|Unidentified man stops by the tabacchiera
shop in Piazza Roma to buy his morning newspaper. Photo
by Keaton Williams
After six years living in Camerano, she says
she still doesn’t have many friends and that conversation
usually does not go much further than “Ciao”.
When she moved into her apartment, she says, one of the
tenants kindly greeted her and her husband and told them
to ask if they needed anything. But the warm welcome wore
off quickly, she says, when she gave birth to her first
child and no one congratulated her.
“When they come to me, they ask me ‘Why
do you come here?’, ‘Are you dying of hunger
in your country?’, I say I’m from Nigeria. They
don’t even know my country. The Africans they show
in the television walk without shoes and they are naked;
I’m not from that kind of Africa. I came to stay here
not because of hardship. I’m not dying of hunger,
I came here because I’d like to stay here,”
Okwuike still returns to Nigeria to visit relatives even
though it’s not the safest country and is a lot harder
now that she has children.
Three years ago, was the last time she went
back and returned unscathed. Another time she wasn’t
that lucky. “They blocked our car and they beat me
up and collected all my jewelry. They wanted to take our
car, but there was no fuel. They looked at the dashboard
and it was showing red. My husband’s brother told
us that when you are moving around the city to put in very
little fuel so they don’t take your car,” recalled
She still hopes that one day Nigeria will
be a place of peace. Most of her relatives live there, and
she says if it becomes a safe place to live, she would be
happy to return.
Until then, Theresa Okwuike will be trying to adjust to
the small-town life in hopes of meeting more immigrants
like herself and acceptance from the people of Camerano.
"From Nigeria to Italy" page 1