'Where are you from originally?': Cork student and businessman outlines his experiences with racism

'Where are you from originally?': Cork student and businessman outlines his experiences with racism

Timothy Orimolusi from Carrigtwohill is studying pharmacy at Trinity College, Dublin and is currently the CEO of start-up company QRx

A TRINITY student from Cork has opened up about his determination not to let racists win after finding himself subjected to heartbreaking abuse on numerous occasions.

Timothy Orimolusi from Carrigtwohill is studying pharmacy at Trinity College, Dublin and is currently the CEO of start-up company QRx, a business specialising in electronic prescriptions. As a member of the jazz society, Trinity men's basketball team and the Afro Caribbean Society, the 23-year-old is making quite the impression on campus. However, the Cork man's journey to success has not been an easy one.

He said that his parents Hope and Paul had travelled from Nigeria to Ireland in the hope of giving their children a better life.

"The sacrifices they made," Timothy pointed out, "have been incredible."

According to Timothy, the challenges he faces are minor in comparison to what his parents went through. Nonetheless, the shocking treatment he endured from strangers often left him angry and upset. Timothy is the latest to speak out as part of The Echo's Rejecting Racism series.

The 23-year-old described an incident that occurred just before lockdown, by way of example.

"I was at an event where I'd already had dinner," he said. "After going outside for a moment I tried to get back in but was pushed back by the bouncer. He told me that I didn't belong there and 'your people are always causing trouble'. 

"I was so angry that I didn't want to let it go. I told him that I was going in for my coat and would be leaving after that. He made a huge scene and called for backup. I was taken by the hand and had my watch broken. 

"A girl I'm friends with came out, and after seeing what was happening, began to cry. When she saw me getting angry she said 'you are doing exactly what they want'. Another friend of mine came out and was in tears over what was happening. He said that he had no idea skin colour could have such an effect on what people have to go through in life."

Timothy explained that a floor manager intervened after being made aware of the situation.

"The floor manager asked me to tell him my side of the story. After they looked through the footage they were able to see that my description of events matched what happened. They told me to call the next morning so they could pay to have my watch fixed. However, when I did I was bounced between departments."

Unfortunately, this was not the first time Timothy encountered racism. He recalled one incident when, as a teenager, he was referred to as the 'n-word'.

"I remember playing basketball with my team from school and being called the n-word by one of my opponents. My teammates were so angry they were willing to go to war for me. It made me realise that they really cared about me and they weren't just friends with me because I was their teammate. I took that anger and put it into the game which we ended up winning."

He emphasised that in the majority of cases assumptions about skin colour come down to ignorance.

"When you are young this is just innocence. As people get older that innocence turns into ignorance. Now that I'm in Dublin people often ask me where I'm from. When I say Cork it usually follows with another question, 'but where are you from originally?' 

"I usually pretend I don't know what they mean and say 'oh well originally I'm from Carrigtwohill'. 

"There is never any malicious intent in these cases, but I have experienced the evil side of'"where are you from?'

"There are people who tell you 'go back to your country' and that can hurt a lot. I'd like to commend my old secondary school Glanmire Community College. I can't vouch for them enough. It was a very inclusive environment and I was never made to feel like the odd one out."

Even when suffering at the hands of discrimination Timothy stressed that violence is never the answer.

"My parents raised me to turn the other cheek. I never resorted to violence. They made so many sacrifices on my behalf. It might sound like a cliche but all I want in life is to be successful so that I can make enough money to give them the comfortable life they deserve."

Timothy is currently enjoying his first taste of success with the start-up company he runs with computer science graduate Derrick Afrifa.

"The start-up is still in its infancy but it's very exciting," he said. "I really want to push a message of perseverance and not giving up despite obstacles."

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