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Monologue with Adedapo Ola

Ola, Adedapo
Ahn, Jae-Young
Date of Interview: 
Relationship with People and Places; Overcoming Obstacles
Adedapo Ola talks about childhood adventures and coming to the US
Charlotte Narrative and Conversation Collection
Collection Description: 
Jae-young Ahn interviews Charlotteans to collect stories for a class project at UNC Charlotte.
Interview Audio: 
[Loud Muffled Noise] AO (Adedapo Ola): Yes. Well, I think I was about 12 years old, ah, my neighbors, my neighbors, ah, kids were all friends, you know, so, ah, I went next door. And I was bored so I went next door and I was looking for something to do. So where, where I'm from most people have cooks and, you know, people who help you clean the house, so I went next door to the neighbor's house and, ah, the kids were not home and the parents were not home, it was just the cook. So he knew me and so he let me in, you know. So I went into the neighbor's closet and I was just, I don't know I guess I was stupid or something [laugh]. Anyway, I went into the closet and I saw some paper like newspaper on the floor and, ah, there happened to be like a match, like matches. So I picked up the match and I lit the newspaper on the floor and I closed the closet and I went home [laugh]. So all I remember, I mean it's been so long, but all I remember was, ah, I was at home in the living room, you know, and then I saw my mom and the neighbor's wife, you know, walk into my house so fast [laugh]. So I knew I was going to be in trouble. I don't remember what happened next. I guess I, I got beaten real bad [laugh]. But you know [pause] that's one of the little things I did when I was small, you know. ( ) Your roommate is probably sleeping right now right? ( ) All I can say is, ah, I guess most of the time I was ( ) when I was younger and, ah, I had a lot of experiences when I was younger. Well, for starters, I was born in England and then I think I stayed there for maybe three year, four years before we moved back to Nigeria. Then, my father was, um, my father had graduated school, gotten, gotten his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering. And then my mother, ah, I think she was she was, she got pregnant with my sister, my sister very young and, um, so she didn't really finish school. So my understanding is when we went back to Nigeria, my father got a job at the air company and started, ah, I don't remember what position he was doing but he started somewhere in the bottom. And, ah, my mom, my mom did, you know, all sorts of jobs just to kind of help ends meet. I know where she started off. She started off as a midwife and I think that's basically what help mother's give birth. Then I remember she also started out as a, being a midwife, she got a job as a secretary to what was like a, it was like a police commissioner's secretary. So she did that for a while. And then I remember, I remember one time she also opened a beauty shop and this was the time when everybody had, um, you know about Jheri curls. It's like a perm, you know, those days when they had the perm where, it's not a perm but like your hair is really curly, you know? So my mom opened a beauty shop and, of course, you know if she is going to open a beauty shop she has to test the products out so I and my sister were the first people she tested it on, you know [laugh]. It was so funny. I remember that, I remember I had the Jheri curl and I went into the house and my father saw it and he said, "What in the world is that?" So he made me cut off all of my hair. That is one of those moments that I remember. Then after that she opened a, um, I don't know why I keep talking about my mom but my mom was really, ah, determined, ah, because in Nigeria in those days a woman was not, I don't know, it was more like the men did all the work and the woman stayed at home. But my mom wasn't after that, she wanted something else to do. So anyway she opened up, ah, opened like, it's called, like kind of like a distributor where you buy like minerals, Coke, Fanta, all those kinds of things. And she was like supplying to companies and all that stuff so she opened a little shop like that. And she started, ah, distributing those things. The next thing you know [laughs] she opened up a hotel. [Laugh] Yeah, she opened a hotel and, ah, yeah, and you know, she started catering guests and would have people come in and gosh, I mean those days were really terrible because we would come home for holidays and would have to work and my mom and my sister. My mom was kind of, she's kind of tough, you know. My father was quiet, you know. Basically, he went to work in the morning, he left the house about seven. I remember he left the house about seven o'clock and the only thing he ever ate in the morning was his tea. If he didn't have his tea he was really mad. So he'd have his tea, he went to work and then we didn't see him until about nine so that's probably why I am always talking about my mom because we spent the whole day with my mom. So anyway she opened a hotel and we had guests coming in and we'd cook them food and, you know, all that stuff, all that good stuff. And then I remember she, as part of the hotel there was, because I was really good with electronics I would always like open all the walls and you know, wire things up, put the fuses in the box. So she opens like a, like a bar kind of thing on the side of the hotel and it had a disco. So I was the DJ [laugh]. I go there and put all the lights and put all the records and go over there and try to be a DJ, I guess. And I wasn't good at that, my voice was terrible [laugh], you know, but people liked the music so that was good. Anyway she did that and then, um, my parents, like I said, my parents went to school in England so they've always wanted us to kind of school overseas, you know. So I remember once, ah, we have the relative in, ah, North Carolina, my cousin I hadn't seen him in a while, so my mom, she kind of, I guess I was young, you know, I didn't know what was going on, so all that she told my dad was that we were coming to visit. So I came here like most people on an F-1 visa, actually to visit my cousin and then, um, next thing I know my mom says, "Hey, you know, it's very nice here. We want to pick you a school and, you know, stay here." So she left me here. Of course my dad was upset he found out she didn't tell him she was going to do that, you know. [Laugh] And being that my dad went to school in England he didn't really like, um, the American schooling system. I mean he also went to school I think somewhere in New York. Columbia, I think, Columbia University. He went to school there once but he didn't really like the US. But you have to understand my father. My father is really old fashioned. He is African but he was raised pretty much, I mean he went to school in England in those days ( ) English, English, English, you know, gentlemen type. So that's why he doesn't like the US because the US was kind of always wild and crazy or something or other. I don't know, he felt like people were just, ah, you know, to put it in layman's terms, lack of manners, [laugh] you know. But anyway, long story short, I stayed here. I was able to get my green card and that was, that was a very funny story because I don't know if you've heard about they have this lottery program where, um, you put your name, you send your name in a postcard, put your name on a sheet of paper and you mail it out and then the, all these guys at immigration put your name in a bucket and they pick your name, and if your name comes out then, hey, you've got a green card. So I remember that day when I'd done it, we have to hire a lawyer because my mom wanted to make sure I got it, so, and being the fact that I was born in England I used my British, um, passport to apply that and the time I applied you can send them as many postcards as possible you can send them as many I mean if you wanted to send in a hundred postcards you can send them. So what we did is we hired a lawyer and this lawyer had friends in like different places in the US so they sent the postcards from different locations in the US just to make my chances better. And I won so I was like, "Hey!" Green card I had, remember when the, ah, there was this lady she was a friend of my mom, like a family friend and she sat me down she said, "Do you know how lucky you are? You know how many people apply for these things every year? You won!" And I was like, "Won? What does that mean?" I mean I didn't see a green card in my hand all I heard is I won, you know, I didn't understand it [laugh]. But what it was basically, was you basically get to have a green card, you just go sit down at immigration and interview, get your green card, so, which is cool. But, um, the story of my life I've been lucky a lot lately, I guess. But, uh, the sad story of my life was my parents got divorced. I have two sisters. I have a younger sister, she moved to Seattle, Washington [audio fades out].