Former Gogglebox Ireland star and Fine Gael councillor Yemi Adenuga has told Meath Live that she believes Ireland has a racist problem, and that it should look inwardly as to how it relates to the travelling community more than outwardly towards how we relate to the immigrant population.
She was speaking out after it emerged that she had been targeted by online trolls some of whom even attempted to blackmail her.
She said, ‘ There are genuine people in Ireland who are trying to deal with racism and I feel they need to realise charity begins at home and look at how members of the travelling community are treated.
‘Ireland has a racist issue with travellers they as a community feel exluded
‘There is no point looking outward at the immigrants when there is an issue much closer to home.
‘And always the first step to solving a problem is realising there is one in the first place.
‘It does exist, even locally, I had the N word used towards me when I was campaigning in the local elections, I ignored those who said it and didn’t engage with them, my husband did though he believes that if you are nice to people they respond well, he even ended up giving them a leaflet of mine.
‘It is long gone time to stop using words like inclusion and diversity and actually start acting on them’.
Yemi strongly advocates that social media giants, Twitter and Facebook have to step up to the plate in regards to all abuse dealt out on their sites, not just that of the racial variety, although she has experienced that herself.
‘Online trolls tried to blackmail me and that was a step too far, I can handle the racist posts and the abuse that you get as a politician and a black person but when they start to issue threats that crosses the line.
‘They said I wasn’t Irish and they ordered me to pay a lot of money to an account and to step down from the council,
‘They said I had no right to be a councillor and gave me a deadline to pay.
‘They said they knew where I lived. I went to the guards. I was scared for my family.
‘ I kept phoning my children to make sure they were safe as they made their way home from school.
‘ There are a lot of closed minds here and not just in terms of colour, one thing I didn’t expect when I got elected was that people would continually approach a problem in the same way they always did.
‘ The attitude is that we always did things this way and we will continue to do things this way, I try and look at a different way of finding a solution, but people need to open their minds more to see opportunities for the community.
‘The fact of the matter is the Irish and the Nigerians have a lot in common, there are still people alive who remember the signs in the UK that said, ‘No Irish, No Blacks, No dogs!
‘Both nations know what it is like to be forced from their own land and their own territory and both peoples know what it is like to feel excluded’.
Asked how an Irish family would be accepted should they decamp to down town Lagos, Yemi is insistent things would be a lot different.
‘Nigerians are always intrigued as to why outsiders would want to come and live there , they’d be keen to integrate them, they would show them the local traditions and customs and probably invite them to parties.’
Part of the local Nigerian tradition is a belief in the powers of witch doctors and
Adenuga again sees a link with Ireland.
‘I come from a town about an hour from Lagos and we had witch doctors there, I wouldn’t use them but I know people who have and say they worked for them, it is similar to how Irish people view faith healers’.
There’s also the small matter of the Jollof rice wars consuming Nigeria and its neighbours at the moment.
The celebration dish is hugely popular in countries such as Senegal, Ghana, Nigeria, Gambia, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Cameroon.
The reddish one-pot dish is prepared with rice and tomato sauce with alternative ingredients that slightly vary by country.
This variation in recipes is perhaps at the root cause of the debate about which country makes the best version, which is a popular topic not only social media, but also street conversations.
Just recently, Loi Mohammed the Nigerian Information Minister found himself in hot water when he accidentally claimed that the Senegal version was the best and the country’s Prime Minister had to intervene in the situation.
Yemi has no doubts about which is the best, ‘Senegal is where it originated but Nigeria perfected it ours is the best version.’
And finally to the biggest question of all in Nigeria.
Jay Jay Okocha or Daniel Amocachi who was the best ever Super Eagles footballer.
‘Oh my God what a question Jay Jay was the man, Daniel was good but Jay Jay was THE man!’
It must have been all the Jollof rice he ate