As a Nigerian, I have always heard the term ‘Ghana must go‘. It wasn’t until I was a teenager that I got to know that at some point in Nigeria and Ghana’s history, Nigeria asked all Ghanaians living in Nigeria to leave the country. And Nigerian’s being very opportunistic, produced a bag specifically to help the Ghanaians pack their properties. It was a few days ago that I got to find out that actually, it was Ghana who deported Nigerians first and that was why the Nigerian government retaliated. Nigerians living outside Nigeria are going to get deported en mass soon and that’s why you need to read this post.
If historically, Nigeria has deported other nationals en mass, what stops others from doing same to us today?
A bit of British history, news and what is happening today
This is a post I have been meaning to write for a while since news of Cheddar man broke out. I had read a quote by someone quite high in British politics saying that all non-white Brits should be deported. I couldn’t find the article anymore so decided against writing my post about it.
After that incident, a number of articles showed up on my timeline where people of Caribbean origin were being held in UK immigration detention centres pending them proving their identities or they would get deported.
History was never my strongest point but as far as I know (and I stand to be corrected) post-war Britain invited people from the Caribbean to help them rebuild the country. At the time, Commonwealth citizens didn’t need to be British citizens to stay and live in the country. I think it was in the early 70s that the law changed and people needed to apply to become British citizens to stay in the country legally.
Braithwaite, a Barbadian-born Briton who arrived here in 1961 when he was nine, was educated here, has worked here for his entire life, married here and had three British children and five British grandchildren. He had been a special needs teaching assistant at a north London primary school for over 15 years when his employers launched a “routine” immigration status check. Braithwaite, 66, assumed correctly that he was British.
But now he had to prove it, providing up to four pieces of documentary evidence to the Home Office for every year he had been here. He lost his job when the Home Office failed to issue him with the documents to verify that he was in the country legally. Trying to prove he was who he was, and who nobody ever seriously doubted he always had been, made him ill. “It made me feel like I was an alien. I almost fell apart with the stress,” he said.
This brings me to ask the question, how many 9-year-olds keep documentary evidence of every year of their life? As a thirty-something-year-old myself, I don’t have documentary evidence of my life for every year of my life since I was a 9 year old. Do you?
The article went on to say:
The policy, set out in the 2014 and 2016 immigration acts, demanded that employers, bank staff, NHS staff, private landlords and a range of other bodies (I have been asked to produce my passport in order to do a book reading at a literary festival) require evidence of people’s citizenship or immigration status. It also introduced a “deport first, appeal later” policy for thousands facing removal who face no “risk of serious irreversible harm”. This, we may assume, is how a South African woman was accused of faking an illness to avoid deportation, only to die five days later.
The acts, implemented first in the year that Ukip won the European elections and then again in the year of the Brexit referendum, were red meat to the grievances of a base that the Tories were losing. We should not be surprised that they are adversely affecting black Britons who have every right to be here, any more than we should have been surprised when there was a rise in Islamophobic attacks following Brexit – even though precious few Muslims in Britain come from elsewhere in Europe.
And so it is, 60 years after Windrush brought the symbolic arrival of postwar Caribbean migrants, Braithwaite is one of many who now struggle to justify their existence. There’s Renford McIntyre, 64, who came to Britain from Jamaica when he was 14 to join his mum, worked as a tool setter, and is now homeless and unemployed, after he was fired when he couldn’t produce papers to prove his citizenship. Or 61-year-old Paulette Wilson who used to cook for MPs in the House of Commons. She was put in Yarl’s Wood removal centre and then taken to Heathrow for deportation, before a last-minute reprieve prevented her from being sent to Jamaica, which she last visited when she was 10 and where she has no surviving relatives. Or Albert Thompson, a 63-year-old who came from Jamaica as a teenager and has lived in London for 44 years. He was evicted from his council house and has now been denied NHS treatment for his cancer unless he can stump up £54,000, all because they question his immigration status.
