In the years before Facebook, nobody cared about theWhite Plains,New Yorkborn Mark Elliot Zuckerberg. Although he excelled in science and could read and write French, Hebrew, Latin, and ancient Greek before college, he didn’t catch anybody’s attention and no one could have thought he’d end up being one of the youngest billionaires in the world. He showed his genius in computer quite early.

In the early 90s, Mark’s father, Edward Zuckerberg, a dentist taught his son Atari BASIC programming. He later hired a private tutor, David Newman, a software developer to build on Mark’s background. Newman called Mark a prodigy and said it was tough to stay ahead of him. Writer, Jose Antonio Vargas wrote; “Some kids played computer games, Mark created them.” Mark’s music player called the Synapse Media Player built during his high school years caught the eyes of Microsoft and AOL. They made efforts to purchase Synapse and recruit Zuckerberg, but he turned down their offer and enrolled atHarvardUniversity.

On February 4, 2004, Zuckerberg launched Facebook from his Harvard dormitory. With roommate, Dustin Moskovitz’s help, Facebook changed from just being a “Harvard thing” and spread to other schools (Stanford,Dartmouth,Columbia,New YorkUniversity, Cornell, Penn, Brown, and Yale)

Mark moved toPalo Alto,Californiawith his roomie and some friends. They leased a small house that served as an office. Peter Thiel later invested in the company.

A lot of big offers came in for Facebook, but Mark was not distracted from his mission of “making the world open.”

Mark Zuckerberg has written many programs. He is the chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Facebook with 24% stake worth $16.9billion in the company which went on Nasdaq last week with the IPO price set at $38. He became the world’s youngest billionaire as of 2008 at age 24. He married 27year old Priscilla Chan, a pediatrician whom he met in 2003 at age 28. He has sat with the great men of this universe. He has dined with kings and has employed Ph.Ds, but he didn’t finish at Harvard. He dropped out and went after his dreams.

It’s so sad thatNigeriais a country where talents are not appreciated except recently musical talents. We seem to lack parents who could discover their kids’ talents early in life and help foster it like Zuckerberg’s father did. We also lack kids with guts who would follow their dreams and not give a damn about what people will say. More pathetically, we lack an environment that support genius and pay for brains.

Mark Zuckerberg is today one of the most successful young men in history. He didn’t achieve all he has achieved with a university degree. Nigeria can be great again if we will start looking beyond certificates, start identifying sheer genius and nurturing it.

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