of bondage while helping as many as possible in the process.


He didn't just talk the talk, he did walk the walk. And till this very moment, he is ever striving to make an impact in many people who are trapped in their self imposed or societal prison


He painted a clear picture of what he wanted to achieve and he stayed committed.



On September 8, 2017, my Youth Afripreneurship Town Hall in Lagos was filled with young Nigerian entrepreneurs and aspiring ones: students, traders, bankers, side-hustlers, business managers, engineers, and at least one very memorable social entrepreneur. About 425,000 viewers were also watching online!

When Bashiru Adamu stood up to share his entrepreneurial vision during the Q&A, my first impression was exactly as he tells it here in his book, “Wow, wow, wow, wow!”

He opened his brief pitch by telling me and about 300 others crowded in the room: “I help prisoners escape from prison”.

Although this slight young man from Kaduna State in North West of Nigeria, did not look like a jailbreaker, he got all our attention immediately. A few people laughed and then all grew silent. I asked: "You did?" and he answered without a hint of a smile, "I do!"

He tells the rest of the story in this book. Not only did Bashiru’s pitch show passionate commitment to serve humanity, but he had already developed and executed a plan, drawn together key decision-makers, and found partners who supported his idea of setting up libraries and business skills programs for incarcerated prisoners in Nigeria. His vision [first sparked in 2012 during his National Youth Service year in Benue State] came to be known as the Dream Again Prison and Youth Foundation.

Having heard Bashiru boldly speak in Lagos that day, I was surprised to learn in the book that when growing up, he himself felt imprisoned and paralyzed by a mindset of self-doubt and trepidation. He writes striking words that will probably resonate with people everywhere, facing challenges at different times in their lives: “I was dead while alive. I was hopeless even when surrounded with opportunities. I just didn’t see life beyond the pain, hunger, helplessness, and the chain that held me down in my head. My life was not just a joke, it was a junk. It was a miracle I broke out of the chains”.

On the contrary, the social entrepreneur I met that Friday at my town hall, who'd also been following my Facebook entrepreneurship blog for years, stood out as someone special who did not just talk the talk [which he did memorably that day] but was also walking the talk of what he said was his favourite quote: "It's better to prepare and not meet opportunity than to meet opportunity when you are not prepared”... He was prepared!

The fifth of seven children, Bashiru shares in one chapter about the life of his entrepreneurial mother. Amazing. These are the inspiring stories of resilient, visionary, and solution-seeking African business founders that need to be published as books, made into podcasts and films, and widely shared. Make no mistake: Amidst the challenges on our continent, greatness is being born and nurtured every day.

Dr Strive Masiyiwa.
Founder and Executive Chairman, Econet Group.

Chapter I

The author narrates how he and some fellow ex-students journeyed back to their alma mater, Abdul Gusau Polytechnic (AGP) in Zamfara State. He recalls with relish the role that the library of AGP, in particular, had played in his mental development, as he was given to reading self-help books there even more than curricular texts. A book that stood out for him was ‘the Eight Laws of Buddha’.

The purpose of their journey was to get called up for national service. The author was called up to Benue State, deflating his expectation of a fancier posting and leaving him “almost hopeless.” He even tried to do something about this perceived unfavourable posting by attempting a relocation. This attempt failed, ultimately teaching him that desperation can make sometimes push us to take paths that are not the best for our future and our purpose.

The author then describes his journey to Benue, ana agrarian state. Quoting Hannibal’s famous words, “the best way to predict the future is to create one”, the author explains that while it may be difficult to fully understand one’s future beforehand, it nevertheless behoves on everyone to take responsibility for their lives. Of course, Benue turned out not to be what he wanted because it neither looked promising nor appealing. For good measure, an elderly friend of his joined his voice to discourage him from serving in Benue. To the author, this eventually highlighted the potential danger of blindly following people’s opinions.

The author’s dreams would have been truncated had his attempted relocation succeeded, and so it is for many abandoning the opportunities in their locations in the name of seeking a better life elsewhere.

Forty-eight hours after arrival on camp, and upon some deep thinking and reflection, the author decided to stay and serve in Benue, a decision that made him at peace with himself. He highlights the importance of a positive attitude. The author recalls that after five years of working in remote sub-rural areas, his non-profit vision has spread its tentacles to Kaduna and Lagos, gaining international recognition along the way. He uses this example to challenge readers to rise beyond limiting factors like traditions, societal norms and perceptions, and popular opinion, stressing again that everyone is responsible for the outcome of their lives.

Other key points the author makes in Chapter 1

  • Though not all are meant to begin from rural areas, it is important for some to begin their work rurally before spreading out. Otukpo, Benue State, where he carried out his national youth service, for him was the “gateway to the world.”
  • Beginning this way can be tough, but one only needs to push himself/herself out of limitations and refocus or expand their horizon.
  • Every city or village has opportunities buried in problems, but we often miss the opportunities in villages because our minds have been conditioned to be fixed on the glamours of city life.
  • Frustration ensues when we do not recognise the structure, nature or peculiarities of our environment and its suitability to our brands and unique skill sets.
  • When confused, just follow your guts. Opportunities elude you when you keep following people’s opinions. Once you are convinced of a decision, go all out in pursuit of it!

Chapter II

Titled 'Maximizing National Opportunity', the author, first of all, describes in detail the scheme known as the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), on which platform he went to Benue. He describes NYSC as a program aimed at involving Nigerian graduates of universities and polytechnics in nation building, a scheme akin to military conscription. Commencing in 1973, it involves graduates serving for a year in a part of the country different from their places of origin.

