Nigerian Immigrant Shares His Experience Of Living In the UK

Nigerian Immigrant Shares His Experience Of Living In the UK

When Olumide Fadeyibi finally got a visa to come to the UK from Nigeria, he screamed with joy.

“Welcome to the millionaires’ world,” he shouted. Like many immigrants to the UK, he expected to be drowning in riches instead of struggling to stay afloat.

He says: “I know people who apply for a visa to come here, thinking that will give them the break they need. When they get off the plane, they kiss the earth.

“I have been here six years and I still don’t have money.”

What he does have is an appreciation of the generosity of the country he now calls home.

Olumide, who lives in Glasgow, has made a film about the experiences of immigrants in Scotland, aptly named "Misconception".

It is a story of delusion and ­disappointment, but also reflects on the benevolence of Scots.

The 34-year-old is married with two children, and he always wanted to be a filmmaker in Nigeria, but his pharmacist father wanted him to be academic.

He studied a masters in quantity surveying at Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh, but, despite his expertise, now works as a cashier for a bookmakers.

His movie is testament to his tenacity and ingenuity. With no formal training, Olumide has studied film through books and watching videos.

He narrates: “I read a lot and watch videos. From behind-the-scenes footage I can see what directors are doing. It is a bit like being on location with them. They use expensive equipment, but I go and find the nearest cheaper version.

“My first camera was £1500, but it may as well have been £150,000 because I just didn’t have the money.”

He didn’t pay his rent for three months to raise the cash for equipment and he borrowed money from his wife Bukky to buy essentials such as lights and tripods.

Olumide originally wanted to make a documentary then felt it should be a movie.

It is the Nigerian style of filmmaking, referred to as "Nollywood": Nigerian films are churned out in thousands every year and the country now produces more movies than the United States, although not yet reached the amount of India.

The movies are extremely popular because they tell honest stories that watchers can relate to.

"Misconception" will certainly resonate with many immigrants in Scotland. It tells the story of those people who come with hope and end up in ­prostitution, crime and on the breadline.

A couple of kind-hearted Scots try their best to help. Olumide roped in ­Nigerian Ibrahim Aleshinloye, who studied film and TV production to produce the movie, and Zimbabwean Lydia Heather, who has an MA from ­University of West of Scotland. She is also an actress, who stars in the film and helped organise ­auditions and got a cast together, including local model and actress Carlene Phillips. The story is based on various ­anecdotes and experiences Olumide has heard from friends.

Olumide says: “One girl I know ended up coming here thinking she was coming to work as a waitress.

“Then the woman who brought her told her she had to pay a massive fee.

“The girl ended up in prostitution. She was in a terrible state but ­eventually managed to get back home to Africa.”

He hopes the film will be shown in Scotland but also plans screenings in Nigeria, warning people that there is no land of milk and honey.

He said: “The central message is to inform Scottish and African people here that the idea we have of coming here is very different to the reality.

“It is not intended to be negative, just realistic.

“It lets the Scots, our landlords, see that we have come here with ­misconceptions and, hopefully, they can understand us a bit more.”

The false perception comes from an overblown media image presented of the West in Africa.

When immigrants hit bad times they rarely share their sorrow with family back home. Olumide said: “There can be a better life here but, truthfully, there is a learning curve, it doesn’t just happen.

"There are so many experiences you have to go through in the process and some of those can be painful for some people.”

He cites the example of a Nigerian he met in Glasgow who had been a bank manager for HSBC back home but quit his job, thinking the end of the rainbow was ahead when he got a UK visa.

Olumide said: “The last time I saw him he was working as a cleaner and needed £20 to top up his gas meter.

“He gave up a better life to come here.”

Lydia, 32, is glad she came from Zimbabwe in terms of career, but her life with her middle class, farming parents was more comfortable than her existence as a single mum in a rundown Glasgow scheme.

She said: “It has been hard. I am ambitious and I work hard but I can’t really say I am doing OK yet.

“It will take a while.”

But she said immigrants were often too ashamed to go home.

“Many African parents think that their child coming here is a blessing on the family.

“To go back would be to disappoint them and bring shame on the family, so people pretend everything is going well and they stay.”

Although some of the women she knows have ended up in prostitution, she said the mistake white Scottish men make is thinking that all African women are willing to do anything they can for money.

She said: “I have been on dates where assumptions are made that I am desperate, but I will never be that desperate.

“Some women can be, and men will take advantage.

“Immigrant women can be incredibly vulnerable.”

Lydia is trying to create her own online TV show, African Goss, and is behind a Miss Africa Scotland pageant.

She believes the only way to make life easier for immigrants and the host community is through knowledge.

“We have to be open and honest about each other,” she said.

“Immigration is having an impact on Scotland and I think the film helps people to understand who the ­immigrants hoping for a better life are and what happens to some of them.”


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