Interview session with author Dr. Joseph Oyeleye.
At a young age, Dr. Joseph Oyeleye experiences first-hand what poverty means. He hopes to break out of the poverty trap and start living a better life. Eventually Dr. Oyeleye became a minister and received a doctoral degree in healthcare management. Today, he encourages other African Americans to follow the path to success. To achieve their goals, however, African Americans must first come to terms with their past. In his book, Dr. Oyeleye describes a pattern that prevents People of Colour from grasping their opportunities. In an exclusive interview, Dr. Joseph Oyeleye tells us how to recognise these patterns, how to free oneself from them and why the American Dream is also open to People of Colour.
What do you want readers to know about your life that corresponds to your book?
I grew up in Nigeria in poverty and among poor people. Even though my father was a government worker, his employment earnings were not enough to make a decent living with a family of seven. But just like my father, who had to complement his salary with subsistence farming, people had to look for opportunities to better their lives and those that they are responsible for. There was no government assistance of any sort – and there is still none even today – and because of this, people are compelled to find ways and means through hard work to fend for themselves.
I had the misfortune of dropping out of high school in my junior year because my father was retired from his job and could not afford to pay for my school fees. As a result, I had to go and work as a house boy for one of my uncles earning the equivalence of $3 a month. I was abused physically by this man as I had to wake up at 4:30 A.M. every morning and go to bed at midnight to sleep on the floor under the staircase. My meals most of the time were leftovers from plates that his family had eaten. It was at this point in my life that I promised myself to end poverty at my point. That my offspring would never experience the type of suffering I went through. After leaving the services of my uncle, I dedicated myself to obtain my high school diploma and went on to college and obtained a bachelor’s degree in economics as well the equivalent of an associate degree in theatre arts. This enabled me to work in the broadcasting system for ten years in Nigeria.
When I migrated to the US, I had what can be described as a cultural shock when I discovered – by observation – that most Black people are very poor and that most are not ready to do anything meaningful to improve themselves. This approach to life is tremendously different from the stories and impressions of America that we had in Africa. On the contrary to the African Americans’ situation, I found Arabs owning and manning gas stations and doing well, Indians owning and managing motels, but I could not identify African Americans with any unique economic endeavor. What I discovered during my early days here is that the vast majority of Black people are failing to take advantage of the unlimited opportunities the United States of America offers anyone who is willing to work for them.
Regrettably, the situation has not changed in almost twenty years since I arrived as a legal immigrant to this country. In fact, one can say that the situation with African Americans is actually getting worse in terms of socioeconomic progression. I have tried in my own little way to point some of the people that I have had the fortune of encountering in the direction of self-reliance and enhancement. Unfortunately, it has not been an easy job as I have been confronted with various forms of excuses. However, I know one fact that is even evident here in the US: Given the same opportunities available in this country, Nigerians would have been among the most prosperous people in the world. Do not believe me on this claim, but just take a look at the socioeconomic indices of Nigerian Americans compared to other ethnic groups and you will understand what I am saying. Nigerian Americans are doing fantastically well socioeconomically when compared with other ethnic groups. In a nutshell, these are some of the reasons that propelled me into writing this book.
What was the process of writing the book?
First, I had to formulate the theme of this book, which is to awaken African Americans to the countless opportunities in this country rather than waiting on government handouts. After that I decided on the theme of the book and embarked on the research of both historical and contemporary facts of African Americans right from when their ancestors were taken by force to come here up to the present day. The next stage of the process was that I broke the narrative into various topics in accordance with the research that I conducted. It was after this process that I began the writing of the book in earnest. The book was completed in about five months from the date I began writing. It took me this long as I determined not to rush the writing, which turned out to be the right thing to do.
Do you have any other published books?
Yes, my first published book happened to be my doctoral research dissertation. It was titled “Exploring the Policy Changes Healthcare Managers Need to Improve Health Care Services to the Aging Poor in an Environment of Government-Mandated Cost Reductions to Medicare and Medicaid Programs” which is published by Proquest Publishing in 2019.
