Nigerian Migrant Helping Refugees in Croatia

Total Croatia News

International media interest for a story written by two high school students from Zagreb.

The well-known German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) has published an article written by two high school students from Zagreb, Valentina Jozić and Erna Jugović, in the section “Jugend schreibt” (“Youth writes”). The article titled “A Prince in Flight” deals with the fate of an asylum-seeker from Nigeria Prince Wale Soniyiki, who now lives in Croatia and helps other refugees, reports on 13 July 2017.

Jozić and Jugović write that Soniyiki was born in 1985 in the central Nigerian town of Jos City, located between the Muslim north and the Christian south of the country. Soniyiki is actually a real Nigerian prince with the official title “Onipara of Ipara”, meaning “The Ruler of the People of the Ipara”, but the life has taken him far away from the local throne.

In that part of Nigeria there is great poverty and, as Prince Wale Soniyiki said, it takes around 150 euros per month to survive, which is the amount most people cannot afford. “In Europe, this is the price of a pair of a famous brand of shoes,” says Soniyiki in the article, adding that during election campaigns the hungry people receive eggs and bread in order to vote for certain politicians.

The Nigerian prince ended up as an asylum-seeker in Croatia after an attack of the Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram in 2011 on the town of Kuru, where he then lived. During this assault, he saw two of his brothers being killed by terrorists, and he barely saved himself by jumping in a nearby muddy ditch. After the withdrawal of Boko Haram, the Nigerian town was attacked by the state security services, which began killing survivors with the explanation that they were actually terrorists. Soniyiki was beaten to the brink of death and, with the help of Christian priests, he decided to escape from Nigeria.

He crossed the Sahara, reached the town of Benghazi in Libya, and was supposed to be smuggled to Italy. But, he found himself on an island near Split and then came to the Dalmatian capital, where a taxi driver asked for a thousand euros to drive him to Italy. Soniyiki had just 600 euros, which he gave to the taxi driver, but he brought him to about 50 kilometres from Zagreb and fled, telling him that they had supposedly arrived in Italy.

He was then found by the Croatian police, which helped him and was very welcoming towards him, said Soniyiki. He also mentioned that he stayed for a while in Kutina, at a well-known asylum centre in Croatia and that his asylum application was granted after seven months.

The article also notes that Soniyiki has been employed by General Ante Gotovina at his fish farm at Biograd and that he has found his place in the Croatian society, even learning to speak a Dalmatian dialect.

Today, 32-year-old Prince Wale Soniyiki is helping other asylum seekers and refugees to integrate into Croatian society and says that he considers Croatia his “second homeland,”.


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