Mis-eduating the Africans in Finland

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“The confidence of the people is worth more than money” – Carter G.Woodson

Having lived in Finland long enough, I can boldly say that I have seen it all but I do not know it all! When leaving the shore of Africa, my dream was to come to Europe to find a greener pasture.Your question to me today should be: “Have you found the greener pasture yet?” My answer is coming shortly at the end of my write-up. Many young and brilliant Africans coming to Finland to study are usually very ambitious in the beginning until the waves of reality hits them and shatters their dreams to pieces, sadly. Not long after they arrived before you start seeing them conforming to what the atmosphere disctates to them: they begin to lose hope; and forget who they used to be – Men & Women of Valour. They become settled and satisfied with their present situation of “Never bothering to rise; Hiding in the cloud of denigration but portraying a false image to the people back home that all is well.” My people have lost strength, motivation, vision and mission at last! The confidence of my people has been taken away from them.

Just to quickly say, I am not a writer nor poet. I enjoy writing in my journal and I do love reading & blogging every now and then. Therefore, bear with me.

Recently, I read a book titled: “Mis-Education of the Negroes” by Carter G.Woodson [Originally released in 1933]. Although Carter referred to African-Americans in his book, I have found some of his references applicable to the situation of Africans(especially African students) living in Finland. I shall be using some of his quotes as sub-topics of what I intend to write about; all from my personal experience.

“Philosophers have long conceded, however, that every man has two educators: ‘that which is given to him’, and ‘that which he gives himself’.”

I remember the year I decided to come to Finland, everything happened so fast from the moment I heard the good news of passing the entrance exam, the moment I shared the news with my family & friends till the moment I got my residence permit to live in Finland. I believed some of my friends even envied me a little because they counted me so very lucky to be traveling abroad. Generally, people in my community regard traveling abroad to be the beginning of a new song in any young person’s life. Although only about 20% of those I told about my departure to Finland knew exactly where the country was and that Nokia was from the country; many people believed that I was going to a better place than my home country. I counted it a great privilege and opportunity that I must quickly make use of. My biggest dream was to work in Nokia as a software engineer immediately after my graduation, start helping people back home from my salaries and begin something big to create employment for people back home.

Everyone has got a dream, whether it is vague or realistic. In fact, he who has no dream at all, also has a dream because intending not to have a dream is a dream on its own. I remember discussing with my friends about our big ambitions; Our bright & promising future. We all had awesome dreams!
I have dreamed of building an empire and owning huge multinational businesses while I was in Africa. I had dreamed of helping people and solving top issues facing my people with my knowledge and resources up till the point I boarded the plane flying to Helsinki, Finland.

So, what happened to my dreams? What happened to our dreams? What happened to your dreams? What happened to our confidence?

I have met several well-educated African men and ladies in Finland whose dreams have been shattered and whose confidence have been blown into the thin air. A lot of our brothers and sisters are into hot jobs like cleaning, postman-ship, logistics, and all kinds of hard labors. It is sad to say but it seems it does not matter what you studied, your end-point is ‘some shitty job!’ How did this happen? You follow me.

Finland is a great country of about 5.3million people. The government is good and very much interested in protecting & providing for her citizens. The atmosphere is beautiful in summer and the security is almost 100%. Finland was like a paradise to many people when they first came here. The crime rate is very low especially if you live in small towns; and Finland is the best place to raise a child. Studying in Finland has been tuition-free for many years and a lot of people have benefited from its wonderful free-education scheme. In my opinion, Finland is one of the few places in the world where you can earn the best education but the worries for an international student in Finland begins when a question of “what is next after graduation?” hits him in the face! Will anyone ever give you a job? Is any company ever going to give you an internship talk less of a permanent job? Will some company call you for an interview?

There are a thousand question that need answers right now but maybe I have no accurate answers. Those answers may satisfy the questions of why there are not many Africans contributing hugely to their society in Finland. We have a lot of hard-working Africans who are only struggling to stay happy through each day because they are not living their fulfilled lives.

