For this weeks edition of the Lunch Break Interview Series, I interviewed Raymond Ativie. I came to know Raymond through Instagram! He has such a kind and genuine heart and I have loved seeing his culture through his instagram feed. He has such a beautiful family!
“My name is Raymond Ativie, I have two middle (native) names Iredia (paternal grandad gave that to me) and Chukwuebuka (maternal grand mum gave that to me).” -Raymond
“We grew up apart for the first few years, until we eventually moved to Lagos where we all grew up together.” -Raymond
“I studied computer science in the University and graduated in 2015. I discovered programming while in school and haven’t looked back since. Me and a friend started a small business right after school, Reftek Consulting (we build websites, mobile apps and mobile applications for businesses and individuals), it’s been going great so far and that’s what I currently do.” – Raymond
“I love to read christian books, behavioral books and well thought out content of any kind, I try to write sometimes, but I don’t think i’m any good at it. For sports, I used to like to play soccer, but lately I haven’t had the time nor energy. I’m a christian and making God the center of my life is a goal I try to achieve everyday.” – Raymond
If you were to explain Nigeria to someone who has never been there, what would you say?
Nigeria is an incredible experience. It’s more than a location on the map, it’s a combination of amazing people with different mindsets, beauty, culture and languages. Because of the diversity of cultures in Nigeria, each state of Nigeria has it’s own unique set of experiences.
I live in Lagos which is comparable to LA in the US. It’s the city where dreams are made. It’s the economical capital of Nigeria and filled with what we like to refer to as “hustle and bustle”. The people of Lagos are very friendly, humorous and always in a hurry. They like to work hard, and also play hard. Definitely a stop for someone looking for the de facto Nigerian experience.
Have you ever traveled to the US? If so, did you like it? Why or why not?
I’ve been to the US about 5 times in total. Currently in the US now. It’s my favorite place to visit. I have family who live here and its always a joy to come say hello. I love the weather (especially just before winter) it never get as cold as it gets in the US in Nigeria, and I’ve always loved cold weather. I love how it feels like a breath of fresh air, the clear skies, the lack of traffic, the peace and quiet. I love it. It’s a calm away from the “chaos” I’ve come to enjoy as a Nigerian. It feels like a place of rest and self indulgence every once in a while.
I love the interesting characters I come across everyday while I’m here, the friendly people who go out of their way to help you and the incredible experience I’m exposed to everytime I visit.
Have you visited any other countries besides the US? Would you ever move out of Nigeria?
Yes, I have visited 3 other countries. UAE (Dubai), Canada and Ghana. I’m not a big fan of traveling, but I hope to do a European tour sometime soon.
I have thought about that a couple of times, and my family in the US always try to persuade me to come to the US. But I personally don’t see myself moving out of Nigeria permanently, at least not anytime soon. I love to take vacations or breaks in other countries, to broaden my experiences.
Most of my family and friends are in Nigeria, and what I’ve built for myself so far is also in Nigeria. Maybe sometime in the future, I’ll decide to move, but for now I think I’m very comfortable here.
Do you get to spend time with your siblings? What is your favorite thing to do together?
I have 6 siblings in total. 3 brothers and 3 sisters and I absolutely adore each and every one of them. They are spread through out. I have a brother who lives in Canada and two sisters who live in the US. The rest of us are live in Nigeria. Although we all grew up in the same house, as we got older it got harder for all of us to be at the same place at the same time. It just makes every moment we get to meet much more precious. I love to bond over video games with my brothers and just catch up on life with my sisters anytime I have the chance. We all have distinct and different personalities which makes our times together loud, funny and totally delightful. We haven’t all been together for a while now, but the last time we were, we didn’t even go out, we just hung out at home together and talked for hours and hours. It was awesome!
It is absolutely refreshing to read about the relationship you have with your family! What did childhood look like for you and your siblings?
My child hood was good. My earliest memories was living with my grandmother we lived in Kaduna a state north of Nigeria. Before my parents and all my siblings moved to Lagos to live together, I was about 4 or 5 at the time if I remember correctly. We were 7 kids, except for my oldest sibling, we all went to the same Primary school. All 6 of us coming down from the school bus. Teachers found it hilarious. We always had each others back, and none of us got bullied because we had a sibling on almost every level who was ready to stand up for us.
When we played soccer at home, we were enough to make a small team on each side. And when it was time to eat, we had this small tune we sang out loud where we listed everyones name name from the oldest to the youngest and then add “Come and eat your food right now” at the end. 😂. It’s a funny song now that I think about it.
My childhood was really fun and eventful, from a rowdy lunch and dinner table, to small fashion shows we throw when we were bored.
We eventually grew up, and as each went to boarding school, our numbers reduced.
Why did programming capture your attention?
I’ve always had a thing for computers since my dad got us a desktop back when I was about 10. I’ve always loved using them. I discovered programming through a friend when I got to university. What really got my attention is that you’re able to create literally anything you want. You can think of an idea, and make your computer do it. It was very fascinating for me. I loved it. It started out as just a hobby, but as time went on and I got better with practice, it’s been my primary source of income and a major part of my days. Another great thing I love about programming is there is no barrier to entry. All you need is a laptop and internet connection. There are A LOT of free resources online to get you started from beginner to expert. There’s always something new and exciting to learn and that keeps me motivated every day.
Congrats on starting a small business! How is it doing? What was the hardest part about getting it started?
Thank you. It’s been growing great so far. I absolutely love it cause I’m basically being paid for a hobby I could do for free. It feels really rewarding and I feel blessed and thankful to have such an opportunity. It was really tough at first. Me and my friend started out with no experience trying to take on tough projects, build our clientele and deliver great value. We had a lot of time management problems as well as managing client expectation. It was tough work. But having a great support system of friends and family, determination, perseverance and innocent ignorance, we pulled through and grew the business. It’s been such an amazing journey, not without its obstacles but totally worthwhile.
Through your Instagram, I’ve noticed that dance is a big part of your culture compared to ours here in the US. What does dance mean to you and does it bring joy?
Haha yes. Dance is really big part of Nigerian society, there’s always a new style, new move or something.
But on a personal level I don’t dance at all (unless silly dances of small victories in private). On my 11th birthday party, I was dancing and all the other kids were laughing, I’m not sure what they were laughing at, but I thought it was me. And I never really danced since then 😅. Except the occasional left to right dance steps at church lol.
Do you believe in God? If so, how did you come to believe in Him?
Yes I do believe in God. I’m a Christian and I believe Jesus came and died for my sins and rose again. I have eternal life because I believe in him.
I didn’t always have a personal relationship with God. I grew up in a Christian home and always had a sense of what was right and what was wrong. I always tried my best to do what was right whenever I could, and saw God as this big man sitting on a big chair somewhere looking down and judging my every action.
It wasn’t until early in my university days, I went for a fellowship and a young man, not much older than me was talking about his personal relationship with God. That meeting opened my heart to the possibility of know God on a personal level, not only as “my God” but as a caring loving father, and as a friend who is closer than a brother. That night changed my life and my perspective and I’ve been growing in intimacy with God ever since.
I’ve had my ups and downs, hard times and times when I was less willing to submit to his will. But everyday, he reminds me why he is worth it, and his overwhelming love and overwhelming willingness to forgive always reminds me that there is no one I’ll rather follow/obey than Jesus Christ.
Personal Instagram: @raymondativie
I had a great time interviewing Raymond! I am so grateful for his friendship and I love following along his life through instagram. Raymond is so kind and inspiring and a joy to know!