Bami’s breaking down walls with the power of fitness and friendship
2017-04-01 17:43:39 -

The Integration Question with Princess Pamela Toyin

‘I’m definitely a millennial citizen of the world,” says Bami Kuteyi. An attractive, well-spoken young woman, born in England with Nigerian heritage but who spent much of her teens in Canada, she’s the very portrait of a globetrotting go-getter.

The 23-year-old moved to Ireland in September 2015, making a new start as an online specialist for a large tech international after several years of experience in various industries.

“These unique experiences definitely contributed to my success at securing this job, and I’m really grateful to have found myself in Dublin, a small city but very well connected to the rest of the world,” says Bami.

Graduating from the University of Toronto in human resources and industrial relations, economics and sociology, Bami has found herself working in a different field from what she studied, but is thriving with the change in direction.

“I work with people from all over the world,” she adds, noting that she doesn’t often find herself socialising with native Irish people. “But when I do they are nothing but friendly and good craic. I’ve definitely picked up some of the Irish slang.”

Settling in Ireland has been a positive experience for Bami, who also doubles as an entrepreneur. A defining moment in her life was in May 2016 when she founded Bam Bam Boogie, a diversity focused dance fitness and ‘net-twerk-ing’ class that promotes body confidence and encourages different people from all walks of life to make friends through fitness.

Bami believes these classes, which she holds every Saturday, serve as an ideal way to meet and celebrate people of every background - for herself as much as her members.

“I am here all alone for the first time ever and I’m actually really loving it,” she says. “It was very hard at first with all my family and friends so far away and in a completely different time zone. I was very lonely and I cried most nights to be honest but I had to become resilient and remember the end goal.

“That’s how I founded Bam Bam Boogie, through my struggle to fit in. I created a space for others who may feel the same way as me.”
If there’s any downside to Bami’s life in Ireland, it’s her experiences of racism, though she is quick to point out that it’s “just like any other country in the world”.

One night out for her ended with a torrent of racial slurs from a white Irish man whose advances she declined. “He asked me if I came here on a boat,” she recalls. “I responded that I actually flew here from London and walked away. It was quite a shock and a bit disheartening but I know my worth and I would never resort to violence or verbal abuse.”

Bami’s only other big quibble is the cost of living. “Rent in Dublin is just too expensive I definitely think the Irish Government should look into this. It’s just not sustainable.”

White it’s not Bami’s plans to live in Ireland forever, “I would never say never.” She likes the fact that she can pretty much walk the whole city centre, and within a 30 minute Dart ride can be at the seaside taking in the fresh Irish air.

“I would say I have integrated pretty well,” she says. “My employer definitely helped with that as they provide comprehensive sessions on ‘Moving to Dublin’ before you actually move, which is nice.”

Bami predicts that in 10 years, her dance fitness business will be a well-oiled machine taking over the world, maybe even bigger than what Zumba is today. 

“I will be a published author, life coach and motivational speaker; daily TV interviews and radio shows will be the norm,” she adds, reeling off her list of ambitions.

“I see myself making history for black women all over the world. I want to be known for breaking boundaries and being damn good at it.”

- Princess Pamela Toyin has gained experience since the mid 1980s working in various fields and interacting with people of different tribes and ethnicity. With her passion for diversity, she is propelled to report a diverse range of issues that facilitate intercultural dialogue and integration, which can change social, economic, and cultural stereotypes, and believes there are lessons to be learned from everyone. Talk to her on +353 (0)87 417 9640 or email echoesmediainternational
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