Hey, you! I have gist. Oya pull your chair close and your ears closer.
About a week ago, as I travelled from Baltimore to Denver (yea yea, I migrated from one Oyinbo country to yet another-Na God), I had the privilege of seating with an amazing couple.(considering I am not one who initiates a conversation while flying-This was a miracle). The husband is American while the wife is of Romanian descent but is obviously a dual citizen. It was one of those moments I enjoyed seating with people with almost like minds as me or just enthusiastic about life. One conversation led to another and we got to the topic of how many countries our passports could enter without a visa. The man said the American passport goes into about 246 countries while his wife said her old Romanian passport got her into (obviously) all European Countries and about 50 other less important countries (as she puts it) when she last counted. The question that followed was: How Many countries does your Nigerian Passport get you into? eh! as simple as that question was, I froze for a second before answering the question shabbily. I just said something in the line maybe 20 countries or more… you know…It was at that moment I told myself: Tolu your passport is a snare to getting the ‘dream’ life. Chai!
It has been a snare to many Nigerians I know in England to land jobs in line with what they have spent years to acquire a degree on. The same job they would give someone with a European passport without question. one reason for this could be that most of the supervisors in the big companies are of a low qualification and I guess it would be intimidating and unwise for them to give their jobs away to immigrants with higher and smarter qualification- you can’t blame them. This ‘no job wahala’ is everywhere.No wonder a lot of young Nigerians I know subject themselves to menial jobs regardless of the number of degrees and certificate they have attained.becoming nannies, working at a car wash. Sad.
My passport is a snare to my identity. If I always have to fill out forms that distinguish my identity from others, which could be a means to reduce the number of people in a workforce but to be politically correct, a means to show (here comes the big word they used to sell us) inclusivity. Yimu.
My passport is a snare to remain in a country that has challenged my ideologies and culture. A country with a functional system I would long to be part of. I mean, who no like better thing? No wonder many African men (more like Nigerian men) have turned to marrying citizens for the paper (until I learnt to live alone, I did not understand the craze to get immigration papers the number of prayer request surrounding green card is more than that of prosperity in this part of the world).
After all this rant and giving myself an unnecessary migraine, a thought dropped in my heart. could it be that my passport is a snare because it is about time Africans get their act together a make their own continent better like Europe and Americas.
Could it be that my passport is a snare because I need to hold on to the cultural values I have been taught by my mothers which as you may know, these oyinbo people barely have and are often eager to pay a whole lot of money to witness our culture. As I spoke with my new friends on board, they mentioned visiting Kenya and South Africa because of the rich culture and lifestyle they have been told about. See! my passport my not be a snare after all.
My passport may not open 246 doors into other countries, but the doors it opens, have I maximised the opportunities thereof? I ask you too. Have I been intentional to visit these countries, learn a thing or two from them to make me a better person? (well, in my case I have only been to five).
My passport is no lie a snare to the supposed ‘good’ life but I choose to see a silver lining with the places my passport is not a snare too. on that note, I choose to rock my green and gold passport wherever I go, if the likes of Chimamanda Adichie, Fela Durotoye rock their passport in words and deed then why shouldn’t I do same.
Snare or not, I choose to be unapologetically African and proud!