Memoirs Of An Immigrant: The Genesis

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Don’t forget once you get that Dream, take it back to your country and give them a piece of that inspiration”

Writing inspired by Wyclef Jean’s
Memoirs of an Immigrant: “Heavens in New York”


The all too familiar voice of my mum pierced my dream, as expected 4 hours past midnight. I had anticipated this moment for the past 6 months and finally it had arrived. I jumped into the shower and ran my fingers over my head half anticipating the feel of lush hair. Unfortunately I felt cold skin, a stark reminder of the importance of this moment. I had to look my best and my hair had to go. Dressing up I made my way to the room, I was welcomed with hugs and kisses worthy of only a king. We sat down and opened up the thick yellow envelope and slowly went through all its contents, ensuring nothing was amiss. It was all there. We gathered around and prayed to the heavens for favor. Everything rested on this moment and everything had to be right. We loaded up the car and navigated the dark unpaved streets, the only thing that gave light to the road was the one working headlight of our beat down Sedan. We knew we were close to our destination, the excitement was palpable and we had reached the famous line.


The line consisted of people like me, clean shaven, confused and tightly clutching documents. The scene closely resembled a voting station, long winding lines of people intersected at every opportunity with burly security guards filtering and checking documents. The sun had finally come out and for the first time I could see the faces of people, desperate. We slowly approached a waiting section and intermittently numbers were called out, my number was finally called out. Nervously I slid my document bundle to a stern looking worker behind a thick perforated window. My documents were thoroughly examined, after what seemed like an eternity I was handed a second serial number. This number was my key to what was described as the room of hysteria, the chairs were fewer and the people looked even more desperate. I was ushered into a line, facing a metal barricade. The barricade purpose was immediately clarified to me as the couple in front of me went into a hysteria, “why?” they screamed. “Why?” They had to be restrained. What made them go crazy? What was it? I was soon to find out. I pushed my now sweat drenched batch of documents through the metal bars. Immediately I let go of the documents I was hit with a series of questions, “why are you here” “why are you trying to leave” “will you come back” “what is your father’s occupation” I answered all the questions as rehearsed. I was told I was a liar, any hair trying to grow on my newly shaven head most have immediately died. We went back and forth, proposing and deposing, I must admit I nearly crossed the dreaded line of hysteria. But as suddenly as it started it stopped. Absolute silence and suddenly a stamp. APPROVED.


I woke up! Sweat drenched over me, it was the same dream and it terminated at the same place all the time. Over time the dreams had become more and more intense, I was scared but didn’t know why. And then the phone rang, “hello” I whispered. It was my brother. “Have you spoken to Dad?” “No”, “what about Uncle,” “No” I responded again. I could sense something was wrong, “is there a problem,” “Not really” my brother replied. Now I knew something was wrong, my brother always replied with “yes” or “no” answers “not really” was one syllable too much…I found our Family Business had run into some financial difficulties. I knew what was coming next, I braced myself but still could not absorb blow. I realized that there was a strong possibility that no more checks would be coming from Nigeria. In the space of less than 5 minutes I had to become a man and the tears streaming down my face did not help matters, my mind was in a state of disarray and was only pierced by the words of my brother “It’s a privilege to be in America, people are dying for your situation make the most of it.” A privilege? Suddenly my dreams made sense, my mind rushed back to the line, the line of people with desperation on their face. I was privileged, I could cry about my situation or I could get up and do something, I choose to get up and face my cursed situation, I decided to fight, I decided to struggle and most importantly I decided to take that first key step in my American journey.

Memoirs of an immigrant the genesis…

Okechukwu Ofili
Africa’s #1 Success Coach
Copyright © 2008 Ofili Speaks, Inc. All rights reserved



Words by Okechukwu Ofili of
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