Italy has always been a ground for Nigerian immigration. In the late 80s — early 90s, it was a haven for human traffickers, selling people into — sometimes, forced — labour. Illegal immigration has continued over the years with many Nigerians seeking for greener pastures in Europe.
On August 8, 2018, The Washington Post profiled a Nigerian asylum seeker in Italy. According to the article, Ogochukwu, 30, is a qualified Civil Engineer who worked for an oil company and lived in Abuja, Nigeria.
His fortunes spiraled after he what Ogochukwu claimed was good poisoning by a neighbour in Southern Nigeria village. It led to kidney issues, mammary gland issues, dental problem and acute appendicitis.
He reached Italy via a smugglers’ boat after leaving Nigeria for Libya in 2016. These days, he goes from Leeco to Milan via train to beg for alms on days that he’s not learning Italian.
The Washing Post further reports that, “he has had three surgeries; two on the stomach and one on the mammary glands” since arriving in Italy.
While Ogochukwu awaits his asylum application in under the new Italian government that has seen anti-migrant tensions rise, he is dealing with hate and racism.
In his interview with The Washington Post, he claims, “Italy has always been my dream, to live with other nationalities”, he has to deal with circumstances of “people that hate you, they don’t like you, they are not friend.”
He continues, “So when you come in contact with those people, they can make you feel bad. But the majority of people are nice.”
Like any society, it seems Ogochukwu faces a contradiction of personalities. He has people giving him €20 notes, but he has other people calling him him “Marrocchiono”, an offensive moniker for North Africans.
Persecution is a fundamental ingredient for asylum seekers, and Ogochukwu seems to have a slight evidence of that. He says he has an “everlasting mark” from being attacked by a cultist in Nigeria who wanted to woo him for a secret society.