Update from Qudus' blog

May 29, 2009

Lagos destination Paris

Curled from my travel diary.

9th July 2006 (Sunday)

...Joy, fun, fear, encounters and memorable events are often my sky team partners during each trip, beautiful hostesses and cute hosts who adds glamour and splendor to the trip, aside from some few carriers who I think experience matters a lot to them, who recruits mass of frail boned papas and mamas with make ups as that of ancient porn-stars celebrating the remembrance of their days of sunshine. Not withstanding, they all seem to make me laugh during turbulence, they try to be relax and do as if all is well to make me and other half hopeless passenger like me get over our fear and panic, while deep down in their heart one could feel the fear in them and I often imagine how I could be flying every now and then as my profession and not putting all the risk and stress in mind. This brings me back to the only part I find really risky and stressful in my profession. It is the joy of every artiste to export and exhibit his/her product out of the shores of his country, being it African, Asian, American or European.

One other moment that annoys me most in traveling is when I’ve finally got to my destination or transiting through any of the so called western European countries. On sighting my Green ever popular Nigerian passport, then I know at this point I must be ready to sacrifice my precious time for the often long mustached immigration officer who for all he cares you didn’t get your visa in the legal way and your passport might have been fabricated or retouched at OLUWOLE. So all he is looking for is the sign of face changing, data changing or how the visa page was attached to the existing international passport. If he finally didn’t find any fault then he begin to imagine how a black Nigerian as I am could get visa from or for a civilised white western world, which opens to another phase of interrogation, ranging from; where are you going to? What are you going to do there? Where is your invitation? And other document you used in processing your visa? - as if one could get a visa without these documents but one just need to be patient with them, eat, chew to ruminants and swallow your ego if that trip is important to you because this is just the result of the mistake our great grand fathers had made so we are just a victim of the 21st century that nothing could be done to restore at this stage - Moreover the questions continue; for how long will you be there? Can I see your return ticket? Your hotel reservation? Name and address of your employer or that person who is expecting you.

I mean series of those same stupid questions that I was actually asked while applying for my visa. After all asked and properly answered with care, it doesn’t end there because he might not be contented and so he will be obliged to call another officer who is often a slimmer and maybe shorter version who will then take me through series of closed doors that could only be accessed by an immigration officer or other airport officials, as I was victimized at the Milan Malpensa airport. Italy. To get me more shocked, sitting on the waiting room were series of unfortunate Blacks who are waiting to be tested or screened. So i joined the queue of the children of sinners, so for no clear reason i'm still waiting, i see some mustached guys coming to check on me from far from time to time, this is when i realised that waiting could mean so many things, the time can tick so very slow when you are in the hands of official kidnappers but, it is only when you have something to hide that you try to proof that you are clean. Finally it got to my turn, i walked towards this irritating guy with Italian accent, "can you keep your bag please" obviously he was going to search it again, making it the sixth time, "Please take off your shirt" i thought it was a joke, not knowing that i was still going to take off the last fabric that covers my dignity and take my urine, it seems to me that they got a clear information that i had something on me. Well they got it wrong, after a moment of stripping, debates and interrogation, I got acquainted and discharge without bail. 

The price i paid costed me more than i could afford, its memory stays with me forever. I felt raped and it reminds me a similar case at the London Stansted airport where I actually missed my flight because I was still being stripped by the time my flight was leaving for Paris, yet the only word that comes out of their mouth is “you can go sir” i.e. polite at last and no more. Getting to the boarding gate another polite flight mistress at the gate of the just departed flight telling me “sorry sir you’ve missed your flight” then at this moment I knew I could do but just be polite enough to sleep right there at the airport to wait for tomorrow’s flight. Wow twenty four hours at that airport which is at the outskirt of London is just nothing good to talk about, but did i survive it, yes i guess cos here i am writing it...

For some one like me who got his roof in between borders and abode often tapped in an economic class of a flying box, this is my forth international passport, three filled with visas and stamps, so you can imagine that the war is far from being won, where do i start from? do i have to lament about the over rude perfect visa officer behind the window, the battle with the local thugs at the airport, the professional hospitality you get in the plane, to the international clowns welcoming you, and stripping you off your very last pant, in search of one white substance that you've only seen or hear about on tv... its sad ahn, but what can you do when it becomes part of your job, profession and life, you can choose to be arrogant if you want, but does it change a thing? when they are just puppet of some powerful guys behind close doors, all through my life, i have searched for other human policy that is worse than immigration policy.

I know this might sound ODD, but when people tell me to be careful about what i put on facebook, cos of their privacy policy, i tend to blush in silence, when i got all my fingers stamped to get Nigerian passport, got all my fingers printed at the embassy, on getting to the newark airport, i didn't just got my fingers printed but also had to look into some machine that looks like a microscope - even to the extent of taking another picture of me, and i wonder if i was applying for an american passport. So i think we are just trapped all ways always, but lets be aware of fascism, lets redefine what globalisation is suppose to mean and let the world order not just treat Africa as the poor little sexy continent, but a geographical location with people born just the same way as those across the atlantic, so if we claim to love to see children play, love to show them love and see them grow, so nothing makes the African child different, so lets ask them, why do we extract the juice of the sins of the fathers from the child ? what do we make out of our common shared history? who bears the heavier baggage of history? how come the third world citizen pays a more expensive visa fee? how come the so called benefit of globalisation, industrialisation and our technological advancement cost more than 50% of what is required in the west? At a very tender age of my life i felt the urge not just find but seek answers to some illogical questions, later i realised that the solution is to create more questions to add to the existing questions.