June 27, 2013
I had seen him from afar while still on the queue. I fancied his head warmer sort of. It resembled something I might have seen in a screenplay of one of Robert Ludlum’s books. I stood on the queue a while, at first being nice to others and letting them through then when I finally thought it would soon be my turn, the middle-aged woman in front of me left her bag and went looking for what I later learnt was her flight ticket! Eeeewww!
I ended up having to switch queues and found myself in front of the “Russian agent’s” desk. I gave him my Nigerian passport and then our “discussion” began. He asked what the purpose of my trip was and I answered “Training”. I never would have expected that was the wrong answer. With a stern face, he expressed concern that I was issued a visitor’s VISA and I claimed I was on training. “So who is lying, you or the embassy?” Lying? Strong word, ain’t it? Maybe I should have said “Visitor’s Training” or “Training Visit”… “Visitrain”? (that’s a new word by the way).
At some point I blurted out that my colleagues had already been let through the immigration checks. Ouch! Bad move. He went on and on about the fact that I had to call back my colleagues so we could all be interrogated and he would then sanction the agent who let them go. What? Errr … interrogation? Interesting. He wanted to call my company to verify my identity I presume. Phew. I remained somewhat calm. I guess that helped because this might just have been some sort of profiling. Eventually, the Super Agent let me go after I said “I don’t know why I was issued a visitor’s VISA. You asked me what I’m here for and I simply answered you”.
It occurred to me later that the whole drama might just have had something to do with my Nigerian passport and the reputation Nigerians have for a variety of creative schemes that border on crime. So I was pre-judged based on my nationality. We all have our prejudices, don’t we? Our generalizations of traits we have labeled people groups with. We tend to pass judgment now and verify later. I guess only God gives us all a chance and sets Judgment Day in the future.