Adekemi H. Boyo-Obayuwana is not one to give up. When she first came to Malta, she found it difficult to integrate – yet she persisted and, two and a half years later, things have improved a lot.
Adekemi, or Addey for short, is from Lagos, Nigeria, where she studied accounting. She is 37 years old and came to Malta to join her husband, Michael, an engineer who works in the communications industry.
"My first shock when I came to Malta was when I realised how small the island is – it's like you can walk around the island in a day.
"I was also shocked at the treatment I received from some people – I would greet them and they would not respond, instead looking at me as if I had fallen from heaven. I remember how once, I went into a shop and to buy soft drinks. When it was my turn to be attended to, the shopkeeper just looked at me, turned his back and went inside the shop, leaving me standing there.
"But since my husband and I moved to Qormi, things have changed – some people greet me on their own volition and others respond to my greetings."
But since my husband and I moved to Qormi, things have changed – some people greet me on their own volition and others respond to my greetings
Sabrina Zammit, Addey and Michael's neighbour, has only good things to say about the Nigerian couple. "They're very quiet. It makes no difference that they come from another continent – they are good people and that's all that matters," she says.
Addey is also a woman of great faith. "My mum is a pastor but I was born into a Baptist family. People would gather in our living room to pray. When I lost my father, God took his place – I gave God my father's position and he takes care of me. In 2001, when I was sick, despite the medications, I was not healed until I turned to God through fasting and prayers."
Addey has another passion – beautifying things. "My father was an artist and my mother sews – I've done interior design and fashion design courses and I also sew and thread beads. I must have inherited my parents' love of beautiful things."
Unlike Addey, Michael didn't find it difficult to integrate as he came to Malta already with a job. "We arrived in Malta on a Thursday evening and on Monday morning I was at work. I miss my family and Nigeria, but I work with a very good team – my colleagues made me feel at home and helped me to integrate quickly," says Michael.
Egusi soup – A healthy melon seed soup, inspired by the land and sea.
Ingredients: 500gr beef; 500gr smoked fish; 500gr stockfish; 450gr spinach; 2 tomatoes; 1 red pepper; 1 large onion; 250gr egusi, ground (melon seeds); Stock cubes; Palm oil; Scotch pepper, ground; Water; Salt.
Method: Wash and season the beef and stockfish with the stock cube, salt and pepper. Steam till the juice dries up. Add two cups of water. Cook for 20 minutes. Chop the spinach and set aside. Wash and bone the smoked fish. Heat the palm oil and add the tomatoes, onion, scotch pepper and red pepper. Fry for five minutes. Add the egusi. Cover the pot. Do not stir for eight minutes. Add the water and boil for a further 10 minutes. Add the remaining stock and stir. Simmer for two minutes. Add the spinach and salt to taste. Simmer for a few minutes. Remove from heat and serve with pounded yam, eba (garri), cassava fufu or semolina.
Serves 4 to 6.
This interview was included in the publication InterAct – A Portrait of Third-Country Nationals in Malta, published as part of the Media InterAct project (IF 2010 02) and distributed with The Times. They are based on the TV programme Minn Lenti Interkulturali, produced/presented by Maria Muscat (PBS), and directed/edited by Godfrey Smith (PBS) and broadcast on Education22/TVM2 and TVM between January and March, 2012 and on TVM between April and June, 2012. The project is co-financed through the European Fund for the Integration of Third-Country Nationals. The project is led by SOS Malta, in partnership with the Public Broadcasting Services and the Institute of Maltese Journalists.
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