Of immigration and African immigrants

I wrote this article several weeks ago. Its re-published here.

The world heaved a sigh of relief when the  British Home Secretary Theresa May scrapped the controversial £3,000 premium bond entry fee bonanza into the UK and reversed the van policy which called on all illegal immigrants to return to their home countries. It has since been reported that only 1 person left the UK because of the aggressive scheme. Nigerians and indeed other nationalities (who are still waiting for up to a year or more for a decision from the Home Office) have also received text messages and phone calls and
letters in their mail asking them to leave the country. These distressing texts and mails have the approval of the Prime Minister David Cameron who has said, he agrees with the method with which Capita (the
company with the contractual obligation of sending these uncomfortable text messages) employs. These nasty text messages have not been pulled back.

 With right winged media propagating anti immigration content suggests that the British public have no sympathy for the immigrant (illegal or otherwise) at the moment. Or perhaps not! It is a dire season for Nigerians who have become illegal immigrants. With the Immigration Act coming into force in the spring of 2014, things will get tougher and nastier. These Nigerians resort to their
churches and communities for support. It must have been the pressure borne on concerned Nigerians, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Nigerian High Commission amongst others that made the embattled Home Secretary reverse both very controversial policies. Who knows? We cannot surely attribute the reversal to the goodness of Mrs May’s heart.  It looked like British society were embarrassed into taking action. Most people felt uncomfortable with the draconian measures.

Looking to be tough on immigration, the UK fails miserably still to address the shambolic state of their border controls nor help to tackle the exploitation of illegal workers. Exploitation of illegal workers which is
tantamount to economic slavery continues to happen unabated in the country. Minority ethnic groups including Nigerians continue to exploit the sanity of those without papers. Ranti (not real name) lived in the
UK for 20 years as a toilet cleaner, in all those years, she never got married or had children. She never sought to improve her education qualifications either. She found herself unceremoniously deported back to Nigeria when her employer/boyfriend gave her a dodgy check which attracted the attention of the police when she tried to cash that cheque. The message is clear, undocumented workers will find it hard to erk out a living in England today.

The number of undocumented workers who are turning to prostitution remain unclear. Unlike before illegal workers have the right to normalize after 14 years. Under this government, that has now turned to 20 years.
The only other option would be marriage. But with the new immigration Act coming in, non citizens, would have to write the Home Office asking permission to get married. Even marriage cases where genuine, normalization would take place in Nigeria as applicants must now return to their home countries to process their application.

On a broader scale, immigration to Europe is always in the news. Citizens of repressed countries often pay criminal gangs obscene sums of money, to get them to Europe. For as long as Nigeria and indeed Africa remains in this state of economic mess, this trend will continue unabated. A couple of weeks ago, an over loaded boat carrying about 500 people including women and children from Somalia and Eritrea drowned on the coast of Lampedusa in Italy. Italy known for its fierce anti-immigration policy was shocked and shamed into beginning a debate about its tough and inhumane immigration policy as over 350 bodies were pulled from the wreckage.

Shameful to note that three Italian ships had passed the boat in distress and they had done absolutely nothing to help. The following week, about 50 more people drowned in another boat wreckage on the same coast. Two weeks ago, 92 women and their children were discovered dead in the vast expanse of the Sahara Desert as they fled the poverty, repression and violence in the Niger Republic. They had literally died of
thirst in the gruesomely hot Sahara Desert. They were on their way to Algeria. Why are African immigrants this desperate? Why are many more people choosing to risk their lives in pursuit of the golden Fleece in Europe? What are African governments doing to stem this tragedy?

Nigerians and indeed Africans must ask themselves why migration to Europe must cost the continent so much. Again as said before, unless African states prioritize the interests of their citizens, many more lives
will perish in this consuming drive towards a new life in Europe. Is it a new life indeed? The streets of Europe are not paved with gold. Africans need to realize that they are trading a set of problems for another when they move here. Many Nigerians already know that immigration to the UK is no longer a straight forward business. Many of the doors to immigration which opened in the 90s and late 2000s have been closed. The HSMP route is no longer available, students can no longer turn their student visas to work permits and so on. It is a lot harder now. For those who want to emigrate lawfully, Canada, Australia, New Zealand are perhaps better options than the United Kingdom at the moment.

