Excerpts from Oyinbo Princess recent interview with Adedayo Odulaja
With your professed love for Nigeria, do you live in Nigeria presently or among Nigerians abroad?
I have lived in a lot of areas where there are predominantly Nigerians; for example Peckham where you can get anything Nigerian. I have always been open minded to the language, the people and the culture. Adopting the culture was the next step for me if I wanted to see it through.
In 2006, I started working for an airline which brought me here on a regular basis which I really enjoyed. A lot of the people I worked with were apprehensive of coming to such countries purely because they have a lack of understanding or they just listened to the news and did not want to step out of their comfort zone.
Maybe that is why I am different because I will step out of my comfort zone. I like to see things for myself instead of just listening to what people say. I was blessed to really come have regularly.
You would swap positions with other flight attendants coming to Nigeria, what is that thing that keeps bringing you back?
If anything, it is the people. It is because of the demeanour Nigerians have and the kind of acceptance that Nigerians have about issues. Nigerians believe that tomorrow will be better instead of being down with worry.
Not that the worry is not there, but Nigerians have this happy or cheerful way of taking things. Nigerians also believe in God a lot and I think that helps as well.
What is the craziest reaction you have got from Nigerians when they hear you speak Pidgin English?
I was working on an economy cabin one day, and I knew I had a busy cabin. My position was before the final section so I had a lot of seats. We took off as usual, and when it came to the bar service, I had to bend down and arrange the bar. Behind me there were some guys just having fun and being chatty.
As I bent down, the next thing I heard was ‘Omo, see that yansh’. As I heard that I had to embrace myself because I still had my back to them at this point. I thought, do I say something or should I not? So I just played it cool. They were still talking about my yansh at that time.
So after I finished the service, I went to the particular one who made the comment. I spoke into his ears and said, ‘ehen, so you see my yansh abi?’ the guy just kept quiet. He was shocked. That is part of what I tell people. Don’t judge a book by its cover.
If you look at the Bible, the cover is dull and uninviting. There is nothing in front of it that will make you want to open the book. But once you open it, you will find things that will enrich you. Na so I dey tell those market women. They sell something to Nigerian for N100 when them see me oyinbo, they tell me say na N1000, e no good now. No, I no go pay.
Why don’t you like to tell people your real name?
It’s not like I don’t like to tell people my real name, but my brand, Oyinbo Princess, comes with no prejudice. My surname is Nigerian because I am married and the surname may give away the part of the country he is from but the brand is actually to project Nigeria as a whole.
How did you meet your husband?
I met him through a friend who was also dating a Nigerian guy. My friend asked me to join her and her Nigerian boyfriend for dinner, I did not want to be a spare tyre so I asked her to tell her boyfriend to come along with a friend. And that is who I am married to today.
You learnt so much about Nigeria, the language and the people, would you say that in your mind you always wanted to marry a Nigerian?
Yes o na must to marry Nigerian man. There was no question about it. I come this country come marry and I must marry.
How does being able to communicate in Pidgin English make you feel?
I feel like I can express myself. With English at times you can’t just describe what you want to describe, but with pidgin, you get straight to the point.