1990, I was subjected to a search at Malta Airport. The
officers did their job with care and dignity as they
stretched me to the limits. They had to take me to the
hospital after about an hour delay. It was there doctors
x-rayed my chest, or should I say my body. What were
they searching for? No one cared to tell me. After they
had satisfied with me, my passport was returned, and
then I was allowed to go. "Enjoy your stay in Malta,"
said the immigration officers who had accompanied me to
I do not
remember what I felt on that day, but I knew they
attacked my good name and reputation. I knew I was
charged falsely or with malicious intent. Although the
officers refused to tell me my offence, I had obtained
from one of the doctors that it was drug they were
looking for. I was not angry but I remember I was sad. I
thanked God. What if they had deliberately planted it
during the x-ray? May Tochi, a Nigerian youth whose soul
was abruptly terminated by Singaporean government for
drug peddling – rest in peace. Soul rest in perfect
Before Entering Rome
1995, I was on transit in Italy en-route Nigeria, my
country. My transit visa allowed me to stay in Italy for
two days if I so wish. I was the only non-white on the
plane. Along the immigration control I was separated
from other passengers by a man appeared to be
immigration officer. He pointed to another route for me
to follow. I refused, especially when he could not tell
me the reason why among hundreds of passengers, I was
singled-out. I was already furious but quickly
suppressed such "evil" emotion. Anger has never helped
me solve any problem. He followed me to the immigration
counter where his colleague demanded for my passport. I
he announced rather than said, grimly. He then leafed
through my passport. "You live Budapest . . . show me ID
Hungarian ID is for Hungary only," I retorted though it
was with me.
stay two day in Rome."
my financial advisor."
It was at
that moment he referred my case to his superior officer,
who was not as rude. He too inspected my passport.
"Okay, just show us $100."
"I have no
money to show . . . I’m going to my country."
won’t see Rome."
with me. Absolutely fine with me."
Oh heck! I
wasn't going to spend my money in Rome anyway. Besides,
Nigeria was where my heart was.
On my way
back, Italian immigration officers ordered Africans to
form a separate line. Some of us protested, while some
obeyed. Among those who obeyed was a Nigerian lady whose
two little children carried British passport. It was
genuine for they eventually allowed her to go, but she
had to stay in a different line specially made for
non-whites. They turned a deaf ear to our protest to
know the reasons behind such segregation.
Kilo Do You Carry [Into America]?
1996 – my first visit to the USA – America subjected me
to their awful poetry of guilty by association. My
ordeal started immediately we disembarked. I was not the
only non-white, but I was certainly the only Nigerian.
A woman positioned herself in front of the aircraft as
if she had been waiting for a scapegoat. As soon as she
saw me – someone must have previously described me in
details – she flashed her badge (custom), pointing to me
to move aside. I ignored her – completely. Being a
custom officer even gave me added confidence to neglect
her. Besides, I simply detest it whenever someone single
me out, especially pertaining to the immigration issue.
After all, there was no 9/11 yet. After all, I would
never engage in anything that may tarnish my image, and
that of my country.
walking. She followed me closely while making use of her
walkie-talkie. Honestly, I was not afraid even though I
had not travelled extensively then. But I knew I would
have to see the immigration before custom. Within a
twinkle of an eye, two men had joined in pursuing me.
They were far from me but I knew their mission. They
were closely observing me. For what, I thought. It was
then it dawned on me that I might have opened a can of
Airport is quite long. By the time I reached the
immigration, the two gentlemen flashed their badges.
"Immigration," one of them said.
And so my
agony started. They demanded my passport, and then other
documents. I handed it but it was obvious they were not
satisfied. And so the drama (for that was what it was)
you take a direct flight?"
it’s much more expensive."
you doing in Amsterdam?"
"I was on
mission in the United States?"
"To join the
Meridian Ship as a crew member."
flashed into my mind that I had caused furore in
Amsterdam when I refused to declare my mission upon
interrogation by Delta Airline desk officers in
Amsterdam. For fifteen minutes I stood my ground,
claiming that my mission in the United States was none
of their business since they were not immigration
officers. Besides, I had crew member visa in my
passport. My Hungarian colleagues with the same visa
were allowed to pass without any question. It was
humiliation that brought tears. But I was determined not
to show them my documents other than my passport – the
only document demanded from my Hungarian colleagues.
Eventually, they allowed me to board since I won’t burge.
Now I was
facing the penalty?
your Hungarian I.D or something?" asked one of the
passport. It’s in my passport."
check it. "Any document from your employer?"
"Yes" I gave
it to them.
I received. It’s what others received too."
going to New York tonight," the woman charged or
boasted. "You’re going back to Lagos."
laughed. It was a joyful laugh. And it was at that
moment I knew they did not even know what they were
doing. Because I did not even obtain my visa in Lagos.
There’s no way I could have been deported to Lagos. I
laughed again when I realised that my laughter was
hurting her. Let her be tortured like they were
torturing me – just for the fun of it. I do not remember
all the conversation, but I definitely remember the
woman cutting in.
with me," she said with authority, "How many kilo do you
laugh flashed itself again. I was indignant at the way I
was being treated, but I remained confident. "What!"
I was later
told that my profile fitted that of a typical drug
pusher. More than six months to be spent in America with
only one hand luggage without any check-in; I did not
only passed through Amsterdam where drugs are legalised
to a certain amount, but I had caused furore. The drama
was going on when one of them who had disappeared
suddenly re-surfaced. "Let the boy go," he said. He had
phoned my employer. What surprised me most was how
quickly they changed their hostile attitude. They
flashed their best smiles. It was contagious despite the
sadness. "Welcome to the United States of America . . .
it is because your country is in the black book of
And so what?
