Tuesday, November 15, 2011


I just saw this post online, and I found it very interesting and worth reading. This is because its pretty much sums up everything that I always say, when it comes to Obodo Onyibo. This is definitely something that we Naija peeps should read (esp those ones trying to come down here)  Anyways enjoy :)

Are you thinking of migrating to the United States?

Written by Sabella Ogbobode Abidde

Whether you believe in the Biblical account or in the evolutionary theory of creation, humans have always migrated. In other words, migration has always been part of the human experience. Migration can be internal or across borders. Over time, we have seen several migration patterns. In Africa for instance, there was the Bantu migration; and in Europe, there was the Serb and the Irish migrations, including the German’s eastward expansion that is generally referred to as the Ostsiedlung Migration. In the United States, there was, between 1910 and 1970, the exodus of African-Americans out of the Southern Belt to other regions of the country.

And why do people migrate? Well, there are several sociological theories that attempt to explain migration. Nonetheless, there are two basic hypotheses that explain this phenomenon: the pull and push factors of migration. Simplified, the pull theory says there are factors abroad that pull people to leave their homeland, i.e. uniting with spouse or other family members, and also, the prospect of economic and social opportunities abroad. On the other spectrum are the push factors, i.e. escape from political and other forms of persecution, ecological disasters, wars and searing poverty at home.

In more recent times – and especially in the case of Nigeria – people migrate because of the shrinking political and economic space; and also because of the searing poverty and the wanton lack of government services that have come to characterise Nigeria. In the last three decades, at least, Nigeria has become a very difficult place for the young, the restless, and the enterprising to realise their goals and ambition. At the very least, the cost of realising such goals and ambition gets exorbitant and frustrating every passing year. Why, the argument goes, would any sane person want to remain in a country that stifles dreams and ingenuity? You remain, it seems, only if you want your life and your talent, wasted.

Between 1950 and 1980 or thereabout, the most popular destination for Nigerians wishing to migrate outside of the African continent was the United Kingdom. There are several reasons for this; but the most obvious reason was Nigeria’s colonial ties with Great Britain. And within the West African-sub region, it was Ghana. Again colonial linkage comes to play. Even today, it is reasonable to say that Ghana is the preferred destination for Nigerians who seek refuge abroad. Outside of the continent, however, the United States of America seems to have replaced Britain. There are several reasons for this. However, the most obvious is the fact that the US offers more economic, political and social opportunities.

There are historical documents to show that for centuries people have been flocking to the US to seek sanctuary. Others came in search of a better life. In all, there have been four waves of migration: from 1600 or thereabout until 1820; the second wave began in the 1820s through the 1870s. But, the heaviest period of migration was from the 1880s through the 1920s when an estimated 25 million immigrants made the US their home. The fourth wave began in 1965. In the case of Nigerians, it is safe to say that the migration, in very high numbers, began in the 1980s. And it hasn’t abated.

In spite of the allure of the US, life is not as rosy and as smooth as prospective immigrants think. That is to say that life in America is not as is sometimes portrayed to those Nigerians who dream of crossing the oceans, or the Sahara Desert, to this part of the world. There are two Americas. For a good number of Nigerians, life in America can be tough; it can inflict both physical and mental pain. For many of us, it can be disorienting. It weighs on the soul and saps ones energies. It is neither a painting nor a picture; but more like a series of never-ending nightmares. For the lazy, the unlucky or the unrealistic ones, life in America can be likened to a whirlwind of shattered dreams or unmet expectations. For these unfortunate ones, life in America can become a source of sadness, deep-seated anger and mental depression.

On the other continuum is the second America: a land of inexhaustible opportunities. It is indeed the land for those who are daring and have the courage to extend frontiers. It is the land that rewards those who work hard and smart. It is the land that rewards those who persevere and keep going even when they fail. It is the land of law and order, of those who believe in due process. America is the land of God and gods, a land for the believers and non-believers. It is the land of dream merchants, of fabulists, tale-spinners; and of the high and low achievers. It is also the land of pipedreams, broken dreams and untold anguishes.

From my own vantaged point, there are four types of Nigerians here: those who are truly living the American Dream; and the middle incomers who live a steady but banal lifestyle. But the vast majority of Nigerians live almost on the margins: no extra disposable income, no fat bank account or investment portfolios, and no annual vacation to top tourist destinations. But for the grace of extra income, they’d fall off the slope. And finally, there are those Nigerians, for whom life can be cruel.

When very many Nigerians come home on their periodic visits, they do so, in many cases, after several months and/or years of financial planning. They have to because they have bills to pay. And in the 2-4 weeks they spend in Nigeria, they have to be sure they do not overspend, otherwise, they’d go broke. And you never ever want to be broke in Nigeria (if you are visiting from America). Not quite a secret but let me tell you: Most Nigerians I know would rather return home permanently. But many can’t. Others won’t. In the minds of many, how to contend with uncertainties of electricity, potable water, fetid environmental conditions, armed robbers and many other deficits, is the nagging question. For instance, many know that dogs and cats in rural Alabama receive better medical care than most human beings in Nigeria.

And so, as you plan and prepare to migrate, you must critically and carefully weigh all your options. Do you want to leave the familiar for the unknown? Do you really want to? There are several great things about America, i.e. security and the availability of human needs (water, education, healthcare, food, etc). But are you ready to live in a country that can be lonely and individualistic? There are many things the average Nigerian values, but he or she will not find those things in the US. And are you ready to leave all that you know and love and cherish to start life all over again? Frankly, if you have attained certain status, it might not be wise to migrate. Just visit, if you can.

May I also say that if you have very low tolerance for failures and mistakes, it might not be wise for you to migrate. If you think the world owes you, or have low tolerance for abuse and disappointments, you might as well not migrate. In the end though, nothing I or anyone else says matters. The decision to migrate – to engage in a journey that can be unpredictable – is basically yours. We all must go in search of our dreams. For some of us, our dreams lie at home; but for others, it can only be found overseas. At home or abroad…good luck!

1 comment:

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