Rotimi Adebari is the first elected black mayor in Ireland. He is a Nigerian-Irish Politician.
In 1964, Adebari was born to unnamed parents in Okeodan, Ogun State, Nigeria. Much of his early life is unknown but Adebari did receive a bachelor’s degree in economics from Benin University in Benin City, Edo State, Nigeria in 1993. Shortly afterwards he held a job in sales and marketing for the Ogun State television station.
Adebari converted from Islam to Christianity and then was forced to flee Nigeria along with his wife, Ronke, and two sons, Damilare and Opeayo in 2000. They fled to avoid religious persecution because of bloody clashes between Muslims and Christians in southwestern Nigeria. The Adebari family sought asylum in Ireland.
In 2003 Adebari and his family settled in Portlaoise, Ireland. His application for asylum was initially rejected but the family was able to secure residency rights in the country since a son was born in Ireland by that point. Adebari while living in Portlaoise became involved in several organizations including volunteering at the Abbeyleix Tennis Club in Abbeyleix, Ireland. He also served as a training consultant on inter-cultural and anti-racism issues with the group Optimum Point.
In 2004 Adebari received a master’s degree in intercultural studies at Dublin City University. In the same year he entered local politics when he was elected to the Portlaoise town council as an independent candidate. Adebari launched an integration initiative called Voices Across Cultures in 2006. The initiative uses food, arts, and music to promote cross-cultural appreciation in Ireland.
In June 2007, Adebari contested for the position of mayor of Portlaoise. He was elected, becoming the first black mayor in Ireland’s history. Adebari retained his Town Council seat while securing a seat in the Laois County Council during the June 2009 elections. His victory made him the first immigrant to be elected at that level of government in Ireland. In 2011 he tried unsuccessfully to be elected as an MP in the Irish National Parliament general election.
In 2005, Adebari was chosen as a jury member for the European Programme for Integration and Migration in Brussels, Belgium. Adebari was also credited with founding the Volunteering initiative for National University of Ireland in Maynooth, Ireland where he encouraged students to volunteer to address various social problems and issues. He was also a Director for the Portlaoise Educate Together National School Board of Management and the Irish National Organization of the Unemployed.
Adebari has served as a member of Community, Economic Development, Cultural Heritage, Sport, and County Promotion Strategic Policy Committee of Laois County Council. He has been the host of the radio program Respecting Difference, which celebrates cultural diversity and promotes racial integration. Books for Africa Ireland, a non-profit organization was organized by Adebari and the non-profit was responsible for donating books to institutions of higher education in Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
In 2012, Adebari was appointed a Peace Commissioner by Alan Shatter, the Minister for Justice and Equality. The position is an honorary position in Ireland. Adebari has received many awards including the Worthy Ambassador and Global Achievers Awards, Xclusive Magazine Person of the Year, Bold and Beautiful Magazine Person of the Year, RTE & Metro Eireann Media and Multicultural Award, and the Social Entrepreneur Award.
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