Mwango Moragia turns some of the questions she’s had at western airports back on the questioners
LOCATION LOCATION: Madame, do you know WHERE in Africa you are?
No worries if you don’t know. Just name 5 African countries, their capitals and their geolocation to progress onto the next stage of questioning.
LANGUAGE DISADVANTAGED: You speak fluent English and nothing else?
Oh. It’s just that over here most of us speak an average of three languages fluently. I guess we need to allow your education system time to catch up?
JUMP THROUGH SOME HOOPS: You’ve come here to study? Fine, please prove your language skills.
You say you’ve been speaking Swahili all your life because you grew up with a Tanzanian nanny?
In order to obtain a Pointless Bureaucracy Certificate to enrol at the University of Dar es Salaam, please pay a sum of $300 to the government to officially test your alleged Swahili language skills, when you have done so please come back.
Also, we don’t take imperialised education systems receipts to justify language skills, thanks.
VOLUNTOURISTS, PROOF OF INTENT NEEDED: Are you here for volunteer work?
Are you here to go into orphanages to sexually abuse orphans under the guise of [insert western charity] and then hide under foreign powerful jurisdictions?
You’re here to build schools? Are you qualified to build schools? Where is your contracting degree/qualifications
SHOPPING FOR CULTURE: Are you here to walk into the marketplace?
Will you take photos of jewellery, then commodify and appropriate ideas to Aldo, Topshop, Harrods and Zara as ‘tribal chic’ without giving credit to the African women and men who designed them?
AN EXOTIC GETAWAY: You’re here on holiday?
Are you here to stay at expensive hotels and not interact with any locals? Stare at everybody on your one ‘excursion’ to a village then proceed to go back to [insert western city] to inform your friends and family that they should be thankful for everything they have because now you’ve seen the real Asia/Africa and you guys have it so good with your shoebox-sized houses and ready meals?
BABIES ARE NOT FOR SELFIES: Are you here to randomly take selfies with other people’s children as they walk home from school?
Do you randomly take selfies with other people’s children as they walk home from school in your home country?
Are you here to take pictures with other people’s children to put on your Tinder profile and show all the nice girls and boys in Europe/America/Canada you check the philanthropy box?
SAVIOUR’S DAY: You are here to visit the child you donate $1 a month to? What is his/her name?
WORK ABROAD: You are here to work? You have 10+ years of managerial experience working at Gap HQ in the US?
Unfortunately , we do not recognise your qualifications from your country but what you can do is enrol in school and complete your undergraduate and masters from our institutions and try to reenter the job market after a couple of years.
Yes, I know Kenyan nationals arrive with no qualifications in London and get better jobs and paid more than locals but that’s something to take up with the UK, not us.
You have a family to feed? Perhaps work as a cleaner or a taxi driver part-time as you redo your entire education. It’s really easy, everyone does it and you’ll be back on your feet in no time!
GAP YUH: Are you on your gap year? To find yourself? How did you lose yourself?
What makes you think you’ll find yourself here? I think maybe you should look for yourself at home. Maybe you’re under the sofa?
COLONIAL FANTASY: Are you here to shoot commercials for swimwear or music videos using our beautiful landscapes and wild animals but intentionally exclude using any local Africans?
Unfortunately this breaks our “Colonial Fantasy’ clause precedented by Taylor Swift and her ‘Wildest Dreams’ music video.
Unfortunately we cannot grant you a visa and we are going to have to put you on tight security watch.
This is what we call an ‘Iggy Azealia Alert’ and you will be detained in the ‘Department of Stealing Cultures and Appropriating Narratives’
It’s usually quite full so please expect a lengthy wait.
TOXIC: You are here to donate blood? No. You cannot.
Laws clearly state if you have ever lived in countries outside of Africa, ever had intercourse with non-Africans you are not allowed to donate blood.
HOME SICK: Lastly are you here to learn about and appreciate the country and the people of the country you are in or are you here to tell people about the land of genetically modified milk and honey?
All right, thank you for your cooperation.
Let me just run a quick background check, get some fingerprints, a urine sample and a kidney for insurance, and we’ll have your visa ready.
The fee today is $900.62
Yes, I know I only asked you questions today but all Canadians/Americans/Europeans pay $900.62 for temporary visas.
Yes I know Africans pay just $12 for their visas into the UK but these are just the rules. I don’t make them. I just enforce them.
Thank you for your payment Madame, here is your single-entry visa. Have a lovely stay!
Although comically presented, these questions are illustrative of the harmful profiling, invasive badgering and discrimination immigrants go through on a daily basis to try and ‘prove’ themselves to institutions and countries that continue to systemically undervalue them.
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Mwango Moragia is a masters student studying Global Media and Communications at the London School of Economics and Political Science. She is a community organiser, editorial assistant, photographer and in her free time -a spoken word artist.
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