About Refugees, By Refugees


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Waxs (pseud, 35) has “dreams of being as an artist.” A refugee from Nigeria, now residing in Germany, he has not found life in Europe easy. Just before Covid-19 hit, his work permit was revoked: “You have these fears in your mind, like it’s possible someone just knock your door and just come and run and just pick you up and just like, OK, you have to go now to your country.” Like in Nigeria, he has also encountered homophobia here. He wasn’t expecting this, and hopes for a time “where everybody can really live their life exactly the way they want it.” But “there is some positive side as well” to his experiences, Waxs says. He continues to pursue his dreams of DJing. And he is proud of his “courage to be able to prove myself as whoever I am, as a bisexual, pansexual and also not to be ashamed of that as well.”

Trigger Warning:

full interview

I will start with the current situation. So the first question is what kind of housing do you live in?
Mhm. Yeah housing that I live in now. Oh. Because with my situation that I have now, I can’t rent a home even if I have the money on my hand, which I did, I have the money to pay for it, but I can’t because officially it’s not allowed to just rent house on my own. It’s not really easy to find, but with the help of some friends now I have an apartment that I’m living, room apartments that I’m living now with kitchen and bedroom.

Can you describe the conditions of the place?
The condition of the place? Yeah, it’s quite what the what we understand that’s OK, because it’s just like, um, the one that everything’s up in the with the help of some friends and all these things. Yeah. The condition is quite OK. I have my bed, I have mine TV and also like the kitchen to cook something and the others have my privacy.

Who do you live with? Do you live alone?
I live alone for now yeah.

The last past few months I was living with the people I was living in WG (Wohngemeinschaft- shared flat) before I finally achieve this. It’s like a dream that comes true actually. Yeah.

Hmm okay And how do you spend your time here?

Like daily?
In Daily? OK, yeah. In day I spend my times in like most of the times uh I work, I try to work on my on, my career as a deejay and as an artist that is performing so, so many times. I try to go to some of the theaters to see if I can get something or if there’s something going on that I come  inclusive. That I can. And most of the times is quite easy, of course. But I think with the with the help of some friends as well, because I think it’s everything here, because there is no all this people issue is all about like some friends that are already into the business that they understand your situation. They can actually help you and also like figure things out how to do it. And most of the time when if I don’t have anything i am doing in the theater or something, I I’m at home and doing working on my music as a DJ.

So do you have a working permit? Like, do you work?
No, no, I working permit. That’s a good point because I had a working permit before and I wa it’s still six months. And I was working in one of the theater in Kampnagel (cultural place in Hamburg) and suddenly the government’s excuse me suddenly the government decided and called me and took my work permission away. And yeah since then I’ve been this kind of situation to not be able to work officially, but still trying to like make sure that still survive and still do my things.

Um, what kind of things brings you joy in general?
Yeah, that kind of things that brings me joys in general. For me, it’s more part of entertainment and I think that’s part of the main reasons why I mean, to music as a DJ, but as also saying give me joys is also depends on the kind of perspective we’ve seen it for from. Oh, for example, when I’m playing I get my like I feel somewhat comfortable when I’m playing, when I’m seeing people having fun, having joys and smiling in their face by dancing to some music and different kind. And most especially if I’m in charge of music as a deejay. It’s something that brings joys to me that puts smiles in my face in general. And but kind of things also give me joys. Like I said, this depends on the world from the perspective we’re talking from, because I think, joy, it means different things. But like the little joys that I can say I have now, it’s those things that is the place I’m getting it from. But if I want to see joys in the sense of that the system that I’m living in, there’s nothing like charging it up in that point. In that part was I try to just find my ways of doing my things and making sure thats all whatever is going on is part of the life that I just have to pass through and not focusing more on the negative side and try to create the positive things for me to be also put that things that also put smiles in my face. So joys has like a different kind of a different kind of level when you say Joys. To me,.

