A reflection on citizenship


In the United States, every September 17 is observed as Citizenship Day, when Americans reflect on their rights and obligations as citizens. This should be an important day for all immigrants, but for some reason, I believe many Americans do not know this or observe this day.

As a first generation citizen of this great nation, I know for sure that becoming a citizen is not easy. It is a journey of caution and anxiety, as you don’t want to inadvertently botch up your chances by what you did or did not do. For my part, I think that I was thoroughly grilled, and I emerged at the other end feeling like a polished diamond.

Relocating to a new land is not a decision immigrants make in one night. Both the decision and the processing take time, effort and patience. The whole process is long, rigorous and resource-intensive. Some people completely deplete their savings on this altar, while some borrow quite a chunk of money to accomplish the requirements of the immigration process. Yet, in spite of all the hassles, they smile and heave a sigh of relief when they finally get the opportunity to make the trip.

As you can imagine, getting here does not end the hassles. There is settling down and integration into the community to do. Settling down entails finding employment to earn from to feed the family, finding shelter to house the family, having transportation to access some opportunities and gaining access to healthcare for the family’s medical needs. As they battle with these, they quickly realize that there is no fast and easy way to settle down. Before long, they begin to understand that there are other layers of barriers strewn on their path to achieving those three life supports essentials soon enough. Integration into the larger community is placed in abeyance.

The immigrant starts seeing the extra layers of challenges accentuate. These new challenges include language barriers, cultural differences or culture shock, and all manners of prejudices. These happen everywhere and it takes a long time to get some reprieves. Despite these challenges, immigrants still buckle down with exceptional resilience and resourcefulness and make incredible impacts.

It has been a few years since I became a citizen but I’m still grateful to my adopted new land for absorbing me. In my gratitude, I want to spare a thought for those waiting in the wings to be accorded the same privilege. Stay law-abiding and be very sincere in your answers, and like a polished diamond, you will shine.

We are dedicating this issue to immigration and immigrants’ impacts. Our publications have featured two amazing immigration lawyers who have quickly become assets to our community and beyond. Please read their interview stories and contact them for any immigration processing concerns.

Also check out the several impactful stories for and by members of our community. Don’t forget to visit afrikOnline at www.afrikdigest.com for more published stories. Be sure to like and follow our social media handles @AfrikDigest Magazine, for everyday updates.

Don’t stop shining!