Toyin: Full Interview

Duration 42:57


Interview by Lauren Wells
18th April 2019

LW: Okay, so this is Lauren Wells recording a West Yorkshire Queer Stories interview on Thursday the 18th of April 2019. Okay, so could you start by telling us your name and date of birth and how you identify?

T: […] I was born in the month of the 19th March 1986. I’m a lesbian; I got a girlfriend. And I was born in Nigeria. I came to England on the 28th November 2014.

LW: And how did you come to England?

T: Through visiting visa. I got visiting visa cos I got problem in Nigeria then – cos I was scared for my life. And, coming to England I’d didn’t have anybody here. So, it was really hard; I booked hotel, I lodge in the hotel and from then I met different people. Like, some try to help you, but they want to take advantage of you. So, but it’s hard: if you don’t have anyone in this country, why [?]. So, I met people, and some want to help me and some who want to have sex with you before they help you. And later I met somebody when I told – he’s a family man; I met him, when I told him my story, he was shocked, like, ‘really? So, what do you want to do?’ I said, ‘I don’t know’. Then I met different friends, bad friend and good friend that give you advice. Later it was like, it was hard for my to survive, very, very hard. So, sometime – friends help; sometimes they don’t help, so it’s hard and I was like – I met some guys, a group of friends who are doing this job in the club, they do clean – door attendants in the club, so if you go to club they spray you perfume, y’know sell you lollipop for a pound. So, when I met them, they took me in and they helped me, so I was doing this with them, cos you don’t need to use any paper to work, don’t need anything. Through there I met a girlfriend, different people, y’know?

[Someone to give me money, cos it’s a hard task for you?] So, at the end of it, they gave me paper to work, so it was like, what to gives name? Yeah, I’m in Nigeria but at that time that is the rule, except to be a prostitute, so I have to take that chance, I used it to work. And, I don’t have where to stay, I still will take her in the house, and this guy try to have sex with me, but I don’t allow him. Then I don’t have any account to use, I just got a paper to work. No account, nothing so it’s really hard. So, this guy gave me, his name is Nika, gave me the account to use, and he was taking my money and I couldn’t even report the police because if I, he told me, ‘you can’t report’, and if I tell police they catch me, how do you get these papers to work? They deport me. So, I just have to cope, taking my money, £100 every week. So – and I have to buy food in the house, take money if I want to use the money if I ask he won’t give me, so every time I cry like, what will I do one day, I have to go back to bank to try to open an account maybe I would be lucky or not, whilst I was not lucky that day.

So, I tried to open the bank and – oh, I met a black Ghanaian guy and he asked me, ‘d’you want to open an account?’ I say, ‘yeah’. I ask him, ‘what can I use to open one’, and he said, ‘your address and your ID card’, and I got the ID card of that one, then I show it to him. Then he ask me, ‘where you working?’ and I told him – that time I was working with Amazon, with [?] – I told him, ‘Amazon’ and then he said, ‘can I see your payslip?’, then I show my payslip to him. He said, ‘oh you got money’ and at that time I got like 500, so I said I don’t know. So, before you know it, I saw policeman, so I just heard the police, don’t [?] cos last time I give up; there’s nothing I can do, nobody to help me, I can’t call anybody. So, I got – I was sharing the house, I was sharing a house, it was a shared house, so and the boy doesn’t have is there so, so I know police is going to my house straightaway that day, so the only thing to help this guy is to ring him. Then when I ring him [?] policeman like, ‘hi I’ve been caught, please help me, can you call my mum for me?’ Cos I didn’t have anybody. But I can call my mum that day, but I don’t want to call my mum directly, I want to save him, because they will go to my house and find out that he doesn’t have anything, like me. So, it was, it was shaking, so just, ‘hah, hah, hah’ so I went off, and they took me – I told the policeman, ‘don’t threaten’, they said, ‘oh, you’re under suspect’ – ‘they only suspect me’, then I told the policeman like, ‘you don’t need to suspect me, because I’m almost there, I tried to survive so it’s over for me now. So, the young man look at me and shake his head and said, ‘I wish I could help you but it is beyond my power’.

