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taiwo 2019-06-17 17:11:29 Cultural

These bags had no name, sturdy, very cheap, comes in stripped blue and red, big and medium sizes, all checked. The bags have always been big and spacious enough for long travels. Many do not know the origin of the most popular travelling bag whose name emerged thirty six years ago but still popular today in Nigeria.

It was January 17, 1983, the then Nigerian President, Alhaji Shehu Shagari announced all Foreigners without proper immigration documents should vacate the country or be arrested according to the law on or before February 2nd 1983. In its official statement, the Nigerian government stated that “if they don’t leave, they should be arrested, tried and sent back to their homes. Illegal immigrants, in fact, under normal circumstances, should not be given any notice whatsoever”.

This statement led to the mass movement of foreigners, and most affected were the Ghanaian migrants who were initially drawn to Nigeria by the oil boom of the 70s. The banishment of immig

rants was a decision fuelled by economic and social difficulties as the Global oil prices started to dip in 1982 when large consumer markets such as United States and Canada slipped into recession, Nigerian economy exclusively at that time was exclusively reliant on oil was hard hit as oil demand got very low hence the need to decongest the polity. The early 80s witnessed a lot of economic hardship for the Nigerian government, 1983 was election year and the many felt the Nigerian politicians hoped the expulsion would establish their popularity in the minds of voters and divert attention from the economic hardship.

Some historians opined that the deportation saga was fueled by the robbery incident at the then Nigeria s Vice President, Alex Ekwueme s residence where the robbery group consisted mainly of immigrants. When the robbers were caught by the police, it was discovered that the two of them were Ghanaians, this revelation sent the whole of Nigeria in rage.

It must be recalled that Ghana also expulsed Nigerian migrants in 1969, the exercise was known as the “Aliens Compliance Order” which saw the expulsion of a large number of immigrants, the order required all “aliens” in the country to be in possession of a residence permit within a two week period.

Photo: Michel Setboum/Getty Images

The repatriated Ghanaians had woeful tales to tell about their experiences getting back to Ghana as the only viable route to Ghana from Nigeria was Benin Republic and Togo. About two million migrants heard the warnings, parked all they could in trucks, and cars going through Benin and Togo. There was a major setback for Ghaninas to finally get to their destination as a precaution among military rule to avoid another coup d’etat and to keep its state following an attempted coup the previous year, Ghana s leader, Flight Lieutenant Jerry Rawlings, closed the main land crossing with Togo to avoid being host to a sudden influx of over a million migrants. Togo in-turn shut its border with Benin that further left the Ghanaian refugee stuck for weeks.

It should be noted that another smaller scale round of immigrants’ expulsion took place in Nigeria in 1985.

The massive migration was then named “Ghana Must Go” however has given birth to the bag which now serves as a global symbol of migration across and beyond borders.

Culled: Anne Chia, Wikipedia.

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