The Illegal Immigrant
Who is Mustapha, a respected Nigerian journalist and an aspiring filmmaker or an illegal immigrant wanted by the Home Office? Is he even Mustapha, or is he Michael, Kimani, or any one of the other identities he takes on to survive? But this is not just Mustapha’s story. It is a social saga with a glittering array of memorable characters embodying the ethnic and cultural diversity of London. Samuel Selvon’s Lonely Londoners gave us the city from the perspective of Caribbean immigrants who arrived in the 1950s. Mohammed Umar’s The Illegal Immigrant not only gives us the African experience of the 1990s, but reveals a society knitted together from a tapestry of multiple brightly coloured strands: Africans from different parts of the continent, West Indians from different Caribbean islands, sub-continental Indians, Europeans, Iranians and many others. What they have in common is their quest for ‘another world, a new chapter, a new dawn and a new dream.’
Guiding Mustapha through the pitfalls of disappointment, displacement and disillusion is his mother’s voice and her Hausa sayings, her injunctions to prayer and his own faith. But who is the mysterious Hausa woman glimpsed once and then lost to view? Is she the muse who will lead Mustapha to his longed-for goal? Will she inspire him to surmount his challenges or will he succumb to despair? In a world of uncertainty one thing is clear – so-called illegal immigrants offer a pool of untapped talent that, once released, makes an incalculable contribution to their adopted country. The journey of self-discovery and self-creation on which we accompany Mustapha dramatises the idea that identity is endlessly open to negotiation and change. This process can at times be simultaneously painful and liberating.
Paperback 412pages 216mm x 140mm
Everyone should read it
This book is amazing. It taught me more about what it is like to be an illegal immigrant in Britain than anything else I have read. Everyone should read it. You won't be able to put it down.
Ken Livingstone, former Mayor of London
Well worth waiting for
This is the best book about the African immigrant experience in London and well worth waiting for. A must-read for anyone interested in walking in the shoes of an African immigrant in a contemporary context. It will become a classic.
Becky Ayebia Clarke MBE