How has your life been since you arrived in Europe?
Oh, my life since I arrived in Europe is quite not being easy. Like uh not at all been easy because uh when I was living in my country, uh part of the main reasons why I left the country, it’s like I didn’t have the freedom and there was some life threatening, which is the main reason why I leave my country. But come into Europe when I was first living in France and living in France is also like I also like to think of things because people don’t sometimes people don’t get it. When they say you live in Europe, they also in France. There is also the level of situation of things. That is the life difference in France, in France and let’s say Paris. There is a different life in the countryside of France. So I have a idea because when I arrive first in Europe, I arrive in France, which is like in Paris, which is was really fun. But life is so fucking expensive, then it’s so, not so easy. Like everything is quite even living conditions. Everything is really, really hard. And yeah, I had I have no choice. I have to claim the asylum. And when I claim the asylum, I was transferred to the countryside and this countryside is so quiet, very, very, totally different things. And, you know, like homophobics and all these kind of things, things that you don’t even respect seem to have it in Europe. But to my life experience, I experience a lot of things when it’s homophobic when I was in France, in the countryside, because I was living in this country, called in this village calledLong, is very close to Chenove en Dijon that’s that was it’s also like a story on its own.

And, um, what has been good about being here?
Umm yeah. What has been good about being in Europe. to me I think I’m just getting that energy that I can say it’s something positive because I think in the past four years, in years since 2014 in Europe uh is with a lot of difficulties, life in different kind of forms. I should say. I should mention one by one. I don’t think we can not leave this place today, but, uh. In the last two years, when I would be able to meet some people, I think I find like a different kind of life, a different kind of experience, which uh means I would say I am lucky to meet some people that really understand my situation and they know that I have something to offer, even though the system doesn’t really allow me to give what I have as a person in me to achieve my dreams and to be able to like to create what I said I want as a person in life. But it’s just like so many times I feel like there is a lot of dreams. I didn’t need that I have to. But in two years back now, since 2000 and 18, actually, I think I’ve met some wonderful people in my life that really change some of two things in my life that give me some little hope to see like things. It’s possible to change in a positive ways.

And what has been difficult?
Oh life has been difficult since I came around, since in since 2014, when I was life, it’s been so difficult because when I first arrive in France, I have to speak the language, which I don’t really understand. And this is also one of the funny things about France, because if you don’t speak the French people don’t want to talk to you and imagine you as a new person. They just came around to the country and yeah, you just have to be indoor many times, like I said, like more than three years. I just like most of the time I spend is indoor, because even though goes out and you’re trying to communicate with people they don’t want to communicate with, because when they already see you as a black person, and like, of course, as a refugee. And what they understand as a refugee is like very negative things, like maybe very on the on the radar kind of things like, OK, this I know these are trash people that we don’t really have to talk to. And when you have a conversation with people as well, between three minutes they find out like you on your look, they already conclude that you are a refugee. But if they talk to you and also confirm that you are a refugee and between five minutes you can’t have communications more than five minutes before they tells you, like, OK, like let you go, or you are not you feel comfortable by talking to them or talking to you. This this is life and this is life in yeah in France when I was there.

