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Striving For Knowledge-Episode Seven

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Striving For Knowledge-Episode Seven

 FEMI`S JOURNEY TO AMSTERDAM
Femi travelled from Ekiti state to Lagos after bidding farewell to his sister, father,stepbrothers, and other well−wishers. His mind was still unease because he feared that Spider might track him down. He kept on looking over his shoulders at the bus park. He arrived at Lagos and meet with the flight receptionist for his flight ticket at one of the busiest International Airport in Lagos.
He walked to the check−in−desk and a young fat Yoruba man asked for his boarding pass.
     He was privileged to meet Mr.Olu on the queue,who was a businessperson from Ekiti state.He was on a business trip to Amsterdam.Mr.Olu volunteered to sponsor a first class ticket for him.He wanted both of them to sit together on the plane. “Pastor Matthew and Rita`s prayers are really effective,” he thought. Their seat numbers were A12 and A13, which was close to the cabin window.
He thanked Mr.Olu, after which he proceeded to the immigration stand where his passport was stamped to go into the main departure hall.
“Where are you travelling to?” A strange voice said as he was about to pass through the Nigeria Drug Law Enforcement Agency(NDLEA) stand.
“Netherland”he answered hastily.
 The young woman asked for his passport and he gave it to him.
“Hmm!  I must confess you`re good looking,”shesaid staring deeply into Femi`s eyes lustfully.
   “Thanks,” remarked Femi.
    “It’s this your First time of travel?” she asked.
     “Certainly,” he answered politely.
     “Can I have your phone number?”
    “Why? Femi asked in surprise, thinking that he had done something wrong.
   “Just for friendship, “she quickly cleared his fears.
    “Alright,” he took her mobile phone and dialed his number on it.
   “Thanks,” she said and gave Femi a wink.
Femi was very amazed at her behavior.
“Wow such a handsome man! I wish he was mine,” she imagined.
This was Femi first flight, therefore he was very nervous, but he was reaffirmed by Mr. Olu not to be afraid. Mr. Olu told him that it was a just a normal phenomenon.
Femi arrived at the Amsterdam International Airport Schiphol, which is one of the largest and busiest Airports around Europe. On getting to the Amsterdam, a smile quickly erupted from one side of his face and it quickly spread to the whole of his face.Hewas overwhelmed with great euphoria. A tall Dutch man approached them and he gave them a warm welcoming greeting.
    Welkom bijHolland(welcome to Holland),” he said with a sharp voice, staring deeply into Femi`s eyes.
Femi did not understand the language the man spoke.
   “What did he say,” asked Femi.
   “He said welcome to Holland,” said Mr. Olu.
“Thanks,” he responded trying to avoid his eyes.
The man helped them to carry theirluggage and they exited the airport.
     Femi`s destination wasSouth Holland which was different from Mr.Olu’s destination. Therefore, Mr.Olupleaded withFemi to come with him to Bijlmermeer.Femi was compelled to go with him because of the favor he did for him by paying for his flight ticket.
     They took a cab to Bijlmer.Femi was seated at the front seat, which was close to the driver seat meanwhile Mr.Olu sat at the back seat.Thecab driver was a Ghanaian man who had lived in Amsterdam over ten years now. Femi was captivated by the beauty of Amsterdam,so he kept asking the driver silly questions. Femineverknew that he was goingtoone of the most dreaded places in Amsterdam.
   “Driver, why do they love to ride bicycle here?”Femi asked.
  “Well! These white men prefer simple lifestyle and they are contempt with what they have. They organized themselves in a way that small money will solve their big problems. Unlikewe Africans that take care of our mothers,fathers,sisters,wives, in−laws, girlfriends, house rents and give birth to plenty children. Why won’t we commit one crime or the other in order to raise money,” he said with a giggled.
    “Certainly, and all these things are as a result of poverty and unemployment. Can you imagine that my father, my step−mothers, my sister and step−brothers still expect me to send them money every month end?
   “That is what I am saying,” affirmed the driver.
    “In Europe, they have the social security system. This is a method where the government solve half of its citizen`s immediate problems,” he explained.
“That is incredible, this doesn’t happen in my country. The leaders see leadership as opportunities to enrich themselves massively. The leaders have turned the masses into beggars. The greedy leaders were also known for their quest to rule forever,” he bemoaned.
    “Which country are you from?” The driver asked.
I am from Nigeria, replied Femi
    “Ah! Your country needs equal rights and justice. I heard your present leaders are fighting corruption. However, I think it would be better to fight the causes of theft and corruption−which is scarcity, greed, and wickedness.
He saw different spots, terraces, shopping malls, nightclubs and coffee shops.
