ARTS AND FEATURES — 18 December 2013

Gabriella and Max Olorunda

By staff reporter

AN unlikely victim of the Northern Ireland Troubles has written about the aftermath of her father’s death in her book Legacy, available to buy on Amazon and Lulu.

Belfast-born Jayne Olorunda, now 34, was just two in January 1980 when her father, Nigerian born Max Olorunda, was killed by an IRA incendiary bomb, detonated prematurely in Dunmurry aboard a train from Ballymena to Belfast.

Max, from Lagos, had been working for an accountancy firm in the city where he met and married the author’s mum and had Jayne and her sisters.

Jayne told the Irish World: “He was on an audit in Ballymena and not being familiar with the town took the train. On his return journey a bomb exploded and killed Dad plus two others, one being the bomber the other a school boy.

“Dad hadn’t intended on staying in Belfast but was working towards his chartered accountancy qualification here. When that was completed he and my Mum planned on leaving Northern Ireland. Dad was the first civilian from Africa and only Nigerian to have been murdered here and as such my family are the only mixed race victims.”

Since the death of her father, Jayne and her family have been forced to overcome the devastating effects of losing an innocent loved one while struggling to battle racism, poverty and grief, and her book brings all these elements into sharp focus.

Speaking about the book she said: “Growing up I realised our story was different and as I got older I wanted people to know, I wanted people to know what we had to go through and I wanted to ask questions. I quickly realised the only way to do this was to write it down.

“I can’t believe I’m at the point now where I can hold it in a book and know that other people can read it and understand some of what we had to endure as a family. I really hope it helps people to see that although Northern Ireland is emerging from it’s troubled past that the ‘Legacy’ lives on and in some cases has tragic and devastating effects.

Jayne recalls her mother Gabrielle’s deteriorating health, how they eventually met the “man who murdered” her father, how Gabrielle ended up believing her family was under the spell of a Nigerian voodoo curse. She also recounts her own lifelong struggle as a mixed race Catholic child who “never really fitted in anywhere”, fielding questions about where she came from when she had been born and raised in Belfast.

Questions are asked about what is being done to support survivors and victims of the Troubles, and Jayne clearly points the finger at those she believes responsible for what she calls the “terrible treatment” her family received by statutory bodies and government representatives.

It’s a legacy no family would chose to have, but Jayne’s is an important book whose eye-opening look at the Troubles adds a racial element rarely touched upon in literature about the conflict.

 

 

 

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