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After 22 years in America, returnee warns: Count the cost before you japa

A U.S-based clinical nurse, Maggie Offoha, has advised Nigerians aspiring to relocate abroad due to economic reasons to count the cost.

Offoha, who is also a renowned author and poet, gave the advice at a book launch on Tuesday on Victoria Island, Lagos State.

Offoha, who has lived for 22 years in the U.S., published three books in which she chronicled her experiences as an immigrant in the U.S.

L-R: Mr Benjamin Nwaogu; Chairperson, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s Creative and Entertainment Sector, Dr Ngozi Omambala; the author, Mrs. Maggie Offoha; and another guest at the launch of three books: Dark Shadows on My Path, Return to Where I Belong, Poetry for Thought, on Victoria Island, Lagos

The titles of the books are: `Return to Where I Belong’, ‘Dark Shadows on My Path’, and ‘Poetry for Thought’. The clinical nurse said that the books were not only a reflection of her experiences abroad but also about expectations from any immigrant.

Offoha said that while reasons presented by youths for emigrating could look appealing, there are underlining factors which must be considered before leaving a country of birth.

“Those of us, who have travelled abroad, have stories we will want to tell, which should be of help to those who want to leave the country because of harsh economic conditions, among other considerations.

while reasons presented by youths for emigrating could look appealing, there are underlining factors which must be considered before leaving a country of birth

“The experiences gained abroad are the inspiration behind writing the books. They contain my experiences as an immigrant in the U.S. and what those planning to leave should expect.

“There is a general situation those travelling abroad will face because it is a general principle of life,” she said.

Offoha, who had her undergraduate and post graduate studies in the U.S., said that some immigrants were at crossroads because of some conditions they found themselves in.

She highlighted cultural differences, loss of identity and unplanned and unexpected circumstances as some of the challenges that could be faced by any foreigner.

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“Those that have left, are they going to come back with their children? Will the children themselves be willing to associate with the country of birth of their parents?” She asked.

those planning to relocate abroad should do a thorough research of the country to which they are planning to go, to avoid regrets

She advised those planning to relocate abroad to carry out a thorough research of the country to which they were planning to go, to avoid regrets.

“Some of us are at crossroads; that is why I want to tell people planning to relocate abroad to do their research very well. It is not in my position to discourage those that want to leave due to the hostile economy.

“Some of our children are now caught in-between two cultures, while some of them do not even know where they belong. Some of these experiences are what I wrote about in the book: ‘Return to Where I Belong’,” she said.

According to Offoha, relocating abroad is a personal decision, but those aspiring to go should learn from those that have had experiences, and ask questions.

Some of our children are now caught in-between two cultures, while some of them do not even know where they belong

“The conditions are still the same. Job hunting, marriage proposals and other economic indices are still glaring.

“However, we should also take pride in whom we are, as Africans and Nigerians. Another question is if we want our children to maintain our identity or be lost forever. Therefore, we need to stop the colonialism mentality,” she said.

The author regretted that ‘Japa’ syndrome had caused Nigeria brain-drain, especially in the health sector. “We need to preserve our heritage, the land of our ancestors, our traditions, because if we do not, our lineages can be gone forever,” she said.

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Offoha also cautioned against poor reading culture, especially among the youth.

She said that there was the need to cultivate reading culture among children and the youth.

“While I was an undergraduate in a U.S. college of medicine, one of the required courses was literature in which we have poetry such as a book written by Nigeria’s Chinua Achebe – `Things Fall Apart’ – as a choice even as a science major student.

“It should make a lot of sense to us as Africans and Nigerians that the book that we hardly cherish is what the U.S colleges are having on their shelves,” she said.

NAN reports that other speakers extolled the virtues of the author, describing her as a great mentor.

The Chairman of the occasion, Mr Emma Kekere, said that the author’s experiences were good enough to learn from.

The book reviewer, Mr Bonny Amadi, advised that Nigerians willing to travel abroad should read the books to learn from the author’s experiences. (NAN)

Oluwatope Lawanson
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