Nigerians in the diaspora

Meeting Nigerians from around the way  

When I lived in South Korea, my girlfriends and I took a trip to Tokyo one year during SeolNal (Korean New Year). One night after dinner, we were wandering the streets of Roppongi looking for a good place to have drinks and jam up a storm. Not knowing what was good in the area, we stopped to contemplate if we should go to ‘this club or ‘that one’, pointing at nightclubs. We agreed to ask for some guidance. I took the leap and walked up to a random black guy. Ten minutes later, I was blowing Pidgin English with the fella in a convenient store while having a staring contest with imported African goods I had only wished I would find abroad one day. I went back to my girlfriends confident about the random Nigerian guy’s recommendations of which nightclubs we should hit.

Another run-in with a random Nigerian was in Kuala Lumpur (K.L) when I was backpacking in S.E Asia.  One of my friends I met in Korea had just arrived with her friend to join me on the trip. We were exploring the over-packed, buzzing Petaling Street, K.L’s Central Market, when we befriended ‘random basketball players in foreign lands’. One of them was a Nigeria who was going to a university there and was well-connected to other Nigerians in K.L.

In Korea, it was when my friends and I went to Seoul for a weekend trip. We were sitting outside a nightclub, taking a breather from jamming up a storm when a random guy and I started talking. While my friends teased me that night about chatting up a storm with a random guy, I scored a good friend who would later introduce me to Asa, Nneka and other great Nigerian artists who were not yet mainstream.

Finding Nigerians in Korea wasn’t a major task. If in doubt, just head to Seoul. When I lived there, my hairdresser was an Igbo woman with a child. She and her husband, an Igbo man, were well-connected to fellow Nigerians/Africans in the city.

You can easily spot the Nigerian diaspora if you stay at any country or city just long enough. Nigerians go to Europe, especially England and Italy, like a farmer visits his farm. It’s no wonder those two places are often referred to as ‘a second Nigeria’.

Whether it’s by chance, for school, in the U.S Military or for ‘business’, many Nigerians end up in South Korea – and everywhere else around the globe – – even in countries you least expect to see a Nigerian. Regardless of where I meet Nigerians in the diaspora, I’m always curious to know:

  1. How they got there – Whether there was a ‘maddam’, a juju master or a little bit of smuggling involved, Nigerians who end up in foreign land illegally will rarely ever tell you about their business. Anyone with enough common sense should know to keep their mouth shut about things like that. Once I get a sense their travel wasn’t a legit one, I leave it alone.
  2. What they do – No one really wants to talk about their job. So it’s hard to get a sense of who has a job, what exactly that job entails or if it’s legal, or better yet, if they have LEGAL documents to be working in the first place. I’m easily and highly suspicious of Nigerians who claim they’re ‘here for a business’ or ‘I do businesses here’. When it comes to getting the truth out of those Nigerians about what they do, my best practice is to take everything they say with a grain of salt.
  3. What they think? (about the country they’re in, how things are going for them) – This is an easy topic for finding common ground because in many cases the conversation ends up in comparing the country they’re in to Nigeria.
  4. What they have learned (experiences, future plans) – Sometimes, this is difficult for people to share. Some people went through a lot to land themselves abroad and getting them to talk about their journey can bring back harsh memories. You can see the hardship on their faces, in their body language, within the depth of their eyes.

Nigeria is the most populated country in Africa with its citizens scattered in countries around the world from Brasil to Sweden to the Philippines and Canada (a.k.a. Ice Box). Whether they’re ‘legal aliens’ or not, Nigerians contribute to the development and sustainability of their host country.

~ by omonaij on April 29, 2012.

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