So, they took me, they handcuffed me, take me to police station. From there, I went to prison cos of that. So, the charge me fraud of identity. So, it’s hard. So I give my mum policeman’s number to call. And when they call, they call like, ‘your daughter be arrested: fraud’, y’know it’s hard. My mum was thinking like, ‘no, no she can’t’ but she doesn’t understand it’s because of the papers, I don’t even [?] charge with fraud of identity. Y’know, when you don’t have anybody to explain to you things, those people you have, they just tell you the positive things you need, they won’t say the negative. So, I couldn’t even believe they could charge me fraud of identity, but later I [?] that is true because it’s fraud of identity, it’s not my identity. So, I end up in jail for 13 months, in jail for 13 months, so when I went to court they told me like, oh my barrister – I got barrister – I didn’t know anything about court in my life, I’ve never been to jail, I’ve never even been to court in my lifetime, so it was really, really hard time for me. Then, he told me because of the hassle that, I couldn’t understand the hassle, like I need to pleaded guilty – I didn’t know what pleading guilty means, so I said, ‘I don’t understand’, I could even have pleaded guilty that day, so I joined the case again – so I don’t even know if she is my lawyer or not, I don’t understand what [?] y’know.

So, I went to, and – they took me to prison, it was hard. I got blood pressure, properly, like my blood pressure was really high so I started medication, y’know. I was 30 at that time, they had to give me medication blood pressure, when doctor really talk to me about the implication of blood pressure, because it was properly high. So, they want to know why. I told them like [?] my life in Nigeria is run for my life, I don’t want to die. Coming to England where you don’t have anybody, I’ve never been to prison in your life, I’ve never fight, I’ve never even taken stuff, stealing. So, the man called me, talked to me like [?] for this blood pressure because it was like one ninety-something that time, proper high, because I couldn’t sleep in the night; all the time I’d think about my life, y’know, like, when I told him I feel like, I’m not lucky to come to this country cos I’m just like – not even two years, and they caught me. So, I told them like, a lot of people in this country without papers I understand surviving their lives they stay 14 years, 15 years and they’ve not been caught. And the Home Office said, maybe you might be lucky, I said no, I’ve never been lucky in my life. So – I couldn’t even eat the food, y’know, what I have been through.

They give us a room, so that evening I got a panic attack but they try, in prison, they doctor try for me. So they check on me every two days, and those people in prison at that time maybe they don’t kill you know, this life, when I see them I start crying like, my god. Sometimes they come to me, ‘gentle girl, why you in prison?’, like, ‘you are too cool for prison’ they told me. So, I would talk, I told them like because I overstay, so because of [?] that’s [?], but that’s still, they give me like three months. So I – I don’t know, because at that time my barrister told me, if you pleaded guilty they would charge you like six months because its the common thing for illegal immigrants, then that’s okay I’ll plead guilty – when they asked me to plead guilty in court, then when I went to court, they told me I was [?] in this country and I wasn’t, and I’ve never heard it here in the court, like, I think they’ve made mistake. And that time I couldn’t get to talk to my mum, cos when my mum heard the news of me getting in prison, like, she got heart attack, y’know and she was paralysed. Cos you can, believe it or not, it’s very, very, and when the police people they don’t call you like in happy mood, they just tell you, so it give my mum shock of her life, she couldn’t believe like, ‘really?’ And it’s a [?] that she can’t call me to check me. She tried to [?] and now she’s not even okay, she’s properly down, y’know.