The problems faced by African graduates in Finland may be said to be defined by:

1. The pre-configuration of the person’s mind through ‘the education’ that this society has given him, which defines a confinement and limitations for him. I mean the notion that no matter how much you struggle; no matter how brilliant you might be; no matter how good you are professionally, there is a limitation to how much you can shine in all ramifications. Education is good but it becomes like a ‘a waste’ if it makes no difference in your life at the end of the day. Naturally, you expect a reward after a hard work but sorry, this is not true in most cases in Finland. The degree(s) you earned in Finland may beautify your CV but there is over 90% assurance that it may end up being so irrelevant if you will remain here in Finland for a very long time.

2. The individual himself and the role of the African community in this matter. Show me a successful African living here in Finland and I will show you that he had undergone the process of unlearning what this society has taught him(i.e he can never rise beyond a pre-defined status) and educating himself so well that his knowledge has set him completely free from the mental slavery to become a pace-setter.

In this writing, I shall be reviewing only the second part: “The individual himself and the role of the African community in this matter.”

Of course, I believe that every man has a definition of what ‘success’ means to himself. One man may be so satisfied with one way of life while another may prefer an entirely different one. The same goes for jobs and livelihood in Finland.

Although Africa is a very large continent with 54 countries; and thousands of tribes and ethnic groups, one can still find some similarities in cultures across nations in Africa. To a large extent, a lot of these tribes have defined, as part of their definition of success, a certain standard of lifestyle that every hard working person is expected to live up to. Materialism is part of the definition of success for typical Africans. Therefore, if anyone travels abroad, so much is expected of him as his people are looking up to him to be their savior someday. If this Traveler shows no sign of success after a couple of years, his people may begin to see him as a failure. A failure in all ways; Failure to the people who once believed in him. No one wants to be tagged ‘a failure’ that is why we all struggle to rise and shine. This is one of the reasons a lot of Africans living in Finland are very hard working, no matter what kind of work they may be doing.

A person does not necessarily need to work in his field of study before he becomes successful in life. One person may prefer to do cleaning as a profession while the other may prefer to work in an office; We are not created with the same nature afterall. My questions at this point are very simple:

– For how long are you going to remain in this (hectic) job?
– Have you gained / Will you gain any reasonable promotion in this profession of yours?
– Will your skills be relevant elsewhere outside Finland?
– What will be left of you after 5 years in this job?
– Are you planning to live forever and die here in Finland or you’re here in Finland to ‘make it’ then, return home at old age?
– If you were asked to leave Finland today, what skills can you boast of? What kind of you expertise do you have to contribute to the growth of your people/ nation?
– Are you planning to return home to go and be fighting over the scanty available jobs with those you left at home instead of you returning to create jobs for them? Does it sound well to you to be looking up to those who respect you so much and who are rather looking up to you?
– What has the XX (many) years you’ve lived in Finland done to your life? Have you grown to be better or worse? What can you say about your achievements? Have you achieved anything at all, all these years?
– What differences can you identify in every year after year of your life here in Finland? Has it been worth it after all`?
– What beneficial connections have you made during your stay in Finland?
– If Finland will ask you to leave the country today, what will be left of you? What do you have to call ‘strength’ or knowledge that can take you places, if you were to find yourself back in your home country now? What impact can you make?

These questions and many more questions on my mind are what I’ll love you to ponder upon to be an eye-opener for you. Think about these things because time flies!

“When you control a man’s thinking you do not have to worry about his actions. You do not have to tell him not to stand here or go yonder. He will find his proper place and will stay in it. You do not need to send him to the back door. he will go without being told. in fact, if there’s no back door, he will cut one for his special benefit. His education makes it necessary.”

