Extract from my book :

Many years ago one of my favourite movies was `Coming To America’, featuring Eddie Murphy in a most hilarious portrayal of an African prince who had come to America in search of a wife. I came to America about two years ago certainly not to find a wife. You see, not only am I not an African prince but I have had a wife for forty years!

It had started like a joke. My daughter, now a proud citizen of this great country, who had arrived here over one and half decades ago by virtue of a diversity visa had, over the last few years during my short trips to the United States of America, been urging me to allow her to file for citizenship for my wife and I. At first I had been shocked at the idea. My reply had been to ask, `Why?’

 And her reply had usually been, `So that you and mummy can come and live here in America with me. There are so many advantages, in particular, you can have good healthcare as you grow older.’

 And I would reply, `At my age? Why would I in my old age want to learn new tricks? We don’t know anybody here.’ At that time I had been under seventy. `And what would we be doing? Stuck in your house watching television and waiting till the weekend when you may have the time or the energy to drive us around. There is hardly any public transport in Raleigh. We would be bored to death.’

She never really satisfactorily answered my questions. But in the end we succumbed. As the petitioner she did what she had to do. She filed the papers with Immigration and paid all the necessary fees. So, here we are each with a green card and social security card, proud registered residents of Raleigh. I do not want to go into the hassle of getting a driving license so I cannot drive. We mostly sit and watch television, even on Sundays. We are Anglicans and hardly attend church services as, being rather conservative; we have still to come to terms with the idea of attending our daughter’s new generation church. We got registered at the Wake Forest Seniors Centre. So, on some week days, we are picked up by the community bus in the morning and spend some hours there taking part in the various activities that older citizens take part in including some mild exercises and some minutes on the tread mill before being brought back home.

Do you know that it is easier for a woman to prove to the United States of America Immigration that she is the mother of a child than for the father to prove paternity? I found that out to my great expense and frustration in the process of trying to prove to them that I am not only my daughter’s father but that she was not born out of wedlock! I had to prove that I was legally married to my wife and our daughter resulted from that union!

In the year two thousand and four our house-help had stolen my old brief case in which I had kept my passport with live United States of America visa, a most valuable thing to have in Nigeria. A lot of people would give an arm and a leg to get to America. At that time it must have been worth about a quarter million naira on the black market. I also had my wedding certificate and other valuable papers in the brief case.

So it was up to us to prove that we are our daughter’s parents. We were each to provide our birth certificates, details of where we were born and details of every place where we had lived for six months since each of us was sixteen, our parentage, wedding certificate, our daughter’s birth certificate, baptismal certificate, and any other evidence to prove that she is our daughter, including photographs. In addition we each had to provide police report from whichever country we had lived in for up to six months after the age of sixteen proving that we had no criminal records.

For my wife it was smooth going except that she had to travel to her home town twice as her first birth declaration was not accepted. At the time we were born birth registration was not very common. Furthermore my wife never lived outside Nigeria and had no police report problems. She arrived in the United States of America six months before me.

In 2004 I had obtained a police report, sworn to an affidavit and reported the loss of my passport, visa, marriage certificate and other documents to both the United States of America and British Embassies to stop anybody using my visa. And the Embassy of the United States of America had acknowledged my report and loss of visa by issuing me a fresh visa on my new passport. But the copy of the above affidavit was not accepted to cover my wedding certificate because the parties to the wedding had not been mentioned in the affidavit. I went to the magistrate’s court and swore to another affidavit. But it was rejected. Immigration insisted on a copy of the marriage certificate. I telephoned the Vicar of St. Georges Church, Kano, where we had wedded in 1974. He sounded polite enough but said he could not issue me a copy because the church, with all the records, had been burnt by Moslem rioters. He would try the Local Government Councils in case a copy was deposited in one of them.

Off to Kano I went. I had been working there at the time of our wedding. The church had obviously been burnt but had been rebuilt. The plastering of the external walls was recent and it had not been painted. The trip cost me about fifty thousand naira but all I could get from the Vicar was a letter saying that it was obvious from the photographs I brought that I had wedded in that church. He reiterated the information that the church had been burnt by the Moslems in 1995 with the all the registry records. That was obviously not going to be sufficient. Coincidentally, my wife has two brothers who are citizens of the United States of America and a sister who was a resident. They had all attended our wedding. The intervetion solved that problem.

Then there was the other matter of whether I was a criminal or not! I had to produce a favourable police report from authorities where I had lived for over six months. That meant Nigeria, England and Tanzania. Getting a clean police report from Nigeria and England was easy enough. The British police system was unbelievably polite and even spoke on phone to tell me that my application had been received and assured me that they would deal with the matter with dispatch. They did. That of Tanzania was another matter. I did not know anybody there and to travel to Dar-es-Salaam where I had worked forty years ago just to get a police report was out of the question. Also I had been advised not to send the application fee by post, obviously for fear of its being stolen. I eventually located somebody in Nairobi who had somebody she could trust in Arusha. The contact in Arusha had somebody in Dar-es Salaam called Omari (not his real name) who would handle the report. The contact in Nairobi would see to the fee.

