Friday, April 14, 2006

Immigration -- Another view

African Bullets and Honey is the name of a blog from Kenya of which I have been aware for some time. Excellent writer. Hard content. This is from a candid post about immigration. No need to read between the lines. The frustration is plain.

THE IMMIGRATION INTERVIEW:

‘Where are you from?’ (peering intently at old stamps and visas. You are one of them: the illegal immigrant, the African with a behind crammed with ecstasy…or at least cocaine or heroin.)

‘What do you do here?’

‘I am a student’

‘Of what?’

‘War studies.’

‘What? Did you say war, like fighting?’

‘Yes, I study how to yank out immigration eyeballs with the peace sign…I bet you always thought the sign (as in ‘peace dude’) was ... like, um, peaceful. Right? Well let me tell you something you poor, 5.30AM African harassing, passport caressing, squinty eyed, nose picking-with finger-that-then-touches-my-passport-photo-bureaucrat, the peace sign is kung fu for the eye-stab move. Bet you didn’t know that. And yes, I have no intention of remaining in your country forever when there is a three-car convoy filled with beery people waiting to pick me up at JKA.’

I wish that is what I had said because the European IMMIGRATION INTERVIEW is an absurd, hypocrisy by a west that speaks the talk of open boundaries to goods and capital when it cannot stand the same for people. The 21st century meeting point between African Livingstones and Lugards and Europe’s petty gate-keeping chiefs.

Just beyond the immigration officer's shoulder are little offices which if you ever have the misfortune of visiting always have a scared looking African seated patiently awaiting some grim fate. You don't make conversation since it is clear to both of you that the other is a criminal and must be consorted with. But I digress.

‘How long were you away?’

‘Too briefly, I wish it had been forever.’

‘When does your doctoral course end?’

‘When the sun burns itself out; when the hens come home to roost; when the Fat Woman sings; just a moment before the grim reaper strikes me down; (sobbing) why must you ask such hurtful questions?’

‘Welcome.’

Like it or not, a good many people are obliged to leave their homelands for the purpose of doing business or studying elsewhere. It is unrealistic to imagine that they will all like doing so.

That is an inciteful line: ...hypocrisy by a west that speaks the talk of open boundaries to goods and capital when it cannot stand the same for people.

In a recent post he offers words of advice to any fellow-African who expects to be studying at an American university. The anger is transparent. My first reaction was to dismiss the whole piece as an example of an attitude with no remedy, but when I saw the chorus of support in the comment thread I decided to treat it more seriously.

I don't know exactly how to respond constructively. I do know that the African-born people I have known personally do not fit the image of this writer. But they are the ones who decided for whatever reason to make a home in the U.S.A.

1 comment:

samrocha said...

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