TAKEN…… THE LETTER OF PAUL TO ALL

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We stood in front of the newspaper stand,as solid
members of the free readers association of
Nigeria,we paid the vendor to normal fee,just to get
a glimpse of the days headlines and also the major
sport stories making their rounds.
I noticed him standing by the corner,reading the
newspaper in his hands very diligently, as if trying
to soak up each letter, he appeared totally oblivious
of our ensuing conversation.
A group of men had gotten into a heated argument
over a newspaper ad they had seen,which was
calling for unskilled workers, outside the country,
the conditions were easy to meet, the ad even
offered to train the migrants and pay their way.
In fairy tale land,such a lucrative offer would be
seen as normal, or rather your average everyday
happy ending,but in the real world, one would have
to know that there is a catch, because why would
someone or a company for that matter,established
for the sole purpose of profit and wealth generation
for the founders, invest so much in unskilled labor.
I always turned the page on such ads, but the men
arguing beside me seemed taken by what they saw,
and who would blame them, with the downward
spiral of the local and global economy, its not odd to
see people falling for all sorts of things they read or
hear.
They openly discussed how they wanted to make
preparations to send in applications, and one of
them went ahead and put a call across to the
advertiser, from the look on the callers face, the
information he received was like a dream come
true, and he was immediately hooked.
Their conversation ensued and with every point
they raised, they got more and more excited, the
men began dreaming of a better life, and were
deliriously excited by the prospect of leaving
Nigerian shores, well their day dream was
interrupted by the lone man I had talked about
earlier, no one had noticed him move closer in the
heat of the discussion.
He dropped the paper in his hand, politely took
the paper from one of the men discussing, and slowly
looked over the ad, smiled, returned the paper, and
gently said “don’t even try it”, turned and started to
walk away.
Everyone stood silent, watching him walk away,
until I asked why; forgive me, but I just had to know why
a man wouldn’t make such a comment if he wasn’t
privy to some form of information, he turned around and
smiled, then walked back to me, and said “why
not take my advice”, he then turned towards the
men and said, “who out of all of you, would pay a
monkey to drive your car”?
At this point,everyone was silent, he smiled again
and said “I didn’t think any of you would, so you
should all know that the ad you see is nothing but a
scam”, and immediately he said that, some of the
men replied back saying he was just a kill joy, and
was trying to discourage them so he could have all
the opportunities to himself, this didn’t sit well with
our mystery man, a slight frown formed on his face,
and that was when he decided to speak.
“Like you I always hoped for greener pastures, honey
flowing from taps, a fat wallet and a place where
electricity never went off, I won’t judge you for
wanting all those things, you are human, and its
natural to want comfort, but on the other hand,
some humans take advantage of our desires and
decide to use it against us, humans are dangerously
callous and cruel, especially when they have the
opportunity to benefit immensely from it.
About 2 years ago, I was searching desperately for
employment, I had come to Lagos hoping to find a
job, nothing too fancy, just a job that ensured I got
paid and enabled me feed myself and pay my rent,
and also give me the financial freedom to take care
of those I left behind.
Imagine my pleasure when I came across the ad, it
was like a prayer answered, it felt like cold water
running down my back on a hot day, I called,just as
you did, I was given all the details, I met with them,
they were nice and very sympathetic,they sorted all
my travel arrangements, got me a new
passport,and they even gave me some money to
travel back home and break the “good news” to my
parents, they held my new passport as bait, this
ensured I was coming back.
I sure did come back, and after a few days I was on
a flight to the new world, to start my new job on a
so called oil rig, when we arrived, we were taken to
a house, I say we because we were 5 Nigerians,3
Ghanaians and 1 Kenyan, we all met at the airport.
When we arrived at the home, we met some other
men there, they were not as friendly and as patient
as the others back home, we sat for hours waiting
for what we didn’t know, and it was getting quite
hot, after an endless wait, a woman came in, and
asked us to submit our passports, according to her
it was for safe keeping, and since they had
collected my passport before and returned it to me,
I didn’t see anything wrong with it,but that was the