So, it was very, very hard, I couldn’t got anybody to talk to, [?] when they told me I was [?] I was like, when they have the problem [?] my mum say you have to run for your life, we don’t know where to go to that time, just the travel for that period of time. So, I was thinking, why my mum asked me to go like, ‘go, you need to run away’, and I was thinking, ‘should I go to America or UK?’ I don’t know where to go that time; I can’t go to Dubai, it’s easier for me to be caught there, so and through this thing my mum say, ‘try the UK’, then when they told me I was born in this country I was thinking, maybe it’s true like, maybe my mum did not tell me. And I pleaded guilty and they still charged me like 13 months, then my barrister looked at me like, because it’s [?] the sentence that I appeal, but he can’t do anything, because he told me six months before, but the judge give me 13 months, 13 months was like a long year for me, cos I’ve never experienced in my life, as part of my story anyway, I can’t tell it anymore.

So, I was just thinking of many things, and the – the lady that handcuffed me told me like before don’t say anything because a lot of investigation might have taken place. Then I was thinking like, how do they know I was born in this country and after a year they took me back to Nigeria? [Sigh] I was like, they said, she’s told me to go and ask with my mum, maybe she’s not my biological mother, and I was properly confused, that time, like, I don’t know what that sentence means, I have to be in this place for so long, so every time – I wasn’t even, I wasn’t happy for being in prison, but the only thing that keep me like, I’m not in danger I’m still safe. So, I was thinking about the detention, there’s somebody to visit me – I met my girlfriend [?] she was together with me in detention, we met; we’re very happy together, but because of my background, y’know I was there with black people from my country, it was really hard to be who I am then. So, they started making jests of me, sometime I – cos at that time, they don’t even know what I’m going through, I got no choice, I use one bra for a year. When I was in prison I wrote a letter to my landlord where I was living, ‘please, can you send me my clothes, can you put two bra for me, so I can have’ – he never responded to my message. Hard, it was hard for me to survive, but at least my girlfriend really tried for me. If anybody ever wanted to give her anything, she put my size to get it, and none of this Nigeria people even helped me forwards. So, she was there for me properly, we’re there for each other, because it’s a hard time when you are in detention. But it helped my blood pressure to come down, my depression was, I was on medication for depression as well.

So, there was a time, I think one of the overall [?], people in detention helped, so when they see my hair with my [?] they have to call me then [?] where was stabbed in my stomach here. So, it’s hard, cos in Nigeria you can report to police in Nigeria, but I tried to tell [?] but they don’t believe me. In Nigeria you don’t have to report to police – if you have money, if you kill somebody in Nigeria, and you have your money, they bury your case. Yeah, the police now, they kill you, they put you in the bush, nobody’s question. With me, without anything, how can I go to police and report? So, the only thing is to run away for my life, and to try and telling someone, cos they will tell you, even though the governor in that state is the one that’s telling us, so who am I to come and tell them. So, it was really properly hard. The only thing is to run away if I have the opportunity, which I did. When I came to England I was so happy that day, like I won’t die of, anytime I escaped for my life, and like I won’t even die of accident, cos at same time I think of accident all the time, if I want to travel, because there’s nothing good, every day people die with accidents a lot. So, I think like, I think I’m safe now. But I [?] y’know, I don’t know anybody to tell, even my country people, they won’t go and claim asylum like that because they know like scary, so nobody will even tell you to go and claim asylum. So, the person I told my story to one of the Home Office like they came to see me, they say you need to claim asylum and I have the [?] of asylum, they tell me.

So, when I was in detention, I was so happy to meet my girlfriend, at least, it’s keep me down, to go to cinema together, work together [?] and got a lot of bully from black community, cos it’s a proper community. Big majority of people there are, Nigeria is the most populated people in detention, yeah. So, everybody gossip about me, if I’m come, ‘ha that lesbian girl, that lesbian girl’. So, it was like, a little I was like, scared, like, some people called me and talked to me, that they want to use me, many, many things. I should [?] some stopped talking to me, so everybody knows me, cos I’m a lesbian. But, at the same time, at the end of it, my girlfriend was from Slovakia, so they treat her very bad in detention, very bad. [?] call, they have to pay 75p every day, so you have to rely on 75p a day, and if you have to get a job in detention, that’s out cos there’s nothing you can do but to get top-up money, so you have to do five hours to buy like five pound catapult, which is like they pay you £1 per hour, so it depends on how many hours you do. So, if you are able to do like three hours in a day, you got three pound.

