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Oct 06

Things Fall Apart (part 2) .. the Irish Episode

It was a surprise for me as much as to anybody who I met in Dublin that I arrived back so suddenly. My folks were not warned and as a result, my mother nearly dropped one of her grandchildren in shock. I think I will at least give some indication the next time. It was an interesting trip in many ways. My eyes were trying to see the city differently as its potentially going to be my new home at the end of this year. It was a city with so many memories and so many friends. Is this city ready to let me back in and visa-versa, can I give myself to the ebbs and flows of a city that I loved so much that I had to leave it. Well, thats another story for another day in an odd sock way.

This one is about a visa. One that got met to the school you see above and the teachers you see in the photo below, a photo you may know already… anyway….

So far the journey has brought us to three countries, in two continents in search of a visa. I love the way I had to leave Africa to get a visa in Europe for an African country. Sounds a bit surreal though African bureaucracy has a weird way of setting you on the straight and narrow.

Its Monday morning, the visa processing desk opens at 10am. I prepare myself with all the documents needed from my previous application and head to the Nigerian Embassy. I had contacted the Visa processing company and told them I needed to transfer my application to be processed in Dublin and they said it was possible, nothing needed to be changed, just go to the office. I get to the office. A security guard that still freaks me out greeted me.

He was of Eastern European origin with a very slender build and said three sentences in the most chilling sinister fashion I have ever heard;

“Sit here”

“Come here now”

“Leave here”

That was it…..

In my subsequent multiple visits to the embassy, I never heard him say anything else. I just had this feeling that this guy was the most dangerous person in Dublin. He had that glow of a Japanese ninja and the eyes of a person who had just eaten a live cow whole. “Sit here” 40 mins later “Come here now” I meet the visa officer. He looks at my forms and starts saying something to me and saying no no.. not good enough.. not proper forms. (DOH 12)

I had been blagged by the visa processing office by saying my payment was valid for Dublin and now that the dates have changed also, the application dates are not valid. (DOH 13) I needed to go online, submit an new application and come back when its done (DOH 14) and apply for a refund for the first application (DOH 15). Wonderful!!! Another trip for somebody to the London visa office required (DOH 16)

“Leave here”

Monday Evening online visa is processed.

Tuesday afternoon, the payment is made again in London.

Wednesday Morning I go with all my forms to the visa office.

“Sit here”

“Come here now”

I hand over all the forms and get the same..

“no no no… missing payment” (DOH 17).

Now I am getting used to this so without panic.. I just ask what he means. Apparently, despite the online fee being required for visa, there is also a local processing fee. So much for removing the need for local payments and removing the potential for corruptive behaviour.

“Leave here”

Anyway a run to the post office, and a postal order drafted I returned for the third visit to the embassy

“Sit here”

“Come here now”

I finally had my application accepted and was told to return the following Monday afternoon to pick it up

“Leave here”

A weekend break in Dublin, Pints, friends, family and the restrained optimism that I might actually get this visa. Monday afternoon, 5 days before I fly out for the rescheduled training course.

“Sit here”

“Come here now”

“No no.. not enough information here, we need you to bring us more” (DOH 18).

A little panic sets in and was fuelled by what my visa officer was just about to say. One of the documents that I submitted was the required letter of Invitation. On the letter it said that I was a trainer of international experience and technical expertise. Quite simply, the visa officer was not convinced and I had to prove it. I asked him how. Oh.. easy, letters of reference from old employers, CV’s, academic records. ( DOH 19, DOH 20, DOH 21).

This request came out from left field. The latter two could be organised over night. But letters of reference from old employers and especially the fact that I needed them in less than a day. Well this was just getting fun! “Leave here” So, first letter.. my own organisation Camara. My boss told me to write something he will sign it. After all, I knew my own job and what I done well and could write it for the context of this visa application. Done and signed that evening. Letter two from my old days in Openet. My friend Therese worked there so she annoyed my old boss and I caught him on Skype. Thankfully not burning bridges and doing somewhat of a good job is what I aspire to in a work environment so he was happy to help but was busy with a project deadline. “Write the letter you need, send it to me and I will put it on official paper and sign it”. Done and signed that evening.

Letter three from my old days in Ericsson. Well.. again thanks for friends, my mate Steve who I was actually crashing with in Dublin still worked in Ericsson and well, his boss was conveniently my old boss. I emailed the boss and at the same time Steve walked into his office at the same time. Surround sound attack, my favorite type! He was a bit disconcerted about what the urgency was but after a quick chat with him, he said “Write the letter you need, send it to me, I will add anything I feel is relevant and I will put it on official paper and sign it”. Done and signed that evening. What a relief!!! Was I getting close?

Tuesday Morning rolls by. I wander into the visa office with about 27 pages of additional documents, letters of references, academic records, certificates, CV and anything else I could pre-empt them asking.