He recalls his time at Orientation Camp, Wanune, Benue State, where he was a platoon leader, leading his platoon to 2nd position in a cooking contest at the three-week camp. He reminisces with fondness the spirit of oneness between the campers, who were of different ethnic, religious, economic and family backgrounds.

The author worries that this spirit of unity, which is the essence of the scheme, seems to be lost on many who have passed through the scheme; they go right back to a mindset of division and disunity when they leave, instead of being ambassadors for a united nation.

The author describes in fair detail the Community Development Service (CDS), which is one of the four cardinals of the NYSC. The author took advantage of the mandatory CDS, which is an opportunity for collective or individual service to the host community. It was in embracing a personal CDS that the author hit "service gold", as, in his words, opportunities are hidden in service. Through the personal CDS. he has made an impact reverberating through his country and beyond, long after his service year.

After exiting the temporary accommodation afforded the author by one Elvis Ovhoche and moving to his own place, the author straightway set his mind on embarking on a project that would influence the world. He encourages the reader to hone/sharpen their minds like a tool to be prepared to enter the arena of purpose in order to make an impact on mankind, stressing that no one was designed to be here solely as a spectator.

The author bemoans the fact that despite the very many challenges facing rural communities, only 3% of youth corps members take up individual CDS work, highlighting the the application procedure to embark on one taught him soft skis needed at every point and in every facet of life.

Chapter III

Chapter Three, titled "Vision and Vision Helpers", details the author’s contact (and, at times, relationship) with people that played key roles in the take-off and funding of his prison-centred vision.

As the author puts it, there is no person that rose to achieve amazing feats who did not benefit from relationships, and in this chapter, he tells a story of people who were seminally influential to the inception and financing of his non-profit vision.

Firstly, Mr Fred Uloko played a key part in the take-off of the author’s vision. The author interviewed for a job, during his service year, at Mr Uloko’s newly opened eatery in Otukpo. The author made a good impression at the interview; thus, even though he eventually did not take up the job he applied for, he remained friends with Mr Uloko. It was in the course of discussions with Mr Uloko, whose office was close to the Otukpo Prison, that the idea of setting up a library in the prison was inspired, nurtured and actualised. Tagged ‘Books to Prison’, the author’s first-hand experience of the power of books to effect personal transformation gave impetus to this project.

The idea having been conceived, the author proceeded to the Otukpo Prison to seek approval for the conduct of the project. There, het met the officer in charge, Mr. Wundu, and Mr. Onoja Obekpa. The former heartily approved the project, remarking that it was for the cognitive development of the inmates. The author recounts that at this point in the project, he had crossed the river and burnt the bridge behind him; the dice had been cast and he was already “standing on the stage with the spotlight” on him.

Next came the fundraising phase. The author faced the peculiar challenge of raising funds in a town where he did not know people and the biting headache of not having enough social media dexterity at the time to raise funds for his social project. Yet, he realised that no excuse would be acceptable for failure. Somehow, gradually, the support began to roll in. First, Mr Obekpa, whom he had met at the Otukpo Prison, moved the author around the town on his motorcycle for fundraising purposes. Secondly, the author narrated how Angel F Akodi, whom he had earlier met at the eatery interview and who himself donated a chair to the prison project, introduced him to his pastor, Francis Ogah. It was Francis Ogah who, then, raised the sum of N2,500 ($5) from his congregation for the author from his congregation. The author gleefully narrates his experience of ‘making a pitch’ to the crowd of about 100. Then came the manifold support from a man of the cloth, Father Eric Agbara, who was in charge of the Catholic Mission’s prison ministry in Otukpo. He helped with renovating the prison building assigned to the author for the execution of his project. Finally, the author states that he approached Justice, Development and Peace Commission (JDPC), a Catholic organisation, where he met Mrs Patricia Ogwuche. The author became cordial with her and visited her frequently to discuss the project. She supported the project with the sum of N14,000 and subsequently donated money for the purchase of eight chairs.

Throughout this chapter, the author dropped key life lessons, which he personally gained from his experience commencing the project and raising money for it. Notable among these lessons are –

  • People and destinies are aligned sometimes in the most unusual places. Sometimes we meet the person who will be of help to assist us to achieve our goals at the most unusual places where you may not even imagine at all.
  • You have to be properly positioned to attract the sort of support that can bring a lifting.
  • Relationships can buy much more than money can afford, and what you do with the opportunities that relationships bring to you is totally up to you.
  • Ideas flow abundantly in the course of discussions with great minds.
  • Ideas don’t necessarily have to come from your own head; they can come to you from friends or colleagues in the form of suggestions or just in the process of exchanging thoughts.
  • It is possible for help to show up for you but if you are not ready to take it, the platform would be wasted. You owe it to yourself to raise your level of competence. You must prepare yourself for opportunities!
  • People, including seemingly unimportant people, are necessary to give effect to a project and locals can help gather the required momentum for the take-off and success of a project.
  • When there is burning passion within you for a cause, you do not need to be a good public speaker to be able to talk about it; yet, it is important to learn the skill of effective communication.
  • Before you have a public speaking session, it is important to think, rehearse and know what to say, repeating your points to yourself as often as necessary.
  • In trying to give wings to your vision, it is important to attract people who would support the vision and whose support would help to give direction to the vision.
  • The universe knows how to help people who are ready to help humanity, but you must do your own part of knocking on the relevant doors. It is easy to draw support for a project if you have a track record of financial integrity.

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