So, it’s very, very hard time. And, she smoke, so before you can get £10 to buy cigarettes, it’s you have to do more job. So but, we still cope, at least, she brought happiness to me daily. We were together until they separated her, move her, I think they wanted to separate her, so they move her to [?], it’s Scotland. So they will treat her like prisoner, she’s from European country, they treat her like prisoner and because the way they behaved to you is making to be rude, so she was moved to there because the way they treat her. And, when she got to Scotland, it was – Scotland detention is better than [?] for detention [?] so they treat you like a prisoner, and when they release me from prison, I was so happy, like, cos in prison you can stay in your room all day and they lock you, but in detention you can go from your room, the will only check you in the night to count the roll call, so a little bit you are – how will I say – more freedom in detention and that time I could even heat my food.

So, like I cook some noodles in microwave, cos there’s some microwave in detention, in prison where I was, so that was the only thing that make it better and… After – after they move her it was hard time, a lot of people gossip, ‘oh now she will not have anybody, so if we stick her, who cares? [?] find some letter to me. But later they stop her from sending that letter, and they treat her properly, and y’know when the, for a long time I couldn’t even call anybody.

When I get to the detention they gave me that small phone I tried to ring my friend. I got a friend in Canada that time, I knew she’d be worried, so when I tried to call her, d’you know, my number ringed ‘prisoner’ – I was so shocked, so when she answer, she’s like ‘are you in prison?!’, I was like, ‘no, why?’ She say, ‘your number bring prisoner, prison number’, my god I was crying, I have to call the phone, it’s a total disgrace again. I don’t want a reception, ‘is this place a prison?’ When will you stop people number with prison. It’s not my number, so what happened? I just don’t call anybody, I can’t be bothered to call, cos yeah.

So, after I was there, they call me for inside before, when [?] I didn’t mind, after a month, February, they call me for another one. After, further another one, I got another one yeah, I did four interviews; they say they confused, they don’t know what to do. But after the interview, they didn’t say anything, I was just there in detention, nothing; I got no letter, I got nothing, not even ticket to travel back, they just keep me for nothing – I went to the office like, ‘what is happening with me? How can I be here for’ – I was there for months and, three weeks, yeah, and I got no, nothing. I’m just there for. And so I was like, even though you sending me home, you won’t even tell me you sending me home, you don’t say anything – it’s hard when you don’t have any letter, you don’t know what is going on. And, I want to do this rule 35, they call it [?] 35, and with the doctor, Home Office doctor, they shut me in and told me I need to calm down, everything will be fine. Like, everything that happened to somebody’s part of your story, to make you strong.

So, I got a letter and the Home Office sent a letter to me, like, because you’re over 35 you might the criteria of rule 35, social, which is a good letter, but I was still there. So, I thought don’t send me letter you have called, would it not be better have called? I got the letter the seven o’clock today, six o’clock like I have got [?] money without any preparation, with nothing. I was like, this not, if you want to go to court you need to prepare for your court, I call my lawyer and my lawyer says, ‘you sure?’ I said, ‘yeah’ [?] from my lawyer, I’m calling, they don’t want me to go. So, my lawyer said, we’ll go there and we’ll draw the case. So – I said, okay. I didn’t even want to tell anyone, just except my girlfriend, I called her from the two landlords, I’m not going because there’s no point for me, I don’t even have accommodation, nothing.

