Let me get focus for a second; this is Part I of a Two Part series to be featured on my blog.
For many of us, a drive to the Murtala Mohammed International Airport in my home state of Lagos represents many things. Some of us look at it as the prospect of new beginnings filled with endless opportunities and optimism. Others embrace it as a return to their roots, culture and their purposeful meaningful selves. Which ever spectrum you may fall on is unique in itself and I for one find myself fortunate to have experienced both over the years.
However, “My Coming 2 America” experience was nothing like the one depicted in the widely popular comedy film with Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall with the exception of a few African jokes and the ignorance depicted at times i.e. “what type of games you boys in Africa used to? Chase the monkey”... Or when the landlord is showing Akeem/Semi a vacant space in his apartment building and a rat comes crawling by and he says; “you boys from Africa are used to that”. True, the actors and the storylines represented some of the euphoria and barriers we all as foreigners encounter when we exit our native homelands but its sole and ultimate purpose was to entertain. Make no mistake; attempting to start life over in the western world is neither amusing nor laughable when you are forced to function in survival mode in hopes of not getting bogged down by the everyday grind.
My brother told me many years ago that Nigerians are regarded as one of the most traveled groups of people in the world. I have been also told by others, find a dot on the world atlas and you find a Nigerian who has set foot in it. What too many people over the years have repeatedly failed to do in preparing those that leave “Naija” in hopes for a better tomorrow is that not everything in Europe and the western world is paved with Gold!!! More importantly, a life in Nigeria does not necessarily constitute despair, poverty and lack of forward thinking.
So as we embark on the eve of the Murtalab nightmare and disaster a year ago, as this is the season of holiday travels and my fellow “Omo Naijas” crowd every international airport known to man here are some pointers or shall I say tips for making your experience and travels a safe and purposeful one wherever your journey leads you. Happy Holidays…
Below you will find my quick traveling guides & tips to prepare you for what is ahead when leaving Naija. I hope this helps and guides some of your decision making;
Visas: Attempting to get visas in comparison to others who come from more affluent parts of the world is an up hill climb. The biggest scams out there are visa fees you do not get back when your application is denied. Please read for clarity and ask questions whenever in doubt when attempting to process your passports for visas.
Upon Arrival (Destination): Do not lose site or get carried away all you see in your new environment (study your new environment).
Culture/Language: Remember “Who You Are”, these are the things that separate you form others and make you special. People will comment on your accent and say you sound funny but don’t shy away from it.
Education/Employment: Before leaving for Nigeria, learn a trade or a vocational skill (they make money quicker in today’s economy). Remember it is about survival so don’t feel slighted and disrespected when you are told that your education is essential worthless. The opportunity to further your education will present itself at the appropriate time. Make good use of the public libraries to read, use the internet and learn how to enroll in academic institution
Credit/Banking: Unlike in Nigeria where it’s “Cash & Carry”, without credit you are limited in the western world. Good Credit is highly valued in almost all business transaction. Bill payments are not conducted by using cash as a payment method. One must be the holder of a checking account in order to perform many essential financial duties.
Housing/Shelter: If you stay with a family member or friend make sure you help out
By which ever means you have available. This goes a long way; also please (don’t over stay your welcome).
Taxes: You must pay them. This is how things such as (roads, water, electricity, health care, etc…) are provided.
Work Like a Slave Eat Like a King!!!