Amsterdam was indeed a city with great magnificentbuildings, monumental structures, and artificial canals. Femiwatched the beautiful boats, vessels, and cruise ships sailing through the canal. He saw multifaceted lightning on the arch of the canals and different colors of lights sparkling on top of the vessels. The reflection on the water was magnificent. He saw some Dutch men and women cycling for fun. It was a wonderful experience for him.
“If I dare offer to buy my father a bicycle, I am pretty sure that he will insult me.Nevertheless, these Dutch people don’t mind over here,” he sniffed.
     “Ah! Ah! Ah!Reallyfunny,” laughed the driver.
Mr.Olu was mute all through the ride. He had a skeleton inside his cupboard.
They arrived at Bijlmer and paid the taxi driver.
Bijlmermeer housing was built by the Netherlands government,following Suriname`s independence from the Dutch colonist in 1975.
Many of Suriname’sinhabitant migrated to the Netherlands because of its meager population.
   Initially, over ten thousand Surinamese migrated toAmsterdam. While over twenty thousand Antilleans settled in Bijlmer.
The government of Netherlands placed these immigrants in affordable social housing in the Bijlmermeer.
However,Bijlmerneighborhoodaccommodated almost one hundred thousand people of over one hundred and fifty nationalities. The total numbers of apartments in the high-rise tower blocks were up to thirty thousand.
Roadswere elevated above ground level,with separate routes for cars,buses, bicyclists, and pedestrians.
Femi observed that the standard of their roads were far better than that of his home country.
   Suddenly, he saw some Dutch Engineers that were excavating one of the good roads withtheir giant bulldozers.
      “Why is he destroying this beautiful road?” Femi queried bitterly.
   “The government of the kingdom of Netherlands had awarded the contract to the contractors.” Mr. Olu answered.
    “Ah! However, the roads are still very good.” He sanctioned.
“This is Europe not Africa,they do not wait until their roads start killing innocent citizens before they renew it. Everyroad has its own life expectancy. When the life expectancy has reached its maximum limited, the roads are awarded to the contractors for reconstruction. They do not care if the roads are still looking good or not.” Mr. Olu elaborated.
“Wow! This is very interesting.” He applauded.
Femi was surprised to see many black people around Bijlmer, most of which are the Ghanaians.
    Regarding Africa, theGhanaians were the most in Amsterdam. Actually, Amsterdam is a second Kumasi−with several Ghanaians having made the beautiful place their second home because of the high standard of living and countless economic opportunities that the capital of Netherlands presents.
News once had it that there was a time ago when a single Ghana person would marry, up to 10−12 people in Ghana and bring them to Netherlands.
Men would go to Ghana and marry their sisters in courts, then bring them to Amsterdam only to divorce them in ayear, then went back to marry more persons in Ghana.
Before ten years, he would have married ten people and brought them to Netherlands.
On the other hand, a divorced woman would travel to Ghana, marry brother or uncle, and bring him to Netherlands. They would live together for a year or so until his papers were completed, then she would file for divorce, and go back to Ghana to marry another male relation.
Before the Dutch government discovered about the fraud, half of Accra had migrated to Netherlands.TheDutch government quickly made a standing law that stopped the scam.
They had stamped that if one got divorced, he or she must have to wait for many years before marrying a non−Dutch citizen again.
    Because of the monumental Ghana deception, their presence in Amsterdam alone had enormously surpassed the rest of the Africans. TheGhanaians are usually seen driving taxis and even public buses all over Amsterdam. Something you hardly see a Nigeria do. One would say that there are more Yorubas in Italy if one has not heard about the international Edos , so also one would think that there are more Edosin Netherlands if one haven’t heard about the Ghanaians.
Nigerians, especially the Igbos in Amsterdam, do not care about living long in Europe. All they care about was just to make some good money and then leave as soon as possible. However, the Igbosweremostly single men who came for money. They knew the implication of getting married to a Non-Dutch citizen without obtaining a resident permit. It will definitely become a burden to them, as children born by illegal immigrant do not receive any benefits from the Dutch government. They do not receive any health insurance and social security status. In the USA, a child born by alien parents could automatically become a citizen of US, provided that child was born within the states or was adopted by a US citizen.
The YorubasandEdoshad large presence in Amsterdam. All these was because the government of Netherlands hardly disturbed illegal immigrants unless you are found wanting for committing a grievous offense.
Over 95% of the African immigrants who lived in Netherlands had once stayed in other countries around Europe.These countries include Germany (Germany is country that is very difficult to travel to because of the Nazis. However,it is very easy to migrate to any other European countries of your choice from Germany), Spain,Austria,Scandinavia,Switzerland, and France.
Those African illegal immigrants usually head to those neighboring countries to seek asylum and start making money. However, when those countries begin to disturb them, they would pack up, retreat and head to Netherlands because the government and the citizens of Netherlands are very lenient with drugs. They made huge revenue from opium and cocaine.