“Sit here”

“Come here now”

Submit everything.

“No no no.. one final document..” (DOH 22).

Ineeded the Certificate of Incorporation for the organisation who was inviting me from Africa to prove it was a real company (DOH 23). This seemed to pass previous interrogations. Its getting way to close. Its Tuesday morning, I need this visa by Thursday afternoon as, if you recall from part 1, that the visa office closes on Friday.

“Leave here”

Email to Nigeria and the inviting organisation. 40 mins later the Certificate of Incorporation arrives. Find a print shop in the vicinity. Bluetooth it to the print shops computer. Print! I have to say, this was the first time I fully appreciated the benefits of a smart phone! Run back to the embassy before they close for lunch at 12.30pm and stop accepting documents for applications as the afternoon is only for pickup.

“Sit here”

“Come here now”

Hand over the final document

….. Yes.. you heard me.. the final document.

“Ok ok.. you have everything, come tomorrow evening and we will give you your visa once there are no problems” (DOH 24)... no problems… great.. why did he have to say that. That was enough to just make sure that I slept a few hours less that night.

“Leave here”

Wednesday Afternoon 2pm.

The visa office opens for collections.

I am the first one there.

“Sit here”

People come and go.

After about an hour, I am told that they are reviewing my application (DOH 25). Why? Why review? Were the checking for spelling mistakes? Were they ringing my university in Belgium? Did they find out that one of the certs I handed over was actually one that I made myself? 4pm comes. Its time for the office to close. In front of me there is a gentleman who is applying for a holiday visa to head to Nigeria. He is Irish of Nigerian decent and has done something wrong. He talked to somebody inside the visa office to try and speed up his application and by doing so, he had broken the rules. The visa officer, my visa officer who has been dealing with me over the past two weeks is giving this guy a mouthful and telling him that he has to confiscate the passport and that the high commissioner of the embassy will have to deal with this. War breaks out. Screaming and shouting, Friends join in. Accusations of being the son of a devil are thrown about, threats that the gods will make the visa officer infertile were projected. Meanwhile the visa officer, whom, I forgot to mention is in full tuxedo for some strange reason, is just sitting there repeating over and over again that the high commissioner will have to deal with it I am sitting there distracted by my own issues and wondering how much shouting and aggression does it take for the Eastern European Ninja to intervene. Of course the sadist in me wanted the ninja to let loose and snap a few arms but he stood there in his corner, not moving and watching us and them all like a hawk. The guy who is going mad is looking for some form of empathy from me for his situation. Could I give him any, after all I have been on a constant adventure so far. All I could say is that for this process, follow every rule they put to you or else you won’t get anywhere. 5pm comes.. I am the last person in the visa office.

5.17pm

“Come here now”

My tuxedo clad officer proclaims “Your visa is ready sir, just sign here!”.

My exasperated reply was to say “ You have no idea what I have been through to get this visa”.

He said “Well yes, actually I do, you came from Zimbabwe, true?”

“Yes I did!?, how did you know?”.

“We had a call from somebody from Nigeria to explain your situation”

“Ok, good to know somebody is watching out for me”.

“Yes sir, yes they are”

I didn’t want to push it any further by asking who it was and did it influence my visa application, all I knew is that my passport has a new big visa sticker in it and it has my name and the word Nigeria written on it and its about to be handed over to me.

“Thank you sir, enjoy your night, it seems like you will a nice time tonight”

“What do you mean?”

“The tuxedo?”

“Ah, I just felt like dressing like this today”

Again.. no need to question any further, let this one go to the mystery box.. Its time to go…

“Leave here…. ”

“… and enjoy your trip to Nigeria, its been tough for you to get this visa”

 

……….. WAIT.. HOLY SHIT!!!!……..

 

the Eastern European ninja spoke to me! I had connected with the ninja! Forget about getting the visa.. This.. this was by far the highlight of my day. I am happy to say that the visa story stops there.

Three countries later and 8 visits to Nigerian embassies. I think after all I had been through, I couldn’t face any missed flights, dodgy immigration experiences at the airports.. .from here in it was all 5* treatment… Best hotel in Lagos, private security guards and police officers following me everywhere and wonderfully cool people to work with and share experiences with while in Lagos. I am currently making my way through Macedonia and Bulgaria on a small vacation before I return to Dublin again for a longer stint there to continue my investigation about self repatriation and start the visa application process for my next trip to Nigeria all over again. Maybe a part 3 will surface in a couple of months. So this is how not to get a visa for Nigeria. Maybe somebody has the “how to” easy guide though no stories are written from experiences that are too easy!

1 comment

  1. Lion king

    Woow…. great patience, enormous energy u got!
    And I’m just fond of the way u tell your stories I just imagine your face expressions and ways to say “Sit here” or “Come here now”

    Keep rockin’ Africa, you were and are one of the kind. Luv u my Monkey Bro’

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