15-year-old living life of adventure in Nigeria

Sherry Hamilton - Posted on Jun 26, 2013 - 03:00 PM

Photo: Adeyemi Rashaan Stembridge is shown with his grandfather, Raymond Willis of Mathews. Stembridge is currently living in Nigeria with his mother, Mathews native Yvette Gaither, who works for the U.S. State Department. Photo by Sherry Hamilton

Adeyemi Rashaan Stembridge is shown with his grandfather, Raymond Willis of Mathews. Stembridge is currently living in Nigeria with his mother, Mathews native Yvette Gaither, who works for the U.S. State Department. Photo by Sherry Hamilton

At 15 years of age, Adeyemi Rashaan Stembridge has seen more of the world than most people.

The son of Mathews native Yvette Gaither and the grandson of Raymond and Arma Willis of North, Adeyemi has traveled to North Africa, the Middle East and the Far East, and is currently living in Lagos, Nigeria. He is spending part of the summer with his grandparents in Mathews.

With degrees in criminal justice and business, Adeyemi’s mother works for the U.S. State Department.

In Lagos, Adeyemi goes to an American and international school with other children whose parents work for the State Department or in other U.S. Foreign Service jobs, or who can pay the steep price for tuition. He said he has American and Nigerian friends, as well as friends from Pakistan, Korea, India and other countries.

U.S. workers live in government compounds in Lagos, said Adeyemi. There are two buildings in each compound, each of which is made up of three large attached homes. The compounds have picnic and play areas and other amenities for the residents, and everything is surrounded by a large fence. The gate has a 24-hour guard, said Adeyemi, and the residents don’t usually wander far away from the compound alone. Foreigners in Nigeria need to worry about being kidnapped, he said.

Although Adeyemi sometimes walks to another nearby compound to visit friends, the family chauffeur drives him if he needs to go any further.

Raymond Willis, who has visited his daughter and grandson at their home in Nigeria, said, "When you get outside that gate, it’s a different world." Lagos is similar to urban areas here in the U.S., he said, but the people live in substandard conditions. The streets have lots of mud holes, he said, and people everywhere are out trying to make money.

The family usually shops in an area for Americans called the "Guest Quarters," which contains a commissary; a recreation facility with a pool, basketball court, gym and tennis court; and a lounge with a bar.

In addition to the chauffeur, Adeyemi’s family employs the chauffeur’s wife to provide housekeeping services. All the compound residents have servants, said Adeyemi, and the workers live in quarters on the compound, as well.

Adeyemi’s grandfather teases him about being unable to adjust to a life without servants when he returns to the U.S., but Adeyemi insists he knows how to make his own bed.