On many ocassions, I have been involved in argunments with fellow Africans living here in Finland. Let’s assume most of us agree that the system here in Finland has somehow defined how far you can go as a black man or woman. Let’s assume that majority of us agree that there is a silent discrimination against us because of our skin color. Let’s assume that it has become a norm to see 9/10 brilliant Africans in Finland cleaning and doing all the hard labours (Do not tell me about exceptions where only 5% of us all are doing professional jobs). Let’s assume that some of us have learned and mastered the Finnish language very well then, we realised the issue with unemployment of a black (immigrant) professional had nothing to do with his inability to speak the language; he had been marginalised to always go for the dirty jobs and brain-washed never to aspire to become great! Do you know how many brilliant Africans have two or more Bsc / Master’s degrees in Finland? Do you know how many African doctors and phD holders are laboring hard and struggling for the crumps and leftover hard jobs, here in Finland? Do you know how many of our people are feeling trapped here in Finland after living here for many years?

THE TRUTH is: You, the black man as an individual, have given yourself up to be trampled upon; you have lost your self worth; you have lost your self-respect! You’ve become as paralysed as the system wanted you to be. You’ve let frustrations take the place of your right mindedness. You’ve let pain eat you up so you cannot think of any other solution any more; You are so scared to go back home, thinking ‘Life cannot be better than this present one I’m living here in Finland.’ You are even scared of moving elsewhere because you’re afraid you’ve become fatigue and have got no proper skills to compete for professional jobs in your field of expertise.

Oh are you asking me what you can do about this? Are you going to argue with me and conclude that ‘no matter whatever you do here in Finland, and no matter however you do it, you can never live a better life that you dreamed of before you came to Finland?’ Oh, I see another person screaming: ‘The taxation here in Finland is frustrating enough for you not to dream big!’

I know you want to argue that life is not as difficult as I’m stressing it. You want to argue that you’re definitely not under any obligation to send money to anyone back home because they also have their lives to live, after all, they don’t know how much you’re hustling here in Finland. Oh, I heard another guy telling me it’s better to stay here and live a quiet life with some beautiful babe you find from the club & marry. Her parent won’t be asking you for any bride prize and no relative will be coming to you for any assistance.

Hmmmmm…….Let me say: ‘Maybe you’re correct to say that you definitely have no obligation to help anyone with their problems because you’ve got enough already.’ The truth, again is that this country has incapaciatated you so much that you’ve become ‘different’ with your uncle Finland ideology. You’ve forgotten your background and how many people helped contribute to your development before you traveled abroad right from your life as a baby through primary school, through the University days until you traveled! We are naturally, a community-people! We are naturally helpers and givers.

Yes, you have a new ideology now. That ideology has killed your Manhood and confidence. That ideology has made you so selfish now. That ideology has made you have no more dreams; it has killed your spirit completely! You’ve lost something really important and I wonder when & how you’ll find it back.

You must seek knowledge and understanding so that you can live an exemplary life for your kids & generations to come? What does life mean to you? Don’t you need a more professional job? Don’t you need an increase in salary? Won’t you give something back to your community? Won’t you stop being selfish?

“History shows that it does not matter who is in power or what revolutionary forces take over the government, those who have not learned to do for themselves and have to depend solely on others never obtain any more rights or privileges in the end than they had in the beginning.”

This simply means that he who complains will never stop complaining until he takes action to correct what is wrong in his life. If you’re waiting for the new government before you add meaning to your life, I’m sorry it’s almost too late because no government official will come to your apartment to recommend you for a job position. The reason I am talking about this point is because I have heard some fellas lately, hoping that “…maybe someday, Finland will have a better government which cares more for immigrants and provide jobs for them… coz Finland is not there yet as compared to many other countries in Europe which are well experienced in Immigration matters.” Look here my brother! It’s better to make a 2-year plan for yourself rather than waiting for the government to make the plans for you.