Nevertheless, the Dutch governments were highly biased to the black people living in Bijlmer in some cases due to the high rate of crimes.The Dutch citizens of Netherlands are extensively liberal and this explains why for many years, places like Bijlmer arena with huge Ghanaian population were still accommodated.
 Femi walked together with Mr. Olu into Bijlmer Arena.
  “So you mean the government built this big housing for illegal inhabitants,”Femi asked in wonder.
   “Yes, the government actually built it, after they gave independence to Suriname (a small country in Central America region).They wanted Surinamese to come live with them because of the Dutchmeagerpopulation. Youwill find the Antilleans, Ghanaians, and Nigerians living here now. This was a ghetto for drugs and gambling.
   “What!” Femi exclaimed.
    “Yes it is. There was a time where Bijlmer witnessed a plane crashed in 1992, which destroyed the buildings. After the plane crash, the local government decided to change the structures. They added blocks for the middle−classed citizens.”
   “Incredible! He exclaimed.
    “Why are they so many black people here?” Femi asked.
Well this is an hideout for Africa illegal immigrants. Bijlmer is also called the ‘Black Arena’ because of the large presence of black people around here,” he elucidated.
Femi was now breathing very hard as they climbed to the fifth floor.
   “Sorry man, the elevator is bad.” Mr.Olu apologized.
    “Thanks, but I am not troubled about the elevator. I am bothered about the annoying smell of marijuana around the neighborhood. “He responded with a stern look.
     “Don’t worry there are lots of Nigerians around here especially,”theEdos,Yorubasand Igbos, but I have only seen two Hausa men. You will also meet many Ghanaian women who are well endowedin both front and backside, he said hilariously.
    “Ah! But how come the Dutch haven’t said Ghana−must−go, just like what happened back then in our country?”
    “That is because the Dutch are quite welcoming.” Mr. Olu responded.
They passed through the hallway and climbed through another crookedstaircase. There was irritating smell of marijuana everywhere, the Antilleans and the Surinamese had smoked it.
There was alsoanaroma of `prekese’soup,`banku ‘ and ‘fufu’.
The Ghanaians who lived inside the Arena were cooking this food. TheGhanaians do not joke with their local foods, since they love their stomach very much.
There was news about how the Dutch police had arrested some Ghanaians for nuisance. The nuisance or noise did not emanate from their pistol guns,but the noise came from their pistols and mortals due tothe heavy pounding of bankuandfufu. The thundering sounds always deprived other Dutch citizens of their sleep.
In spite of the liberal mindset and immeasurable hospitality of the Dutch, they do not joke with their nuisancelaw.They love a quiet and peaceful atmosphere. Most times in Amsterdam, you can only hear the friendly whispering sound ofthe sea breeze wailing around the flowers or the sounds of cyclist or motorist.
ThemaleGhanaians and male Nigerians had something all along. They never liked each other. They claimed that Nigerians over there was arrogant and pompous whileNigerians claimed that Ghanaians were lazy and were always looking for free a meal.
Unfortunately, for Nigerians, the Ghanaians were in Amsterdam long before they came. Even theinternationalEdos and Yorubas were unable to compete with their population. A lot Ghanaians who migrated to Italy had passed through Netherlands.
This meant that almost all the apartments some Nigerians lived in, the Ghanaians had bought or mortgaged them. Nigerians had to rent them from the Ghanaians and pay them monthly.
Some apartments which the Ghanaians paid as low as €300(three hundred) Euros monthly would be rented out to Nigerians at the rate of €1000(one thousand) Euros or thereabout. They made easy money through the Nigerians who made their money through drugs and other hustling. Nigerians were unable to report to the authority because they lived there illegally.
Sometimes the Ghanaians would join the Antilleans and Surnames to steal drug and money from Nigerians.They usually conspired with their ladies to befriend the Nigerians and somehow they stole their drugs and money. Despite all these, Nigerians still wore the best clothes, bought the most expensive jewelries, foods, and drinks. This made them to continue to fall victim of theft.
The Edoswho made their money from prostitution and defrauding cared less, as they would storm every nightclub in Amsterdam. They bought much expensive brandy, whisky, Hennessey and Moet.Hennessey, which sold at the rate of €25 (twenty-five) euro in the street,sold at the rate of €100(one hundred)Euros inside the clubs. The Igbos ran most of the clubs. They operated every night, so Nigerians show up daily and they displayed how rich they were to the Ghanaian women.
Some Nigerians would even use as much as 500 Euros note to write their mobile numbers for thewomen, just to flaunt around. Amsterdam was indeed the European capital of drugsbecause of its seaport, which is still the largest in Europe. It is the Euro−port, which is located atRotterdam.
Femi followed Mr.Olu into his apartment. He immediately locked the door and ran to the toilet to stool.
