The only response he got from the officer he met was a stupid question. Since you moved to this town, have you ever seen a man or woman with a skin colour as yours driving a bus for the traffic department?
Life for a brilliant mind cannot rot in a racist Spain where even a successful footballer like Dani Alves got stoned with bananas while playing for Barcelona.
By Adeola Aderounmu
When Kofi left the Gold Coast behind he was certain that the grass was greener on the other side. He was hopeful that his life will be better and that his sojourn in Spain will make his dreams come true.
Kofi had learnt that humans just like the flowers could bloom where they have been planted. Still he hoped for a replanting in another land. The most remarkable thing in his education was when he learnt about the equality of men. All men are created equal.
The day he left his home behind, he wept. It was a mixed feeling indeed and he looked forward to the greener pasture in Spain.
That was more than 10 years ago.
When l met Kofi in Stockholm 2 weeks ago, he had just left one of his jobs and was going home to rest before he would continue to the next job.
He worked during the day and then at night.
He was friendly, jovial and did not hide the anxiety of the new lease of life. He seemed happy.
The first time l met Kofi, we exchanged pleasantries as two strangers would do. during our subsequent meetings our conversations grew longer and he was actually fascinated that l am from Nigeria.
I thought you are from Somalia because l know Nigerians are very open and they like to talk.
These comments from Kofi added one more point to the many ways l have changed and lost my Nigerianness. But l forgive him. I intend to keep my humility.
After living more than 10 years of his life in Spain Kofi had to continue his sojourn which has now taken to Sweden.
During the last holiday season his family visited from Spain, spent 2 weeks and went back.
Kofi needs a little more time to be re-settled. Job, accommodation and stability in a new system always take their time and tolls.
His wife almost suffered a shock, or should we call it a heart attack when she saw Africans driving many of the buses in Stockholm city. Facing her husband and pointing a finger she screamed –have you seen that?
Kofi said, yes. I am used to it. I live here now remember.
In Spain the stories have been different.
Even l remember that in 2007 l wrote about my good friends who are from Spain but in whose land a fellow Nigerian was murdered by the Spanish authorities.
Osamuyia will always be in our hearts. He was one of us. He sought the greener pasture. They made him kissed the dust. Gone too soon!
Kofi told about the stories of other people and that about summed up his experiences in Spain.
There is a young woman. Her name is Joyce and she broke the norm when she was employed at a bank in Spain. She was at the counter and most part of her job would involve attending to customers.
The Spaniards avoided this woman at the counter. They never went to her to transact any business. Invariably Joyce became redundant. She lost her job.
Life for a brilliant mind cannot rot in a racist Spain where even a successful footballer like Dani Alves got stoned with banana while playing for Barcelona.
Joyce went to England. She settled well and continued with her professional job.
Listen, you haven’t heard or seen the worst about Spain. But let me add 2 or 3 more short stories.
Julius thought he had it all when he flashed his driving license and professional certificates that qualify him to be a bus driver in Spain.
He put forward an application and followed it up with a visit to the department of transport.
The only response he got from the officer he met was a stupid question. Since you moved to this town, have you ever seen a man or woman with a skin colour as yours driving a bus for us?
We don’t know what Abdullahi did with his life after this rejection.
There was another African brother who attended the university in Mallorca. He gave his all and showed his gifts. He became the best graduating student in his department when he got his degree.
Sadly, our brother Abdullah was not offered the automatic employment he deserved in line with the principle of the institution. He is a foreigner and cannot be qualified for automatic employment.
There were protests. There were demonstrations. In the end Abdullahi left Mallorca and settled successfully in England, just like our sister Joyce.
There are sad stories of permanent racism emanating from Spain and her sister country Italy. It is sad how these stories (several thousands of them) don’t make the headlines.
The world has come to accept that racism is incurable. It appears that some humans will be born with severe cognitive deficiencies such that they are unable to accept the equality of the human race unified as Homo sapiens.
African people are humble; they don’t press it in about their existence before the emergence of other races. True, Africans, their history and civilisations suffered very serious setbacks that are beyond the scope of this essay.
But bit by bit, and piece by piece, we will reconstruct our history and tell the truth.
We know now that the origin of racism lies in self-denial of one’s true origin. Those who love the truth can do their own research. African will rise again.
Kofi sat with me at lunch time and told me 5 heart breaking stories. I can imagine what he had gone through in more than 10 years of ploughing the greener pasture in Spain.
Even a short visit to Palermo was like a trip to hell. An African man driving an almost empty bus because Italians won’t take a ride in a bus driven by our brother was an experience that added to the loads of burden Kofi had lived with in Spain.
One day when Kofi thought he had seen it all, another incident happened on a bus. A young African man disembarked at his stop and went his way. As a young girl was about to take his place on the bus, she got shouted at by an old woman. You dare not! Can’t you see it was an African man who just left that spot!
You can understand why Kofi’s wife nearly suffered a heart attack when she saw Africans working in Stockholm. She must have seen that Stockholm will be paralysed on a day that the African bus drivers down their tools.
Many institutions and even the health department will collapse in Sweden if people with foreign backgrounds are thrown out of their jobs.
Sweden too, has uncountable stories of racist incidences far beyond the scope of this essay. I mean Sweden is the land of the midnight sun, not the land of the saints.
However there are reasons why the economies of some countries like Greece, Spain and Italy are worse compared to other countries like Sweden and Germany for example.
By almost turning down all foreign useful workforces, the Spaniards have done more harm than good to their economy. Why won’t they go borrowing? It now seems that the entire economy is tied to La Liga, where even racism is a major problem. Ask Dani Alves.
The personal experiences of Kofi (though not outlined in this story) and the others like Joyce, Julius and Abdullahi are reference points for our dear continent Africa.
But no matter how beautiful Africa or any other continent for that matter becomes we cannot stop the migration of the human race.
Our forefathers walked the earth and established it. That fact no one can erase.
It is just imperative that we don’t forget or ignore our ancestral homes as we continue to trace the indelible steps of our ancestors. May their spirits guide us right.