Immigration blues: Eze goes to school…

“Stockholm, Sweden — As Eze sat in the pew at a church where he goes most mornings to pray, his phone buzzed with a new message. His Icelandic teacher was checking in on him, giving him support.

A calm and composed man, Eze began to cry, the emotion intensifying as he continued to read. His friends in Iceland were standing with him, the message said, they would fight for him.

Eze Okafor, 32, had been living in Iceland for the last four years, working as a cook in a local restaurant, learning the Icelandic language, building a community.

“Iceland is my home now. I have contributed to the society here. Many people know me. My friends have become my family,” he told Al Jazeera.

Eze fled Nigera after being targeted by Boko Haram. In 2010, he and his younger brother, Okwy, were attacked in retaliation for not joining the armed group. “They tried to recruit me, but I refused.”

Members of Boko Haram stormed their house in Maiduguri, Borno State, in northeastern Nigeria. Eze was stabbed in the head and face. Okwy was killed.”

Eze goes to Iceland. Eze wants to stay in Iceland because he is fleeing Boko Haram. Good for him. I now look at these things differently whereas in the past I would have ridiculed the young man. He could be my son, born on the wrong side of the railroad tracks. He’s better than those who made his Nigeria hell.

When I came to the US, in 1982 I could have lied that I’d fled Shagari’s regime, and gotten a green card, the Americans did not know any better at the time. I did not need to, my Nigeria was not one to run from, I had a return ticket and I missed Nigeria badly.

As a young student here in the US at OLEMISS, my standard of living in my mind dropped significantly than when I was in Nigeria. I will only point out one thing about narrative: Achebe reminds us that until the lion tells the history of the hunt, the hunt is always glorified by the hunter. The eminent writer, Chris Abani’s entire literary narrative is mean spirited fiction about an evil Nigeria. It made him famous. Many of us lie like that — for fame and fortune. Ask Philip Emeagwali.

I think of my brave sisters in Italy who fled those who stole their future and who now buy hell to save the present. I think of Italy and the seas of Europe and many Africans dying every day for a smidgen of the future my kids enjoy. I hope and pray that the young man’s hustle succeeds. His kids’ journeys will be better than his. He is no different than the “Americans” who came to this land, killed off most of the indigenous folks and built their eldorado on the backs of slaves. This earth, my brother, is ours. Screw boundaries. Yes. I said it, screw boundaries.

It’s all good, if you know what criminal governance has done to generations of youths in Edo State (go check out Italy) you will not eat for days, the despair will fill you up. It is easy for people to call those girls in Italy prostitutes but they did not just wake up to submit themselves to unspeakable trauma. Sometimes I wonder if there’s something wrong with us. 😒

Eze, enjoy Iceland. Have you eaten?

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