I departed with the quote from one of their forefathers,
"It is better for hundred criminals to go scot-free than
to punish one innocent person." Although my subsequent
visits were smooth, the experience of that day lingers
Immigration Deported Two Nigerians
2004, I witnessed a situation whereby two Nigerians – a
man and a woman – were sent back from Cairo Airport to
Murtala Muhammad Airport. The man on the suspicion that
his British visa was fake, while the woman on the
suspicion that she had improperly obtained her Nigerian
passport. I found out what appeared to be the truth, but
then Egyptian immigration officer is neither British nor
Italian immigration officer.
Scrutiny in Hungary
2006, I was going to Ireland to participate in a
Socrates Course for Secondary School Teachers. It was on
that day I realised the advantage of arriving much
earlier at the airport. Hungarian immigration subjected
me to a forty-minute-passport verification. My grudge
was not even the eternity it took them to accept the
genuineness of my passport, rather the logic behind such
I have in my passport several in and out Hungarian
stamps. Doubting the authenticity of my passport means
the officer who delayed me on that very day was either
doing it as a routine (Hungarian authority has seized
"suspicious" Nigerian passports) or never trusted
the judgement of his colleagues who had stamped my
passport more than fifty times, or simply transparently
pains each time they punish me for the crimes they
usually claim are being committed by fellow Nigerians,
or being discriminated against because of my race, I
take a little surreptitious pleasure in the fact that I
and others like me have shown that not all Nigerians are
criminals. And that to tell you the truth is my
consolation for the immigration torture.
posted 15 February 2007
currently teaching English Communication in Budapest,
Hungary. He loves writing, a vehicle by which he rides
to relieve himself of certain emotions. His articles
have appeared in Nigerian newspapers including
respectively. He is also a contributor to several online
magazines like Nigeriavillagesquare.com,
Chatafrikarticles.com, voiceofnigerians and a
host of others. Hakeem is a member of Association of
* * *
* * *
According to historian Scharff,
Thomas Jefferson’s “most closely guarded secrets,
the most fiercely maintained silences, all had to do
with the women he loved.” It stands to reason that
in order to fully understand a man as tremendously
gifted and as deeply flawed as Thomas Jefferson, one
must also understand and appreciate the women who
collectively formed the foundation of his life and
shaped the nature of his legacy. Although
Jefferson’s mother, daughters, granddaughters, wife,
and enslaved mistress were all fascinating women who
played distinct roles in his life and legend, they
were also creatures of their time and place, living,
enduring, and playing by the rules of a patriarchal,
male-dominated society. By studying these women
Scharff not only opens a window to the heart and
soul of one of our nation’s founders but also
resurrects their own contributions to our nation’s
* * *
Sex at the Margins
Migration, Labour Markets and the Rescue Industry
By Laura María Agustín
This book explodes several myths: that selling sex is completely different from any other kind of work, that migrants who sell sex are passive victims and that the multitude of people out to save them are without self-interest. Laura Agustín makes a passionate case against these stereotypes, arguing that the label 'trafficked' does not accurately describe migrants' lives and that the 'rescue industry' serves to disempower them. Based on extensive research amongst both migrants who sell sex and social helpers, Sex at the Margins provides a radically different analysis. Frequently, says Agustin, migrants make rational choices to travel and work in the sex industry, and although they are treated like a marginalised group they form part of the dynamic global economy. Both powerful and controversial, this book is essential reading for all those who want to understand the increasingly important relationship between sex markets, migration and the desire for social justice. —Lisa Adkins, University of London
* * *
Let Freedom Ring: A Collection of
from the Movements to Free U.S.
By Adolfo Perez Esquivel and Matt Meyer
Within every society there are people
who, at great personal risk and
sacrifice, stand up and fight for the
most marginalized among us. We call
these people of courage, spirit and
love, our heroes and heroines. This book
is the story of the ones in our midst.
It is the story of the best we are.—Asha
Bandele, poet and author of The
As a convicted felon, I have been
prevented from visiting many people in
prison today. But none of us should be
stopped from the vital work of prison
abolition and freeing the many who the
U.S. holds for political reasons. Let
Freedom Ring helps make their voices
heard, and presents strategies to help
win their release.—Daniel
Berrigan SJ, former Plowshares political
prisoner and member of the FBI Top Ten
Mumia Abu-Jamal, Dan Berger,
Dhoruba Bin-Wahad, Bob Lederer,
Terry Bisson, Laura Whitehorn,
The San Francisco 8,
Angela Davis, Bo Brown, Bill Dunne,
Jalil Muntaqim, Susie Day,
Luis Nieves Falcon,
Ninotchka Rosca, Meg Starr,
Jill Soffiyah Elijah, Jan Susler,
Chrystos, Jose Lopez,
Marilyn Buck, and many more.
* * *
The White Masters of the
The World and Africa, 1965
By W. E. B. Du Bois
W. E. B. Du Bois’
Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization
* * *
Ancient African Nations
* * * * *
If you like this page consider making a donation
* * * * *
Negro Digest /
Browse all issues
* * * * *
The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan
The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll
Only a Pawn in Their Game
Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for
George Jackson /
* * *
The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg
Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804
January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of
* * * * *
* * *
(Books, DVDs, Music, and more)
31 May 2012