The Home Office may have reversed the £3,000 premium bond and the dreadful vans, but it will still go ahead with the promulgation of the Immigration Act. When that happens, there would be much tears and
heartaches before portions of the Act is challenged in the courts. There would be tears for the following reasons. The Immigration Bill would force private landlords to quiz tenants about their immigration status and restrict access to bank accounts for people without permission. The Bill will include measures to allow the UK to ‘deport foreign criminals first and hear their appeal later’ where there is ‘no risk of serious irreversible harm’. A requirement is also included for temporary migrants, such as overseas students to make a contribution to the National Health Service to prevent the so called ‘health tourism’. Other measures include new powers to withdraw the driving licenses of illegal immigrants, cut the number of deportation decisions that can be appealed against from 17 to four, make it easier for the Home Office to recover unpaid civil penalties, require banks to check against a database of known immigration offenders before opening bank accounts and clamp down on people who try to gain an immigration advantage by entering into a ‘sham’ marriage or civil partnership.

The Home Office at the end of the day will become the sole cause of heart attacks, panic attacks, mental illness in many Africans from spring of 2014. A word for Nigerians
living in the UK as undocumented workers is to engage the services of experienced immigration lawyers to get themselves sorted before the spring of 2014. If returning home is the only way they can normalize their
papers, they should do what they need to do. No place better than home anyways.

.

Tundun Adeyemo

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Freelance Columnist

Tundun Adeyemo is a freelance columnist, social commentator and writer for Tell Magazine, an independent Nigerian magazine who is based in the UK. She has written consistently a weekly column called Reflections for nearly five years.

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Typhoon Haiyan











 Some one from work  had family that had been affected by the Typhoon in the Philippines. He said to us that help had not reached his wife’s family. About 11 million people have been affected by Typhoon Haiyan, according to UN estimates.If you would like to give, you can here. With a disaster of this magnitude, no amount is too small.
Port-au-Prince in Haiti after the 2012 earthquake
Japan after tsunami

The Radio Show on AfricaUk Radio

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Support me! If  you have a book you have read and you want to share send an email to Tundun.Adeyemo@gmail.com(UK only). I will get back to you. Rubbish with emails I m. I promise.

Tonight, I am on with Rutendo Munyaka and Venessa Afonja. The Conversation is titled ‘ Is this the Dream?’ Join me on http://www.africaukradio.com from 1730pm?

A prayer for all those affected by the Typhoon in the Philippines.

This morning, it was my turn to share a prayer/ poem at Briefing. I read Abraham Lincoln’s Letter to his son’s teacher. It took the whole of 3 minutes. Nervous before  and after I got the mike. I even did a twerking dance! 🙂 Never mind if you dont know what that dance is. But, its all done and dusted now. I can breathe and wait for the next time our department is on.  Its all about poems and prayers today.

Here is a prayer though  for all those affected by the Typhoon in the Philippines.

Merciful and loving God,
Father of all,
We pray for our sisters and brothers in the Philippines,
Especially for those who mourn.
We ask that, through the power of your love,
Those who despair may be comforted.
Grant hope to the many who lack food and shelter
And give courage to those
Who bring help to people in need.
Lord, bringer of life,
As we remember those who battle to rebuild,
May we offer our hearts and hands to your work,
Through our actions, our prayers and our love.
Amen.

Slow Dance

This poem was read by Donna yesterday as her prayer. My turn to share a prayer or a poem tomorrow. It will be a poem. Slow Dance written by a psychologist David L. Weatherford. Several versions of it have the rounds on the Internet. Here is a version of it….

It teaches perseverance and patience… A little something we all need.

Have you ever watched kids on a merry-go-round,
or listened to rain slapping the ground?

Ever followed a butterfly’s erratic flight,
or gazed at the sun fading into the night?

You better slow down, don’t dance so fast,
time is short, the music won’t last.

Do you run through each day on the fly,
when you ask “How are you?”, do you hear the reply?

When the day is done, do you lie in your bed,
with the next hundred chores running through your head?

You better slow down, don’t dance so fast,
time is short, the music won’t last.

Ever told your child, we’ll do it tomorrow,
and in your haste, not see his sorrow?

Ever lost touch, let a friendship die,
’cause you never had time to call and say hi?

You better slow down, don’t dance so fast,
time is short, the music won’t last.

When you run so fast to get somewhere,
you miss half the fun of getting there.

When you worry and hurry through your day,
it’s like an unopened gift thrown away.

Life isn’t a race, so take it slower,
hear the music before your song is over.

When I am poor.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about child poverty. As a mum, its obvious why I am passionate (or I like to think that I am) about issues concerning children.

When we talk about child poverty in Nigeria and in the UK, the issues are the same but children in these places have different experiences. Child poverty in Nigeria, brings images of children eating from dumps, children in tattered clothes without shoes roaming hungrily about the neighborhood. In the UK child poverty in many cases, is not as desperate as the situation in Nigeria. Alarming though, both countries need to more to address issues of child poverty.




