‘HEAVEN on Earth’ is how Nigerian Cordelia Oseh Nwaokolo, 49, describes her second home after moving to Cork 21 years ago.
Cordelia, who spent two years in a wheelchair after breaking her pelvis while living here, said Cork was her promised land.
At the moment, the mother of four is finishing a one-year course in the College of Commerce in marketing and event management, before taking on a three-year bachelor degree in marketing at Cork Institute of Technology.
She also runs a charity called Multicultural Ireland, where she organises events that showcase the cultures and traditions of a wide range of countries through their Cork citizens.
“I wanted to create an organisation that brings all nationalities together,” Cordelia said.
“My favourite thing to do in Cork is to bring different cultures together to celebrate ourselves and show what we have in common.”
Multicultural Ireland is run by a committee of volunteers and is part- funded by Cork City Council.
The organisation runs a number of events throughout the year, including its flagship event in September.
Unfortunately, Cordelia thinks that the event, which allows a range of cultures to display their native traditions, will not go ahead this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“I don’t think the event will be going ahead. It is a pity but it is better to be safe,” she said.
Cordelia also runs her own party decorations business, for occasions such as weddings, birthdays, and confirmations.
“I like it; it is a hard job, but I enjoy being creative,” she said.
Having originally come to Cork in 1999 with her one-year-old daughter Jennifer, Cordelia sought asylum in Ireland and was in direct provision for a year.
In 2002 her husband Tony followed her to Cork and they now have four children together: Jennifer, 21, Melanie, 19, Malcolm, 18, and Denzel, 16.
Jennifer is in college in Galway studying hotel management and Melanie is in Dublin studying law, while the two boys are in secondary school in Glanmire.
Tony works as a taxi driver and has a masters in journalism from Griffith College.
Cordelia said she has a wide circle of friends and family in Cork, with two of her brothers also living here.
“I came to Cork in order to have a better life for myself and my family,” she said.
“I am blessed in Cork beyond measure.
“I like the community in Cork — that is why I chose to try be supportive of my community. I also enjoy the fact that there are many amenities in Cork which allow me to enjoy the landscape with my friends and family.”
Despite enjoying her life in Cork, Cordelia said that she, of course, misses home and went through a tough time when her mother died.
“My mother died seven years ago and I was unable to go to the funeral,” she explained. “The week she died, I fell off a ladder and broke my pelvis. I was paralysed and in a wheelchair for two years.”
After this two-year period, Cordelia had regained the ability to walk, but the event organiser explained that sitting for long periods of time is still quite difficult so the seven-hour plane trip home is something she doesn’t undertake frequently.
“I went home last year for two weeks. It was great catching up with everyone,” she said.
While Cordelia loves living in Cork, she said that there are some things she dislikes about it.
“I dislike that sometimes Cork, although the largest county in Ireland, can sometimes feel small. I also dislike that a small minority of people feel like it is ok to bully and try to suppress the black community present here. I myself, unfortunately, had to deal with this issue of racism on a daily basis.”
Despite this, Cordelia works to promote multiculturalism and positively embraces all members of the Cork community.
As to the future, Cordelia is looking forward to watching her children continue to develop as young adults and to expanding her knowledge of marketing at CIT.
“I am so lucky to have come to Cork, this is my home,” she said.