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Well done, Jaden: Teen wins £1m playing Fortnite

PICTURED: Jaden Ashman (Photo credit: GMB / YouTube)

FIFTEEN-YEAR-OLD Jaden Ashman is so lucky. Not only did he scoop a £900,000 prize for being able to play the Fortnite video game better than most people on the planet but, unbelievably, his mum let him practice his gaming skills by playing in his bedroom for eight hours a day.

Eight hours a day! That part is unbelievable to my generation. In our day parents weren’t having that.

Our parents would tell us day in and day out that they hadn’t come all this way across the ocean and all, not to talk of how they had to put up with all the disrespect that they put up with every day at work, just so that we small pickney could take life for some comedy show in which you could play football and Subbuteo, or whatever the old school equivalent of Fortnite was.

No sah, our parents weren’t going to allow that. Not in this lifetime, anyhow. They had to kill you first. With licks.

As far as our parents were concerned, you had to leggo the skylarking and try to learn something in that school that you were being sent to.

The idea that your father would let you play games in your bedroom for hours on end was something we only dreamt about.


Your bedroom was for reading books and doing your homework. And when you had done that there was a Bible beside your bed that needed reading as well – especially Psalm 23.

You see, one thing that most of our parents realised, was that what separated the haves from the have-nots or the big dupes from the sufferahs back in the Caribbean or in Africa, was that little bit of paper that spelt Q-U-A-L-I-F-I-C-A-T-I- O-N.

And you had to have that no matter what. If you didn’t get it from school you would get it from doing a trade when you left school. Whether welding or nursing.

You had to (yes, I love this bit of colloquial Caribbean grammar so much that I’m using it three times in this column, even though the saying is, when somet’ing nice you haffe play it twice) get your GCE or your NVQ or any other Q-U-A-L-I-F-I-C-A-T-I-O-N.

Because our parents did not come all the way over the ocean to bring up no wotless child.
They came to this country not just to improve their lives but to give their children a better opportunity as well.

That’s why they sent for us once they got settled down instead of leaving us back home when that would have been the easier option for them.

This was particularly the case with those parents who came over from West Africa. Unlike many of their Caribbean counterparts, many Africans used the excuse that they were coming here to study, rather than to work. I say excuse, because many Nigerians actually came here to party.

The great Fela Kuti, for example, was sent over here by his dad, the Reverend Ransome Kuti, and his mother, Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti, to study hard.

Fela quickly got tired of the hard study and, not long after his arrival, formed the expatriate band the Koola Lobitos to perform hi-life music for the burgeoning West African community in London and elsewhere in the UK. And very good business they did, thank you very much.

On reflection, of course, we see that Fela did the right thing in shunning his studies to pursue his passion which was music. He went on to become, arguably, the greatest African musician ever – the African Bob Marley with a James Brown sound and, undoubtedly, the creator of the Afrobeat genre which today has morphed into Afrobeats.

Just like 15-year-old Jaden Ashman when Fela was left to his own devices, he triumphed over and above the education system. It was very different for me growing up.

Let’s be honest, I could have become one of the great hoodlums of north London, or at least that was the trajectory down which was sliding rapidly.

I don’t know why, but being a hoodlum was my passion. But that didn’t work when it came to my dad, who probably still holds the record for having the most children at university in this country at the same time.

There were five of us. All boys. We could have formed our own University Challenge team with one reserve.

You had my brother Fola at Kings College, London University reading mathematics. You had my brother Diran at Wadham College, University of Oxford, reading Law.


Tayo was at Bristol Uni reading classics, my brother Yinka was at uni in Wales studying politics and I was at the University of Essex reading philosophy.

And that was all well and good for my father’s generation because education was the way through to the success myself and my brothers have enjoyed. From where we came from we’ve done very well for ourselves.

But for the now generation, I don’t know if education is doing them a favour or whether they’re not better off going out on the streets from an early age and just pursuing their passion – as long as it’s legal (don’t do what I did folks).

If my father had had faith in allowing me to play football 15 hours a day as I would have preferred rather than going to school for seven hours a day, who knows what I would have achieved.

Well done, Jaden. Enjoy that £900,000. And do something useful with your life as well as playing video games.

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