Caribbean diplomats have once again called for the Home Office to show compassion. “This is affecting people who came and gave a lifetime of service at a time when the UK was calling for workers and migrants,” explains the Barbados high commissioner, Guy Hewitt. “They came because they were encouraged to come here to help build post-second world war Britain and build it into the multicultural place that it is now.” But if compassion is lacking, common sense would do.
Even as citizenship tests aim to impart to newcomers the “values of toleration and fair play”, immigration laws have sent longstanding citizens, who have paid their taxes and raised their families here, to homeless shelters or deportation centres because they have not been able to provide paperwork issued more than 40 years ago when they were kids.
For, lest we forget, this is also the 50th anniversary of Enoch Powell’s rivers of blood speech: a moment that revealed the galvanising force of populist racism. This mood bleeds effortlessly into immigration policy – the Commonwealth Immigrants Act 1968 was passed the same year, further restricting the future right of entry for former citizens of the empire and loosening the connections about which Prince Charles waxed so lyrical. Braithwaite was one of those “charming, wide-grinning piccaninnies” to which Powell so disparagingly referred.
Arriving in 1961 (in the same year as my parents and coming from the same place) when Barbados was not yet independent, Braithwaite was effectively a British subject when he arrived and his parents would have had passports to that effect. To find himself treated in this way is not just a violation of natural justice – it is an abdication of Britain’s historical responsibility. Since he arrived before 1973, he has an automatic and permanent right to remain. He has violated no law; it is the law that is violating him.
I loved this speech by Labour MP David Lammy
Brexit is only a good few months away. The cost of living has gone up but salaries have not increased at the rate of inflation. The other day I went to Brixton market to buy some meat. I normally bought a kilo of beef for £3.99. Last Saturday, I was told that the same beef brisket now costs £5.99 a kilo. I didn’t even have the energy to haggle. I simply respected myself and went to buy some turkey wings. Before you could buy 3 hens at Brixton market for £5, one cow foot for £1. Last Saturday, it was £6 for 2 hens and the meat seller might consider giving you 2 cow ‘foot’ for £5. My income today compared to what it was in 2014 before having my daughter has dropped by 40%.
What do you think would happen when Brexit arrives? I predict that there’ll be an economic crash. I predict that people would be so frustrated that they would look for a scapegoat to lash out. I mean, isn’t that why some people already tag London as ‘Londonistan’ because the Mayor of London is not a white male?!
It may not happen today, next month or even next year but I would not be surprised if, within the next 50 years or so, someone passes a law that asks every non-white person (whether or not they have a British passport) to leave the country. I mean, there are a lot of online trolls that leave comments on social media posts to that effect anyway.
I’m an author and a podcaster, so why should I write this type of post you may ask? Well before all of those things, I am a mother and I am truly concerned about my child’s future. Not only her future but those who may be her friend’s, her colleagues etc etc.
When the British government is done deporting everyone from the Caribbean, who came here legally as a child, but cannot provide documentary evidence for when they were minors, who do you think they would start deporting next? You guessed right, Africans.
This is why Nigerians living outside Nigeria (especially those in the UK and US) need to read this post
There is a risk that your children may get deported in the future – FACT. It does not matter whether they have a British passport or not. I know it is unthinkable right now and many people may disagree with me but hear me out.
When my dad returned to Nigeria in the 1970s, the Nigerian economy was great. 1 Nigerian Naira = 1 British pound. As at today, the Nigerian economy has fallen a lot that 514.95 Nigerian Naira = 1 British Pound. My dad told me that if he knew what Nigeria’s future held, he would have done a lot of things differently.
My question to you today, will you prepare your children for the worst whilst expecting the best? Or will you do nothing?
My recommendation is that even if it is £1 per month you can spare, you should start investing in Nigeria today. Nigeria has a lot of things going for it that the media will never tell you about. Because we Nigerians are our own worst critics, we hold ourselves to greater standards and that’s why it seems like we are always complaining. At least Nigeria is not like a certain country that welcomed the US army.
To be forewarned is to be forearmed, start preparing for the future you would like your children to have.
I am not an investment expert, so I would love to read your comments about investment opportunities in Nigeria and worldwide. I need to find more opportunities to save for my daughter. Interest rates for cash ISAs don’t cut it anymore.