Culture > From Nigeria to England – the pursuit of knowledge

Posted on February 22, 2016

Artwork by Camila Lopez

Artwork by Camila Lopez

Olatunde Oloruesan reflects on the struggles of starting a new life in the UK
When I was 10 years old my dad sent little brother and I to London to live with our mum and finish our education.

At first I was unhappy that I had to leave my good friends; we had been together since we were young and it was difficult for me to let them go. But my brother and I were so happy that we were coming to London, even though we had to travel alone.

Our suitcase was ready and packed and we couldn’t wait to get on the plane. We were so scared because the plane was so massive. It was especially scary when the plane took off.

We were also scared that the plane would get lost on our way to London, and then it did – we landed somewhere in Spain. It was only a stop off but my brother and I were confused and stood around in the airport for five hours until someone took our luggage and checked it in.

It was my first time seeing a white man – I was scared to talk to them

When we got to London we saw the difference between here and my country. All the houses in London are so beautiful!. Also it was my first time seeing a white man – I was scared to talk to them, and so was my brother. A man came and talked to us but we couldn’t understand him. I didn’t know what would happen so I kept quiet. Then we saw our mum and were so happy we ran to her.

Education in London is better than my country because there the teachers beat the students, you have to pay school fees and if you don’t pay on time they send you home. If you fail your exams, you are forced to repeat the same class over and over.

At first, people at school in London didn’t understand my accent. I tried not to talk with anyone thinking they would make fun of the way I talk. I listened to the way the other kids spoke and tried to change my accent.

The teachers also helped me with my English; I was so grateful. Generally I felt welcomed in London but because of the stabbings of young people like me I started to feel scared.

After the seventh mugging I started to cry because I didn’t understand why this kept happening to me

In Nigeria this doesn’t happen between young people. Of course they fight with each other and there is robbery, but not in the street – usually people come to your house with a gun and ask for money.

I have been mugged seven times, once with a gun. Once it happened on the bus and I was cut a little bit with a knife because I refused to give my phone. I was about to fight but I remembered my mum said that I can get killed by fighting back, so I gave them my phone. After the seventh mugging I started to cry because I didn’t understand why this kept happening to me.

Back home I’d never seen this happen to anyone. I thought about carrying weapons but my mum told me not to because I can get arrested and the police will think I am one of the gang members. I miss my country – I haven’t been there for many years – but I am growing up to become a great man in life and a brighter man in the future.

Olatunde Oloruesan

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