Many Nigerian Americans were elected to a variety of offices around the US in the November 8, 2022, midterm elections. The list of around eight elected Nigerian-Americans included Oyewale “Oye” Owolewa.
Mr. Owolewa, 33, won a seat in congress without voting rights for the District of Columbia (DC). DC has long pushed for statehood; some, like Mr. Owolewa, claim that it is the only capital in a democracy that is not granted democratic rights like choosing how their money are spent.
Mr. Owolewa, sometimes known as “Oye,” was raised in Boston, Massachusetts, where he was born to Nigerian parents. Both his mother and father are from the Nigerian states of Oyo and Kwara, respectively.
According to him, “My mum is a civil engineer by training, my dad is a medical technologist, they did not leave their work at the workplace. They definitely took care of the community with my dad being a leader of the Yoruba community in Massachusetts, my mum being a senior advocate and someone who provided for children not only to allow them to get into the best universities possible but to also have the resources to go there and have things paid for.
“When I became a pharmacist, I followed that same example, so I started volunteering at medical school, getting kids that look like me to become professionals and at that point, I was asked to do more in the community.
“I ran for a local election, won by one vote and then got involved in the fight for DC statehood, where we are trying to bring our residents to congressional vote and voice. So I decided to run and with the community support, and a lot of people pouring into me, into our campaign, we won the seat and became the first Nigerian at the federal capacity.
“My parents were a huge inspiration to me. My father was the president of the Yoruba community in Massachusetts, and my mother was just everywhere.
“She created tutoring programmes for her children and our friends. She created a programme with a principal view to help us with S.A.T. courses, which was a test that people used to get into college. What she basically did was pour that energy into her own children and replicated that among the diaspora.
“So folks from Nigeria, folks who are from West Africa, even people from Asia, you know, she made sure that her courses were not only available but also really affordable. So these courses were about half the price, even less compared to what people can get on their own. So she really made sure that people were able to have the best opportunities and the best outcomes.
“That taught me to replicate that effect among other people. My parents taught me from a young age that your wealth is not in how much money you have in the bank, but in the impact you have on other people.
“I was born and raised in the United States. So I am proud to be an American, and I am also proud to be of Nigerian heritage. I have been able to combine both of those to not only get elected but also bring valuable resources to my community.
“I am 100 percent both. I am 100 per cent Nigerian, I am 100 per cent American. I am very proud of where I am from and I am also proud of where I am at.