IN a groundbreaking moment, Yemi Mobolade, an immigrant from Nigeria, was officially inaugurated as the mayor of Colorado Springs on June 6, becoming the leader of the state’s second-largest city.
Governor Jered Polis of Colorado expressed his admiration for Mobolade’s journey, stating, ‘Somebody who has dedicated his life to making Colorado Springs and America a better place, whose story we can all identify with, who came here, who started businesses,’ during the inauguration ceremony.
Mobolade arrived in the United States 27 years ago as a student and became a US citizen in 2017. Over the years, he built a family, established two restaurants, and opened a church. His historic election as the city’s first elected Black leader marked a significant milestone for Colorado Springs, known for its conservative leanings.
‘I wake up every morning and I think it’s a dream, and then I realise, no, this really happened,’ expressed Mobolade, still amazed by his journey.
However, it was his role as the small business development manager for Colorado Springs from 2019 to 2022 that garnered trust from many residents. They saw his dedication and accomplishments in that position as evidence of his capabilities as a leader.
Several residents emphasised that Mobolade’s electoral triumph sends a powerful message about the inclusivity of their state. Michael Lipede, a lead pastor at Redeemed Christian Church of God Living Faith Sanctuary in Colorado Springs, said, ‘Colorado Springs is lavishly hospitable… If the natives of Colorado have not received us with an open heart, there is no way we will accomplish all we have accomplished.’
In a city where more than 75 percent of the population is White, residents found hope in the fact that a substantial number of voters supported a candidate from a different background. Olawale Akinremi, a Colorado Springs resident, explained, ‘Coloradans… don’t believe in ethnicity, they believe in competence and capacity and capability, and they found out that Mr. Yemi has it all.’
Colorado Springs resident Cindy Aubrey expressed her admiration, saying, ‘I feel hopeful about today. I love our new mayor, Yemi Mobolade. He is a man of strength, faith, character, and courage. And we are so fortunate to have him leading our city.’
Nkechi Onyejekwe, another resident, highlighted the significance of Mobolade’s victory, stating, ‘Colorado Springs has a very diverse population, and I think that their legislative bodies should also reflect that.’
The importance of representation and leadership was underscored by Ami Bajah-Onyejekwe, a resident of Pueblo, Colorado, who emphasised the impact of seeing someone who shares a similar background and has achieved success. ‘Just by seeing someone who looks like you, who has a similar background to yours and see where that person has reached, and the goals they have achieved,’ she said, ‘gives hope and says, “I can do it as well.”’
Mobolade has made a commitment to being a leader for all of Colorado Springs’ increasingly diverse population. He believes that his victory will inspire young Black children, demonstrating that there are no limits to their aspirations. ‘I think today matters for a lot of young Black kids because it tells them that the sky’s the limit, that they too can step into the arena and lead,’ he shared.
(with VOA’s Hausa Service)