Then can you describe how living here has made you feel in general?
How living here has make me feel. If you are talking about living in Germany, is to  is like even like four different step I past through everything before I got where I go to now before um like trying to gather myself together. Uh living conditions is quite a little bit bad when it comes to immigration, because I was here in one of the what is it called in. I was in the process of the immigration asylum when I was first in Hamburg in Germany. Sorry, the living condition is very bad. Very, very, very, very, very bad. I don’t trust in the sense of living in a situation where like six or seven people has to live in a room. This bed of like hostel bed. I have one, two, three people. And yeah, you have to work from like we need to go to the bathroom or even for four minutes to go to the bathroom. Anytime if you want to rinse yourself or you want to brush your teeth or you want to take a shower, you have to walk like totally different from your own rooms and you have to walk and even walk in from your room to this toilet. You met like three kind of post of security that they are there to just to look at you, to see what you are doing, in order to see how what are you trying to do? Where are you going to just manage to monitor your movement? That is the that is one of the things when I was first new in Hamburg as a refugee and yeah. When I first heard all these things are really like really tough. But I think still the chance I have then is like I was I was walking, I was walking with no, no, no. Before then. After that. After all this all this time I was I was I get in touch with the Queer refugee support in Hamburg. So the Queer refugee support when I meet them and I do what they and talk to some people there, they really welcomed me and talked to me until asked some questions about my situation, which I explained. And from then I’m having some courage because also when I was first new here, I was not, we would like to like comes out, I as a pansecual as a bisexual person.  And I was like, oh my God, no, I couldn’t do this. I don’t know if it is really. But that was at times I was like because from the experience I have in France, I was not even sure if I can have the courage to do that. But after sometimes I do, I was really getting the courage like, OK, let me see. I was going to look like and I get there the way they welcomed me, the way they talked to me. So I feel most comfortable and I am explaining. Also my situation today, I want things, but I still have to be in this in this camp that they put me to I have to be there. I have no choice. And I have a friends I want to stay within. I don’t I cannot leave the the the camp for more than two days or this without coming there. If you don’t, then that means you already get something and they can use that already to disqualify you. So no matter what. We are going into whatever you’re doing at a point you have to leave if you have any friends or things, if we are forced, you have to go to the camp every night or like every two days to sign or that they see you, that you are still around. If not, they have the right to tell you, like, OK, no, you are not serious. You are nuts. You don’t want to stay. So that’s where we disqualify you in your case. I know this kind of. Way to pass the laws and things that they put the law to you and tell you, that is what the law says. If you are not be able to stay here for a period of time, that means you don’t need any help. This situation is yeah the condition there is very bad. And I would like to even when I was there, there is two, three step after I leave this one of the “Arrival of the Immigrants.” I forgot was called names. There is this living condition that they also like take us to they transfer us to Schmiedekoppel, which is like a room, a room that is a container, you know, containers and four people have to be in the room in this container and yeah, for people to be there and you have to stay there as well. Even though you have a choice to sleep somewhere, you have to be there for once. They don’t see you for more than three or four days. Yes, I have a problem. So the condition is quite, really, really, really, really tough.

OK, um, how does being away from your home, from your family make you feel?
I’ve been away from the family that it’s not something that’s, in my situation, it’s not something I hope that is going to happen that I think is going to happen. But I think I find myself like in in a situation when I have no choice, I have no choice to like. I just need to go if I really like to know, because I can’t imagine what happens to me then when it comes to life threatening or in these kind of things, not I really feel so comfortable that all in this society where I was living, what I know life is possible as is guys. I also live in streets sometimes because I was born and brought up in Lagos. I know exactly what it means when it comes to streets and living in this country like that at all. This time, I have no idea exactly how things is going to go. I was just like, oh, God. Okay. And now in Nigeria does even risky because it’s quite sometimes very difficult for people to get to travel or to travel out of the country. But I think also and I find myself also maybe something between lucky or unlucky to have the process to leave the country and also live in the country is kind of also like a different kind of threat, because the plan is to meet someone in France to stay with someone in France, which I don’t really know exactly what is the plan for me when I came when I when I arrived to France. But at that point, I mean, even,  I mean, it’s a very dangerous position situation that I really like it’s really necessary that I have to leave the country as soon as possible and get luck to find out who can leave the country. Finally, it seems like. Oh, of course. I think everything is going to be really fine now and everything’s going to be positive now. But no, actually, it’s no, it’s not exactly what people are least having in mind when they think about traveling around. They’re right out of the country. It’s. For now or as far as fast now, we say we change. I thank God I’m alive and doing my things to make it happen as much as I can. It’s not be easy, but nobody’s going to do it for me if I don’t.

And do you think that you have developed ability to deal with these difficulties?
Oh, my God. They that’s all.

Did you always have it?
Yes. This is I think in my case is something that I’ve already agreed in my mind. Like I just have to deal with it, even though I know it’s not serious that maybe this caused a lot of trauma to me, my in my behavior sometimes because imagine sometimes when I’m at home, when I’m doing things or when I remember something that I make in the past or with some friends, I was like, maybe they don’t understand me and maybe I make something wrong. And I like trying to keep my flaws. And I try to kick the wall like, oh, did I do that shit? I should have stopped that. Maybe I don’t, you know, I giving a try to solve without not knowing exactly what it means. We cannot figure out exactly because the society is totally different from where where I’m coming from as a person, as a as a teenager, I know exactly how to talk to people because this is we have the same mentality when we are growing up. But coming to Europe to meet some different kind of people sometimes is quite, very hard to even understand, even some things that you think you do as a normal things when you find out like, oh, my God, this is not normal. And you are like, oh my God, I think maybe do something like that, like, oh my God, shit. I shouldn’t have done that. Or people criticize you like, oh no, you don’t do this. This is what you do like. OK, sorry, but where I come from. Oh this is normal that’s all. This is just something that creates a lot of drama in your head and you don’t behave even figuring out exactly how it works. And that is something that’s really also very complicated into my in my case. I don’t really know. I would like to go to there was a call to this therapist and said I would like sitting down with some strangers talking about my life experience. Those people that don’t even have something, nothing similar to that. All that you want to explain to someone that, you know, they never face any quarter or any half of anything that you say you face in life and you want to explain everything to her, to be able to figure it out. So many times it’s like you just have to deal with it yourself. You just have to!  Yeah, because you don’t feel so comfortable talking to a stranger or even even though you talk to them, they don’t exactly know what to do.

