A REMARKABLE Cork teenager has risen above racism to pursue her dream of attending Trinity College Dublin.
Favour Orimolusi, from Carrigtwohill, is planning to join her older brother, Timothy, at the university this year to study nursing.
The 18-year-old’s parents, Hope and Paul, emigrated from Nigeria to County Cork shortly before she was born to make a better life for their children.
Favour, a former Glanmire Community College student, spoke about discrimination in Cork as part of The Echo’s Rejecting Racism series.
Despite being born in Ireland, Favour has had racial slurs shouted at her on the street. Rather than strike back, Favour’s revenge against racist people will be her success.
“I have the best parents in the world and want to spend the rest of my life making them proud,” Favour said. “My dad is a pastor and my mum is a healthcare assistant. It was she who inspired me to study nursing. Dad always tells us about how difficult life was for them, but he got himself into education. Somehow, God pulled them out. They didn’t want the life they had for their kids. When I got my Leaving Cert results this week, everyone was over the moon. All my relatives, and the members of the church, say this is a blessing.”
While Favour loves her life in Ireland, discrimination remains an issue.
“I got called the N-word, and had abuse shouted at me, while walking down the street with my earphones in,” Favour said. “They walked behind me, making gang signs, trying to get a reaction. The way I looked at it was: They were looking for trouble and I wasn’t going to succumb to them.”
Favour is urging everybody of every colour to take a stand against racism.
“If it’s not happening to you, then you won’t believe it,” Favour said. “People choose to turn a blind eye, but you have to look at this from every angle. Unless you put yourself in that other person’s shoes, then you won’t understand. Every day a black child is walking down the street, this happens. It comes from a place of ignorance, but people have made it OK. Difference is good and we need to embrace these differences. If everyone was the same, then the world would be a very boring place.”
The Cork woman said that racial slurs need to be eradicated from mainstream colloquial language.
“I don’t have to say anything to make people feel guilty when they use this word,” Favour said. “The minute they realise it has been used in my presence is enough. I don’t think any of us should be using this word, no matter what colour we are. Some people say it just because their friends are using the word. But if we know what it means, why would we want to use it?”
People still make assumptions based on skin colour, Favour said. “Some people will tell me, ‘Your accent is unreal for someone from Nigeria’,” she laughed.
“They’ll also tell me that my Irish is very good for someone who moved over from Nigeria. That’s annoying, but it’s something I’ve come to terms with now. I realise, people don’t really mean anything by it.”
Favour praised her former secondary school for embracing diversity.
“I went to Glanmire Community College and I loved that school,” Favour said. “I never suffered any discrimination there, or felt the spotlight on me, because of my colour. I don’t believe that any young person should have to suffer racism in school. We should all be there with the common goal of kickstarting our future.”
The Carrigtwohill woman is excited about the future.
“My brother, Timothy, is in his fourth year studying pharmacy,” Favour said. “I have friends going there, too, so I won’t be alone. It’s going to be really exciting.”