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Leaders: This Nigerian billionaire was so poor at some point his in-law shot him for asking to marry their daughter

 Leaders: This Nigerian billionaire was so poor at some point his in-law shot him for asking to marry their daughter 

Sometime in 1978, a 19 year old upcoming Nigerian entrepreneur named Cosmos Maduka was ready to get a wife. It was part of his vision in life to settle down early so as to build together with his wife towards becoming a millionaire by the age of 25. Already, he had found love in a young woman named Charity. So, in line with the traditions of the Igbo people of South Eastern Nigeria, arrangements were made for Cosmos to go to Charity's family house and formally ask for her hand in marriage.
But on that faithful day of the introduction, something shockingly unexpected happened he got shot three times by one of his wife's uncles!  

Leaders: This Nigerian billionaire was so poor at some point his in-law shot him for asking to marry their daughter 

"My wife did me a favour by marrying me. When I approached her, my pocket was empty but my faith was full. But she could see ahead and she believed in me. But her parents thought she was insane. They thought I've bewitched her, which was why her uncle shot me three times and said he will kill me. You see, her parents were like the upper-class in our village. It's just like an "Area Boy" going to Mike Adenuga's house to propose marriage to his daughter. I mean, just look at what my grammar is like today and compare it to what it was like forty-something years ago. And this was a lady that was in school. They asked her 'what is your frustration?'

They actually believed that I bewitched her and her uncle did that to protect her," Cosmos told Plus TV Africa during a 2020 exclusive interview.

You probably chuckled a lot while reading that quote. As a matter of fact, it's even more hilarious watching him recollect the event of that particular day. But as hilarious as it was, you can't take away from the fact that it was also a scary moment. Imagine getting shot at by your fiancĂ©'s uncle just because he thought you are too poor to marry his niece! 

Mind you, Cosmos Maduka had no formal education. He literally had no prospects in life. On top of that, he had just survived the tragic and emotionally-jarring experience that was the Nigerian Civil War

But he did not give up. Thanks to his mother who had instilled confidence in him and taught him to always be optimistic, he grew up with the mentality that he too could be successful no matter the difficulties of life. This was why when he collected the $0.48 from his uncle, he used it as a seed capital for his auto spare parts business. 

How Cosmos Maduka went from being so impoverished at some point to building a multi-million dollar empire is a story you need to inspire you this Saturday afternoon. That is why we want to tell it again, even though it has already been told countless times before. Let's start from the beginning.

A very difficult childhood 

Publicly available records show that Cosmos Maduka was born on December 24, 1958 in Nnewi, a town in Anambra State of Nigeria. Unfortunately, his father died just a few years after his birth, thereby leaving his mother to take care of him and the rest of his siblings.

By age six, a very young Maduka was sent off to Lagos to serve his trader uncle, in line with the long-running Igbo apprenticeship system.

Being an apprentice meant that he was almost like a servant. He earned no wages from his uncle. All he could count on was food, clothing and shelter... and of course the rudimentary business lessons he was getting.

In 1976, many years since Maduka began serving his uncle, there was a dispute between them. And this led to the young man being settled with just N200 ($0.48) which back then was a bit more valuable than it is today, but still wasn't enough settlement by any standard. But the budding entrepreneur was ecstatic over his freedom nonetheless.

He boldly told his uncle to watch out for him because he was definitely going to be successful. 

"I was excited, and my excitement was definitely not because of the N200. My excitement was because of the ability to do with my life as I desired, starting from that day. I was no more under anybody's tutelage. But I still looked my uncle in his face and reminded him that I served him well and I deserved something better than N200. I never stole from him. But if his mind was made up that that was how much he was settling me with, so be it. But I will excel nonetheless."

Now, the apprenticeship system among the Igbo people of Nigeria works in such a way that upon completion of the programme, young men are properly settled by their masters and set up to stand on their own. Ideally, it is the responsibility of the master to rent a shop for their graduating apprentices, stock up the shop with some merchandise and even give them some seed capital to start with.

But in the case of Cosmos, he got basically nothing. But his bad experience with the system never deterred him. As a matter of fact, he still describes it as one of the best things that ever happened to him. According to him, the apprenticeship programme is probably the best business school anyone could go through. The Harvard Business Review seems to agree, having published a paper earlier this year calling the apprenticeship system.

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