A Nigerian in Belgium

And I’m finally back after a short break.

I just have to share this fantastic essay about being a Nigerian immigrant in Belgium. The author is Nigerian-born novelist Chika Unigwe.

If you’ve ever experienced the profound loneliness that comes with moving to a new country, this feeling of being totally out of your comfort zone and the urge to go back home even if home is a place you always wanted to escape, then, like me, you will totally relate to this piece.

Here’s one of my favourite parts.

“[With] a postgraduate degree from a Belgian university, I went to an employment office to register for work. Without asking for my qualifications, the lady at the counter smiled brightly and offered me a job on the spot. ‘We need cleaners, you can start today.’ Her smile slipped when I assured her that I needed a cleaner more than she did. ‘If you do find one, please send them to me,’ I told her.”

See? I told you, good stuff.

Actually, about a month ago I also finished Unigwe’s novel On Black Sisters Street and absolutely loved it. It tells the story of four Nigerian sex workers in Belgium. This is the reason why I picked up the book: for two years, I lived not too far from the Brussels Red Light District, so I was curious to see what the book had to say about prostitution in the country.

I can’t tell to what extent the women’s work experiences described in the book match reality because I never did any research about the Belgian sex industry. But I really like the fact that Unigwe portrays her characters without any condescension or pity.

And while you read, I’m going back to my job search. Those are the joys of the new Canadian immigrant.

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