The United States of America, USA, had excluded Nigerians from its “Diversity Visa Programme” beginning from 2022. Under that programme, commonly referred to as “Visa Lottery”, the USA officially admits thousands and thousands of people from select countries to come live their dreams in America. Before the country’s exclusion, millions of Nigerians of all categories, including market women, butchers as well as semi-illiterates were falling over themselves to be among the lucky winners of the Lottery, in the ‘can make it’ Nigerian spirit.
Despite the ban, virtually every Nigerian dreams of going to the US or Europe, the lands that are flowing with milk and honey in the eyes of the average Nigerian. So, most Nigerian youths are ready to do whatever it takes, selling off their belongings including any inherited property, borrowing from shylocks, to be able to raise money to land themselves there. Emigrating to Europe, America is now their longing. The japa syndrome, in Nigerian parlance, has taken root, all in search of dollars, pounds and euros.
Millions of potential Nigerian emigrants are already fantasising what they would do when they lay their hands on those seemingly almighty currencies. They are ready to earn it by doing whatever kind of jobs that are said to be readily available there. Among the things they plan to do with the foreign monies are building houses in Nigeria, marrying more wives, sending loads of cash back home to relations and buying cars for them all.
That is the fixation and lure of wanting to go to America or Europe for the average Nigerian. The complaint is that jobs are hard to come by here, not even menial ones; that the naira is of little value because even with tonnes of it, you cannot buy much because of runaway inflation and its fast depreciating value in relation to the dollar, euro and pound. There is, of course, also the complaint of insecurity. “In America even as a dish washer or toilet cleaner, your salary even though it looks small compared to what people in higher paying jobs are getting, translates to huge amounts of naira because one dollar, one pound, one euro is times ten of one naira, so you can always make it there within a short time’’, so goes their sing song.
For the average Nigerian, making it means becoming a millionaire, a moneybag. For most Nigerians, Africans and people in developing countries, that is their number one goal for which they are prepared to risk anything. And so it is that we have people going abroad to become sex workers; people risking their lives through dare-devil trips across the ocean from north Africa to Europe in overcrowded, rickety boats in inclement weather; people forging documents and telling blatant lies in a bid to be granted entry and asylum in Europe and America, as, for example, some Nigerians alleging they are fleeing political persecution, war, female genital mutilation, etc.
Notwithstanding that European countries are tightening their immigration policies, making entry requirements very strict, as well as stoppage of the US visa lottery for Nigeria, many Nigerians in the typical Nigerian spirit have continued to try their luck through legal and illegal means. Thousands of Nigerians are flocking to European embassies’ portals to request for entry visas, prepared to pay through their noses for the services of fake and genuine agents who promise to make it possible for them to be granted the much sought after visa. We often hear/read of repatriation of Nigerians from some European countries and Libya – the staging post of emigration to Europe by Africans – for immigration related offences. Such evictions, even risk of death on the high seas do not deter the average Nigeria from desiring to go abroad by any means possible, attracted as it were by the lure of American and European currencies. Neither are they dissuaded by the flip side of life there, such as the extreme cold weather that is extremely discomforting to the black skin, the loneliness there as everyone minds his/her business in contrast to our communal kind of life here.
But is living in countries far away from one’s homeland the best? In the wise order of the Creator, the weather, farm produce, etc., in each region of the world is conditioned to the natives there. They provide the best soil for the development and maintenance of the natives’ physical body. It goes without saying that consumption of foods that are wholly produced in other continents are unsuitable for us. For example, consuming rice that is produced in America or Thailand is of little value to our body/health. Only that produced in our part of the world/region is best for us and will give us the greatest benefit. One can give multiple other examples but the bottom-line is that in everything pertaining to our physical health/well being and development, we should always prefer and go for those things that are gotten from our region where we were born, things that are indigenous to us.
Those who travel to far countries for the first time may notice that they fall sick soon after arrival, the body is trying to adapt to the new radiations of their new environment, brought about by the fact that the climate, foods gotten from its soil, etc., are different from those of his/her native land and so alien to his/her body. Home sickness sets in. The body does seemingly adapt after a long while. But such persons cannot live in such far flung countries permanently without dire health consequences. He/she has to come home once in a while to absorb that peculiar radiation arising from the soil of his/her land of birth and everything connected thereto which are exactly suited to him/her. Sojourning abroad should be temporary.
Ikeano writes via [email protected] 08033077519