My Pal Elvis: The Nige­rian Nor­we­gian

Daily Trust - - OPINION -

Iwas in Nor­way last week for a three-day se­ries of sem­i­nars and pub­lic de­bates on com­bat­ting rad­i­cal­i­sa­tion through non­vi­o­lent means. The or­gan­is­ers of the event, the Nor­we­gian Coun­cil for Africa, were keen to learn about the strate­gies that Nige­ria has adopted to com­bat and con­tain the Boko Haram in­sur­gency out­side mil­i­tary en­gage­ment. Of course Nor­way was trau­ma­tised by its own home bred ter­ror­ism when An­ders Breivik, a far right Chris­tian ter­ror­ist killed 77 peo­ple, most of them young peo­ple at­tend­ing a party con­ven­tion in 2011. Cur­rently, Nor­way is liv­ing in fear fol­low­ing the re­al­i­sa­tion that about 150 young Nor­we­gian Mus­lims have left the coun­try to fight for the Is­lamic State. Will they re­turn? If they do, will they bring back the spec­tre of ter­ror­ism? Nor­we­gians are puz­zled that their coun­try, which has one of the high­est liv­ing stan­dards in the world and ex­cel­lent so­cial pro­tec­tion, could breed ter­ror­ists.

I was as al­ways in­ter­ested in the Nige­rian com­mu­nity in Oslo. The per­son that struck me the most was Elvis Nwosu who de­fines him­self as a Port Har­court brought up Nige­rian. He has been a coun­cil­lor in the Oslo City Coun­cil for the past eight years with a back­ground in trade union­ism and so­cial work and runs a col­umn in a ma­jor Nor­we­gian news­pa­per. He makes the ar­gu­ment that Nor­we­gians tend to be­lieve that their so­ci­ety only does good things to peo­ple and they get shocked when they find peo­ple are very up­set with them. To pro­vide con­text, he told me the story of his cur­rent bat­tle to res­cue 68 Nige­rian ba­bies seized from their moth­ers and placed with Nor­we­gian fos­ter par­ents. Most of th­ese moth­ers are Nige­rian sex work­ers who have moved to Nor­way from Italy and had the mis­taken no­tion that pro­duc­ing chil­dren would pro­vide con­di­tions for the le­gal­i­sa­tion of their stay. The Nor­we­gian scheme how­ever has a caveat, traf­ficked per­sons can only have their stay le­galised if they can pro­vide suf­fi­cient ev­i­dence that would lead to the ar­rest of the traf­fick­ers that brought them to Europe. Most of th­ese traf­ficked per­sons how­ever do not even know the real names of their traf­fick­ers and there­fore fail the “ex­pose the traf­fick­ers” con­di­tion­al­i­ties.

Many of them who give birth to chil­dren lose the chil­dren, as the Nor­we­gian so­cial ser­vices be­lieve that peo­ple who en­gage in sex work or as­so­ciate with drug push­ers – the ma­jor­ity of drug push­ers in Oslo are Nige­ri­ans – are not fit and proper par­ents. Nwosu is cur­rently in­volved with the strug­gle to re­cover Ge­orge, a baby born to a 25-year old Nige­rian sex worker Joy Am­brose. Joy had been to see a doc­tor who she com­plained to that her baby of­ten re­fuses to eat and is of­ten obliged to force feed him. The doc­tor promptly wrote the so­cial ser­vices depart­ment ac­cus­ing Joy of cru­elty to and tor­tur­ing of her son through force feed­ing and the baby was im­me­di­ately taken and handed over to Nor­we­gian fos­ter par­ents. Nwosu was able to get a cul­tur­ally sen­si­tive lawyer and an­thro­pol­o­gist

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