 It is quite possible for a child to grow up deprived, essentially without shoes and become the President of Nigeria. The UK has social mobility problems that would make such a transition difficult. In 2003, there were approximately 7 million orphans and vulnerable children living in poverty in Nigeria. It is estimated that by 2010, that number could rise to 10 million. One wonders what that number is now. In an upwardly mobile  country, why should anyone be bothered about child poverty? After all, child poverty is a problem for  low income families and all such people who are simply unfortunate to be poor. With the Nigerian government of the day more bothered about the 2015 elections, child poverty remains what it is, a discourse for those with nothing better to do.   Yet, we need to care  or these children would get the sublimal message that their society does not value them. This could breed anger and resentment.  Over time, this  could be potentially dangerous.
Understanding what child poverty is, makes us responsible for the welfare of these children when they come across our paths. When we see them at parties scavenging or hustling for left overs, we can do a bit more than ‘shooing’ them away or cursing them for being social deviants and nuisances.  According to the Nigerian Child Poverty Study 79% of children in Nigeria, are deprived in at least 1 of the 7  ways. The research shows that water is the most common form of deprivation experienced by children. Next to that is shelter. This is understandable because homelessness is a real problem for families who have had to flee from Boko Haram in the Northern part of the country. The Nigerian child also suffers from  food deprivation. This is a clear indicator of how poor children are known. Food deprivation exhibits a certain level of disparity in both rural and urban areas.  Children in rural areas are far more likely to be food deprived experiencing stunting  growths or exhibiting  symptoms  of malnutrition. When a child is poor in Nigeria, that child lacks the basic necessities to thrive. Poor children in Nigeria often go without three square meals a day, clothing is quite tricky. They may have a couple of clothes which they wash and change, most times they lack shoes. Possession of  second hand clothes and shoes is an indicator of deprivation in children in Nigeria. Many Nigerian children are not safeguarded. They live with such harm that may leave them emotionally stunted for the rest of their lives.  Educationally, deprived children are left behind at school. Soaring tuition fees makes it difficult for them to be able to compete with their privately educated counterparts. Some children spend weeks roaming either at home or changing schools to avoid paying school fees.
Child poverty in the UK is defined as having a household income that is less than 60% of the national median income. In the UK, child poverty does not necessarily mean the sort of starvation  and malnutrition you experience in Nigeria. Child poverty may mean parents who are unable to buy winter jackets and school uniform. In this case, schools have an obligation to buy shoes, uniform, coats and essentially provide what the child may be needing. Every school has a tiny minority of parents who are just poor. Poor children in the UK know that they would get a warm meal in school if their parents are on income support or some form of universal credit. The meals are called Free School Meals. There is  a direct correlation between the kids who get free school meals and life attainment. Nigeria’s Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, the Governor of Osun State is trying to provide all school children (regardless of income) with one warm meal. It is unclear if he has the funds to do this and after his tenure, if his predecessors would carry this on.
 Let’s take a look at how child poverty looks like in the UK.  The Bernados website suggests there are currently 3.6 million children living in poverty in the UK. That is almost a third of all children. 1.6 million of these live in severe poverty.  In the UK, 58% of children living in poverty are in a family where someone works. In this winter season, it is quite likely to find  three year olds in households with incomes below or about £10,000  are 2.5 times more likely to suffer chronic illness than children with incomes above £52,000. Infant mortality is higher for infants in lower social group than the average.  Unlike Nigeria where there is no welfare support for families, the UK  pays out £170 billion in tax credits alone, yet in an expensive country, these payments have done little or nothing to tackle child poverty.
The Government’s State of the Nation Report  released in June, show the median UK household income for 2011/2012 was £427 a week – 60% of that figure was £256 a week. In that year, 17% of childre
n, or 2.3 million, were classed as being in poverty while 15% of working-age adults, or 5.6 million, were in poverty. For pensioners, meanwhile, that figures was 16% – or 1.9 million. The report said Britain still had “high levels of child poverty and low levels of social mobility” with a rising number of children in “absolute poverty” coming from working families. Crucially, two thirds of children officially deemed as being poor now came from a family where at least one parent was working – and in three out of four of those cases, at least one of their parents was working full time, the report found. This simply means that having a parent working fulltime does not prevent their children from being poor.
 In the UK, the grim truth is that only half as many poor children who are eligible for Free School Meals achieved 5 or more A* -C grades. What this means is that there is a direct correlation between  life time attainment and poverty.  Only 73% of 5 to 6 year olds from the most deprived areas achieved  the expected level of writing, compared to 90% of those in the least deprived. In Nigeria, we can summarily work out that children from poor back grounds unless they are determined, end up with little or no education perpetuating the vicious cycle of poverty.
The UK Government has a statutory requirement, enshrined in the Child Poverty Act 2010 , to end child poverty by 2020. The Coalition Government has already pushed a further 1 million children into poverty. In Nigeria, the situation is dire. Millions of Nigerian children up and down the country are desperately poor. As they grow older, their only means of survival may be robbery. We cannot afford to seat pretty waiting for the government of the day to rescue our children. One child at a time, we need to rescue Nigeria’s children from hunger and all indicators of poverty.
Tundun Adeyemo

