January 2 2017. Nelson Mandela International Airport, Santiago Island, Cape Verde. [1]

I’ve been chatting with this Swiss guy. We met at the airport in Lisbon, while boarding. He’s a cool guy.

We just landed in Cape Verde. We are at Santiago- the capital. For some strange reason a flight to Santiago (through Lisbon) from Berlin, was more expensive than a flight to Santiago, and then connecting to Sal. The budget was tight, and so the cheaper flight was chosen.

I am at the point of entry into Cape Verde. I am on the queue. Being a Nigerian citizen, I have an ECOWAS passport which grants me visa-free entry into a number of (mostly West African) countries. I learnt about this while embroiled in disorientation and confusion and anxiety, as I researched my post-Berlin plans in late December.

Rolph is on a different queue. I think he is on a visa-on-arrival queue. He is to pay like 50 euros or so.

About fifteen minutes have passed. Rolph has long been let through to the main hall for his connecting flight. He’s heading to a different island- Maio. He’s doing some volunteering on a boat there, something like that.

There seems to be an issue with my documents. The immigration officers have been passing my passport about. I’m not quite sure what is happening. I think it’s a Nigerian-citizen issue. They don’t trust my country of origin. They don’t trust my passport. They don’t trust me.

At the same time though, they’re not quite sure how to interprete the visas on my passport. I have a Germany visa which expired 2 days ago. I have a US visa which is still valid.

He has a valid US visa. He’s coming here fresh from Berlin. Surely he cannot be such a terrible human being?? Surely he cannot be a potential drug dealer?? Surely he cannot be a reprehensible criminal element who will make life even more difficult for our law enforcement?

Oh man, but he’s from Nigeria though. Should we let him in? Should we not?

I watch them deliberate. My passport is passed through the chain of command. It goes in and out of a number of offices. I keep waiting, wondering what’s going to happen.

At some point an immigration officer walks up to me and communicates that they would like to know how much I have in my bank account.

I hope I’m not hearing him correctly. I have just about a hundred dollars in my Bank of America account, and that’s my most fleshy account. I did some internship work in Berlin during the holidays, but I’m not getting paid until two weeks time. But even then, that is just a little over a hundred and fifty euros. I don’t imagine those are the sort of numbers that make immigration happy.

He’s telling me how much needs to be in the account for me to be let in.

“Mil euro”.

Mil what??

Mil freaking what??? Did he just say a million euros???

Wait wait, are Nigerian citizens so terrible that they need to have a million euros in the bank to be let in???

See, we’re going to have to figure something out. I have nowhere to go, you guys. I have absolutely nowhere to go- as a matter of fact, my flight ticket here was covered by the generous assistance of a number of people.

He clarifies. Mil euro is a thousand euros. “Mil” means a thousand in Portuguese.

Ohhhhhh. Ohhhhhh okay. Okay I get it now.

He takes my sigh of relief to mean that I have at least a thousand euros in my account. He begins to walk me to the ATM.

I have absolutely no idea what’s going to happen next. I feel heavy as we walk past the point of entry into the main hall.

The ATM is right up ahead.

One thousand euros.

I am in trouble. I am in so much trouble.

All of a sudden I see Rolph, seated in one of the chairs at arrivals.

Heyyyy Rolphhhh!!!! Wassuppppp!!!!

We exchange excited handshakes.

The immigration officer stares at me with surprise. I think he is trying to re-evaluate his assessment of me.

Hm, he has visas from the USA and Germany, and he is friends with a Swiss. I think this guy will have the required amount of money- maybe I shouldn’t have stressed him with this ATM trip.

We are at the ATM. I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing. I have absolutely no plan. At this point there is zero sense in requesting my account balance, but I do it anyway.

The ATM is taking some time to respond. I think there is a network issue. I attempt the operation again.

At some point the immigration officer tells me not to worry.

Don’t worry, don’t worry- let’s head back to the other room- You’re good to go.

