refugee camp in Dusseldorf, Germany
was inside an abandoned ship. The German
authorities had converted the ship to a living
I had stopped at the Dusseldorf Central Train
Station and walked all the way to the camp as
I was told by Afam, a man I met few days
back in the city Oberhausen.
There was a long stretch of bridge from the
land to the ship. I walked on it until I got to
the entrance door of the abandoned ship; it
A knock on the metal door produced an
elderly woman who peeped from a spy hole
on the gate
“Was ist los?” she asked in German.
I kept silent since I didn’t understand what
she was saying.
She opened the gate and motioned for me to
“Bist du neurer hier?” she asked again.
I remained silent again.
She turned around and called on a middle
aged man to come.
The man spoke English language.
“Would you like to talk in English or French?”
the man asked me. I nodded before saying
“Are you from Sierra Leone, Liberia or
Nigeria?” he asked.
I became alert. Afam had told me a day
before that I was the one to tell them where I
came from and not them naming some
countries for me to choose from.
I composed myself and answered “Cameroun”.
He wrote down Kameroun with a ‘K’ and
asked me for my name.
“Solomon Ebot,” I answered.
He wrote it down again and asked for my
date of birth.
After writing down everything he needed
from me, he called another man who led me
to a room with number 27 written on the
door. There were two double-decker beds in
the room; the two lower beds had been
occupied. I had nothing with me; therefore I
just climbed on the top bunk and lay face-up
staring at the wooden ceiling.
At about 12 pm, a bell rang and everyone
started scrambling downstairs. I followed
them to the base of the ship where the
engine was supposed to have been. There
were rows of seats and tables carefully
arranged on the basement. At the head of the
hall was a buffet setup of assorted food; rice,
small breads, honey, butter and so on. It was
time for lunch.
There was already a long line of other
asylum seekers. I joined up from the rear.
As I walked past the first table, I picked up
two plates as I had seen the lady before me
did. I got to the food table and got served
some rice and chicken in one plate. Then I
received bread, one sachet honey and butter
in one plate. I took a pack of orange juice
and looked for an empty place to sit.
When I got to a vacant seat, I sat near the
Middle Eastern girl whom I was following.
“Are you new here?” I asked the girl.
She ignored me and continued eating.
Some Middle Eastern men were eating about
six meters opposite me and they stared at
me from time to time.
When we finished eating, I headed to room
number 27. Before I got to the room, a young
man of about twenty-eight years stopped me.
He was African.
“Are you Nigerian?” he asked.
I kept quiet as if I had not heard him. I was
told to deny being a Nigerian. It was
unpatriotic for me but I had no other choice if
I was to avoid being sent back to Nigeria.
He continued talking and asking some
questions about Nigeria. From his intonation, I
figured he was a Nigerian too, a fellow Igbo
tribesman for that matter but I was a
Camerounian on the Ship.
“I am from Cameroun,” I said to him.
He let out a devilish laugh and said his name
was Ifeanyi; he was from Anambra in Eastern
Despite the temptations to spill it out, I
maintained that I was a Camerounian. The man
could have been a German spy.
He told me that he had come from France
where he had lived for two years without
taking asylum, his visa had expired and the
police was closing in on him. He had decided
to leave France and cross over to Germany
to seek asylum. He warned me not to talk to
the Middle Eastern girl I met during lunch. He
said that her people could kill me if they saw
me around her again. That was a very good
warning from him. It was then that I figured
out why the Middle Eastern men kept staring
at me during the lunch.
After the conversation with Ifeanyi, I went
back to room 27.
When it was time for dinner, we ate again
and went to our beds.
The following morning after breakfast, some
names including mine were called out during
the breakfast. We followed a man to an office
outside the ship but in the same city of
Dusseldorf. We were registered appropriately
and finger-printed. Then we were given train
tickets to our various permanent refugee
camps scattered all over the Republic of
I was posted to Eisenhuttenstadt, a town
between Frankfurt-Oder and Cottbus in the
German state of Brandenburg. The town was
very close to the Polish border. I was given a
travel plan which would help me to connect
trains through different train stations. I was
to enter a train in Dusseldorf Central Station
to Dortmund, then stop there and enter a
different train to Osnabruck. I would stop at
Osnabruck and wait for half hour before
boarding another train to Hannover. At
Hannover, I would board another train to
Braunschweig., and after, board another to
Magdeburg. The train from Magdeburg would
stop me at Berlin Zoologischer Garten Station
where I would board another to
Eisenhuttenstadt, my final destination.
It was a cheap ticket, therefore I had to use
the inter-regional trains. It also meant that I
stopped and changed trains in all of the
above mentioned cities.
I, a twenty-two year old Camerounian, arrived
at Eisenhuttenstadt by 6:15pm. It was a long
journey but I loved traveling. I entered bus 31
from the train station to the Asylum Camp.
When I got to the gate, I gave them the
clearance papers I was given in Dusseldorf
and they admitted me.
I was taken to Room 22 upstairs in one of
the five buildings inside the massive
premises. The compound was fenced with
barbed wires. The compound next to it was
the deportation camp, the terror compound
of our time in camp.
Unfortunately for me, the dinner time had
passed that evening before I arrived at the
camp; therefore I was given an orange juice
and some hard bread to eat and wait until
the next day. They also gave me a clean white
bed sheet and two pillow cases.
I dropped off the items in the room and went
downstairs. There were many people playing
outside; football, tennis and so on. I strolled
past a group of boys; about four of them.
They were speaking Igbo, my native Nigerian
Language. I pretended not to understand
them and walked past them towards another
The new group was speaking a language I
couldn’t figure out; therefore I walked past
them again towards where some girls were
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