If you are the kind of person that has never added any value to your life since years past apart from learning to hold brooms and mopping sticks, my advice is that you wake up right now and start educating yourself. PUT YOUR BRAIN TO WORK! Nothing stops you from gaining knowledge that you’ll use later on when you move on in life. Generally, Finland is a good place to hide and ignore your urge to dream at all! If you enjoy living here in Finland then, make a plan to convince yourself that you aren’t going to spend more than certain x number of years here. Achieve all you planned to achieve; Save all you planned to save up then move on! Where should you move to? I don’t have the answer but maybe you want to move to somewhere you can practice your professional skills, live a happy life and be capable of calling yourself a MAN rather than a boy that you’ve remained for many years.

“No man knows what he can do until he tries.”

Not everyone will be an Entrepreneur but everyone can make a significant decision that is powerful enough to turn their lives around for the better! You never know until you try. Cause yourself the pain of thinking about your life and make plan for the next couple of years. Do not stay comfortable in this False lifestyle. Make a decision to step up and become capable of lifting others up instead of telling the same old story of: “I realy have nothing to send to you at the moment…”, over and over again. Of course, I understand there are some selfish friends and family members who have turned you to an euro-ATM but what I am saying is that you need to talk to yourself to step up beyond where you are at the moment. No one will do the thinking for you unless you help yourself.

“As another has well said, to handicap a student by teaching him that his black face is a curse and that his struggle to change his condition is hopeless is the worst sort of lynching..”

For those of us who are already parents in Finland, it is important for us to realise how much work lies in our hands. Hasn’t your child yet asked you a question such as: “Dad, what did you study at the University?” “Dad why are you a cleaner and not a doctor as you studied in the University?” etc

I do not know how many of you reading this piece was here in Finland when this case happened:Student calls our University on Racism I have nothing much to say in this section rather than to comment that:”…I’m strongly hoping that our pasture will be greener than the word, ‘green’ itself.”

Again, do not misunderstand my points. I am a very optimistic person and I believe that Finland has a lot of opportunities for foreigners which we can explore. I am thankful for all that the system has provided for us all, and I have never been an ingrate for once. I also must mention that I do not despise any job here in Finland, having understood the challenges that we face here. I, myself have done all kinds of hot jobs; and I did them joyfully….but I wasn’t satisfied with that kind of life! My writing is just to open the eyes of my people so that we can reason together and step up!

Someone had mentioned to me once that he was moving back to his home country after living here in Finland for many years without any significant success in his life. Believe it or not, he moved back home, got a good job that brings him to Finland and other parts of Europe every six months, and he is more than happy now. That is a good example of someone who had a good plan and knew what he wanted for himself. I have also seen an elderly man who returned home after he clocked 55years of age. He is living happily now back home because while he was working here all those years, he had invested his money in several projects which are now bringing him good income these days. He can still visit Finland whenever he wants because he has Finnish citizenship.

The point is: Whether you want to leave early or later, make sure you exit wisely and powerfully!Make sure you know what you are doing.

“When a white man sees persons of his own race tending downward to a level of disgrace he does not rest until he works out some plan to lift such unfortunates to higher ground but the negro forgets the delinquents of his race and goes his way to feather his own nest…”

Haven’t we seen enough of some of our brothers who go behind others’ back to manipulate their bosses to give them shifts instead of the ones who really deserved it? I have worked with a guy before who lied to my boss that I wasn’t well so that he could take my job and all the extra shifts. We are the ones killing one another. Our people here in Finland say: “…Mehn, this is Finland! You are on your own completely!” So, if anyone needs help, you turn your back to him because it is none of your business!? You have become so un-caring and the worst thing is that you do not even notice it. You charge your friends for every little favour you render them!? You don’t want to hang out with friends because you have now categorised yourself to belonging to the class of ‘white Africans.’  Seriously?

Suddenly, your guys have become too loud for you? Oh oh, now you prefer to hang out with ONLY Finns rather than your fellow Africans? I am not saying it is a bad thing to hang out with Finns but it becomes offensive if you are beginning to think that walking with ONLY Finns has somehow UPGRADED YOUR STATUS as a human being!!! You have a problem of inferiority complex and you must fix that asap.

