lunedì 27 agosto 2007

Evade you not!

When I think of Jesse Jackson in the past and Obama, today, running for the presidency of the United States, my mind automatically recalls the sacrifices and the battles encountered by people like Martin Luther King, Malcolm X and many others who preferred to shed their blood so that this may happen.
Similarly, when I think of Condoleezza Rice as the U.S. secretary of States, spontaneously, I remember the black American woman who was ordered to stand up for a white woman in a public bus. She courageously refused, giving birth to a nation-wide riot that claimed so many lives and unjustly ceased the liberty of many other black people in that nation. They were all fighting for a just cause, for the entire race.
Most of the people indulged in those battles were doing it for the betterment of the future generations, without any personal or selfish ambitions. And today, undoubtedly, the benefits of that struggle is not only enjoyed by the blacks in the U.S., but also by so many others around the globe, directly or otherwise.
There are many western countries with a long time experience connected to the permanent inhabitation of immigrants in their territories, blacks in particular. This has made it possible, stage by stage, battle after battle, for these foreigners to acquire a full sense of belonging and citizenship in those countries, where the terms "stranger" and "integration" are no more offensively applied at random.
Italy is certainly not one of these countries! But one can neither deny the fact that things have also started to change here, very slowly indeed, but gradually becoming noticeable. Those of us who are at least 20yrs old in this country can easily remember the difficulties encountered and the frustrating status in which we were all obliged to mingle; no work permit was issued to anyone and if found working could even be arrested; foreigners, especially Nigerians, were not allowed to open any kind of business; travelling out of Italy was very limited even when one has his stay permit in order; and so many other limitations.
Some of us could not bear the situation and fled from Italy for 'better' places. Many tried but could not meet up with the visa requirements of their countries of interest and so were obliged to stay back, against their wish. While the rest made no attempt at all and simply accepted the situation as one of the surprise packages of destiny, hoping though that one day things might change for better.
I tried for the U.S. visa once and failed, but had the opportunity to relocate to one of the countries highly desired by Nigerians, the United Kingdom. As a matter of fact, I was visiting London almost every year but never had the intention again to abandon Italy.
My unpopular decision was a result of a long reflection: Nigerians and other Africans were no more coming to Italy for studies, but exclusively for work, except on very rare cases. They hadn't the opportunity to pass through any classroom block and so unable to grab the minimum to integrate in a society with a different language and culture. And those who read here helped in one way or the other to facilitate the already unwelcoming atmosphere for them, especially with the authorities.
The situation today has not changed so much with the regular massive inflow of our brothers and sisters coming to join us, but the system has changed a little bit, thanks also to many who are battling in so many ways to make it better.
Many Africans still consider Italy a transit station, a place to make up the necessary documents to enable them get to their dream destinations. And I am so much worried about the "Comunques" who are giving up the battle and whose aim, after grabbing the Italian citizenship, is to relocate to these other places. Many of them are making the usual mistake, thinking that our second generation born here will come to fight for our cause. That is not true because they will be so busy with their own battle: fighting to be recognised as the coloured citizens of this country. And that alone is not an easy battle, indeed.
However, it is more blessed to give than to receive, to create than to use. It is noble to be remembered as one of those who worked for the benefit of his people and not as a self-centered ambitious person.
If the United States, United Kingdom, France, Canada, Australia, Holland and some others are better than Italy today, as regards to immigration laws, it is because the past generations of immigrants in those countries worked very hard towards it. Or are we so selfish as not to work so hard so that the future generations will be better than us? And besides, isn't time we start talking about ways to make our countries a better place so that we can start relocating back home? Yes, you may call me a dreamer, but am not the only one!
Some friends and relations quarrelled with me because of my reluctance in joining them in those better places, choosing to 'perish' miserably here. Anyway, I believe there is an indispensable role that has to be played by the first Nigerian and African immigrants in this country for the future generations to come. And if the foundation of any structure is not properly laid, it always tends to collapse! Only a little contribution from you and from other capable people can also make things change, so please reflect a little bit more before buying your one-way ticket out of Italy!

Blessing Sunday Osuchukwu

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