So I sent my application by courier to Omari in Dar-es-Salaam. I followed up by calling him on phone. He was shocked that I wanted to get him involved with the Criminal Investigation Department! I explained that he was only to deliver the application and get the police clearance and send back to me. He was most reluctant even despite assurances by our mutual contact. It cost a bit of money but eventually he did get the certificate. I could not blame Omari. Even here in Nigeria nobody wants anything to do with the police. Nobody trusts them! The common saying is that the policeman is nobody’s friend.

So, we live part of the time in the United States of America, God’s own country. There is water in the tap. Everywhere is well organized, everywhere is clean. Things work. When we do decide to go out with our daughter we are not in a hurry to get back home before dark for fear of being robbed or kidnapped. Above all, we did not notice the light blink for a second while there, a pleasant departure from my routine back home where, since I hardly go to the office my routine is to wake up, no light most days, eat my breakfast, read the newspaper and sit in my easy chair or under the tree in the compound doing next to nothing until six in the evening when I put on my small Chinese generator to have five hours of electricity before going to bed, waking up and repeating the routine. I once had what they call an inverter but went off it one evening when the contraption threatened to burn my house down and I had to scamper to a neighbour who helped me disconnect it.

It did not take long for me to notice that the difference is clear! People go to work here and actually work for the hours they are supposed to, no frivolous phone calls, no friends or relatives casually dropping for a chat about this and that and politics, or to bring you stories from the village or about town union meetings. People do not just leave the office for frivolous reasons. People work for their pay. Some keep two jobs to survive and the fear of the Inland Revenue Service is the beginning of wisdom. You do not just drop in to visit somebody at home without forewarning. Everybody respects the other’s privacy. There is respect for human life. A murder or an attack on anybody is instantly reported by the media and law enforcement is always alert. If the police stop you it is genuinely to verify your papers or because of an infringement, not to extort money from you. If you move into another neighbourhood there is a chance that your behaviour elsewhere, as a rapist or a paedophile for instance, may lead to your new neighbours objecting to your presence

We had arrived America at a most exciting time just before the 2012 elections. Barak Obama and the Democrats were in a battle with Mitt Romney and the Republicans for the control of the soul of America. We watched Obama, a black man, the most powerful man on the planet, trying to convince Americans to introduce a little social welfare with his Obama care and the Republicans trying to hold on to their old virtues of extreme capitalism, you work your socks off, make loads of money and you will be all right, otherwise, too bad for you. Well, the democrats seemed to be more aware of where the world is going, inviting all and sundry, the good, the bad and the ugly to jump on their liberal bandwagon. The Democrats succeeded. And we also witnessed the great disaster of Hurricane Sandy.

It is good to be in America. I am trying to get the hang of it all. It is a whole new world, a great experiment involving people from all the nooks and corners of the world. I would probably have been better able to adjust more easily to it, to key wholeheartedly into it, if I had come here, say, forty years ago. But I fear I am not in a position to contribute much with the internet age and science moving the world so fast forward that I am almost dizzied by it, feeling somewhat lost, irrelevant.

But I have summered and wintered in America. And my near inactivity when in America has given me a lot of time to think about the world, where we are going. It is like observing the world through a window and what I see amazes me. America is a place of extremes, the super wealthy and the super poor. The super wealthy make loads of money and become philanthropists, donating to this and that, a lot of it going to Africa, my Africa, through all sorts of non-governmental organisations and feeling good about it. Americans seem to be the most generous people in the world. Regrettably, right home beside the super wealthy are the dregs of society, the homeless, the jobless, and the helpless. The Red Indians, the original inhabitants of America have mostly been absorbed by the new trends, except the few who want to cling on to the past, to their ancestral customs and traditions and remain in Reservations. There are guns everywhere, perhaps testimony to a well-documented violent past, the times of Hop-along-Cassidy, and the times of Gunfight at the OK Corral, the times of the Texas Rangers. And that is why it surprises me that whenever someone goes off his rocker and pot-shoots a few people there is so much outrage! Why the outrage when everybody wants to protect his constitutional right to own guns some almost as sophisticated and dangerous as bombs! Everybody wears jeans, all shades between black and blue, more like a national dress. The biggest and the fattest people I have ever seen are here. People from all the nooks and corners of the world are here. I would not be surprised if duplicate human beings, clones, mingle with everybody else in Walmart or Times Square. America is a microcosm of the whole world.