So, and I went to court. Judge, I think them y’know, I was like a good girl in detention, I got fired up [?], so I don’t know, they put everything down for you, all your behaviour. And when I went to court, the judge and the [?] they look at my record; and I’m 35, I shouldn’t have been in detention at all, so they ask to my face, ‘why you keeping that, why you give up more’ – I got like four interviews and none were decide, so they ask, ‘why do you give her much interviews?’ They say they were confused. Yeah. ‘And you confuse, and you keep her here for nothing’. So, at the end, the Home Office said, judge you can go I have made decision. Judge said, even though I don’t have anybody, Home Office tell me I high risk, my barrister said no, I’m not a high risk, because I didn’t do anything; I went to prison because I was illegal. How can I survive? I got nobody to – the only survivor is like the prostitute [?] for me that time – so I have to choose one. It’s hard time for me. So, and I can’t go to Home Office, because it’s very, very dangerous for me, I know everybody’s scared of Home Office, like, it’s like transported everyone.

So, that is the only option for me, and I says, I’ve said sorry to them. I didn’t know which – the judge said, the judge only look at me and shake the head and betray lot, ‘nobody even say hi to you in the detention, you didn’t have visitor’, I said ‘no’ – how can I get visitor? Even though my phone was seized with police for one year like I’ve no, I don’t have contact with anybody, so [?] and the little friends I have before, they are just friends, when they don’t see you for a short time before they get to know you. So, judge look at me and just shake his head, I can’t help you, I was short, that’s how they grabbed my bill, and since then they asked me to come to Wakefield. Like, everyone was really happy that time, but she was still locked up in – she was locked up for 15 months; she’s from European country, she won’t do anything, but at the end of it, last month they pay her money because Home Office did bad to her and she got, we got her number from Bristol, which [?] they pay her money, the pay her like £5,000 to compensate her, y’know.

So, I was just thinking like, don’t tell them, I don’t want Home Office to fight me again, so no worries, you don’t have to talk to me like, no, she’s right, they can’t keep her 15 good months without anything. She even got kids. But at the end, her lawyer so good, they pay her £55,000. And now she moved to me, we looking for a house – it was hard time we’ve been together, but at same time, just think of the hard time, what’s teaching you, what makes your life better – that’s some lesson you learn in life, it’s hard time – that’s what I can conclude. And now I try to put my girl – they need ask me to bring more evidence. [?] for one and half years, they keep me in their her house, so I was there, they give me 35, 37 five a week and they give me recommendation. So I was just, since that time, they sent me a letter. I was there for one and a half years, and my solicitor told me if you stay one year without any response from them, you can apply for paper to work. Then I say, ‘yeah’ she should apply for me, and when I applied, after one and half year waiting without anything, with four interviews, they wrote a letter refuse me. Without even a [?] when I’m seeing the country. They asked me to go appeal, and after one and half years waiting with four interviews my solicitor – because this is the government’s solicitor, understand, she was like, ‘I can’t believe this; I’ve never heard of this case, and maybe we need to go to court’. I was so pissed off, I looked at her like, I feel like dying, like, at that time everything was on my head, I think of my life from the beginning. So, like I was thinking, what is happening with me? I’ve never been lucky in my life.

So, she told me like, everything be fine because I can’t believe that they won’t give you a pay rise, when you stay in England and you’ve worked here one and half years with four interviews, then they say like, they asked me to bring more evidence. So, I bring more evidence, like, when I’m with girlfriend I don’t know what I’m meant to give them again, because everything I’ve been giving to them, they refuse, so I’m trying to give them evidence, looking for evidence sometime, [?] in UK if you have relationship, it doesn’t matter, you need to be taking picture with your girlfriend all the time. Yeah – taking pictures, and people can fake it, like, what they want, they want you to take picture. But I don’t the evidence that I need to provide. Going to club? It’s not everybody that likes going to club, but because we have immigration problem, they want it – you have to go to club just to take picture, which I didn’t think like is the normal thing, it’s only for the evidence.

