Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Why Nigerians??? (Visa wahala)

I haven't had access to my laptop and the internet for 2 weeks and so happy that my frustrations of days past can be typed out in this post. I went to China for about 10days and as much as I loved the place, the people, the desire to develop and overtake the West, the fact that without democracy they have made the most economic growth of any 3rd world country and honestly, the China I stayed in was 1st world, more developed than the London, I've been to.

And to think that we Nigerians abroad brag about Lagos and Abuja being developed. I concluded that both ciies are slums (another post to come!) in comparison to what I saw. All the ASA (African Students Association) African week is just an ttempt to hide the truth. I started African week in my school and returned from Asia wondering what it is about being African that I love: mostly (though not totally) corrupt govts, rigged election, poor healthcare, NEPA (never had 24hrs power before), desperate attempt to be everything Western (Nollywood, Koko mansion and Ashionye's accent, lol!) and the long list of BS.

China made me curse my citizenship. I am extremely pro-Nigerian, carry my visa-filled green passport with pride(2 passports and even for 4hrs in frankfurt airport, I had to apply two weeks in advance for a visa) , and struggle with maintaining my accent: Hausa preferably. I intern in Nigeria not Rockefella centre, NY, addicted to Bellanaija, Thisday online, and Mimi magazine (for the sake of knowing what progress is being made on our continent), and unlike most of my friends, I wear traditional ankara pretty often to class.

Everyone in my school who was going to China just had to fill a form and send their passport to the travel agent who did all the runs. I did the same but got an email asking me to send my bank statement as well as two letters from China. Wait oh, this was a study abroad program and out of a group of 21 students, only one had to look for Chinese people to write a letter plus bank statement loaded with Naira and dollars. My father is just an honest civil servant and I am on a full schorlarship. Honest money doesn't mean loaded bank accounts.

My professor went through the trouble of getting the letters with the help of my Chinese friend, while I had to send a statement that had a decent amount of money BEFORE I paid for the trip. Note, NOBODY ELSE went through the extra jara.

I had to call and text all my relatives to join hands in prayer for my visa. At this point all, I needed those London churches I used to make fun of for praying for 'papers.' Trust my mother, she shared the issue in church and Elders added to the prayer dose.

Nothing made me sadder, when my professor handed everybody else's passport on the first day of the summer program. ALL but mine. The second Asian country that we were heading to after China didn't require visas for everyone oh wait, EXCEPT ME! The Nigerian. I was too embarassed and sometimes sat in my corner in the bus just to cry while forgetting the lyrics to our national anthem.

Lemme just say I got my passport two days before the trip and I couldn't even finish the trip because the agent forgot that I needed a visa for the 3rd country that the group was visiting. I stayed in China alone for two days which I didn't mind: it was Radisson, a five-star so I was being a diva/ African princess but sad that I was forced to be there because I was and am NIGERIAN.

I ran out of excuses to be patriotic. One black guy even joked about my getting a US Passport (that was like insult upon injury to my green passport, plus I have issues with being an immigrant in America). I could have slapped him but he was right, after three years of trying to prove to Americans that I rock, and 'Naija for Life,' 'Naija until I die,' tshirts, music, African week, and facebook profiles of patriotism, I broke down and cried on the 500thread count sheets of our five star hotel while everyone went to GT Banana Club, Beijing to party it out American style.

Democracy day (May 29th) was during my trip and I was in a Communist country, mesmerized by the awesomeness/ advancement of the place and wondering why the heck people overate democracy. 10 years with nothing to show, and my passport need a visa and its wahala plus public prayers every time I want to fulfill my wishes of travelling the world.

I love my country but it could really need some UNSUCKING!


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