And how has Corona, COVID-19 affected your life, like?

In terms of daily life?
Yeah Corona affect a lot of things, especially in my case, because I think the government, know  in my case, the government understood or to my own knowledge, I think the government, know covid, the pandemic is coming. And at the same time, I think it’s a month. No, it’s not even up to a month before this Corona started, they called me and took away my working permission and we drove and I was like, OK, what does that mean? Like, you just take my working permission away from me? That means I can’t work. So even the content I was working for and which I already have, like a one year contract with them and the government called me and withdraw my working permission is like, OK, wow, what am I gonna do now? And like being in this place then afraid of many things that happen. Because what makes them that means is means that they possibly they want to deport you or deport me back to my country. And at that point I was fucking freaking out like hell and after one month the pandemic starts. And I was like, OK, now I don’t know. And I have to like every movement, any move, any move anybody makes, when I leave, even though any ring, if anyone rings my my phone or my doors, even though maybe they are not looking for me because then I was still living in WG. I was like, OK, is that police now? And this is like really like more than two months. That is really happening to me like I do. I can’t figure out what exactly is the right step to take all the right things to do when they withdraw my working permission and give me Duldung (Tolerance Paper until deportation). Which means it’s possible they came for me any time. And this is really, really, really like horrible situation to understand. Like, you have these fears in your mind, like it’s possible someone just knock your door and just come and run and just pick you up and just like, OK, you have to go now to your country like, oh my God. And taking that working permission and been given Duldung is like, OK, yeah, I’m really, really in so now and it’s really like it’s two months really hell. And after that one month or two, one and a half months actually I find out like, OK, now they’re not doing any deportation. and that’s also like, OK, well maybe I can rest the last little bit now. Maybe I should. Uh, yes, that’s. It affects a lot. But after that, yeah, uh, I try to keep back my feet. I also like to. To make things happen as much as I can.

OK, now I will ask some questions about your past. As I said, you can anytime  say “I don’t want to answer”.

Why did you leave your country?
Uh, I leave my country in the sense of there are two different, uh, the situation that makes me leave my country. And particularly I have an issue with this. My girlfriend that I was dating there. And this is something very spiritual. And like I said in the past, it’s not something that really easy to explain to people that. Yeah, because I don’t think that kind of things really exist in this kind of life that we are living here. It has to do with spiritual things. And yeah. And after then, my life was threatened because of that. Because on this story that I was telling you about, this girlfriend, she passed out at some point because she has to do with rituals and all these kind of crazy stuff that actually happened in that day. And it puts me in a very different kind of, uh, very weird condition at that point, which is also the main reason why I met there is this politician that approached me when I was Nigeria to fly out the country, which I would I would just give it a shot like that. Yeah, of course.