So, they want people to support you, to write letter to you, so. And now she moves to me, this was like a bit, okay now than before and become, we live together. And she got this money, can rent house with the pay-out themselves cos they know they go wrong. No some time, but you don’t, because you can’t face them to challenge them, and when they gave me my refusal letter it was really, really hard. I want to sign. When they know that this is a refusal letter and they have like human feeling, they should be giving refusal letter openly, uncovered, when you give me a refusal letter without a pay rise that is the most wicked feeling I’ve ever received in my life, like. You know this thing is a refusal letter because you don’t care of feelings. You give me this thing, take, here’s your refusal letter without a pay rise, how do you want to me – I can’t even die, straight away. But I was like, I can’t even read letter, I just try to control myself like, I won’t die because of this. I’ve to go to my GP; when they see me they got a shock, like, you need to take it easy, and there’s a group [?] no you been too long, we need to refer you to. So […?] call you, you’ve been through much than how to take it, and they refer me to [?] and they was giving me like counselling, yeah, I try to console myself but sometime just like it’s too much. Like, she can’t even remember everything again, properly depre- I can’t even go outside, like, just the police, I’ll be scared, I shaking. So, if I’m going I would thinking they’re after me – nobody’s after me, but that is my thinking. There’s group here, she’s telling me, you have to go stay with your family for three weeks, three weeks it’ll be okay, and this family take care of me, it was really, really hard. And, I stopped signing, how can I sign – I can’t even face them. I say they take my body, dead body to there, that is only thing. And when I told my GP, they wrote me a letter to tell them and then I send it back with them. They didn’t say anything up ‘til now, it’s just a bad omen. So, I’m just looking for [?] cos before I does same with my girlfriend, does go I don’t think I have to provide everything. Our text messages, they need to see it, our call log, that is only to show, cos I don’t know how to show it more.

So, that is my story, and when I came to Wakefield – cos I was living in Milton Keynes before – I tried to contact my landlord, but my landlord blocked me; I couldn’t get anything from – my things, yeah, and he’s a black man, so [?] he’s a black man. I was naked, nothing to cover up, I don’t have any clothes. I was thinking, like [?] doesn’t like it dad – call him dad because an old person, why he blocks me, and the other person I share with I try to contact her, because they couldn’t see me for a whole year. So, my landlord said that I don’t even live in the house. I just smiled and said, ‘my god’, I can’t believe it, even though they deport me, so this man will not send me my things. So, England it didn’t give me anything; I only got my laptop, which the police seized, that time, that was the only thing I got from my thing, every other thing this man kept it. At that time I couldn’t even go to. [?] , go out to bank. [?] £2,000, he make me sign my room, so even though you take – I still listen to him – even though you take everything, can you just give me clothes? It’s cold outside and they leave me cold outside, I don’t have anything. And when I met a lady, she got a pub, she listened to me, she was crying – she took me to shop and bought me clothes. I was just shocked, like, a total stranger. I called my girlfriend, I told her, and was like, ‘don’t worry, everything’ll be fine’, you know the story, I can’t believe your people can do this thing, you’re denying me, you don’t know me. But what can I do? Cos that place is [???] I don’t have transport to go there, if I go there, what will I get the transport, what can I £7, £5 to eat, food, every day. Then, how can I get the transport?

So, it was a hard thing, but now, after find African Rainbow – I joined African Rainbow, I got to York all the time for mass, where they talk to you, you know? That’s the only thing I can do. I go to Bradford every three day, and I come to this place as well.

LW: What is it that you do with the African Rainbow?

T: African Rainbow is like, it’s an organisation that supports LGBT group, so we share the [?], we come, but it’s once a month. We identify ourselves there and they help you talk to your solicitor. [?] in Bradford as well, and York – York, yeah they give you a trip out, they make you feel like you are not alone, yeah.

LW: And does it help going to them?