  “Hmm! no wonder he has been quiet all along,”thought Femi as he covered his nose with the back of his hand.
After several hours in the toilet, Mr.Olu excreted 400 wraps of cocaine and it came as the biggest surprise of the century to Femi as he showed him the cocaine.
   “So…so, this is what you do for a living.” Muttered Femi still shocked.
He was quiet for some time and then he spoke.
    “Come on! This is the fastest way to make good money. I was able to pay for your first class ticket because I have made enough money and you know it.” He bragged.
    “This business is against the law.It is an illegal business.By the way, how did you pass through the NDLEA stand?”Femi wailed.
“We have people on the inside. We just gave them some money, that’s all.”
   “You mean bribe, “Femi objected.
    “Grow up men! This is Europe not Ekiti , he countered.
     “This is what everyone does to survive in this block.”
      “Alright,that`s great.”
     “I have a job for you,” he said
    “Really, oh God I thank you,” he was excited.
   “What is the job all about? Femi asked in bewilderment.
    “Do you want to be rich?”
   “Yes, I do want to be rich.”
    “Think about how you can send millions to your wife in Nigeria. You can even expand your business with it, buy fleets of cars, and change your life for the better. They say opportunity come only but once in a lifetime.”
    “Please I am ready to do any job at all, just help me out please,” he begged.
    “Alright, I want you to be my bird,” saidMr.Olu.
   “What do you mean by bird?” He asked looking dismayed.
  “A bird is a drug trafficker,” he elucidated.
  “What!” Femi exclaimed.
   “You will be the one to always transport my drugs to Vienna, Austria and Hamburg, Germany but starting with these 400 wraps of cocaine.”He said urged.
    “Jeez! Please I cannot do that, Ido not want to be a drug trafficker. I came here to pursue knowledge and not to do drugs,” he objected.
   “Oh wake up brother! When you have money, you can even go back to Nigeria and buy yourself a certificate. Money is the main thing, when you have money, thenyou have power, women,ego, and fame.Mr. Olu countered.
   “I am a born again Christian, Ican’t do this job. I better go to my school hostel now,” he said. He got up and he carried his bags.
    “Europe is a land of milk and honey for only those who know the right route to success. In case you grow up and you changed your mind, don’t hesitate to call my number.” He said as Femi was about to exit the door.
He left the nightmare of Bijlmer on a night train to Hague, South Holland. He paid €12(twelve) Euros for the train ticket. During the journey, he pondered on the business deal that Mr. Olu had proposed to him. He really would have needed the money to go back to Nigeria as soon as possible to conclude the traditional marriage rites between him and Rita. He daydreamed how he would have lavishly spent money on their church wedding if he had taken the offer. They already did their family introduction recently.
About Fifty-five minutes later, he arrived at his school hostel wheremet some few Dutchcourse mates over there. The next day, he started attending lectures and visiting libraries at Hague. He mingled and chatted with his fellow Dutch course mates anytime he was finding it difficult to understand any particular course.
He communicated via emails with Rita and they continued to write each other affectionate message until Femi lost his mobile phone. It fell into the water when he went fishingon a cruise boat. It was now impossible to contact Rita.  No one would send him money apart from Rita, things became tough for him, but he kept praying hard to God.
He visited many churches in Amsterdam for solace, most of them, which Nigerians exported to Netherlands. They only preached about money, money and money! No one preached about salvation, but only prosperity and wealth. He was now beginning to miss Pastor Matthew`s church. Churches in Europe, pioneered by Nigerians, were like fund raising organizations. They tell you to give and expect your blessings to come from heaven. Femi recalled how Pastor Matthew singlehandedly built a church and he never requested any money from members to purchase equipment unless a member chooses to do it willingly.
On the other hand, Femi noticed thattheDutchare not much religious people either; they only take their grandparents to church occasionally. Unlikemost Nigerians whom are fanaticallyreligious. Most Nigerians whom he had met before travelling to Holland were infatuatedby religious dogmas. Despite the fact that,they visited churches or mosquesdaily and even slept inside the church or mosques. They still committed evil and havoc immediately they left the religious premises. Before travelling to Holland Femi recently witnessed a scenario where two Nigerian men whom just left the church premises where fighting. When asked, one of them claimed that the other one was a reckless driver.He remembered his early days at University of Ilorin; when during a campus fellowship numerous mobile phones got missing.
None was willing to help him get a good part-time job, but he was still hoping and praying. Holland was not a place for fun to him; it was only fun to those rich Nigerians, whom their parents were rich politicians. The minimum wage of unskilled labor was very small. It was mostly through crime that most Surinamese, Antilleans, and Nigerians made their living.
Femi was now willing to try his luck on the offer that Mr. Olu had proposed. He knew for sure that he was not getting any younger.

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