Tajudeen Oladele Ashafa is his name.
It’s a mouthful. That’s why his friends simply call the him Dele.
The Elida resident is one of those people you don’t forget.
At first – and this is going to sound terrible – it’s because he has one arm. But it quickly becomes much more than that.
It’s about “achievement through adversity,” which just happens to be the title of a book he’s writing. It’s about his coming to America 17 years ago and finding hope after being nearly shot to death as a member of the Nigerian Army.
“I feel blessed to be in America, where hard work brings opportunity,” he said.
That’s what makes Dele’s views interesting on immigration, race relations and protesting.
Here on a green card as he seeks citizenship, Dele believes in securing the borders: “People should have some type of work permit to stay here. After five years, with no drug problem or illegal activity, consider them for citizenship.”
On race relations: “In this country, everything has to be about race. I don’t understand that thinking. When I was driving from Toledo to Lima, I was stopped and received a ticket, not because I was black, but because the black police officer said I was driving too fast. A white policeman stopped me three years later, same circumstance, and gave me a warning because I had good record. Police are just doing their job.”
On kneeling during the national anthem: “In most countries, it’s a sign of maximum respect. I don’t see it as a bad thing.”
Dele joined the Nigerian Army in hopes of later receiving a college education. While on leave in 2001, bandits stopped the bus he was traveling on, and seeing Dele in uniform, shot him four times.
“I pretended I was dead so they would stop shooting,” Dele said.
He spent six months in a hospital after his right arm was amputated a few inches above his elbow. His uncle, Dr. Olugbenga Awe, of Lima, convinced Dele to come to the United States and go to school.
“I had lost all hope. I thought, ‘I am an amputee,’ I believed it was the end of my life,” Dele said.
New opportunities in a new country changed all of that.
For two years, Dele spent four nights a week in the Lima City Schools adult education program. He would work for his uncle during the day, and after classes, would study to as late as 2 a.m.
“I wanted to do better than anyone in the class,” he said.
High school diploma in hand, he enrolled at the University of Toledo, taking classes on Friday through Sunday and working in Lima at Walgreens on Mondays through Thursday. He graduated in 2014. He then worked and took on-line classes from Columbia Southern University in Alabama to earn his master’s degree.
In January, Dele will not only celebrate his 40th birthday, but he’ll receive a doctorate’s degree in business administration and leadership from Walden University in Minnesota. He hopes to teach.
It’s been achievement through adversity.
ROSES AND THORNS: The number 70 is the ticket to the rose garden this week.
Rose: To the Class of 1948 from St. Rose High School. It held its 70th class reunion over the weekend, with nine of the 17 remaining members of the class attending.
Rose: To Margaret and William Wheeler, of Lima, who celebrated 70 years of marriage on Aug. 5.
Thorn: A 63-year-old Lima man will never be accused of being a good bank robber. John Edward Jackson was in police custody just three hours after allegedly staging a holdup at Superior Credit Union on East Kibby Street.
PARTING SHOT: “You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.”– Wayne Gretzky, hockey legend.
Jim Krumel is the editor of The Lima News. Contact him at 567-242-0391 or at The Lima News, 3515 Elida Road, Lima, Ohio 45807.