I see them everywhere, although they are invisible to most. Dark skins, darker eyes, tired but determined. Trying to hustle for a couple of euros on the street corner, during the rush hour in the metro, in the parks. All they want is to find a way to earn a couple of coins to feed their children. To save and scrunge until they have enough to send home so that Mama and Papa can live comfortably. Nevermind the fact that they are living on one meal a day, struggle to buy themselves a loaf of bread worth 35 centavos to eat, and are living in the streets. They do what they can to take care of their own because to them success is everything and as the only ones in their families fortunate enough to have made it to “The land of promise”, they must do what they can.
The words of a Nigerian man who I came to know during my time here, “To us Nigerians, family is everything”. He told me of how he had been in Spain for 9 years and before that, he was living in Italy where he had secured papers. He luckyily, managed to secure papers here in Spain as well. During his first two years in Spain, to make ends meet, he stood on street corners and sold newspapers. His kind face and charismatic presence touched the heart of those who he greeted on the street, so much so that he managed to be given a few euros here and there, which he saved. He saved and saved until he managed to gain enough capital to open his own Internet café and Western Union center.
The dream of the Nigerian man is not to work under or for another person but to be his own boss and to have something of his own. I know this to be true as it was the dream of my own father, who aspired to open his own pharmacy and the dream of many other Nigerians I knew in the United States. This man was successul for a few years until the economic crisis hit. With the crisis and the presence of mobile internet, he could not maintain his business any longer, as there was hardly any need for an Internet cafe and his computers were his main source of income. He was forced to shut his doors. He returned once again to the street corner, selling newspapers and depending on the kindness of others.
Talking to him I learned more of the plight of many immigrants, especially Nigerians. We, because I too am one, leave Nigeria with every intention of coming back once our goal has been fufilled. That goal in question, is to make it, by any means necessary. To secure ourselves and our families financially, and once we have fufilled this goal, we know that we will return back to Nigeria, for these Western nations hold nothing for us but grief and a lifetime of suffering. For Nigerians, Nigeria is the best place in the world, if you have money. Racism is not a thing, if you are not a political figure who do you have to fear, and once you build something with your own hands it is yours. The food is the best in the world for us, no preservatives, everything natural from the earth. Foreclosure does not exist, mortgages are a thing from a distant land. Once you have secured enough financial capital, you can live comfortably for the rest of your life. With this in mind, Nigerians come to Europe to make money, send it back to someone they trust until they can pull their own families out of the cycle of suffering and poverty that they were born into.
Usually it is the eldest who holds this burden, my mother did, my father did as well. Growing up all resources were poored into them with the knowledge that they had to succeed so that oneday they could take over for their parents and continue to support their younger ones. I too face this burden, as my mother tells me everyday, so much rides on me and my success so that my younger ones can have the same opportunity to go to college and be afforded the same opportunites that I did. We don´t come to suck up resources, we come to work just as hard if not harder than everyone else, so that we too can have something to call our own one day.