By Shola Ajani
Chinedu is a now virtual citizen but originally from Nigeria.
From a very young age Chinedu had been fascinated by learning and the opportunity it brings for a good life, respect and a sense of fulfilment. He was exposed beyond the limits of his environment by television, which showcased life as it is beyond his immediate environment.
After his studies in Nigeria, Chinedu proceeded to England for further studies. His expectation was somewhat different and a bit disappointing even before the plane landed. The rows upon rows of housing he saw as the plane descended did not align with what he thought London would look like. The cold that greeted him at the airport was not welcoming either.
Chinedu comforted himself with his mission. As long as he is able to successfully complete his MBA at the University of London, every other inconvenience is irrelevant; after all, the entire popular maxim says “the end justifies the means”.
He settled down and concentrated on his studies. He found learning a different experience. He actually enjoyed it. Back in Nigeria, you didn’t have to learn, he felt; you had to know it. Education was mainly about being able to pass exams and demonstrating to the lecturer you could pass the examination.
However, he didn’t find the British overtly warm towards him. He was particularly annoyed when someone asked him if he had a Christian name, like David, Michael or John. To make matters worse some even tried to call him Chi….
To his dismay, he met Nigerians who had changed their names to satisfy the Oyinbo man. Everyone to Chinedu is Oyinboman – meaning White Man! Rashida now calls herself Rash; Okafor agrees to be addressed as OK and Dimeji as Dime. He found this demeaning to the bearer and could not imagine subjecting himself to such indignity.
Chinedu and his flat mate (another Nigerian, David Williams) would occasionally apply for part time jobs to augment their meagre income as students. In all of 10 attempts, both applying for the same job, David would be invited for Interviews while his applications were rejected. After a while, he concluded it must be David’s English sounding name and he set out to prove it. He carefully chose the name Michael Edward to apply for some vacant positions. Much to his dismay, he was invited to attend Interviews for 3 of the roles and the fourth was an outright invitation to confirm availability and when he could start the job.
On quite a few occasions, the Police stopped Chinedu and his friends while driving. The questions they asked were so familiar that he could almost predict them every time. “Chinedu, heh, are you Nigerian? “Do you have a full English driving licence or International Licence?” etc.
The spate of black on black crime was also very disturbing. Increasingly, Chinedu felt the issue was being ignored because it was young black boys killing each other. It would be a different case if it were white boys killing each other.
Chinedu longs to go back home! At least, the harassment he would get from the police is of another kind, at least home is home. Back home he would feel welcome, that is his roots, where he truly belongs.
After four years sojourn in the United Kingdom, Chinedu with a sense of accomplishment having successfully completed his MBA decided to return home to his country of birth.
He had his mind set on working either within the Finance Industry, which was booming or the Telecommunications Industry, another emerging industry. He was optimistic and eager to contribute his quota to the development of his country. He was also keen to put into practise some of what he learnt from his MBA professors.
However, it has been three years now since Chinedu arrived back to the shores of Nigeria. He is far from securing his desired roles in Finance or Telecommunications. Upon returning to the country, he had to conclude the mandatory one year National Youth Service. He was posted to a primary school in Borno State, in the North East of Nigeria.
Chinedu is getting increasingly worried that he has been unable to find suitable employment. He felt with his skills and knowledge, he ought to be the toast of employers, but that is not the case.
He often hear these cynical comments:
“Those we study studied abroad behave as if they are better than those of us who studied in Nigeria”,
“Unemployment is high so preference should be for those who are in Nigeria not some returnees”
“They say they have MBA, check it out, it’s MBA from some mushroom university abroad”
The longer it takes from graduation to finding regular employment, the more difficult it would become to eventually find a suitable job. Chinedu is unhappy and worried.
What are his options?
Chinedu feels unwanted at Home. He had to leave the relative comfort of the UK at the end of studies. He is now a virtual citizen; he feels hated abroad, unwanted at home!
What will you do if you were in his shoes?
Drop your comments below please. Chinedu needs to hear from you!
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