Okechukwu Livingstone Ikefuama is based in the ever-busy commercial city of Aba in Abia State, Nigeria. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in History and Diplomatic Studies from the University of Port Harcourt where he graduated with a 4.25/5.0 CGPA.
After years of exploring the job market in search of good opportunities, Okechukwu got the opportunity of being part of a finished leather training organized by the Footwear Academy through the PIND NDYEP program sponsored by Ford Foundation. This was the beginning of his journey into shoemaking.
“I wake up at around 6am and do my morning devotion as a Christian, after which I prepare and set off to the shop to make some wears for the day. In between work, I create some free time to engage friends, family and others online, and after completing my tasks for the day, I return home to help family whom I live with, do some studying and then go to bed at about 10 or 11pm. Some days I stay longer or sleep earlier, it depends on the day.”
Despite being a shoemaker for only about one year, Okechukwu says, “…I like the fact that I am able to build trust in local production of footwear in Nigeria and also help reduce capital flight.”
Regarding his dreams for the future, Okechukwu says, “I see myself becoming a major competitor in the area of finished leather, not just in Nigeria but in Africa as well. I also want to be a reputable advocate for peace and alternative dispute resolution.” This passion for Peacebuilding stems from his engagements with Bayelsa-based NGO, Peace House Revival Labours as far back as 2017 and he also recently enrolled in the Master’s program in Peace, Security and Humanitarian Affairs at the prestigious University of Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria which he hopes to complete by 2022.
Okechukwu loves many aspects of the Niger Delta. He itemizes these many likes and interests as follows, “As for the language, of course I love the rhythmic Igbo which is my native language. As for fashion, I like the Etibo attire popularly worn in South-South region of the Niger Delta. I love the achara soup of Umuahia, and the Isoko banga soup (my mum is Isoko). Geographically, I love the many rivers and creeks in the Niger Delta, and this really amazes me when I travel by water. The aqua life of the region is really wonderful and we must protect it.”