Migration Blues: Why Do They Come Here (Nigeria) When We are Not Wanted There?

The writer has recently been to Nigeria. On the plane I boarded, half of the business class seats were occupied by foreigners (Caucasians). As these people may or may not be English, it begs the question, if they are English, why do they come to Nigeria? If you live in England, and you are Nigerian or African, the rhetoric on immigration/immigrants from non-European countries is disheartening. Since the start of this Parliament, the language and tone has been consistently negative where Africans, non-Europeans and migration are concerned. The British Home Secretary Theresa May is perhaps the most hardened and brutal Secretary in a generation. Her policies are merciless and here in Lagos, from talking to people, the consensus seems to be that most people now know not to bother applying for a British Visa. It is simply not worth the hassle. Canada, New Zealand, Australia, even Japan are better places for Nigerians to spend their money should they want to travel. It is in the general consciousness (backed by right-wing media right-wing the Daily Mail and the Sun) that the average African, in the United Kingdom or those who want to enter the United Kingdom, aim to do that for two reasons. First, to access the English benefit system and secondly Africans deprive the Brits of ‘British jobs for British people’. Deplorable? There is more. The general tolerance for asylum seekers seems to have been eroded by the many Africans and non-Europeans who are economic migrants. With the power of newspapers like the Sun, Africans are first seen as asylum seekers than professionals. To be candid and I may be wrong, but under this Tory government, many people from African descent feel alienated. Even though the nationalistic and racist party, British National Party, lost heavily in the recent elections, many British Nigerians feel alienated and isolated. I have digressed. Why do they come here (Nigeria) when we are not wanted there? There are many reasons Caucasians come to Africa. Our history books tell us that they came two centuries ago with religion. They painted us an image of a Caucasian Jesus. This Jesus has stayed with us since. Yet, Jesus did not have blond hair and blue eyes. From what we now know, Jesus was probably more Middle Eastern with dark skin and facial hair. We know King Solomon was a black man from biblical literature. We also know that the Son of God, Jesus Christ, is in his lineage. When the white man came to the ‘dark continent’, we were viewed as barbarians and our cultures repugnant. The rest of the story is African American history of slavery. Remember Kunta Kinte? They came with the Bible in one hand and started the slave trade with their other hand. Many white people visit the continent for missionary purposes. The desire to rid the continent of paganism and Islam remains high on the agenda of many evangelical white pastors. With 900 million people on the continent, many of the big churches in the United States view Africa as a fertile ground for their work. Big religion is also big money hence the scramble for Africa. Other than ‘rescuing the perishing’, foreigners come to Africa for humanitarian purposes. During the outbreak of the Ebola crises, we witnessed an outpouring of humanitarian aid workers from the West to Cameroon and the Ebola stricken areas. This is generally true of English people and of the West in general. Whenever calamity strikes anywhere on the planet, English people are known to help. They are humanitarian. Unlike the average Nigerian who is materialistic and consumerist in focus, the average English man is perhaps more

altruistic in his approach to life. Many times, their lives are placed at risk whilst helping other people. Another reason why white people come to Africa is to experience nature. Kenya is a magnate for tourists because of its clean, white beaches and safari wild life. More Westerners stay on in Kenya because they love Kenyan women, and the way of life. Westerners also visit South Africa probably because of its similarity to United Kingdom and modern cities in the first world. We have much better weather in Africa generally than the United Kingdom does. The rainy season in Nigeria is the best time to visit Nigeria. The sun is not at its full glare. Other than the need to constantly use insecticides to kill the mosquitos, the weather is cool, unlike cold England. Many English people migrate to Spain, the African continent and other parts of the planet simply because they want to get away from their weather. The English weather is not predictable. It could be sunny and very cold for instance at the same time. Or it could be rainy one minute and dry the next. It can drive you crazy if you are a sun worshipper, which is why when they experience ‘two weeks’ of sunshine, every one goes crazy. The men go topless, whilst the women literally, barely keep any clothes on. White people also come to Africa for economic reasons. Don’t tell them this, but this is it. Nigeria is a lot easier than the United Kingdom. The next time you see a Nigerian driver driving a white man, pause. Think. This is it. In England, only the super rich get driven anywhere. Period. If you want to be driven, you call for a taxicab or get your spouse to do the honours. Economically, the deal is much better in Nigeria for white people than back home. Back home, on a gross income of £32,000, take home pay being £1,780 per month or there about, on that take home pay, you would be lucky to have £200 after all your direct debit payments have gone through. What are these legendary bills? The almighty rent/mortgage comes next after the deduction of income tax. Then there is the vexatious council tax, water bills, annoying TV license, phone bills, Internet rate and mobile phone bills, satellite TV (for SKY Television) and any other utility or service used. In Nigeria, life is not that hectic. Other than the annoying fact that you have to cough out two years rent in advance and furnish the space that you call yours, life is relatively affordable in Nigeria. There seems to be more you can get with your naira making the country a magnet for Europeans. But surely, what about the cost of living crisis? Is Nigeria that okay? Really? The naira is badly devalued and reaching a near meaningless state. For those coming into the country with pounds, you get more naira. But, it also means that you have to pay more Naira for a night in a highbrow hotel. Parents with children in education overseas would need an extra million or two on top of the millions of naira they already pay for the school fees as the foreign exchange rises. Why do Westerners come to Africa? Another viable answer is for our women. For the purposes of decency, lets agree to disagree and say that some white men like black women and are in Africa to pursue their love and relationship. Westerners come to Africa. We travel to the West. The world is a global village. Migration is easier and faster and as we encourage Western tourists to visit our shores to experience our hospitality, they need us as well for the cash we infuse into their economies. Ultimately, we need more foreign business desperately to get the economy moving. ■

Westerners come to Africa. We travel to the West. The world is a global village. Migration is easier and faster and as we encourage Western tourists to visit our shores to experience our hospitality, they need us as well for the cash we infuse into their economies 9

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