A Nigerian-American actor and former US Navy SEAL, Remi Adeleke, has narrated how the Nigerian government allegedly stripped his father Adebayo Adeleke of his labour and investment in Banana Island, Lagos in the 1970s.
Remi is one of the two sons of Adebayo Adeleke, the architect and engineer believed to be the original owner of Banana Island.
The ex-Navy SEAL, who featured in the movie “Transformers: The Last Night,” in his new memoir titled “Transformed: A Navy’s SEAL’s Unlikely Journey from the Throne of Africa to the Streets of the Bronx,” shared the emotional story of his life and how his father was allegedly stripped of all his life investment by the Nigerian government.
Narrating the overwhelming story of how his family went from royalty in Nigeria to the streets of the Bronx in New York, United States, he said his father’s attempts to invest in and modernize his country by building an Island that meets global standard all came crashing down when the government frustrated his efforts after he had sunk all his life savings into the project.
He noted that his father wouldn’t have suffered such fate if he had heeded to his mother who advised him to channel some of his investments into other ventures in the US.
“When dad was 8, he migrated down to the south of Nigeria to attend school. Eventually, he ended up attending school in London, where he got his master’s in engineering and architecture.
“He had great successes and became one of the first black men to serve on the board of the World Trade Center. But he always wanted to return to Nigeria to create a city that would be a beacon for all the world.
“His most ambitious project was developing one of the first man-made islands in the world — Banana Island in Lagos, Nigeria, starting in the late ’70s. He had deals with McDonalds, Disney, and others, and sunk all his money into the project.
“Once the land was developed and became valuable — it is today one of the most expensive places in all of Africa — the Nigerian government stripped us of everything. We went from rich to poor, eventually forcing my mom my brother and me to move from Nigeria to the Bronx.
“My mom would always tell my dad, “Put money back in the United States so we have something just in case everything collapses.” But he didn’t listen. His priority was his country and building his country to be a beacon of light to all of Africa.”
“Because my dad died when I was 5, after being bit by a rabid dog in Lagos, my memories of him have grown hazy.
“Dad died an optimistic man. He was fighting to get his island back, but he knew the relationships he had and the knowledge he had would one day win him back his investment.
“There were times when he was upset because he worked so hard for it, but he was such a positive force in life, and he stayed that way until the end. He knew that if he could keep fighting he could get it back. As long as he had a breath in his body, he could win.”