T: Yeah, yeah, it helps. Cos sometimes we go out, it’s [?], how you think, when you’re sat like, before you’re just on phone, thinking about your life, just addicted to Facebook, YouTube, that’s because you’re lazy at home – you can’t even do volunteering job, they would say you can’t do volunteer like where they all the charity group where they sells, because it’s money, it’s cash, so you can’t – so, you’re useless at home, doing nothing. You can go to college in Wakefield – I tried to go to college; they said it’s not free, free course. Y’know, what can I do in the house? Just, inside the room, thinking all the time, addicted to YouTube, because of depression. Yeah, so it’s hard time. But I think, maybe one day I be lucky.

LW: Hopefully. Are you happy to talk a little bit more about what happened in Nigeria before you came to England?

T: Yeah. In Nigeria I was like, y’know, I got a good family in Nigeria, so – my dad is rich, but when they kill him… I don’t want to talk about it.

LW: No, that’s fine. Do you want me to pause it?

T: Yeah. Something like this is horrible, y’know? When in Nigeria like if you had female daugh - you had female daughter, and I’m the first one, and when something happened and in Nigeria like we got a lot of voodoo to kill people. And when they killed my dad, it was hard, and the person that killed wanted to take over all his property, and because I’m a female daughter, or daughter, they don’t want to give me anything, they want to kill me as well. Just like, you’re a female daughter, y’know, don’t need anything. And the way they treat my mum – it’s hard; it’s proper hard, so.

During that time, I got nowhere to stay. When you are somebody that got something they treat you good, like [?] house, you’re happy, with your family and suddenly the happy family turn to sad family for you. It’s hard to [?] but somebody like [?] cos nobody’s there for me, like, I got no house, no nothing, and I got this guy, like, I can confide in him, and he was really, really good to me, but he came for a background that is not a Christian – I came from a Christian family, he’s from Muslim background. And… later I discover that there’s two guys, he’s like good guy was a member of Boko Harem and when I found out it was a hard thing for me to believe him. Cos I can’t believe he [?] – this group, they kill a lot of people in Nigeria. So, when you find yourself like, something you can’t explain like [?] been in prison in my life, that is the same thing, like, when you explain like you can’t meet somebody like a Boko Harem member, not least somebody that’s close to you and your friend.

So, I got like, should I kill myself? I cannot even stay at his house. I got a lot of threats. I was taken to a place like threatening me to kill me but cos they told them, cos he loved me he wouldn’t kill me but I was shocked, I got a wound here, a scar; I went through a lot of pain for three days, just to threaten me: I shouldn’t tell anybody and – my life is at stake; I couldn’t even tell anybody. I couldn’t – I don’t have money to even tell, I don’t have anybody to tell. And he told me, see, a lot of people you know are [?], they are dead, they are the most [?], I’ve made a vow, it’s not my own, at first they must wait to do it, cos in Nigeria sometime when you want to attack people they just take you in the street and put the bomb on your body and ask you to go there – you can’t, you have to go, that is why there is no justice in Nigeria.

So, I understand everything, and I said I won’t tell anything and I make a vow with them, but at that time I was in myself, I told my mum like a secret and mum was proper sick scared like, cos my mum did not approve him because of his religion, so – because of that it was hard, that’s why I have to flew and run away for my life before they kill me. Because these people they are, they kill people, without mercy, they can kill you [?] of me, to destroy me, so it was hard, so when I came here, to this country, I was just like, ‘thank god’, I escaped for my life, y’know, I was proper happy that day, even though I don’t have any family, I just feel like, I will survive in this country, one day. But I didn’t know it would be hard like, everything need to be like in my country you don’t need to do anything – if you want to go to job – have job, you just apply.

In my country they want you to have a job it’s not easy cos as a lady you want a job you go to company, you can’t have the job because they have to sleep with you, the manager has to sleep with you, yeah. The manager need to sleep with you, the general manager need to sleep with you, the owner of the company needs to sleep with you. So, how can you get a job? That’s why I got a job, if you know your way you be happy in Nigeria. They ask you to do funny thing like, the position is hard for lady, y’know, you do a lot of funny things, sexual things to get – to live your life. But if you cannot do it: nothing for you. You can’t get promotion, and you go to school, after school there is no job. You end up selling pure water in the street, y’know? It’s hard, but those people that have money, they are at high level, but those people that are poor, very, very poor. So, there’s [?] in Nigeria, y’know, and there’s no safety. You can see like that when I got my brother there, called me, just because the friend parked the car in front of the house – they said they want to come and kill. They took Ben to pr – police station without any warning and the police say you have to give us money, if you don’t give us money, we’ll put gun in your car.