beginning of my nightmare.
A few hours later, a large truck pulled up to the
house, some scary looking men walked in, the
asked us to unpack our bags and take only the
essentials, at that point I was getting worried,
suddenly we were made to fall into a single line,and
we walked out towards the truck, it was dark, but I
could see other men and they had guns, at this
point I was really really worried, we got to the truck
and one after the other, we got stamped on the
neck, it was like being branded, a little pain and you
got shoved into the truck.
We were shoved into the truck, they locked it from
the outside, and suddenly I felt the truck moving, I
don’t know how long the journey took, but it was a
long time,maybe a couple of days at most, we only
stopped when they wanted to feed us, which was
always bread and a can of coke and little water, and
they gave us a few minutes to relieve ourselves, it
was horrible in the truck, it was stuffy and a lot of
the other men had motion sickness, they had
running tummies, and threw up, the stench was
mind blowing.
We eventually got to a town, I was handed over to
another man, who put me in the back of another
truck, we eventually got to his home, which was a
farm, there I realized I had actually been brought to
work as a farm hand, I asked him for my passport
and he laughed and told me to stop asking stupid
questions, he showed me to a stall, where I would
sleep.
I met 2 others there, a man and a woman, they had
been there for a couple of months, that night the
farm owner called me up to the main house, he gave
me an envelop, I thought to myself, finally I have my
passport back, but to my horror it contained
addresses and phone numbers of my family
members, and also pictures which showed I had
been followed.
The envelope also contained an invoice, which
showed how much had been spent to get me there,
and how long I would have to work to repay my debt
and get my documents back, the owner went
further to let me know in very clear terms what
would happen to my family if I tried to escape.
I went back to the stall,confused,surprised,afraid
and in shock, but slowly the reality dawned on me,I
was now a slave.
It was difficult to adjust, I always tried to figure out
a way to escape, but it was never possible, simply
because I didn’t even know where I was,I didn’t
speak the language, I was made to cut grass,plant,
feed animals,clean up after them,things I would
never do in Nigeria, even if I got paid, and here I
was doing it for free.
We were fed once a day, except on Saturdays, we
got chicken legs in our meal, and every other
week,one or two new “slaves” would arrive,I
wondered how this kept happening and no one ever
suspected, it was like a scene from “roots”, people
working on the plantation, the master and his staff
constantly keeping watch to ensure no one tried to
run away.
“It was a hopeless situation”
I remember one night, we were rushed out of the
stalls were we slept, into and underground
bunker,we were kept there for a whole day, it
reminded me of the truck that had brought me
there, we later learnt that some government
inspectors had been on a tour.
I spent months ,I was starved,I was beaten,beaten
some more,I was losing hope.
There was a fire outbreak on the farm,in the
confessions, a lot of us escaped, we parted ways
when we got into town,I roamed around for a few
days until I was picked up by the police,I told them
all that had happened to me, but I was unable to
locate the farm, I was detained for a couple more
days, until I was eventually deported back to Nigeria

“It felt wonderful being deported”

It was a relief coming back home, but there was
also shame and fear,I stayed back in Lagos for a
few months after that, trying on menial jobs just to
raise some cash, but mostly out of fear,these men
still had my passport,they had vital info on me,info I
was stupid enough to provide.
I tried to locate the office I went to after I spoke with
them on the phone, but they had since left that
building, I was afraid to report to the police, because I
simply didn’t know what would happen to my family.
The fire provided my escape,I was trafficked,I was
caught in a trap like a rat,I was sold,I was a
slave.
It happens,there are thousands of Nigerians and
other nationalities out there who are suffering the
same fate, and if after hearing this, you still decide to go on with it, I bid you God speed.

He dropped the paper down neatly, and limped away.

Posted by Arome Ameh (The Priest) From WordPress for Android

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2 thoughts on “TAKEN…… THE LETTER OF PAUL TO ALL

  1. soladoye osikoya says:

    another reason I don’t want to live abroad. Another reason I want this nation to work.

    • greenberet says:

      very right Sola i pray things get back on track when one can conveniently have hope of a good Life here at home

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