And how was the journey to Europe? Is there an experience particularly difficult that you faced?
Yeah, yeah, there was even I left the country because a night before leaving the country, I have also issue with this politician I was talking about that helped me out traveling. I have issue because I find out some strange things because it’s also has to deal with sexual harassment. And when I go to when I go to Europe, I was to France, I was stopped at airports and I spend more than. And that led me for more than 21 days, for 21 days, actually, 21 days before I was released without no reasons. And it tells me, like, OK, yeah, that is also like very, very topics to to see and to tell us how this affects me in different ways, because I will arrive in France in the airport with a valid passport, valid. Everything I have was everything I have was complete and the immigration in France, the airports, and they stopped me and tells me, OK, now you have this bust, you have to stay. Yeah. No, no, they didn’t say you have to stay in the airport. That tells me I have to go back in the same day that I was in France. And I was like, why do I have to go back? Why what is likely is happening? That I have to go. I no, you can’t because you don’t have enough money. I have that. Seriously, I don’t have enough money. I have my card bank and I even have like almost 400 euro with me at that point at that spot. And there was really, really like really just sit down there. And that was not the only one that was sitting there. And they actually had some points because I was like sitting down alone for more than two hours and after sometimes they bring some people also to join to sit down, which everybody does exactly what is going on. And it was like, OK, what’s happening now is that we don’t have a valid passport. No, that is not the case, is it? That’s we don’t have what it is. We don’t know. And they put us to this kind of place like a prison in in France, the airports, in France, the airports, I’m telling you. And they put us in this place and they call us. They they collected our phone or anything to get in touch with people. And they put us in this place for 21 days. I personally spent 21 days there and they take us from there to court to fight us. Like we have to go back to the Nigeria because we we you have to go back to your country because it’s not just Nigeria, just being there, there are people from different country there. And they were telling us, like, we have to go back and we go into court like, no, we are here to do something. We get visas, we get to do things. No matter what you say, they don’t agree with you. It just tells you, OK, now you have already your court, but you have to go back to your country. But according to when we are there after- sometimes we find out that it’s not possible for them to delay you more than 21 days. Because when I get in there, some people have already spent like sixteen like twenty eighteen days, like. 19 days, 20 days, and that a tricky on the 20 days or 21 days, once you are 20 days or 21 days in that place, they have to take you  out and go and like take you to nowhere in France in Paris and just drop you there without. Yeah, that was so that is a really, really crazy times. And even for me in that I have this kind of mental thinking from what I have in my situation when I was coming from Nigeria in that point. At that point, I was hundred percent  like, lost my mind, lost my brain like, oh my God, these people follow me down here and all these people are already here. And now they’re trying to like, take me back because I don’t agree with what we are discussing in a few days ago. And I was like, wow, wow. Yeah. And this is like really, really trial then. Like, I have to deal with it from jail to the G20 before they release me. So that was also really, really, really tough time. Really, really tough time.

Does the situation you faced affect you today.
Oh the situation I face is affects me today, of course, like I’m just alone. And this guy that no, nobody in France is I have no choice to stay in where I was born and brought up. And coming down to Europe is also like a different world and meeting like a different kind of people and different kind of life. It changed a lot in me, even my personality as a person and like life in social and everything. There is some positive side as well. But of course there is. There are so many negative negativity. It is also.

Could you ever have imagined that you would have been able to handle this situation?
Oh, at that point, when I was in my country, when I was living, I don’t even talk about that. I have no idea, because most especially from where I come from, what we had about Europe aside is like positive things. Like once you are there, I think your life can definitely change the positive, although you don’t have a choice to, even though you don’t have the right to live there. But everything is like change all the things. But when I came around, it seems like it’s not really exactly how all of things was taught in a film or in the papers or in the books.

And, um, how were you able to survive back then, like in your past, like did you have kind of like a mechanism or, you know, like to, uh, strength mechanism?
Yeah, well, which is how I’ll be able to survive things I think is part of who is me as a person. Because when I was  also living in Nigeria and I was living in some I was born and brought up in Lagos. But later on my parents sent me to the countryside and in this countryside-  I was also spending a lot of time alone. And I think that really asked me in different cases also to deal with things on myself, like, OK, this is a you are in the place now that you don’t know whatever it is because you still have to deal with it. Yeah, because when I was young, I was in Nigeria and I moved to the countryside. Yeah. But yes, as I said.

And before you were leaving your home, did you have any dreams?
Yeah, before I was living there. I was a teenager and I has dreams. Of course I was. I was once a dancer when I was in Lagos because Lagos is a very big city. Uh, I dance in the street. I dance some people. And there was any time I see musician and I was like, OK, that’s going to be on that stage one day, like being the one in charge of music or being one. I do things when I was young. This is my dreams it seems like it’s things like, yeah, I definitely want to be out seeing something in TV as will feel very attractive to that, very, very emotional to things on TV and things like that. I think I should definitely be able to do these kind of things as well. And I also have dreams of being as an artist. What’s like. Yeah I to draw something. Yeah. But I draw it very good. When I was young, when I stay in Lagos. That’s very good. I know like um one of the best to them in my class then was all those things now. Sorry. I don’t have it so much, the one I think I’m focusing so much, doing that I think I’m still having a chance to not let go is the DJ side and the acting as an actor, which I think I find myself lucky if I meet in some different kind of people that really also dictates my talents. And like also once it’s like, okay, see something in me. And he was like also trying to promote to let me to get to some places that will achieve my dreams.

