A one-time asylum seeker who fled his war-torn African homeland aged just 10 has spoken of his love for his new home of Wigan as he opens an exciting new town centre business.
Obi Oderinde fled Nigeria with his family and became an asylum seeker in Manchester 13 years ago.
From there Obi and his family were moved to Wigan borough where they put down roots in Hindley and established a new life.
With the help of the Hindley community the family secured asylum status and Obi has not looked back with a gritty determination to work hard and succeed. And the 23-year-old is now a proud owner of a new Afro-Caribbean restaurant and bar called D’Empire based in Wigan’s Wallgate and he is passionate about making it a success.
Obi told his story as part of World Refugee Day this week and in support of Wigan Council’s #BelieveImOnlyHuman campaign.
He said: “I have been brought up believing that to be successful you have to work hard. Things don’t come easy in life.
“Wigan has been amazing. Great people who have helped my family through hard times and now I’m happy.”
After leaving Hindley High he worked 15-hour shifts in a pizza shop at weekemds so he could afford the bus fare to Wigan and Leigh College to study IT, public services and business management. From there he worked in a recruitment agency.
When the agency couldn’t find suitable personnel for jobs Obi would often take on the agency shift as well – working in the recruitment office during the day and as a security guard at night travelling between the two on a bike!
He has spent 20 hours a day helping to refurbish the new eatery which launches on June 30.
D’Empire has an Afro-Caribbean menu and DJs playing music in the evening. “It’s something different for Wigan, something new,” said Obi. “We aim to bring everyone from all cultures to D’Empire to have a good time and enjoy some good food.”
Obi praised his former youth group Rafiki run by Wigan Council for helping him to progress in his life and show him the opportunities that are available.
Coun Nazia Rehamn, council lead member for community and family safety, said: “Obi’s story illustrates the fantastic supportive local communities we have in Wigan borough. It is amazing to see Obi living his dream with a new business and a great future ahead of him. he is a real role model for young people showing that hard work will pay off and is a great ambassador for the #BelieveImOnlyHuman campaign.”