By Wordworks2001

Suddenly, being an expatriate isn’t fun anymore. There was a time when the life of a foreign worker in Nigeria was one of exotic intrigue and was almost a Disney-like fantasy or adventureland. Any expatriate living and working in Nigeria, West Africa this past Wednesday who held those sophmoric attitudes on Tuesday, certainly had their collective bubble burst and by Thursday were chanting, “There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home,” a la Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz.

The tragic death of an expatriate hostage, British citizen David Hunt, age 58 (my age), at the hands of would-be liberators government liberators was the culmination of what many of his comrades and family members have feared would happen for the past 10 months. Kidnapping, almost as common a negotiating tactic in Nigeria as the strike, had suddenly turned ugly and deadly. What had simply been a way of doing business in the past in this part of the world became a dark and foreboding gamble.

Hell, Oyibos On Line even sells Hostage Tee-Shirts, with amusing messages adorned on their front. It was almost a privilege to be able to regale friends and associates at the local pub with your own personal hostage story. Some people even have been known to pretend to have been kidnap victims, embellishing their lies and savoring the free drinks telling their tales would earn.

Not any more. The killing of British hostage David Hunt on some lonely waterway in the Niger Delta last Wednesday, made Thursday one for offering condolensces to his friends and family rather than one of Thanksgiving in celebration of the uniquely American holiday. Security precautions, already high, were heightened once more, making most of the expatriates residing in Port Harcourt and already confined to their homes at night, wonder whether or not they are prisoners of their own making. More than one foreign worker in Nigeria today is wondering if it is time to go home.

There is no simple solution to the dilemma of the Niger Delta, but alienating and driving out the expats is not part of the answer. Certainly we are well-paid for our work and highly compensated for allowing ourselves to live in a country devoid of even the most basic of luxuries that we’d enjoy in Great Britain or the USA. Our presence here stabilizes the wages of the local population, trains them to take our jobs in the future and provides them with more jobs in the long run. When the expatriates leave Nigeria, and they will if the killings continue, the Nigerian people will be the ultimate victims.

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Militants blame military

Wordworks2001 is a retired US Army master sergeant who lives in Indiana and works in Nigeria. His blog is at http://wordworks2001.blogspot.com

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