Black Ottawa Scene Interview questions – John Adeyefa
Could you tell me about your childhood? Where were you born? Is there anything about your childhood that stands out for you? Helped form who you are today? Your parents, friends, school?
I was born in Nigeria; I left the African shores after the death of my father, on a scholarship to further my education in Canada about 40 years ago in Engineering and Computer Science. I love innovation and researching new solutions to issues. Today, I thank God for leading me in this direction that am still enjoying.
Did you face any significant challenges growing up? If so how did you overcome them?
I attended boarding school from elementary to high School. I did not face any significant challenges until I was leaving Nigeria to study in Canada. I had to learn and took a crash course on how to cook for myself African food, so that I will be able to take care of myself and survive in Canada. Since then, I eat mainly African foods here in Canada.
What is your educational background?
I completed and obtained the following diplomas and degree; Diploma in Building Engineering Technology; Diploma & Fellow Member of Telecommunication Executive Management Institute of Canada; Bachelor Degree in Science from University of the State of New York. Albany, NY.
Can you describe your job as a Computer Security Analyst?
I work as a Team Leader of Information Technology & Cyber Security, monitoring, responding and analyzing cyber intrusion events and malicious incidents from all over the world. Vulnerability analysis, penetration testing of systems and networks. I feels blessed in this field of Computer and Telecommunications having worked all over the world on five continents for some of the world’s biggest corporations and organisations.
You are currently President of the Nigerian Canadian Association Ottawa (NCAO) and also President of the newly-formed African Canadian Association of Ottawa. What are the mandates of the two organizations?
I have been actively involved in Community development since 2010 in various Associations like Nigerian in Diapora Organisation, Yoruba Association, Nigerian Canadian Association as Vice President and then President.
In 2015, the Presidents and Leaders of African Community Associations held several meetings to come together as one. We all decided to launch the African Canadian Association last June 2016 at the Ottawa City Hall with several African diplomats and ambassadors.
The vision, scope and mandates of both organisations are the same or similar, they are as follows:
- Enhance and further the cultural and social life within the community of Canadians of African origin.
- Cultivate and maintain African customs and traditions
- Foster understanding and cooperation with other communities and the multicultural heritage of Canada
- Celebrate the African heritages and pass it on to the new generations and Canadian society at large.
- Provide social and settlement services to new African immigrants, refugees, and students to enhance their better understanding and integration in the Canadian society.
- Develop and provide program and services for women, children, youth, seniors, and persons with special needs.
- Commemorate and celebrate national and religious events such as Africa Day, Canada Day, African Democratic events, Islamic and Christian events and the New Year.
- Sponsor, support, and encourage artistic works and performances of diverse views (i.e. poems, plays, films etc.).
- Issuing media releases or communiques regarding African or Canadian national issues that promote human rights and principles of democracy.
- Participate in humanitarian relief efforts and fundraising, as determined from time to time by the Board the Association.
In recent years the NCAO has faced a number of difficulties, marked by conflict within the executive committee. As President, how have you addressed these challenges and what was the outcome?
NCAO have been enjoying a period of peace in the last two years. Initially, after Executives committee came on-board to serve the community, several of these Executives were shocked to realise that it takes lots of time, efforts, dedication and passion to serve the community effectively. NCAO Executive positions are volunteer positions with no monetary incentives, consequently these Executives left, resigned and/or abandoned their positions. Working with my Vice President, we took on more responsibilities. NCAO have since being enjoying a stable period of peace.
One of the realities facing each NCAO President is the existence of ethnic-based organizations from Nigeria. Members appear to have a stronger affinity with and loyalty to their ethnic organizations than with the NCAO. How do you deal with this problem?
The Nigerian Canadian Association Ottawa enjoys and has a unique relationship with various Nigerian ethnic organisations as an “Umbrella Association” to all ethnic organisations. We serve as a unifying body to all the various ethnic organisation with a yearly Mega Picnic. NCAO stands for all Nigerians, respecting the uniqueness of each Nigerian tribe, celebrating and fellow-shipping with each other.
What plans does the NCAO have for 2017?
The Nigerian community is marking and celebrating the 150th Year Anniversary Celebration of Canada by bringing African Culture, Tradition and Heritage to Canada, with the arrival in Canada on July 13, 2017, of several Royal Kings from various Kingdoms from the Northern, Southern, Western and Eastern parts of Nigeria.
The Royals Kings entourage will be arriving here in Ottawa on July 13 for a historical event at the Canadian Museum of History. The entourage includes several African cultural entertainers, comedians, musicians, drummers, artists and many more. This is an opportunity to witness the rich culture and traditions of Africa right here in Canada.
There is sometimes a perception that there is a big divide between Black francophone and Anglophone people on the one hand. On the other hand, there is also a feeling that there is a big divide between people from the Caribbean and those from continental Africa. Do you agree with these views? If so, how can they be resolved so there can be more collaboration between the different segments of Ottawa’s Black community?
It is only a perception; Canada is strong because of our diversity and multiculturalism. People of diverse background, language, religion and culture working together towards a common goal and objectives to improve ourselves, our families, our home, our communities, our homeland and our home Canada. This is what we are doing in African Canadian Association, collaborating together as one. There are no big divide between Caribbean, Continental Africans.Ottawa’s Black community is one. We all have the same heritage and originated from Africa. We are all African descendants.
Do you have any hobbies or pastimes?
I enjoy celebrating and sharing with our various communities; travelling to various places worldwide, experiencing different cultures, watching nature, seas, oceans, falls and rivers.
What has been your biggest achievement and what was your biggest challenge? In your work, family life, social life, other?
My biggest achievement is being able to impact lives in a positive way in my family, my job at work, my role in the community in Canada and the world. My biggest challenges are recognising opportunities early in time and lives.
If you had to live your life all over again, is there anything you would do differently?
I am happy and content with my life. I believed that I am blessed. I thank God for all my blessings. I will not change or do anything differently.
Finally, do you have a message for readers of Black Ottawa Scene?
Black Ottawa Scene is fast becoming a legacy in Ottawa as an online archive of our black communities. My message is that we are our brothers’ keeper, we should reach out to the elders, senior citizens in our communities, to get wisdom knowledge and wealth of experience that no money can buy.