I am superlatively relieved. At the back of my mind I am thinking about the somewhat racist thinking that influenced his final decision (I’m a suspicious traveler until it seems to be the case that I’m friends with a white guy- really?), but right now I’ve just been granted entry into this country so I’m not really complaining.

We head back to the point of entry, and my passport gets stamped.

I head back in to keep chatting with Rolph. We talk about skiing and Swiss watches. “Switch watch” is a phrase I have heard an uncountable number of times in my life, but right now- talking with a Swiss about his first-hand experience with watchmaking factories in his country of origin, the phrase takes on a new noteworthiness- a much more personal and less distant significance.

We keep talking. He shows me skiing videos he recorded in the Alps. I am very excited to watch them. I went around in Berlin in December, making inquiries about snowboarding. Visited a number of shops, got information on snowboarding locations. Someone said good things about Oberwiesenthal.

Bucket list: Oberwiesenthal. Snowboarding.

[Part 1]

Image: Bedroom in the Berlin apartment.

This post is directly connected with a number of others. An index of these other posts can be accessed here.

A Figmental Passport, and an Expense Paid Microsoft Conference.

Microsoft has just notified me.

I have been approved to attend their AI For Earth conference at the headquarters in Redmond, Washington USA.

Apparently theyre interested in some of the work Im doing with Artificial Intelligence and Endangered Languages.

They have offered to cover the costs of my flight ticket and hotel accommodation.

Great. This is great news. I have been entertaining thoughts involving a motorbike road trip across the USA. I think this opportunity will prove highly amenable to the effectuation of that intention.

I dont even know how to ride a motorbike. Not yet. All of those variables will fall into place dont worry. Let things come together first.


Ah, I need a new passport. This one is expired.


National Immigration Service Website.

32 page passport? 64 page passport?

64. Lets get the 64 this time.

Its time to pay the processing fee.

There are a number of different financial service providers to make use of:

First one.

Hm, theres a strange error.

Lets try again.

The same error.


Second provider.

No wonder there are so many ways of paying the processing fee. Because their failure rates are so high.


Error again.

Oh my God.

But I believe this people like money a lot. If that is the case, then why is making a payment so difficult on their website?


Third provider.

I keep bumbling about until the money is paid.


Hm. This interview date is too far away. I havent even booked a date for the US visa interview. This is just the passport. And the wait time for US visa interviews have been so long recently. I was invited for another all expense paid conference in Virginia a number of months ago. The wait time for the US visa interview was too long to make an attendance possible.

The discomfiting wait times are a consequence of some modifications the Trump administration recently made to the visa renewal process. Trump to me, is usually just this person who is in the news every once in a while. I dont really watch the news, so I dont see his face too frequently. Maybe when Im in a restaurant or at a cafe. This is the first time any of his actions are having an actual effect on my life.

The amount of people who seem to viscerally detest him, makes me wonder how he became president in the first place. But what do I know about US politics.

I think Ill need to visit the Immigration Service office in a few days. To see if the passport procurement process can be expedited.


Nigerian Immigration Service Office, Alausa Ikeja.

I just walked in through the gate. I am already feeling somewhat ecstatic. I can taste my passport already. That Microsoft money has to be spent. I wonder what the hotel room is going to look like.

I am talking with someone at the Helpdesk. She directs me to an office upstairs.

I head up the stairs, to the mentioned office.


I have been in this office for about three minutes. I think I am invisible. I have to be. These people cannot see me. That has to be why they are still engrossed in conversation, entirely oblivious my presence. It is like Im not even here.

I am going to have to interrupt their conversation. If I keep waiting for these guys to acknowledge my existence Ill be here till next tomorrow.

Excuse me Sir.

No response.

Oh God. I am going to be here for a very long time.

Eventually an officer pays attention.

Theres a woman beside me. I was here before her, but she snuck around me to get closer to the officials in the room. Maybe she was here before. I dont know. Or maybe shes just jumping the queue.

I dont understand these Nigerian people. Queues and general chronological order mean absolutely nothing to them. If the world used a Nigerian number system, 99 would be the first number. Followed by 32. Number 1 would be in like position 1004.

