One in Two Thousand: Jimi Oke ’12

It’s 11:00 A.M. on Sunday morning. I meet Jimi Oke ’12 in the pews of Williamstown’s First Baptist Church. He has just finished playing bass for the church’s worship band.

Dang, Jimi, you were really rockin’ on the bass during that last song.
Thanks, man.

Although I did catch you sleeping a bit during the sermon …
Haha, yeah. That’s because I was up writing a paper last night. I fell asleep at about 1 a.m. in my chair and slept for an hour before my friend called me at 2. After we talked, I worked on the paper until church this morning.

So, you got about one hour of sleep last night?
That’s about right. This semester has just been really busy.

Is that why you can frequently be seen running around campus?
Well, I used to run around a lot more. But I was free running this summer.

Free running?
It’s a combination of freestyle running, jumping and moving. I would jump over obstacles in the science quad, railings and benches and whatnot.

Have you ever heard of parkour?
Yeah, they’re basically the same thing. A British guy invented free running, a French guy invented parkour. Parkour is just really flashy, really showy. Those French guys … they have their own Web site.

The French guys?
Both guys, the English guy and the French guy. There’s a Web site for free running and there’s another one for parkour.

Oh, I see.
Anyway, I was free running around the science quad and I broke something.

Broke something?
Yeah, or tendonitis or something.
I see. Besides the free running, what else should the Williams world know about you?
Well, I shower very little. Like somewhere between once a week to um …

Please tell me, “…to once a day.”
No, no. Since the beginning of senior year, the most I’ve showered in one week is three times.

You don’t mind if the student body knows this?
No, it’s totally fine.

Do you shower so infrequently because of time constraints?
Yeah, I guess it’s because time is short. And I’m really bad at managing time. Even though I’m a physics and music major I don’t know that much physics. Or that much music, actually.

But many know that you spent most of your junior year between the music building and the physics common room – you’re an academic beast.
[Smiles] Haha, no…

What else should we know?
Well, I have few clothes. Everybody who’s close to me knows that I have a favorite jacket that I wear all the time.

I didn’t know about that jacket. But I do know about your favorite T-shirt: the black one with the word “Hospitality” in red and white letters.
Oh, yeah, that’s one of my only T-shirts.

Did you just not bring many clothes with you when you came to Williams? Where are you from, again?
Nigeria. I lived in Nigeria for the first 17 years of my life. I finished school when I was 16 and then I took two years off. If I hadn’t taken those years off, I probably wouldn’t have come to Williams. When I graduated high school, I wanted to study architecture but my parents were kind of reluctant about it. I took some time off, we lived in Zimbabwe for a while … my mom was working in Zimbabwe. I actually met Desire [Gijima ’10] when I was in Zimbabwe. So I applied to different architecture programs, and I got in … programs in the United States, that is. I was never going to go to college in Nigeria. Anyway, I got in but I didn’t get much support. After taking time off I changed what I wanted to study and applied to come to Williams. And that’s how I’m here today.

Wow, I’m glad that worked out. So what have been some of the highlights of your four years on campus?
Well, the greatest experience in my Williams career has actually been playing bass at two funerals. They’re amazing. I mean, it’s sad, because someone is dead. But the whole community is there, full of emotion. I played here, at a funeral at First Baptist. The place was packed. The pews were totally full.

What about Williams regrets?
I wish I could have worked harder.

Wait, what? You?
I know that sounds silly but Williams really encourages you to over-commit to things, and to a lot of things. I wish I would have prioritized my time better and really worked hard at just a few things. All in all, it’s been a great experience but yeah … my socks stink.