I think of Africa. Oh Africa! I grieve for Africa, the real Garden of Eden, no tsunami, no earth quakes, no uncontrollable wild fires, no hurricanes, no monsoon floods, no major tornados, no major natural disasters other than occasional famine caused by little or no rainfall and occasional flash floods. But the human beings occupying this Garden of Eden are the major disasters! From time immemorial black people have been their own worst enemies, brothers killing brothers, selling them to other black predators and then to Arab slavers who carried them to North Africa and the Middle East, and later to the white slavers who carried them to America and Europe. Slavery has been abolished but it is still there in Africa. Black people find it difficult to rule themselves. There are wars, there is starvation and abject poverty, and there is oppression. Lampedusa, a small Italian town on the Mediterranean, has now become famous as a gateway of sorts into Europe for impoverished Africans escaping oppression and starvation and wars from their own homelands in a desperate rush for a better tomorrow. Some actually reach Lampedusa and if they are lucky they are allowed into Europe and its many menial jobs, washing dead bodies, cleaning the streets or even ending up in prison in the belief that they will have at least two meals a day. Hundreds drown in the Mediterranean, a watery grave. In the face of such terrible misrule the scramble for Africa is on with renewed vigour especially with the Chinese wading in. They do not bother about scruples. Anything goes and the dictators, sit-tight rulers of the various failed and nearly failed republics continue having a field day at the expense of their subjects.The white people, the Europeans, the Americans have the unenviable task of trying to wade in and solve African problems, sometimes with altruistic intentions and sometimes for their own well being. How can they continue being unconcerned when African misrule, corruption continues to rebound on them? No African government has volunteered fighters against the menace called the Islamic State. But how can they when they cannot contain Boko Haram, Lord’s Resistance Army, Al Shabab, when they cannot contain tribal and ethnic wars on their soils? Ebola is ravaging West Africa. Their contribution to the fight against Ebola is minimal. The Europeans and the Americans have to deal with it for their own safety.

The Middle East is an eternal war zone, the most dangerous place on earth, the birthplace of terrorism. It is the centre of everlasting confusion, of hatred and vengeance and slaughter of fellow human beings. If as is written in the Bible creation took place in the Middle East, is the Middle East going to lead the world to its end? It is said in the Bible that God told the Jews, the Zionists, to go and possess the land flowing with milk and honey which he promised their forefathers. To possess it they have been at war since then with the original inhabitants but those inhabitants, surely also God’s own children, appear not to agree to be wiped out. Americans are said to be trying to broker peace between the Jews whom they are arming and the Arabs. What sort of peace is that? It is like trying to mediate between the lion and the sheep! The Zionists apply their Mosaic Law, a tooth for a tooth, in reality it is more like one Jewish life for a thousand Arab lives. In the past we had all sorts of war waged in that enclave including the Crusades. That unending war has now translated into the extreme savagery of the Islamic State, an Islamic Jihad, another name for crusade. The most blood thirsty and the weirdest human beings are joining in and calling it Islam.Bored European and American youth, fed from childhood on make-believe wars and combat on computer games now see joining ISIL as a real life adventure, an opportunity to be part of a real war, to have a thrill, excitement from actually spilling human blood.But one thinks that all that confusion is part of the preparation for the final crusade, the final Jihad, the final confrontation between Islam and Zionism. Regrettably the Christians, if somebody slaps you please turn the other cheek, pacifists, are watching the debacle without perhaps realising that in the end they will be drawn into the final conflagration. The United, or is it disunited, Nations is powerless and makes meaningless resolutions which they cannot enforce. How can they, anyway, when Europeans slaughtered millions of Jews and in their haste to make some sort of amends they saw fit to resettle the Jews in that troubled enclave after two thousand years of dispersal without having the will to enforce their partitioning plan for the enclave to ensure the safety of the Arabs who had move in during those long years of dispersal of the Jews? When will the Arabs realise that the Jews cannot be destroyed and make conscious effort to live side by side with them in peace.

All over the world there are flash points, Korea, Iran, Libya and the Far East, Ukraine. The Arab Spring is now the Arab doom, from dictatorship to chaos. Religion, the opium of the masses, is leading to the death of people with differing ideas, in Iraq, Syria and other Moslem countries. Democracy, the hurry to force everybody into it, is creating problems, suffering. If democracy will not take into account peoples’ traditions and habits and is forced into societies, it only adds to human suffering. It must have a human face, must respect traditional values. Democracy must be allowed to evolve with time and must take into consideration people’s background and traditions. China is developing fast but nobody has the audacity to force it into democracy before the country is ready. Whether we like it or not, might is right. Hence Russia can take over Ukraine or parts of it whenever it wants. Israel can bomb the Arabs with impunity. The United Nations can only pass resolutions it cannot enforce.

Science is moving the world so fast that we have reached a stage when you cannot even fart in your bedroom without somebody knowing. Where is the world heading?It is now a world of the haves and the have-nots and Africa is at the bottom of the heap. The rich countries have their weapons of mass destruction and will decide which other countries dare to have it. If African nations will not agree to their sense of democracy, including liberalising sodomy, economic aid will be cut off! After all he who pays the piper calls the tune. What a wonderful world we live in! It is an unfair world. It is a bitter world. It is a sweet world. And the beat goes on!

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