8: THE INTERVIEW

The major and the final interview was what every camper looked forward to. It was the interview that determined everything. Whether the authorities would believe your story or not came from what you said in the interview.
People usually prepared so much for this interview. Since almost everybody was going to lie during the interview, it was good that one get properly prepared. It was from the INTERVIEW venue that people whose stories were not believed goes from the asylum camp to the deportation Camp next door.
Every hope of living in Germany was hinged on the interview.

Thirty minutes to my interview, I walked out of the female hostel where I had slept the previous night. A new Massai girl named Awiti, had arrived in the camp the previous day. I had followed her to her room after the dinner and slept there until morning. That was the first time I slept in the female hostel. I had spent two weeks in the camp before then. I walked down to my room and freshened up and changed to another cloth.
I forced myself to say some prayers. To my greatest surprise, I had forgotten the simplest Catholic prayers such as ” Our Lord’s prayer” and ” Hail mary”. I didn’t know what to say, so I just mumbled ”God help me” and went outside.
I saw Mike outside and told him I was going for my interview. He wished me good luck and I left.
Three minutes to 8am, I entered the interview room and met my interviewer and the interpreter seated already.

* these Germany were never late for appointment*

”Guten Morgen” (good morning) I greeted them in German and smiled. The interviewer was very impressed. He nodded and smiled too.

*Almost everybody he had interviewed previously had denied knowing any German, even the simplest ones such as Kommen/come. But in my own case, according to him, I learnt fast. That must have scored me a good mark*

”Nemen sie ein platz” (take a seat) he said.
I pretended not to have heard what he said as I stood there and gazed at him until he pointed towards the chair. Then I sat down.

*I actually heard what he said and I understood it perfectly. The point was that I didn’t want to overdo anything. The good morning I had said in Germany was enough for now. It was a game of intelligence.*

” Wie heiss du” (What is your name) he asked me.
That was an easy question and every normal person who had lived in Germany for atleast one week was expected to know that. I wasn’t going to play dumb again, so I told them my name. Game on.

After the normal Identification process, the question moved to how I came to Germany.

I started my story; it goes thus.

I had been born in Bamenda in 1980.
(actually I gave them my real date of birth. I didn’t want many complications since subsequent events that would require me to say the date offhead was surely going to come up again).
My father was a native doctor while my mother had joined the Church people who had come from Portugal to Cameroun.
As a little boy, I joined the church too with my younger sister. The name of our Church was St Peters Catholic Church Bamenda.
The name of our Reverend Father was Luis Gomez.
(I had chosen the names from Luis Figo and Nuno Gomez, two popular Portuguese footballers at that time).

Paul Biya was the name of our president. One night, the Police had invaded our home and captured my father. They said he was anti-Biya. They took him away. We were in the Church when the Police came, they didn’t see me with my sister and mother.
When we heard what happened, we told Rev Father Gomez, who sent us away to Douala, another city in Cameroun. It was from Douala that I boarded a ship.

(when I mentioned Douala, he halted me and looked at the map of Africa on his table. Then he nodded and I continued. Since I said I boarded a ship in Douala, he probably checked if Douala has a sea port. I covered every details anyway).
My mother and sister were told that there was no more space in the ship, so they didn’t join me. I didn’t know their whereabouts. We had no phone and there was no way I could contact them.

My face had changed from smile to anger and depression as I narrated my cooked up story.
The ship I entered took me many days, about two weeks to reach Lamburg. (hamburg). I twisted some names to suit my amatuer story about Germany and its cities.
When we got to Lamburg, a man in the ship gave me an overall red coat and a red cap. Something starting with V was written on the cap and the coat. I couldn’t remember what it was that was written on them except the V.
They told me to wear the coat and cover my face with the cap. I did what they said and they told me to walk out.
When I came out, I was stopped by some men, they showed me a card and said they were polizei. Then they asked me for my passport and I told them that I had none.
They took me away and handed me over to a man. They told the man to send me to asylum Camp.
The man was going to a city called Dussorf. (Dusseldorf). I followed him to Dussorf where he showed me to a place inside water and walked away. I entered the place he showed me and they sent me there (camp).
They had asked if I had gone to school and I told them that I stopped at elementary 3. It was in the school that I had learnt to write and read. They were surprised when I said I could read and write. Every other African man had denied ever going to school. I just wanted a little deviated story, so I had been drafting the ideas since I got the interview date.

*There was no kind of story they have not heard from asylum seekers.
Some Africans said they had walked all the way from Africa to Germany.
Some said they used horses to ride from Africa to Germany.
Some said they jumped into the ocean to avoid being killed and Swim all the way from Africa to Germany.
One person even said that his father who was a native doctor had given him two eggs. When he broke one egg, he found himself in Germany. He even showed them the remaining egg and asked them to hold his hand while he break the remaining egg, they decried ofcourse.
Someone said he’d had flown like a bird from Chad to Germany.*

My story was different and perfect with no room for errors or so I believed.
When I finished my story, they asked me to chose a country in Africa where I would like to be sent. I named London. They said London was not in Africa. I pretended to be surprised.
”How could London not be in Africa” I had asked them. I heard so many black people live there I told them.
I also suggested that they sent me to New York since London was not in Africa. They laughed among themselves.
After writing down everything I had said, he asked a few more questions I had forgotten and told me to go. The interview took over an hour.
When I walked out of the venue, My little darling Awiti was waiting for me outside. She had waited for an hour according to her. She was afraid I was going to fail the interview and got bundled into a permanent waiting police van and whisked away to the deportation Camp.
She hugged me in public and took my hand.
” I bought Doner Kebap for you” she said. Doner was a turkish mixture of dried floor, tomatoes, onions etc. I followed her to her room and ate the Kebap.
In the afternoon, we walked to the mall and bought juice and cola. We sat under a lonely tree and talked. She had obviously fallen in love with me and she was not afraid to show it public.
I felt at ease with her and told her that I was a Nigerian and not Cameounian. I had taken my interview and I was half safe for now. We sat there and missed lunch. I wasn’t hungry anyway.
John bighead had softened up on me since he found out I had jilted Agnes. There was no longer any danger going to the forest park, so I put my hand around Awiti’s neck and we walked to the park.
There were few white people playing with their dogs in the park. We drifted down to a lonely place and continued drinking the pilsener beer I had bought. We were playing Romeo and Juliet too; throwing peanuts into each other’s mouth and kissing in public like the white people were doing.
At about 6pm, it was time for dinner. Awiti had not started cooking and it was either we go back now or go to bed without food.
A unanimous decision to go back to the camp was reached.
As I got up and helped my sweetheart to get up from the ground, I heard a voice coming out of the bush behind us.

”Woman Wrapper, na this one dey onboard now”

Guess who it was?

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