This is America my Brothers and Sisters…

by Uzoma Nduka

To live in America is the dream of almost every Nigerian, young and old.

To them, they see America as the Promised Land, the land of milk and honey, the land of great and wonderful opportunity, the land of the rich and wealthy. And indeed it is! Any focused person can achieve his or her dream in this land, I believe.

This home of the global super-power after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the rise of glasnost and perestroika is a good place to live and achieve dreams.

The bubbling and excitement in you when you got your visa at Walter Carrington Crescent and boarded the plane from Lag or Pitakwa airports fizzle out as soon as you set foot on this soil that is not yours. You are first welcomed by signs and roadmaps that will confuse you if you do not read fast and well. You do not have anyone to ask where to or where from. Every one seems to be in a hurry to either catch a connecting flight or to attend to a client. Life is businesslike and capitalist here. People walk brisk, fast and purposefully. Next you are greeted by an over-zealous immigration officer who sometimes is prejudiced because of the color of your passport. Na so life be my brother. You no go blame dem!

By the time you manage to get into the city and you do not see people picking and plucking dollars from the streets and trees, you will be disappointed. But your patients still carry you to your brothers or sisters or aunties apartment. And yet you are greeted by another surprise. That your bros or sis wey you dey hala 24.7 say she no send you some dollars or some designers spruce dey stay for one room with one parlor and one bath wey be like those ones you dey see for Obigbo or Elekahia or Rumomasi.

The difference is constant light, water, internet connection, phone, cable and all that and all that.

Loneliness will be your bedmate. Your relatives will abandon you for work and you will be counting the ceilings like those days you don’t know an answer to a question in the exam. But try and brave it. Haba, you be man na!

One day it dawned on you that you have come to the America of your choice. You went to the bank to open account and suddenly N.E.P.A., sorry there is no NEPA in America, light went off. You waited for over thirty minutes and it was not restored. And there was no automatic generator by the corner.

This is America my brothers and sisters.

Do you know there are MOLUEs in America? My broda forget matter! Na real 9.11 o-o-o. And you will see 49 sitting and 99 standing. God bless Fela Anikulapo Kuti, may his soul rest in peace. I saw it with my eyes. I rode on it. I went down from it as well. Welcome to America!

When you alight from the bus you will see BEGGARS carrying notes like: WHY LIE, I NEED A DRINK; HOMELESS, LOST JOB, ANYTHING WILL HELP; U.S VETERAN PLS HELP; NEED GAS, and all sorts of things. And you will be shocked. The shock comes not because you have not seen beggars in Ijanikpaja, Wuse, Ama JK, or Sabon-Gari but because you never knew there are such miscreants in America. They are not in only Denver, Houston, Atlanta, Ohio, and Nebraska but also in New York and Washington.

There are also stacks of refuse littering all over NEW YORK!

My brothers and sisters let this not reduce your spirit but I am just telling the bittersweet truth. According to Buma Erekosima, na so I see am. You can still come to America if you want to. But have all these facts on your palms and throw away your ego.

Another thing you will notice if you pay close attention to your friends and neighbors, brothers and sisters, aunties and uncles who live in America is that most of them live falsely. By this I mean that most of them have forgotten their roots. They have forgotten that udara and ube tree in front of their house. They have soon forgotten that cock crow woke them up for school. They have forgotten they drank and cooked with well water. All these and more they have eluded their memory. They come here and begin to lease big cars and live in ten-car garage homes. They begin to live exotic, expensive and Hollywood-like life. It is up to them. It is their life to live.

With the help of credit card you can move not only mountains but grow wings like a bird and fly into your dreams. But remember this: it does not taste like it sounds.

Americans sleep, eat and drink credit card. Do you know that so many of them are deep down in depth because of credit cards and loans which they cannot easily repay? And these loans and credit cards multiply year in and year out. Every American is a debtor. The car they drive has not been fully purchased. The house they live has a 30-year mortgage on it i.e. they will continue to pay for the house until 30 years. And if by stroke of ill-luck anything happens and you can no longer pay for the house, it will be on foreclosure or repossessed and all you have paid will swim into the ocean. They take loans to attend schools. My brothers, make una leave matter!

Good credit, good for you. If you mess with it, it will reciprocate. It won’t give you a chance to bounce back. So don’t mess with Texas! -Whatever that means.

My brother choose between paying the minimum of $500 for an apartment minus utilities, gas, energy, groceries and so on and living on your 5,000 naira every month and you see your parents and loved ones at will. In some cities people pay up to $900 for a face-me-I-face-you. Choose between doing a 16 hour menial and ego-reducing job to working in your local government as a messenger. Choose between skiing in the snow to swimming under the Warri seven-day-rain. Choose between staying under your own roof and being under someone else’s.

