More often than not, you will find that there is a higher number of people who would never make the decision to move to a completely different environment, whether young or old. And their sole reason is comfort.
Regardless of the kind of change or the reason behind it, it has been universally accepted that change is uncomfortable, hence the minuscule percentage of people who welcome it with open arms. Relocating most times connotes starting afresh, and as attractive as it might sound, can be a difficult experience. While it may take some people a few months or years to find their bearing, others never truly integrate into their new environment. Fortunately, the former was the case for Ify Adenuga, a young Nigerian igbo lady who, as a result of the Nigerian Civil War that occurred in the late 60’s, was forced to leave her family, friends and everything she knew.
Witnessing a war can have lasting effects on a person’s mind. For some, they are shot into constant fear, never wanting to leave the warm embrace of their comfort zone. Others switch to survival mode; they do everything with such determination and focus, asif their lives depended on it, because to them, it infact did. At an early age of 24, the young and vibrant Ify Adenuga migrated to Tottenham in 1980, one of the poorest areas in London, plagued with crime, unemployment, welfare dependency, and gang/gun/drug culture amongst other things. Miles away from everything she had grown to identify with and call home, she commenced her new life in the unfamiliar streets of London, as a student and working-class immigrant.
To navigate life as an immigrant, in a city brimming with hardship and hostility, one has to be tough, smart, resilient and determined. Ify was determined to learn and conquer her new environment. She had picked up values from her parents that she would later rely on to tackle the many hurdles of life. As the first of 6 children, Ify observed the lives of both of her parents who worked well into their 80s; her mum farmed, harvested and sold her produce at the local market while still running the home, and her dad provided services to members of the public. She learnt the value of hardwork, persistence and always setting realistic goals. With this understanding that life is not a bed of roses, and getting what you want, means working for it, Ify began to strategize and pursue her dreams relentlessly.
She enrolled into a few colleges, and soon after began work at a bingo hall in east London, where she met her husband, Joseph Senior Adenuga, a Yoruba man, who was also a working migrant. They soon got married and had their first child, Joseph Junior Adenuga, who is better known today as Skepta, one of UKs most successful musicians. The couple later had three more children; British grime MC, Jamie (JME); British Radio Presenter, Julie and Producer and Graphic Designer, Jason Adenuga, who are some of the most talented creatives in the UK today. When asked why she and her siblings are all so creative, Julie Adenuga told The Guardian in an interview, “One thing that I would say made us all this way is the fact that we just never had any money growing up, everything we wanted to do or play with had to be made by us… We never wanted to just sit there and talk to each other, so we’d go and physically make things. We would make go-karts, and other things. You want to hear a song and it doesn’t exist, just make the song and then it exists.”
It was not easy raising four children in an environment that was well known for its crime rate and mischief, and Ify and Joe Adenuga, like any other parent, did their best to ensure that their kids were raised right, their family was safe and their needs were met. Ify explained her parenting style in an interview with Genevieve magazine, and attributed her success in raising her kids to her husband and educational and professional backgrounds. Her passion for youth development and empowerment was also a major element that shaped the way she trained and raised her kids.
She said, ‘Being in the education and youth empowerment fields, prepared me for the process of having children. I was constantly meeting, engaging and partnering with like minds to set up and run youth projects supporting young black people in our area. I joined my local borough strategic partnership, recruited and trained volunteers that made welfare representations for youth and vulnerable adults in police custody, amongst other things. The experience really helped me not only cope with my children but also work in support of thousands of children I came across. I was very much determined to inform every child like I did my children, that adults can really be trusted.”
Ify has put her memories and experiences to paper in her soon to be released memoir titled “Endless Fortune”. It is the first book of its kind, examining the experience of the African diaspora and the complications around immigration from a personal perspective, and considering the ongoing conversation around migration politics and immigration in the UK, “Endless Fortune” is a timely addition to a global and prevalent conversation. Ify generously documents her journey, including the highs and lows, putting herself at the very heart of the story, the purpose of the book is to serve as an encouragement to African migrants on a similar path, that regardless of the part of the world they decide to call home, survival is possible.