And, um, do you think, like all what has happened in your life until now, do you feel like you have grown in any way like you are now grown up as a result of this whole experiences?
Yeah, as a result of this experience that I grew up in a different level, because as a person now, I think I try to find a balance in myself, which is something I figured out myself like how to do, because when you understand how Europe is, it is I think I find myself in position like, OK, now if I really want to stay, I need to understand some things, even if it’s not like exactly like that from where I’m coming from. So I need to understand, like, okay, now there is things here that is different from where I’m coming from. That is not exactly how great the way it is and also like to knowledge  myself and to see some positive side that way. I want to go with it because for example, where I’m coming from, it’s like, oh, Nigeria is one of the countries where the people are very homophobic when it comes to homosexuality, all these kind of things, which is like a real main topic that was been Europe also like this again. So again, so many energy and so many like courage to be able to prove myself as whoever I am, as a bisexual, pansexual and also not to be ashamed of that as well. Like this is not just because I find out like so also when I was working with Queer Refugees Support, give me a lot of courage to know exactly what is going on in this kind of community. There is a lot of people that are into these kind of things, but they are having a problem issue by speaking out by coming out or by, you know, and for now, I think I’ve represented myself as a person, like, OK, now and like I have to be part of this race to also encourage people to do so and to believe in yourself, which is things I think working on as well. I hope it’s get to a place that we we all we all understand what is your life and what is human like? It’s not really it’s something that we can take out of ourselves, just us, I suppose. And what is in you, you start you don’t want to think about what is in me as a person to tells me exactly what is good or what is bad.

And what are your hopes and dreams for the future now?
My hopes and dreams for the future and most especially the things I imagine in the future or in the future where people are really, no matter who you are as a person, as the color of your skin or anything, to be able to to to be able to be able to prove yourself also to be able to stand for yourself and know like what you are doing is you you don’t have to be afraid of anyone, because I understand, like many things, most especially from where I’m coming from, is always the difficulty of parents or the family that the is with a lot of pressure on people, that they have different kind of behaviors and they see it as a very negative things. And they always take this against whatever like, oh, is it bad things? Even as a smoker, you’re not allowed to smoke. Like cigarette where I coming from? You are not allowed to smoke cigarette in presence of your dad or anybody that is elder you. But my dream is like this is is to have a future life where people think or people understand like smoking, being homosexual, being gay, and being lesbian- being LBGT community is not really a sin- because these are sins there. And it’s all that I think like I hope I would still be alive when this is changing, where everybody can really live their life exactly the way they want it,  it is part of the something that I really hope for that really happens. And also what I hope for is that what my career has to be, I wish to be to achieve the dreams that I hope for in life, in terms of DJ, in terms of acting as an actor. And yeah, these are my dreams. And I think these are things that makes me also like put smiles on my face, if I like. It’s also like a very high level of seeing something that puts smiles on my face if it happens.

And we really appreciate you for answering these questions, is there anything you would like to add which that might help people in Europe to better understand the life of people with immigration background?
Yeah, I think that is  is very huge question because I like we have different kind of mentality when it comes to life. I’d find out, like many people really find it very difficult to to to study or to understand exactly how things works here and for them for not for them not to be able to study exactly how things is works here is like a very block understanding for them to know how to go with things here. So I think I just wish many people logged on to find the right people that they can talk to, to understand them and to see how that goes on with life. Yeah, because this is it’s two different things, actually. It’s totally two different things. Is it two different worlds when it comes to Europe and when it comes to African when it comes to mentality of majority,, this is two totally different things. That’s I think what I will advise is just like try to be yourself and try as much as possible to be yourself and focus so much on your dreams, there is nothing you can’t achieve.

Many 1000 Dreams interviews were not conducted in English. Their translation has not always been performed by professional translators. Despite great efforts to ensure accuracy, there may be errors.