Hi BellaStylistas! It’s Isoken and every month, I’ll be sharing a short letter spotlighting our monthly theme from my personal perspective and giving you an idea of some of the amazing content we have planned. Welcome to our #NigerianDream issue !

Editor-At-Large Isoken Ogiemwonyi introduces BellaNaija Style’s #NigerianDream theme for March.

What is The Nigerian Dream? It’s a question I’ve always asked myself. A quick gander at Quora threads like this one and this Guardian Nigeria article raise even more questions than answers.

And while it might seem like a fustian level of hope, especially with the joke of our presidential elections – I cling to the understandably paltry belief that the Nigerian Dream is more akin to the one in Ice Prince’s book.

I want to believe more in what Nigeria could be as opposed to what it is (and yes I know this is the same song of ‘potential’ we have been singing since our official birth as a nation in 1960). It may seem even more absurd in light of our the doom and gloom predictions post-elections and stories of snakes swallowing cash and other unimaginable absurdities.

We will focus more on how far we have come, especially in the arts – where the ‘lazy Nigerian youth’ have flourished in spite of the horrific circumstances in which we find ourselves. A hostile environment where small businesses are our own local governments, where it feels like you are being actively stifled at every turn and quite frankly scale is the enemy. And yet we have produced brands and businesses like the BellaNaija behemoth, fashion brands like Orange Culture and Kenneth Ize, Maki Oh and Lisa Folawiyo ; million dollar beauty brands like House of Tara and incredible cultural ambassadors like Kemi Adetiba, Adesua Etomi, Somkele Iyamah Idhalama, Burna Boy, Davido and WizKid. Internationally recognised, on their way to being household names, and created entirely independently (via the private sector ecosystem).

It’s  International Women’s Day on the 8th of March and Women’s Month throughout the month and our theme will follow in that vein – celebrating innovators and trailblazers in the lifestyle space who are representative of women and men who are living the proverbial dream. They tell us what inspires them, what International Women’s Day means to them and we learn all the different ways we can celebrate International Women’s Day collectively and individually, and our super fun #BNSWomensMonth Challenge.

Let’s celebrate the excellence of women in Nigeria as well as the hope for a Nigeria with purpose and focus, a Nigeria we can actually be proud of.

PS: Speaking of #AfricanExcellence, huge congratulations to BellaNaija Style Junior Editor  Mary Edoro on her inclusion in the YNaija New Establishment List.