‘Mushin to the world’ UK-based philanthropist, Wole Amodemaja, shines at 55
Our Reporter recently caught up with United Kingdom-based versatile entrepreneur, Oluwole Amodemaja, on the 55th anniversary of his birth. It was a fun moment as our reporter, Shola Olowu, sat with Amodemaja to get a better understanding of a humble philanthropist and chief executive officer of popular Moonshine Lounge in city of London.
Below are the excerpts…
Can we meet you?
My name is Oluwole Owolabi Amodemaja, also fondly called DChampion or Mooshine Peace Ambassador.
You are 55years old today, how do you feel?
I thank God for His grace. I feel good and look good at 55. Infact, I have no choice but to praise God for my life as I feel better and stronger.
You have survived over five decades on earth. Can you tell a brief about your story?
I was born at № 32, Ayantuga Street, Mushin and my family house is № 218 Agege Motor Road, also in Mushin, Lagos-Nigeria. I attended Odo Abore Primary School and from there went to Mushin High School, Okota, Isolo, Lagos-Nigeria.
What inspired Moonshine Lounge?
My root. I have too much love for my root and that inspired me to name all my businesses after Mushin. We have VI wish is Ikoyi, Lekki and we have Surulere. So I decided to have a Mushin rhyme that was what inspired Moonshine Lounge.
Was there any significant event in your life that you believe you could have handle differently when you think about it now?
Yes, that was in my formative period, growing up between 20 to 25 years old. I was like a time bomb that was always about to explode. I lived a dangerous life and do things like I was not going to live to see another day. I was a danger risk to myself, family and friends back then. Infact, at a point, I was arrested, detained and dump at Kirikiri Maximum Prison yard for over 2 years between 1986 to 1989. This was under Degree 2 during Muhammadu Buhari and Tunde Idiagbon military regime. But thank God, I was released 1989.
What actually led to your arrest?
Youthful delinquency. At the time, I was very dangerous at the same time I was a student with my gang. We terrorised the street of Mushin, fighting up and down at any inter house sport of any school competition. This led people to write petitions against me and that was it, I was in prison.
And what life lesson did this teach you?
My forced solitary taught me a good lesson because I learned my mistake in there. I realized that nobody was above the law and it also showed me that crime do not pay. It made me be a better person I am today and made me more determined to be good always.
Tell us about your immigration to United Kingdom and what life has thought you
The reason for my departure from Nigeria to United Kingdom was simple; every young man with foresight could see the direction our beloved country was headed. This made many people wanting to travel abroad in those days and I still believe that holds true even today. Besides, I was just out of detention back then, and I realised that most of my friends have left the country. So I started doing all I could to travel to England. This took me almost 3 years before the dream came true though, which was in 1992 and since, I have never look back.
I started my journey from England to Dublin, Canada and United States of America. I have been to so many countries, met several people but now, I’m permanently based in London since the past 10 years.
The journey has not been easy as life taught me a lot. As they say, life experience is the best teacher. Especially away from home with nobody to show you the robes; no father, mother, brother nor sister. Just as anyone, I lived here by myself and above anything, I learned how to respect people.
Above all, I learned that love is very important to live a fulfilling life; if you love yourself, you have to love others as well. My guiding principle is that life is a journey not a destination. We are just passing through. We come with nothing and we are going to die empty.
How do you balance work and home?
I don’t allow clashes. At home, I observe quiet time, relax and listen to my children. And at work, I do my job to the best of my ability, working with others in ensuring customers’ satisfaction.
What experience always stood out whenever you reflect about your career?
Whenever I reflect in my quiet time, I always thank God for my life for two things. My detention at Kirikiri Prison Yard for 2 years plus is always an experience that stands out; I will never forget the trauma. The other one was I when I was sick and admitted at Lagos University Teaching Hospital, LUTH, Idi Araba. I was pronounced dead at the time before God intervened.
What is your take on Nigeria?
It’s unfortunate the state the country is presently. Our leaders are not good for anything and despite what God has blessed the country with, there is nothing to show for.
The country has already wasted three generations for me; my forefather to my father and myself. All these generations gained noting from this country call Nigeria. There is no stable light till today, no portable water in places you would expect there should, no good road nor good school . The list is endless.
This is why today many are seeking different kinds of way to success. Some took to internet fraud, popularly tagged YahooYahoo in local parlance and others, criminal activities. A nation, where corrupt politicians steal money abroad, needs to be reformed.
What have you done or given back to the society in appreciation of what life has given you?
I have tried my best and I will continue to do whatever is in my power to assist others. For instance, where I live presently in Hackeney Community, I have a charity house where homeless Nigerians are allowed to sleep. You are welcome to stay for free until you get yourself a place to stay. I have been running the shelter for almost 5 years now. Aside this, I feed them in the winter time.
As for my people back home, I send funds to some people monthly basis and dash some randomly. Whenever I travel to Nigeria, I go to my root and share things like clothing and wheelchairs for disabled among others. With more blessing from God, I want to do more.
What will you advice the new generation in a world we live in today?
My advice to them is that they should take things easy and think before they take make any decision. Because anything they do today may be used against you tomorrow. Above all, they should seek out dependable and responsible elders for good advice.
How has COVID-19 pandemic impacted your life?
The pandemic affected almost every part of my life, especially business. But then, that can’t be compared to the loss of lives around the world. We have family, friends and other people dying in thousands every where. I thank God for His mercy on the rest of us. The impact on my business is great because we had to shut down for almost 4 months. No more body contacts with your family or friends anymore and so, no more partying or associating.
And your plans for the future? And is coming back home in these plans?
I plan to take life easy taking one step at a time and live a simple life; do my best and leave the rest. And regarding my coming home, our elders always say Ile labo sinmi oko (Home is the resting place after a day’s work at the farm). I will love to come back home but a saner country than what we have at the moment. But above all, only God decides the affairs of men.