Africa! My home, my pride, the evergreen continent filled with food and mineral resources. The home of Nelson Mandela,Desmond Tutu, home of Julius Nyerere,Kwame Nkuruma,Paul Kagame, Wangari Maathai and Chinua Achebe. Africa! My love for you is unexplainable. But what is Africa, without South Africa? The mother of Africa, not just because of its beauty or richeness in history. But because it shelters and belongs to all who live in it which makes it a rainbow nation. So dont be surprised at the number of migrants that troops into the country.
Some are coming to study, some for family reunion or to seek green pastures. Considering the ivaluable disposition of South Africa, one can think its easy to legalize
My name is, Nzube Okafor, and this is my story.
During the Nigerian Asuu strike in 2010, my friend invited me to South Africa to seek for green pasture or partner with him in his business. I came with a visitor’s visa which was the only category of visa affordable and easy to obtain.
My friend had told me earlier that life in SA is so easy, as almost everyone is self employed and he deals on phone accessories. He promised to put me in his line of business when I arrive.
Upon arrival, my friend had stopped thrice by the road to exchange greetings with person/s, from another car, that would park adjacent or behind his. Each time he explained they were his clients, But I never got to understand what he meant till we went to chill in a bar.
My friend began to explain to me that the life here is not as easy as he told me earlier, but he didn’t want me to be wasting at home for nothing, which I understood. Regards the predicament he met me at home when he last visited.
But after introduction of his line of business, which I didn’t like for reasons known to me. I couldnt help but to ask for the next available bus to Cape Town, where I believe life might have something different for me.
Upon my arrival, I asked where I could find any Nigerian. I was taken to the taxi rank where I found people from my side, selling CD’S.
After narrating my plight to them, one of them offered to take me to his place and make sure I’m comfortable till I find something doing. They explained that the life here is nothing to write home about and life is not as easy as it looks from the other side.
He explained to me that most of the black migrants here are in the fast lane, because some want to make it big while some doesn’t have valid papers to live in the country
and as such cannot gain employment. Even those that have valid papers do not have employment, like in his own case. So there’s high unemployment rate here which people knows nothing about, and more people are still coming.
He said the less risk they can take is the CDs they are selling, which are pirated. He said although the cops and law enforcement always come there to disturb them because most of them are illegal and they often get
arrested. “But we need to pay our rents and buy food”. He said. Which is absolutely true.
“Some of us were also lied to just like you, and get robbed upon arrival by the same person that invited you. That’s how tough life is here”, he said.
He said he was a victim of such and he found himself stranded in the street. And considering how much it costs to come here. Going back empty handed is not an option.
“All this people here, are migrants from other parts of Africa with issues of economic or political crisis, they thought here might have been the best maybe to get a job or something, but the only way out is to create a your own job”.
“Those who ended up to selling drugs, do get involved in fight a times
with their buyers, of which some lose their life in some cases”.
He advised me to focus on anything positive I could do to earn a living in the country as long as it’s not against the law so I don’t have to face immigration problem, because he
know papers will soon frustrate me, but I never understood what he meant by this.
I had surfed the internet for casting agencies in Cape Town, and I went to an agency where I met a lady that runs her own agency. She explained to me the ordeal with the type of visa I came with and offers to help me apply for a working visa which is the only
thing she can do for me at the moment, “because the immigration law here is too tight”, she explained further.
After waiting for three months and with the notification that my application was ready for collection. The worse I expected was a rejection letter, ordering me to appeal with a prove of finance from the company or leave the country within two weeks.
What I dreaded most in my life was to be illegal in another country.
I saw myself asking an immigration officer for deportation, he explained that I wasnt arrested for any crime and if I want to be deported then I should provide my own flight ticket. By then Im already pocket less. I was so confused.
I went back to the casting agent, who said theres nothing else she can do for me because shes afraid of SA law and dont want to get into trouble for the sake of helping me. At this point I became so helpless.
The guy that offered me shelter, took me to a lady, who he said to be a visa agent and can help me with Assylum. I was still new in the country and I had no idea how things works here.
After few weeks of doing police clearance. The lady asked me to come and pick up what she said to be an Assylum seeker, which I can use to stay and work in the country.
I had used the said Assylum seeker document, to be on TV commercials many times and also did featured extra in some movies. Until the day the agent said my paper is fake and not in the system.
What I thought to be a valid paper and had legalised my stay in the country, which the lady collected R5,000 for?
I was referred to another lady, which was said to be working for SA Immigration service, she charged me R12,000 and insist I pay R6,000 upfront and complete payment
when my paper is out as she will help sort my immigration problem.
Its two years now since I applied for a working visa and no decision has been taken. Its obvious I might have gone against the law (unknowingly), coupled with the fact that I
wasnt guided accordingly from the onset.
But either way, theres no reason for one to indulge in drug business or engage in criminal and fraudulent
activities in order to earn a living as an excuse for not having papers.
Some have resorted to the use of social media as means of defrauding white people otherwise known as ‘yahoo yahoo’ or ’G’, as means of
They fake their voices and presents fake business opportunities to people they meet
on dating sites, who believes them to be real.
Most of the immigration problems some of us are encountering in South Africa, is as a result of the means of our entrance into the country.
And when questioned as of the reason for our visit and duration by the immigration oficials, we often lie our way out with intention of changing the visa
category while in the country which is against the immigration law. As I’ve learnt.
Some of us often engage in submission of fraudulent documents to ‘Home Affairs’, like fake police clearance, fake birth certificate, marriage documents and so on; That
can tarnish the image of one’s country, thereby affecting other innocent migrants negatively.
This is one of the causes of the delays in visa processing as Home Affairs, tends to thoroughly scrutinise the documents and the inviduals involved as not to encourage
criminal activities in South Africa, and illegal migrations.
If we ‘black migrants’ can create a positive mindset of living in SA, I think things can go much better.
And before we leave our countries to seek green pastures in another, we should always be sure of where we are headed, because we might still do more better in our homes.