Coming to America, by Wale Bakare

America American flag

Place: Atlanta Airport

Date: 30/05/2019

Time: 02.00Hrs

Immigration Officer (IO): Passport Please!

Passenger: (With a wide smile at seeing a black immigration officer. The jazz was working already as promised. If not, how did he end up in front of a fellow black man?) Haba Bros, na so you harsh? At least try greet pesin nah! Howya doing, Bro (in an accent that resembled a hybrid of cockney and Chinese)!

IO: (Looking him straight in the eye, without so much as a smile) What did you call me, Mr. (looking down at the passport again) Adams Sulaiman?

There was something about the way the man called his name that made Adams suddenly have an almost uncontrollable urge to use the bathroom. In a totally unconnected train of thought, he wondered if the officer was related by blood to Muse, his friend from Primary 5 whom he had not seen in almost 20 years. Something about the eyes. His head was spinning. He really shouldn’t have taken so many free cans of Heineken on the plane.

Adams: I didn’t call you anything. I just greet you. (He didn’t realise it but by this time he had reverted to his original Auchi accent). Don’t be annoyed!

IO: So Sulaiman, (flipping through the pages of Adams’ passport at a dizzying speed) you have been to Iran, Libya, Sudan, and most recently, Philippines. Tell me the truth, what country are you really from?

By this time the Atlanta airport was beginning to bear a strong resemblance to MMA for Adams as the sweat started dripping down his neck. He really needed to use the bathroom but he was afraid of this fellow’s reaction if he told him “Bros I wan go piss.”

Adams: I’m a Nigerian. See my passport nah! What kain of question is this?

IO: Are you sure you are not from Somalia? You look like a Somali. What did you go to do in Iran, Sudan and the Philippines?

Adams: Ahh! Oga, I am a footballer. I go for trials in all those countries. This is how I look because of training. It is not starvation that make me look like Somalia. My agent is waiting for me outside. I have a scholarship to play football in high school.

IO: Damn!! High school? How old are you, man? (He quickly looks at the passport again. DOB 25/12/2012). You gonna be 17 on Christmas Day?

Adams: Yes Oga. Das why my middle name na Chris! My Papa actually name me Christmas but I change am as people dey laugh me too much for primary school. Yes, I be 17. I be member of Golden Eaglets at last year under 17 World Cup.

IO: So, you expect me to believe that you, a Muslim, was actually named after a Christian holy day? Are you yanking my chain?

Adams: (Trying very hard to understand what the man was talking about. This thing wasn’t going as planned.) Yanking chain? My brother, I don’t understand. I am a Christian. My father is a lay preacher. My mother is women leader. Muslim ke? Why you thinking I am a Muslim?

IO: Effing stop calling me your brother. With a name like Sulaiman, you can only be a Muslim!!! Kindly step aside! You need to come with me for further questioning.

Adams: Ah!! I see. Wait. (He reached into his backpack to bring out something)

IO: (In the loudest human voice Adams had ever heard in his life) Hands on your head NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Adam looked up and stared down the barrel of the .45 Magnum the IO was pointing at him. He dropped the bag, holding the bible and rosary he had reached in to get. It was at this point Adam lost the fight with his bladder that started since the IO first looked him straight in the eye. The urine flowing down his legs was warm and comforting and strangely, he felt no shame. How does a man feel shame at the point of death? Somewhere in his addled brain, he hoped he wouldn’t crap himself though. Not that he cared very much at that point. He looked around the wide hall to see everyone lying flat on the ground. Only he and the immigration officer were still standing!

Adams: Osanobua!!!! Oh God of my fathers! And I tell dis agent say na China I want go o!!!!!

  • Bakare, a health and safety professional, writes from Lagos