By Niyi Ademoroti
It’s basically the culture of middle class Nigerians at this point – have your children in the US. What better gift to give your child than a US passport? It’s become a staple. Bankers, doctors, management consultants, business developers, communications officers, journalists, writers, artists – everyone who works a job with a middle-class income. Even those who don’t have the money take loans to get it done.
There are reasons for this quest for US citizenship, of course. On the surface is bragging rights. Who wants to be the silent one in the group when everyone is talking about birthing outside the country? We all want to be a part of the conversation. The kids, too, will have something to say. This reminds of me of a friend of mine from secondary school who would bring along with him to school his birth certificate issued by some hospital in Massachusetts. He’d show everyone: See, I was born in Massachusetts.
But, to be honest, other reasons, some of them logical, exist. How, for instance, the state of things in the country is a mess. Shootings have become a regular occurrence in Abuja. People working in their offices or commuting around the city only to be confronted by teargas and the sounds of bullets. How many Nigerians have died in Kaduna in the past week? The police, charged with the protection of human lives, become people we need protection from. People die after being rejected by hospitals understaffed with exhausted doctors. Rush hour is every hour in Lagos. The roads are awful and the governor is busy strutting around with his waist trainer. No one with the option would want their offspring born into this.
What’s even worse is how these problems are nothing new. They’ve been there since forever. And there’s no relief in sight. Definitely doesn’t look like things will be better in the future. In fact, looks more like things’ll get worse. It makes perfect sense then that people want to secure the future of their kids.
Sure, America has its own problems. You hear of the racism and your jaw is on the floor. Especially with Trump and his obsession with (white) nationalism. His people with their red MAGA hats looking for any excuse trample upon you. There’s also the problem of integration. Are you aware of the problem black immigrants face? Besides the ostracism from wypipo, African-Americans, too, have begun using the term “Descendants-of-Slaves” in a bid to separate themselves from African immigrants. They (African immigrants) are getting opportunities DOS should be getting, they say, and that’s just unfair. Lost in a sea of difference, far from home, African immigrants are often stuck in some kind of limbo. Not accepted here but can’t go back to where you’re coming from, either. But all these can seem inconsequential when every day in your own country is a different trauma. It was Warsan Shire who said no one leaves home unless/ home is the mouth of a shark … you only leave home/ when home won’t let you stay.
Nigeria has made us so de-sensitized to the worst things about mankind. We’ve somehow learned to make inhumanity perfectly human. Like how the Nigerian Army shot and killed protesters in Abuja and people said, Well, they were throwing stones, as if stones and bullets are somehow the same. As if people somehow deserve to be killed because they threw stones at those charged with ensuring their security. Or, the people who died, were they not Nigerians? Look, also, how we’ve made ourselves into a society completely lost in self-interest. It’s like we’re all crammed into a bucket and everyone is trying to make it out. All man for himself. Hence, the lust for wealth. That it is often at the expense of another human is a negligible matter. You see yahoo-yahoo boys on Twitter justify their “hustle” with lines like The government is stealing and no one is attacking them? What’s the difference between a yahoo boy and our rulers in Nigeria? (That’s a direct quote.) Nigeria has taught us that two wrongs, or even more, makes a right.
It makes sense that people want to give their children an out. No prisoner wants his child to be born in prison.
But now that the US President Donald Trump has said he wants to close the doors, though, what’s the alternative? Other countries granting birthright citizenship? Canada? Mexico? Brazil? And what if they, too, decide to close their doors? We’ll find another country? To be honest, I have no idea either. I just know the option of running is not a sustainable one. Especially since it’s not an option open to everyone.