Are there books that you are working on for the future?
Yes. I am actually working on a book dealing with the current political and social situation in the country. I hopefully think it is going to be completed before the end of the year. Also, I have one religious book, a novel, and a children’s book already researched for future writing. I may also attempt to conduct research on a healthcare issue for scholarly purposes in the not too distant future.
What inspired you to write this story and want to share it?
As I previously mentioned, the inspiration to write the book stems from the stories of people who have had to overcome difficulties in life through determination not to allow their past experiences to hold them back. I am proud to say that I am among these people. With the determination to succeed in life, I left behind the pains and disappointments of growing up poor and abused. Today, I have raised children who are outstandingly successful in their own right. The oldest is a dentist and the youngest, who turned twenty-six in June, is a lawyer. There are millions of people like me all over the world who have succeeded in life despite hinderances and obstacles in life. I sincerely believe that those who have allowed the pains of the past to stop them from aspiring to be successful can benefit from this book. This is especially true of the African American community, who has used the pains of the past to remove themselves from all sense of self-worth and turned to self-destruction. I believe the book is going to help in inspiring a lot of people refocusing their perspectives on the believe that dependence on government is the only available route to survive and succeed in life.
Are there any unique qualities to the book?
There are a number of unique qualities to the book. First, the various topics in the book are made into mostly short chapters that are perfectly interconnected. The second quality of the book is the well-researched historical and contemporary facts presented in the book. I decided to be brave in presenting the facts as I found them in the process of my research for the creation of the book. For instance, the roles of the Church, and others, during the period of slavery as well as those of African American leaders are clearly spelt out in the book. Blame is apportioned according to actual facts. More importantly, workable suggestions for the way forward are also provided to assist people struggling with the past. These are some of the unique qualities to the book apart from the quality of materials – papers, printing, and binding – that are used in the production of the book.
Is there a special significance in the title of the book?
Absolutely. The significance of the title can be found in who the actual enemy of the people is. African Americans grew up to believe that slavery and its effects on their progenitors are responsible for their woes. Other reasons usually given for this problem include the effects of the segregation laws, and lately of racism. However, and unfortunately, the main reason for the socioeconomic backwardness of the people is their total reliance on government handouts in the forms of welfare programs. This reliance on government has robbed most the people of any desire to aspire to attain to greater heights. The total reliance of the people on government for survival is indeed what inspired the title of the book.
What are some of the topics addressed in the book?
The first topic addressed in the book is the failure of most African Americans to take advantage of the many opportunities the country offers anyone who is willing to take them. Another topic is the role and failure of the Church during the slavery and segregation periods. One important issue discussed is the level of success of the many Black people immediately after slavery and also during the segregation period. This is to show modern-day African Americans that their ancestors overcame most of the hindrances in their time to achieve tremendous success. Because these people had to surmount great obstacles when life was even harder than now, none has any excuse not to excel in modern-day America. Another important content of the book is the lost opportunities of the last fifty years among the people who have struck it rich in either sports or the entertainment industries to positively impact their communities. In addition, the book touched on the failure of the political and civil leaders of the people who have taken advantage of the people for their own gain. Finally, the most significant aspect of the book is the various suggestions provided that are aimed at refocusing the people toward a better socioeconomic future.
Thank you for the interview.
Title: “The Real Enemy of the African Americans. The Systematical and Deliberate Enslavement of the African American Soul through Dependency Programs and Policies”
Author: Dr. Joseph Oyeleye
Plot: Since the age of slavery, the story of the African American people has been filled with tragic circumstances, injustice, and hardship. This book examines the historical causes of these circumstances and how they can be overcome.
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About the author
Dr. Joseph K. Oyeleye grew up in a poor family with parents that loved and wanted the best for their children. At the age of 16 he made a promise that poverty in his family would end with him. Knowing the pains and horrors of poverty, he dedicated himself to making the sacrifices needed to achieve his goal, eventually becoming a minister and receiving a doctoral degree in healthcare management. Today all four of his children are successful in their chosen careers and he has committed himself to helping others succeed as well.