A few years ago, I was dragged to church in England by a friend who was tired of having me remain indoors every Sunday. Not the biggest fan of organized religion, I sat through the service anxious for it to end. Then, like a ray at the end of a tunnel, this beautiful couple was called up to the podium to share their testimony of the Lord’s goodness.
I like stories, I like intriguing stories even more, so I paid close attention. Husband and wife had met in University in Nigeria. They had been in a flourishing relationship back home before the man decided to seek greener pasture in the U.K. On a visa to study a short course in London, guy finishes the course and refuses to go back home. There were ways to go about these things his friends had told him. He just needed to keep his head low and do “what everybody does”. Long story short, he married a British-Nigerian girl. The complication then arose when the girl refused to divorce him after the stipulated number of years in their “arrangement”. This was the point when prayers came to fore. Missus in Nigeria was told that this agent of the devil was refusing to give him a divorce and she was the only hindrance to their blissful life ahead as a happy couple with RED PASSPORTS. Seeing that the “agent of the devil” wasn’t going to divorce her man any time soon, babe in Nigeria decided to get proactive. She applied for school, applied for student visa and came to stay in the UK with her man. They started living together. Of course they couldn’t get married because the “agent of the devil” had refused to divorce the man.
Anyway, the purpose of the testimony was to give glory to God for shaming the devil – the girl finally divorced him and they were able to go to the registry to get married. The church was enjoined to help them praise the Lord for their newly attained legal status.
This story has floated to the core of my memory with recent articles I’d read about moving back to Nigeria and all the attendant issues that have generated from the stories. It brings to rise the issue of illegal immigrants and all the efforts that are made to either remain under the radar of the law or to become legal.
Illegal immigrants are not exclusively Nigerians/Africans. I read books about Mexicans being shipped across the US borders all the time. However, I’m quite intrigued about the transformation of illegality into legality. How do you successfully stay under the shadows?
I knew someone who was working in the UK with the identity of an old friend. It was really tedious as he constantly had to go meet that guy to get his wages. The guy would sometimes give him 50GBP less than he had earned. Sometimes, he would ask him to come back the following week or the week after that, or even the week after THAT one. Eventually, he got tired and came back to Lagos. Not everybody has the option of packing it all up and coming back so they just try to either marry someone who is legally resident and they just hope and pray everything works out until they’re legal.
Not being judgmental, but simply trying to understand how these things work. What is the driving force for planning to be an illegal resident? What spurs one on to remain beyond the requirements of one’s entry visa? How far would you go to remain outside of your country? If you’ve ever had to go through this, please share some of your stories with us? Have you ever been defrauded by a “Passport merchant”? Do you believe that “all na hustle” and as such it’s a viable way of struggling to be successful?
Photo Credit: alumniunit.com