Interview with Obi Okaku, Nigerian Hotel Consultant in Germany

by Bob MajiriOghene Etemiku

What motivated you to come to Germany?

I was a motor spare parts dealer in Lagos in the early 90s. Because most of the motor parts I bought and sold were made in Germany, I made up my mind to come down here and do the business big time and use my spare time for studies.

What was your experience when you got here?

(Laughs…) I got here with a briefcase. In no time, my contacts took me to a posh hotel where I stayed the night. The following day brought shock and disappointment because those same guys told me that we had to move. When they took me to where they actually lived, Jesus Christ… it was a barge on a river. They were ‘avail’.

‘Avail’, what is avail?

They were refugees, hiding from the authorities. Most Nigerians coming to Germany came in either as students or as refugees. That was then. In those days, if you were coming to Germany, either you were here for studies or you were a refugee. From that point, life became miserable for me. I had to discard my briefcase and the ambitions that I brought with me to Germany

So how did you get out of that condition?

All of this was in Hamburg. I stayed there awhile with them but I was determined not to sell drugs. That was what most of them did to survive. I did my homework and found that Munich was a much better place than Hamburg. However, the people I lived with found out my plans and advised me against the choice of Munich. They told me that people there are racists who would waste no time to kill me. I went there anyway…

What year was this…?

This was in 1993, about 15 years from today.

How did you cope with starting in a place you hardly knew anyone?

Good question…Because I was used to the cold in Jos and Kano, the cold was not really a problem. In Munich, I decided to become a refugee too, and this lasted two months. As a refugee, I was put in a camp and the German immigration officials did all sorts of investigations about me. At the end of two months, they sent me to northern Munich where I got a job in a bank, met and married a German woman in 1996.

Do you think the same conditions that made you leave Nigeria are still there?

It all depends on where you come from as a potential refugee. However, be assured that whatever your claims are, they are investigated by those who will grant you asylum as a refugee.

Where are these refugee camps located in Germany?

There are no specific camps. However, in every German ‘area’, there are refugee camps.

Are you still married to the German?


Why, what happened?

Most German women do not believe in marriage to us Africans. They do not believe in our kind of marriage, where we pay attention to certain family values. All they want or believe in is ‘friendship’. Even when the woman in deeply involved with you, her friends and family influence her to believe that you are merely using her to get your papers.

Is that what happened to you?

Not quite – my ex-German wife did not want children. According to her, she had sterilized herself before we met and her 13-year old cats were better alternatives to having children.

What will you say to Nigerians struggling to come to Germany?

Unless they have something tangible they want to do, I will strongly ask them to bury the idea. Look at me, after 15 years here, I cannot go back home to settle down. I cannot get married to a German because I know how they are. Most of us are afraid to come home and bring a woman here because of the fear that they may abscond. I manage to survive here, yet people back home believe that I am a big shot here. Whenever I struggle to send money home, they fritter it and keep asking for more. Sometimes when I speak to some of my friends how difficult it is here, they accuse me of being selfish, that I have crossed over and try to keep them away. Doctors and engineers who left Nigeria to come here thinking that it is all milk and honey are suffering. Many are dead because of stroke and stress. Most of us are struck here.

Could you describe the life of an average Nigerian in Germany?

Not as rosy as everyone back home thinks. Germans will never employ you and leave their own people. I know of somebody who left that ‘glorious’ place called Nigeria and came here. He borrowed the money he came here with and within two years, he was a frustrated man. If you already have a job in Nigeria, keep it. If you have a job here or you are invited, come. Finish it and go back home.

So, everything here is bad?

I have not said that. If you are here and you have your papers, the government takes care of you by providing a job, decent accommodation and good conditions of life. The basis for life in Germany is equality before the law. The life here is good only for those who have papers, and as a foreigner, it is difficult to have those papers.

You may also like


arike July 7, 2009 - 4:03 pm

one person can’t talk truth of LOVE .ONLY about himself .WE all people have to take it care /the world is full with the truth of LOVE/africa or germany/conditions is everywhere and we have to work to come down/ if the water stay in the right moment on the table before som like to talk is ones of RULES of LOVE- jesus or another GOD advice us to control if we call the worth LOVE…the LOVE for me get RULES and the LOVE of you get RULES- let us take time to look the different of this RULES and to find the point of balance to be in peace!AMEN

Donald Mbadinuju November 3, 2008 - 7:32 pm

My brother,the world is not a bed of roses. And the bed of a road is not the end of it. So crisis always occurs at the moment of every change in a man life.Therefore, there is no change without a challenge. But your association with people determines your destiny in life.Life is like water and once it gets stagnant, it begins to stink.Delay is not denial. Wilderness battle is not to destroy you, but to decorate, promote and glorify you for dedication. Our God is alive. Men of dedication are men of celebration and manifestation. What you stated on here is exactly what we are facing in Malaysia today but when the going gets tough, gets going because tough time time never last, but tough people last. Great men are those who contemplate on possibilities where others thinks of impossibilities. Destiny can merely be delayed but it cannot be destroyed. Finally, to believe you can’t is to reduce your counts from your lifes account. And to believe you can is to increase your counts in your destiny account. So every mantle is won in battle and until you fight and win the battle, you cannot have it. Anyhow, l am an electrical engineer by profession, a proud Nigerian and currently in Malaysia, the center of light. May God help us all.


Leave a Comment