I do not understand these people.


The officers face is alight with excitement. I did not know this initially very stern looking officer was capable being this excited.

Dubai! Germany! USA! Kenya! This woman! You have travelled to all these countries!! Ahhh! You are enjoying o!! What work do you do?

I am a housewife. My husband is the one who makes the travel happen.

Ahhhhh!!! Your husband is the one doing all this???

Ahhhhhh!!!! That your husband deserves be worshipped!! Yehh!!!

His face is aglow, as he rubs his palms against each other, like a person in supplication.

I am only mildly excited by his theatrics.

Where is my passport please. Microsoft is waiting for me.


He is looking through my application form.

Where is your NIMC?

My what?

Your NIMC Your NIMC!! There is no NIMC!

Ah. Oh you mean the NIN! The National Identification Number? Well on the website there was no red asterisk on the NIN field. And so I took that to mean the field was optional.

Apparently whether or not there is a red asterisk on some obscure webpage is absolutely none of his business.

You need your NIMC!! Without the NIMC you cannot submit the form!!

The last time I tried getting the NIN was like last year. I got to the NIMC office in the afternoon. The queue there was severely dispiriting. I was told that even if you get to the office at 5am, youll meet about a hundred and ten people already on the queue.

That is the number this officer  says I need to obtain, for my passport to be processed.

Oh God.

Oh Jeremiah.

Oh Jabez.

I am in trouble. I am in serious trouble.


NIS Office. Second Visit.

I have obtained the NIN.

I got the office at 12am. I still met some people already on the queue.  It was an annoying morning. I lay outside the office in a sleeping bag my mother gave me. I initially did not feel like I needed the sleeping bag- I didnt even want to take it from her. But lying out there in the cold, I was thankful I had it.

I assuaged my discomfort by making displeased tweets and watching Youtube videos of Goth music and Jeff Bezos.

I am back at the office of Mister Your-Husband-Needs-To-Be-Worshipped.

I am directed to another office.

And another.

And another.

And another.

I feel like a six foot plus tennis ball with arms and legs.

What sort of existence is this.


I am in yet another office.

A young lady is trying to sort out an issue.

Ahhhhh this one is not possible o! You will have to go back to Abuja to rectify this issue o!!  Ahhhh!!

Apparently she is faced with a very formidable problem. She has to travel to the countrys capital to get it resolved. I feel bad for her.

Another official walks by. She quickly runs up to him. They head outside, and I think she whispers some things in his ear.

All of a sudden, this new official re-enters the room with a newfound sense of purpose and clarity.

Officer, put her documents in the corner. We will handle it, dont worry.

I am entirely stupefied. Are we not talking about the severely formidable obstacle of a few minutes ago??

I dont understand. How did the incontrovertibly impossible suddenly become a light breeze???

What in the name of God did this lady whisper in this guys ear????

Jesus Christ!!

I have been here since morning. Bouncing about like a bouncing baby boy. Look at how quickly this lady got her problem solved! Ahh!!!

What in the name of Obadiah is going on???

Can someone please let me in on this secret???


Apparently there is a Nigerian Open Sesameyou can whisper in the ear of an Immigration Officer, which will automatically render the impossible possible.

Technical difficulties. Organisational bureaucracy. The invariance of the speed of light relative to the reference frame of an arbitrary observer. All of these phenomena completely disappear once you utter these magic words.

Ah!! There is a lot I do not know in  life. There is a lot I do not know.

I have a lot to learn, Jesus. I have a lot to learn.


Microsoft has just notified me.

The conference has been converted to an online conference due to the pandemic.

Oh God.

There goes my motorbike road trip across the USA. East coast to West coast.

There goes the expense-paid flight tickets.

There goes the hotel room.

Oh Solomon.

I have still not been able to extricate my new passport from the NIS. Even getting a US visa a few years ago, was not this difficult. How can getting a new Nigerian passport be more frustrating  than getting a US visa? I dont understand.

I do not understand at all.