My name is Olu, and I am a Legal Practitioner. Initially, I studied in the UK in the ’80s, that was at the London School of Accountancy. I qualified as an accountant and went back home. I made the decision after I spent many years in the accounting industry in Nigeria on the grounds that I need to move on with greener pasture. Coming to the UK prior to this day was hard. As an immigrant, you are coming to live in a place where you are not born. The faces you see, the type of language is going to be different from where you’re coming from. I found that to be a barrier.
When I came to the UK, I thought I was going to work as an account, and it took me about 3 years before I got the job of an Internal Auditor even though I had two fellow accounting certificates to my credit. Eventually, I was working as a cleaner, for 3 years and in between those 3 years I engaged myself with another job which was from 7 am to 8 pm nonstop. The title was Traffic Enumerator. They don’t give you a break. It was part of the conditions. You must stand in the same spot for long hours. If you are tired, you move to the other side. I was being paid £3.70 per hour at the time. Today, I would say it was a form of slavery. It was very hard.
I would feel welcome at times but in the end, it’s as if no one wants you to tell them what is wrong or right. For instance, when I was doing my cleaning, it was an early morning cleaning and an evening cleaning for 2 hours. My supervisor made a derogatory statement. He asked me to cover someone, and I was to get to my other job at 7 am. This was a job I started at 2 am in the middle of the night and I wanted to finish at 5 am to get to my 7 am job. I said to him I had to go, and he said I couldn’t. I said it was not part of my job and he only signed me for 2 hours. He said if I go, I wouldn’t get paid. At the end of the week, I didn’t get paid. I logged a complaint against him. The area manager was in support of what the supervisor did, and I was upset. Now I realized I wasn’t welcomed probably because of the colour of my skin. That was the statement I made, and I left the job. Later I got another cleaning job in the same office. This was a key job. I expressed the issues I had, and the Supervisor was sacked. This happened in the ’90s.
The UK is my principal home. But what interests most people is that people see their place of birth as their home. Our home is where we have our family. The UK being where I domicile is my home.
My kids who were born here and have their citizenship, which is a privilege are still considered foreigners. But nevertheless, I would say that no one should be considered a foreigner or an immigrant. Even when we look at those that we met here, the question is are they not part of the foreign entity? What I mean is their sojourning on earth makes them to be foreign to the earth as well. We are all foreigners.
Earth is not our home, we are all sojourning.