Yeah? So, that is my country. You don’t [?] they rude you, they can have sex with you while you can’t say anything, so it’s very, very hard, you can’t even report to any officer to give report; you can’t report, it’s not like England where you can report everything – if you report, you damage your life, and, in my country they kill you without any question. They come to your house, kill you, and put you on the table – nobody will question, they just have to go and bury you. That’s how when you know people and use different power ,they use a lot of power, which in this country they don’t believe, this power, like power when you touch a human being and disappear. It’s quite funny but it’s happened in my country, so a lot of people, you don’t want to go out, you don’t want people to – you don’t want to disappear. Every time you pray; that’s why people pray in my country more, because they know it’s up and, with the prayer, evil things they happen. We’ve seen it in the past, burying human being in the church just to make the confession grow faster. So, it’s quite funny in my country, but I hope one day maybe – it could be better.

Yeah, but there’s nothing, there’s no safety at all in the country. Nothing good in my country. There’s something, maybe. There’s some people who enjoy, but those people who enjoy are from the high, high rank, but for those people that are middle class, no, no.

LW: Do you feel much safer now?

T: Yeah, properly, I feel more safe here, yeah. I feel much safer here. Even though I don’t have nobody, if you want to like – I know I got a bad family, like in family, extended family like, I block them, I don’t have contact with them because everybody else is scared. And for the whole period of one year, nobody even know where I am. Only me. So when I came, and y’know, sometime, I remember when I moved to detention I was so happy, cos you can’t just go use Facebook, not when you have, every time you go on Facebook you have Facebook and for a period of time you couldn’t, y’know, those things, just like, [?] you have to go to through like can’t do anything social, y’know, you’re just inside your room crying all day. And those people, you met people that would do drugs, they’ll attempt murder; you stay in the same wing with them, you listen to stories – oh, my god, really? I met a girl from – she’s a Pakistan girl kill her sister, y’know? Sometimes, you so scared every night like, why am I [?]. Y’know? You mingle with bad people or you listen – and then another thing, you see what is going on in… in… in life. How people be so wicked [?]. So, I learnt some lessons not to trust anybody in my life again – never. Because I’ve seen a lot of people with trust and end up in jail. So, it’s hard, but it’s a lesson for me to learn during that time. I wish I did. Maybe something bad is still coming my way, I don’t know.

LW: And so, your girlfriend that you met in prison – was she your first girlfriend?

T: No, she’s not my first – y’know when, before, it’s not – it’s hard for me, y’know. When you’re in town, you know you do some crazy things, sometimes you have money, you go to club, you look girls, you touch the girls, they give you money… That is the only way to survive bertter but it’s crazy as well. Y’know? Met some people who they nice to you but just to have you, y’know what I mean? But I don’t have like permanent girlfriend like I have now, yeah.

LW: And has being with her helped you quite a lot?

T: Yeah, we’re always together, go out together. We go to – we go to York, go everywhere – Leeds together, we go to see the kids. Cos she was drug addict before, but now, she is happy with her life, yeah.

LW: Do you feel that Yorkshire is quite a good place to be openly gay, do you think you can be out?

T: Yeah, Yorkshire’s openly gay, cos you can go out, some people will look at, even though Yorkshire, they still look at you bad, like ‘what?’ Y’know? It’s still everywhere. It’s not about Yorkshire, it’s just about individuals, yeah.

LW: Okay. Is there anything else that we haven’t covered that you wanted to add to your story or to share?

T: No, nothing really.


Part of: Starting afresh in West Yorkshire