The British Library

Sola’s Story

My parents are Nigerian and came to the UK in the late 70s for education. My Dad had the dream and Mum supported it. My younger brother and I were born here but we lived in Brighton with a white family. 5 years later my parents decided they were going to return to their home and to their 2 other children so we left the home in Brighton and off we all went. At the time we didn't realise we were leaving or that Nigeria was going to be our new home and we never got to say goodbye.

When we landed, the first thing I remember and will never forget is the Lagos heat hitting our British skin! Even at a young age, I was aware of how different Nigeria and the UK were and I was aware that it was a case of adapt or struggle. Just as I'd gotten used to Nigerian life, I was sent back to the UK for round 2 of what has come to be known as the 'farming phenomenon'.

I flew to the UK on August 23rd 1986 by myself and I was met at Gatwick Airport by my White Mum who took me back to my old home and introduced me to 2 new sisters! Adapting back to the UK way of life was a challenge and I dealt with it by keeping my mouth closed, literally, until I got to secondary school. This is where I found friends and a personality and I enjoyed being part of an unusual family. We grew to be a 'family' of 6 kids and as I've gotten older, I've come to love both my British and Nigerian heritage, even if there are people who are quick to question me on my claim to both places.

-Sola, London

© Yinka Shonibare, 2018 | Website by Hanna Sorrell