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MY BITCOIN STORY – FROM CRYPTO TRADER TO BITCOINER
It was one of those cold mid-April mornings. As characteristically as I had been doing for many months already, I turned on the cooker to boil some water for my customary morning cup of coffee. The weather must have been about 20 degrees or less as it usually is in Kigali, Rwanda. It was always cold – often chilly – for me, a guy that grew up in the predominantly hot and humid south-eastern part of Nigeria. So, settling into the habit of having my fix of that hot caffeinated beverage, since I arrived in the country a little over a year ago, was unavoidable. Then suddenly, my flat-mate Dayo, walked into the living room screaming my name. He had recently started paying keen interest to Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies for the number-go-up benefits. This was after the bitcoin he left in my LocalBitcoin wallet had gained in its dollar value by over 30%. He earned this Bitcoin after I had helped him receive payments from a client of his.
Caption: Image Courtesy Pexels by Greta Hoffman
You might be wondering what the cause of the excitement was. Right? Well, Dayo had just realized that bitcoin had hit the $60k price mark. This meant that his stack of a few million sats – the lowest denomination of a bitcoin – had now become more valuable in fiat terms than it was when he first purchased them. His excitement was so palpable you could almost feel it. I too was excited, for two reasons. Firstly, it was because of my incessant, never ending talk about Bitcoin and Cryptocurrencies that pushed him to dabble in it. And now, he was in profit – smiling as he went to the bank. Secondly, I had a few million sats as well, even though my stack was to be traded for profit as soon as my take-profit order was hit. Yes, at the time, I was still a crypto-trader, chasing the next filled take-profit order, not knowing that all I needed was to hold the hardest form of money known to man, bitcoin.
I know it might seem rather abnormal that I chose to start telling my Bitcoin story from this particular, arguably mundane moment. But that was one of the many moments that contributed to my decision; no matter what else I was going to do with my life, I had to continue working to spread the word about the kind of financial freedom this new monetary technology can bring to humanity. Though at the time, that line of thinking was inspired by the number-go-up aspect of the technology, I hadn’t really taken in any other aspect, which was the reason why I was still shitcoining. My “aha-moment” didn’t come until around the end of 2021 when I first applied as a contributor for Bitcoin Magazine. But that’s me, skipping too far ahead. Let’s go back to when I had my first exposure to Bitcoin.
BACK TO THE BEGINNING
I can’t recall exactly when I first heard the word Bitcoin, but I recall coming across some BTC faucets back in 2013-2014, but I didn’t know what it was, and I didn’t bother sticking around long enough to find out. Then came 2016. At the time I was into a bunch of hustles; real estate, used-car sales and some casual importation deals here and there. My partners and I had managed to net a few back-to-back deals that yielded good returns and I was looking for somewhere to invest my earnings. I then learned that this Bitcoin thing was some kind of digital money, but its true use case was still unclear. It even had an illegal undertone to me. This was because I had come across it a few times when it was suggested to be an alternative to moving funds internationally without the need of a bank. Furthermore, all of the restrictions that normally come with traditional financial systems, that were normal to me at the time, were non-existent.
By then, I had become marginally curious about Bitcoin. I even recall looking up its price from time to time on the internet. However, I was still hesitant, and that was because I was still misinformed. Instead, I chose to invest 300,000 naira, or the equivalent of about $860 at the time, in one of the most popular ponzi schemes in Nigeria back then, Mavordi Mundial Movement, or MMM for short. And why did I choose to do that? you might ask. Well, because I knew a bunch of people who had been cashing out from the scheme for months, probably since the beginning of the year. Sadly, I never got my chance to cash out as well because the month after I invested in it, the whole system crashed, and with it my $860, as well as millions of dollars from other Nigerians who had invested.
A picture of Nigerians celebrating MMM’s one year anniversary only weeks before it collapsed.
I actually had a lot more money to invest than a thousand dollars. And as such, in addition to the MMM investment – if you can call it that, I put a far greater sum into Nigerian treasury bills, tenured for a year, and received an 18% return paid upfront. If I had taken the time to really understand Bitcoin, I would have been able to snag it at about $700, which was the price towards the end of the year, and rode the runup to the 2017 cycle top of $20,000. Instead, I was stuck on the sidelines, watching mainstream media for price updates as they sang about the Bitcoin bull-run.