Still I Rise

Saturday was about the relevance/non relevance of Black History  month. The relevance or not of Black people in this society and generally. From which ever angle, you can find points. You dont have to agree with me by the way when I say that  on the back of the controversial illegal immigrant vans, the back of the proposed immigration Bill and the scrapped £3,000 premium bonds,  non- EU people are not overly appreciated or recognized in the UK or are they?

Why do we need to celebrate black achievement if we know who we are? Race relations in the UK is not the same as the US. Why must we follow their model?Africans  in the UK are not united let alone with their Carribean counterparts? My point being so what do we actually agree on with BHM?  BHM many times leave out African contributions..listen to the radio show here: http://www.africaukradio.com.

 Do we know our history? Have we the same history? Have we the same culture?  We say we need to teach the youths who they are, but has this really helped modify or challenge the negative black stereotype? Honestly? I offer no solutions, just a thought/ an opinion that BHM (with all due respects), has become apolitical and redundant.  It has left generations of African immigrants behind. Or perhaps it has not. More soon!

Perhaps, I am just chatting rubbish. Leave a comment if you agree or disagree.

Here is another poem from Maya Angelou.

Still I Rise

  by Maya Angelou

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
'Cause I walk like I've got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I'll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don't you take it awful hard
'Cause I laugh like I've got gold mines
Diggin' in my own backyard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I'll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I've got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history's shame
I rise
Up from a past that's rooted in pain
I rise
I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.



The Black Prayer


Here is the poem I read on Saturday. The name of the poet is Keisha McCallister or Kadija depending on which forum you found the poem. It is such a powerful poem. Enjoy reading! 



Did You Make Me Black Lord?

Did You Make Me Black Lord , 
Lord ,  Why did you make me black?
why did you make someone
the world would hold back?

Black is the color of dirty clothes,
of grimy hands and feet, 
Black is the color of darkness,
of tired beaten streets, 

Why did you give me thick lips,
a broad nose and kinky hair?
Why did you create someone
who receives the hated stare?

Black is the color of the bruised eye
when someone gets hurt, 
Black is the color of darkness,
black is the color of dirt.

Why is my bone structure so thick,
my hips and cheeks so high?
Why are my eyes brown,
and not the color of the sky?

Why do people think I’m useless?
How come I feel so used?
Why do people see my skin
and think I should be abused?

Lord, I just don’t understand, 
What is it about my skin?
Why is it some people want to hate me
and not know the person within?

Black is what people are “Labeled”
when others want to keep them away, 
Black is the color of shadows cast, 
Black is the end of the day.

Lord you know my own people mistreat me,
and you know this just ain’t right, 
They don’t like my hair, they don’t like my
skin, as they say I’m too dark or too light!

Lord, don’t you think
it’s time to make a change?
Why don’t you redo creation
and make everyone the same?

God’s Reply:

Why did I make you black? Why did I make you black?

I made you in the color of coal
from which beautiful diamonds are formed, 
I made you in the color of oil,
the black gold which keeps people warm.

Your color is the same as the rich dark soil
that grows the food you need, 
Your color is the same as the black stallion and panther, 
Oh what majestic creatures indeed!

All colors of the heavenly rainbow
can be found throughout every nation, 
When all these colors are blended,
you become my greatest creation!

Your hair is the texture of lamb’s wool,
such a beautiful creature is he, 
I am the shepherd who watches them,
I will ALWAYS watch over thee!

You are the color of the midnight sky,
I put star glitter in your eyes, 
There’s a beautiful smile hidden behind your pain, 
That’s why your cheeks are so high!

You are the color of dark clouds
from the hurricanes I create in September, 
I made your lips so full and thick,
so when you kiss, they will remember!

Your stature is strong,
your bone structure thick to withstand the
burden of time, 
The reflection you see in the mirror,
that image that looks back, that is MINE!

So get off your knees,
look in the mirror and tell me what you see?
I didn’t make you in the image of darkness, 
I made you in the image of ME!



This was posted by Kadeeja on http://www.nairaland.com