This Entrepreneur Learned the Difference Between Black And White in Nigeria

He learned more about race as a concept, rather than a “box,” while working overseas.

By Joy DiazApril 4, 2016 11:07 am|

This story originally aired April, 4, 2016.

Jehiel Oliver is the founder of Hello Tractor – a technology company that developed a “smart” tractor for farmers in Nigeria. Oliver, who’s African-American, has spent time in Nigeria working with local farmers to use his tractors.

“In Nigeria, they’re not weird about race like we are in the U.S.,” he says. “They call me white in Nigeria, because they associate that with American culture.”

Nigerians don’t understand “boxing people in” based on skin color, Oliver says. The idea of race, for Nigerians, is more about culture. “I am who I am – I’m a white guy!” he says, laughing.

“They’re actually quite a few steps ahead of us,” Oliver says, “in terms of how they related to each other and how they relate to the world.”