The bitcoin price chart with November 2016 highlighted.
THE FUSE WAS LIT
Well, it was not all bad. The fuse of curiosity had been lit now, I wanted to know more. Lucky for me, I had already started taking forex courses, so grasping the general idea wasn’t too much of a challenge, especially with respect to trading. The bad part however, was that it led me down the shitcoining path because the very first cryptocurrency I bought was Ethereum. After that, I picked up a bunch of crypto, like Dogecoin, Digibyte and the like. Sadly, I was holding a bag of shitcoins, in a bear market, and we all know how painful that can be, even for someone with more experience than I. I don’t think I held them for more than 3 or 4 months before I sold them and decided to focus on forex. Occasionally I was looking at the price of bitcoin, as the digital asset still fascinated me.
Over the months that followed, after gaining some technical analysis skills, I dabbled into crypto trading again and made some decent profits here and there. But I never lost sight of how Bitcoin seemed like the more solid option out there. Then In 2019, I bought my first few sats, about $2,000 worth and boy, was I glad I did. Somehow it felt exciting knowing that I owned a piece of this interesting asset class that a lot of people knew about, but very few understood.
Then came 2020. I needed a change of environment, so I traveled to Kigali, Rwanda, just before the pandemic broke out, and got stuck there as a result of the lockdowns. Those were some of the most difficult months I’ve experienced in recent times. As if it wasn’t bad enough that I was stuck in a country where I didn’t know anyone, I received news of my mum’s passing, and to date, I don’t know how I managed to survive it all. However, it got lighter as time passed. The country grew on me so I decided to stick around a while longer. When the lockdowns eased off, I was able to once again socialize. That was when I met Dayo, my flat-mate.
As I got to meet people, I realized that practically everyone I spoke with had heard about Bitcoin and Cryptocurrencies, but they knew almost nothing about them. I found that even with my limited knowledge, I was the one person everyone called on whenever they had Bitcoin or crypto related questions. I ended up helping quite a few people buy their first bitcoin. Thinking back, I now realize that I missed out on the opportunity to orange-pill a lot of people. But what did I know then? I hadn’t really been orange-pilled myself. It was all about chasing the next 100X low-cap shitcoin, or grinding on the Discord channel of some NFT project for whitelist slots. Those were some days though.
INTO THE RABBIT HOLE
As time went by, I decided to open a digital asset consulting firm, where I taught people and helped them get set up on their crypto trading and investing journey. I also started a cryptocurrency podcast and began writing articles on Medium. But I needed more reach and credibility if I was to thrive in the space as a consultant, so the idea to connect with a larger, more established platform came up. A friend of mine on Twitter suggested that I apply with Bitcoin Magazine, which I did. But when I wrote and submitted my first draft about Bitcoin adoption, it didn’t sit right with the editor because I was talking about Bitcoin, as well as Crypto, which meant to them that I had not fully grasped Bitcoin and why it should be the only digital asset anyone should focus on. I was then asked to read the Bitcoin Whitepaper, as well as a few other Bitcoin books and publications. That was it. The minute I picked up “The Bitcoin Standard,” by Saifadean Ammous, was the day it began. It started happening – the ground had caved in and I was tumbling down the rabbit hole, loving every minute of it, and wondering what I had even been thinking when I was shitcoining. I am still tumbling down the hole, but I have to say this, if I call the experience so far an illuminating one, that would be a gross understatement.
Bitcoin is a paradigm shift in the way we think about money and value. As I have journeyed down this rabbit hole, I have come to appreciate the profound impact it has on our world, from its obvious disruption of the current financial system, to its ability to promote financial inclusion and empower individuals. The decentralized nature of Bitcoin challenges the traditional power structures and offers a new, brightly illuminated path towards economic freedom and independence for the individual. Despite the challenges and uncertainties that undoubtedly lie ahead for this nascent monetary technology, I am glad to have taken this journey and I look forward to the endless possibilities ahead. As Mahatma Gandhi rightly stated; “first they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” And as it often is said in the Bitcoin space, “slowly, then suddenly.”. It might not seem obvious to normie eyes, but alas, Bitcoin is winning.
This a guest post by Emeka Ugbah. Opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of Satoshi’s Journal.