Sorry, I don’t mean to scare you. If people like us can survive, you can. Why not? But the reason I’m surviving this scary land is not because I’m smart or because I was debriefed by my people before coming but because I threw away my prestige, degree/s and ego in River Niger before boarding my flight to America. I’m surviving because I know my roots. I’m surviving because I’ve been visiting here. I’m surviving because I was born in the information age. Top of the list, I’m surviving because God has designed it so. So if God is with us, who can be against us? I believe you bros!

In Amii, your people clean people’s nyash (sorry if I’m sounding too crude and rude and impolite) in other to send a few dollars home for mama and extended relations. They drive kabu-kabu as well. Most of them are mai-guards or watch nights. Most of them won’t tell you this truth. But I am! You need to know where you are going to in other to know where you want to be.

Life is good (LG) in Amii my people but you have to be prepared. Don’t come unprepared. Don’t look upon anyone to be of help to you. Don’t put your trust in men, the Bible forewarns. Don’t o-o-o.

In Amii your brother can throw you out of his house or ask you to begin to pay house rent if he wants to behave gentlemanly. The first rule your brother will tell you to observe is turn off the lights! You will be shocked because you are coming from a place where you can leave all your appliances on 365 days in a year and you will not pay any bill. Don’t pick offence if your brother asks you to pull out your shoes in his house because it takes him time to vacuum it. That also is energy consuming. Trust now!

Lest I forget, because I’ve got to rush out for my third job (just kidding), I know most of my brothers and sisters coming to America are fellow academic bedmates and degree packed, but you have to discard all that in the dustbin at Murtala Mohammed before boarding that flight. H

ere, whether you are a medical doctor or engineer or lawyer or linguist or political scientist or optometrist or whatever, you must work in Wall Mart OR King-Sooper or Sears or TJ Max or do a Nurse Aide or security before they recognize your field of study. You have to do this because their system has been structured in such a way that our academic qualifications are not part of globalization trend. You have to sit for so many Board Exams before you can practice your profession and this takes years. Not that you cannot pass the exam at a go but that is their system. So be a Boy’s Scout!

In America, life is good. Come and see America wonder!

We go yan na when you land! Make sure say you hala me o-o-!

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Woods December 20, 2006 - 5:20 am

Excellent article, this needs to be published in Naija newspapers. Broda be strong! and Tanx 4 givin us d truth.


Reply November 15, 2006 - 10:30 am

Na the authentic gist you dey give o.Even though some of us still want to come and exploit the opportunities for writers in america,we still cherish all we enjoy at home,back here in naija.Keep it real jare,thumbs up!

jumah November 11, 2006 - 4:50 pm

This piece qualifies for a good litrary award on true life reports, I wish some of the dailies in Naija will publish this particularly now that the lottery stuff is on.God bless you broda

remsy November 9, 2006 - 4:26 am

very correct info

mzilikazi November 8, 2006 - 10:31 am

Some people are still recovering from the shock!

Rosie November 6, 2006 - 12:06 pm

Te he he ….funny. Reality bites! I wish we could put out a manual on life in America for everyone wishing to come here. Then they can decide whether or not it is for them. I have a cousin who left after 8 months. She felt it was too hard to live her. Two or three jobs ke? No…at least back home she could live comfortably as a house wife and not have to worry about work. Only the brave at heart and in mind can survive this country, I tell you!

olu November 6, 2006 - 11:34 am

God bless u ma broda! i laffd my head off readin' ur article. it is great talent to mix the bitter truths of american life with humor. please keep up the good work. i'll b waichin' out for ur articles. cheerz

Benny 3000 November 5, 2006 - 10:57 pm

Na true u talk my broda!

It is refreshing, at last, to read some hard facts concerning this land naively seen as paradise by some of our kinsmen who in actual fact live, not just in borrowed robes, but in borrowed times. You may realize your dreams in this land, but na when America show you im real color u go sabi say true true khaki different small from leather! And to those still refusing to wake up from their dreamland, best of luck.

Asuquo Ema November 5, 2006 - 9:04 pm

Very informative article for those new immigrants (especially those immigrants coming from Nigeria).

America is basically what you make of it. If you want to flip burgers for the rest of your life and you are content with that, that is probably what you are going to be doing. If you are hardworking, ambitious and aspire for greater things, the sky is your limit. That's the major difference between here and other third world nations. In Nigeria you can work very hard (most Nigerians are hardworking people) but if you don't have a "God Father" or come from an influencial family that has connections, you are most likely not going to amount to anything. In the end you become very frustrated and desperate and when one is desperate they resort to very desperate measures.

Yes, you may end up with a 30 year mortgage but at least you will be guaranteed a very comfortable home. You may get a car loan but at the same time you are assured of a very reliable car as a source of transportation. The system works for you here. New immigrants have to learn to adopt to the American system of life. It won't change to suit them.

Good article!!!

Anonymous November 5, 2006 - 8:25 pm

Very true and I can attest to that reality.


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