From Africa to IL, Austin-Onyema Ladies Excel

From Africa to IL, Austin-Onyema Ladies Excel
Posted on 11/21/2023
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Just over a year ago, the Austin-Onyema ladies made the long trip from Nigeria in Africa to reunite with their father and meet their new family members in Logan County, Ohio.

Their father Austin, is now married to ILES Guidance Counselor Jill (Young) Onyema. At the time, the move was a culture shock for the young girls. We asked what was their impression of the USA was before making the move.

“Like the movies, like on YouTube. We were expecting more city life.” Victory said. 

“I wasn’t expecting the corn. It’s too much!” Victoria continued. 

A year later, the twins Victoria and Victory are thriving as seniors at Indian Lake High School and Vernicia is making friends as a fifth grader at ILMS. Their older sister, Tracy is a nursing student at Ohio State Lima.

Coming to school during fourth and fifth grade has made the transition easier for Vernicia. The girls in her class have befriended her and she is a fixture at sporting and social events for her classmates. She is playing youth basketball and excelling in her 4-H projects. Meantime, Victory and Victoria had a more difficult time in the complex world of high school cliques, but they were warmly welcomed into Color Guard and the ILHS after-school clubs. 


As expected one of the biggest differences for all the girls is the food. Nearly every household in Nigeria, whether in the city or the village, has an extensive garden or farm. 

“People get most of their food from their farm and then some from the market, that’s processed or imported stuff that you need. But in the village everything, like 90% comes from the farm,” Victory explains. 

Here the girls rarely eat what’s on the menu at school or home. They make their own dishes, which include lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, soups and rice. 

In Nigeria, the girls lived with their aunt in the city and had already completed their high school courses. Through Covid shutdown and while awaiting passage to the United States, both Victory and Victoria became skilled in many areas. Victoria is a talented seamstress who creates beautiful clothes, including the formal dresses they wore to prom. Victory is a baker, making and decorating delicious cakes and desserts. Both twins work part-time at the Donut Shop in Russells Point and City Sweets and Creamery.


Every day life was much different for the Onyemas in Nigeria. For instance, Monday were a lock down day in their area and girls were expected to stay home most of the time. 

Victory explains, “It’s mostly boys the go out of the house. The parents just believe that the girls should stay in the house and everything should be provided for you and that the boys go out and fend for themselves.”

In addition, traveling, even short distances, required passing through many government check points. Another difference is that their week only consists of four days, instead of seven. 

Daily chores like laundry, were done differently as well. The girls explained that they learned to do washing by hand and only sometimes used a washing machine. They still prefer to wash some of their clothes in buckets and let them air dry. 

Another big difference between life e for young people in Nigeria is relationships. Victory and Victoria were surprised that many students at ILHS have a boy friend or a girl friend. 

“In Nigeria, it’s something you hide if you have a boyfriend until you’re ready to marry,” Victory continued. 

Holidays are very different, as well. Instead of Halloween, Nigerians celebrate masquerades that pay homage to their gods. They hold festivals with dances and games where the gods chase children. They also explained that Christmas is for visiting with extended family and eating, not so much about gift giving. 

“That’s why we make dresses. On Christmas you must wear something new, new clothes, new shoes, new hair, everything. You take rice and food to your friends and family and stay over and eat,” Victoria explains.


It took a few months last year for the all the girls to get accustomed to life in America and find the activities that interest them. Now, as the twins go through their senior year, Victory and Victoria are looking forward to many events. 

“For us, it’s our first and last everything. We just finished our first-last marching band season. So we want to try lots of things.”

They are looking forward to Winter Guard, musical, Prom and graduation. 

After all that, both Victoria and Victory plan to join the National Guard. Victory plans to study nursing and someday have her own restaurant and bakery. Victoria will study computer science, then design clothes of her own.