By Emeka Obasi
There is so much of Nigeria in Jamaica which explains why two members of the Reggae Girlz team to the France 2019 Women’s World Cup bore Nigerian names. Olufolasade Ayomide Danielle Adamolekun and Chinyelu Bessum Asher were part of the First Caribbean squad to play in the FIFA senior Women’s Championship.
Adamolekun, simply called Shade, was born in Austin, Texas, United States on February 21, 2001. Her father, Lanre, is a Nigerian who played football here, though not as a big timer, before travelling overseas where he married, Michelle, a Jamaican.
Shade wore jersey number 21 in France and played as an attacker. Her brother, Nathaniel, also played for the Jamaican Under-17 and Under 20 youth teams respectively.
The girl could have played for Nigeria but she was not invited to either the Falconets or Falcons. Shade lives in the US as a student in Fleming Island, Florida and plays for United Soccer Alliance.
Previously she featured for the US Under-15 team and was also called up by the Under -17 and Under-18 coaches. Shade chose her mother’s country and grabbed a place in the Jamaican Under-17 squad.
At the CONCACAF Under -17 championships, Haiti 2018, Shade won the Golden Boot with four goals. That was enough to guarantee a permanent place in the senior team, the Reggae Girlz.
In her debut against Nottingham Forest Ladies on October 28, 2018, she netted a brace in a 3-0 triumph. However, that game did not count as a full cap since it was against a club.
Full cap eventually came a week after her 18th birthday against Chile. She was introduced as a substitute by coach Hue Menzies and has not looked back ever since.
The Reggae Girlz lost all three of their group matches in France, 3-0 to Brazil, 5-0 to Italy and 4-1 to Australia. The Falcons were luckier, losing out in the second round to Germany.
Shade has no regrets playing for Jamaica. “I have been to Africa before but that was when I was a very little girl. I can’t tell you anything really on how the experience was or anything like that, it was a very long time ago.
“I don’t remember much. I haven’t got any calls from Nigeria saying they want me to play for them or anything,” she told the Jamaican Observer in 2017.
That is the case of World Cup winner with France, Kylian Adesunmi Mbappe. His father, Wilfred, is a Cameroonian, married to Fayza , a French Algerian. The senior
Chinyelu Asher, like Shade was born in the United States. Her place of birth is Silverspring, Maryland. Her dad, Kevin, is Jamaican, married to a Cameroonian. It is likely that Mrs Asher has Nigerian links. Mbappe has Nigerian blood and gave his sons Yoruba names. Kylian’s younger brother is Adeyemi .
There is also John Ayodele Ngoo who played for the England Under-20 team in the 1-0 defeat of the Flying Eagles at the Colombia 2011 FIFA championship. His grandfather was a Cameroonian.
Ayodele Ngoo’s father was born in Ibadan and he married a Nigerian who gave birth to the footballer. Asher could trace her Nigerian roots through either of her grand parents.
Asher is a midfielder and was born on May 20, 1993. She wore jersey number 7 at the Women’s championship and had played for the Jamaican Under -20 team in 2012, scoring five goals.
She started playing soccer quite early, at nine years and is also a good Track and Field athlete. Her Reggae Girlz debut was against Dominican Republic, on August 25, 2015.
The Slave Trade took Nigerians to different parts of the World. In Jamaica, there is Calabar High School, Kingston. It was established by the Jamaica Baptist Union in 1912. The institution has produced three Olympic gold medalists: Herb McKenley, Dwight Thomas and Arthur Wint.
There is Calabar Village near Rio Bueno. It was named after our own Calabar by Spanish merchants. There is also Calabar Theological College, established in 1843.
The first African slaves landed in Westmoreland, Jamaica about 300 years ago. Slaves of Egba-Yoruba extraction, founded another Abeokuta in the West Indies. Today, the Abeokuta Nature Park has the oldest swimming pool in Jamaica.
The Park was officially opened by the Nigerian High Commissioner to Jamaica, Florentina Ukonga, on January 5, 2003. There is a large rock there which looks like Olumo rock in Ogun State.
In nearby Barbados, Ogun State is fully appreciated even if the Yewa have been unable to produce a governor in their state. The official residence of the Prime Minister of Barbados is known as Ilaro Court.
It was designed by Gertrude Carter, second wife of Gilbert Carter who was governor of Lagos between 1891 and 1897. Governor Carter had served in Ilaro as a British colonial officer and died in Ilaro Court, Barbados in 1927.
His first wife, Laura, had died in Lagos in 1895, before Gertrude came. When the man moved to Barbados, he remembered Ilaro and their great warrior, Oronna. Carter did not think much of Eko. Carter Bridge, Lagos is named after him.
Back to our story, Jamaicans always think Nigeria. Lindsay Barrett, celebrated poet, author, broadcaster and newspaper columnist is here with us. Born in Lucea, Jamaica on September 15, 1941, he arrived Lagos in 1966, thanks to Professor John Pepper Clark who convinced him in London in 1961.
Barrett authored his first book, ’Song for Mumu’ in 1967 and made friends at the University of Ibadan with Prof. Wole Soyinka and Ajie Ukpabi Asika. As Administrator of East Central State during the Biafra War, Asika picked ‘Eseoghene’ Barrett as Director of Information.
When Jimmy Cliff came visiting in 1974, he was almost jailed for breach of contact. The Reggae star later did a track:”Have you heard the news” because of that. He is still welcome in Nigeria and was in Port Harcourt not long ago.
Reggae Group, Third World, had Michael ‘Ibo’ Cooper on keyboard. In 1983, they visited Nigeria and later released the popular track, ‘Lagos Jump’ mentioning Efosa and Ikechukwu.