I have also noticed some African guys who, all in the name of getting into some ladies’ pants, spoil other fellow Africans and other nations. They say: “….Oh, too bad you met that guy. He is from SOSOSO country and that is how people from the SOSOSO country behave. You must run away next time you come across people from SOSOSO countr(y)ies. WHAT A SHAME!!! So, you think painting yourself ‘Good’ and destroying the names of your fellow Africans will boost your status? You definitely have a serious problem. At this point, maybe it is a good time to talk to those men whose ‘*Kokoro‘ has no bus stop. Your stupidity is bringing a lot of shame to us all. Start thinking with your head, stop living recklessly and start planning your future, please.

Those of you who, after getting your professional job, become the ONLY stumbling block in that company, stopping the company from employing more/fellow Africans, Keep it up! A guy was chatting with me the other day. This guy works with an IT company in Helsinki. He was one of the few lucky & brilliant Africans who had a good job. He obviously didn’t know me well so he kinda pulled my moustache by telling me: “You know what? I am fortunate to be part of the recruitment team at my work place. Any time I see an African name I just don’t bother checking the CV because seriously, what more do our guys know apart from cleaning?? I am afraid they will come here and spoil this place for us the goood ones.” OMG, I finished that dude with all the lessons he had missed all his life. He became so arrogant that he had started to see himself as belonging to the ‘Higher class dining with the real Finns.’  Unfortunately, he himself was laid off after 18months. When shall we stop this attitude of destroying the names of others just because of the favours we are hoping for from some Finnish person?

The other day, I was at lunch with 3 Finnish guys. We were all seated around a table then, a fellow African walked into the restaurant. This African guy knew two of the Finnish guys so he came to say HI at our table. Can you believe he shook hand with the 3 Finns but ignoring me!? I was meeting him for the first time, for God’s sake! Even my Finnish friends were shocked at his action and we discussed it after he left. Oh boy! Are we to say that: “All Africans are equal but in Finland, some are more equal than the others?” That is so stupid, fellas.

We must stop stabbing ourselves on the back and start helping one another up. Those among us who are gifted entrepreneurs can employ some of our gurus as interns,if not on a full employment. We can discuss with fellow brothers about starting up a business here in Finland. We can make things happen together! Those who are gifted at teaching can help others out in learning new stuff or in preparing for certain certification exams. Those who have good enough jobs can recommend another brother for open job positions. Let us be relevant in the lives of one another.

I know an African guy here who has his own business. One day, I asked him why he doesn’t hire fellow Africans, and I was so amazed at his answer. He said something like:’if I hire an African, he may disrespect me, question my authority as a manager compared to their submissive attitude towards a white manager.’ What is wrong with us? Really?

A friend of mine who has trained to be a chef wanted to start her own African restaurant business. She told all her friends and started what I’ll call a test-business, to help her experiment how successful the business might be. To my amazement, fellow Africans refused to patronize her. Only Finns went to the restaurant to eat. WOW! From my findings, some fellow Africans assume that paying her to eat in her restaurant will make her richer than them. So, instead of going there to eat a 5euro dish, they’d rather go and pay 11euro at a Chinese restaurant. I still don’t get the stupidity and envy behind their actions. Why can’t we help our own people grow? Why is it that you’d rather make some stupid posts about fighting chickens on your walls than making a post about what a fellow African brother or sister is doing here in Finland?

Why will you prefer to go barb at a Finn’s shop who charges you 40e , than going to pay an African barber’s common 10euro for even better service?

“The differentness of races, moreover, is no evidence of superiority or of inferiority. This merely indicates that each race has certain gifts which the other do not possess”.


Anthony-Claret Ifeanyi Onwutalobi

About Post Author

Anthony-Claret Ifeanyi Onwutalobi

Anthony-Claret is a software Engineer, entrepreneur and the founder of Codewit INC. Mr. Claret publishes and manages the content on Codewit Word News website and associated websites. He's a writer, IT Expert, great administrator, technology enthusiast, social media lover and all around digital guy.
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