This is not what you think it is. Rather, it is a very important issue. Right about now, it is a nightmare for many Americans and even non-citizens in the United States….Oh yes! I am talking about none other than the TSA. For the less informed, since the 9/11 terrorist attack in the US, security has increasingly been an issue of great concern; for the government and people as a whole. Now, there is this new procedure whereby travelers need to use a full body scan (that works like an x-ray), subject themselves to a pat down (when I say pat down, I mean paaaaaat down, hands-everywhere-type) or in case of outrage at the first two options, refuse to fly. I know you might be wondering how this concerns me or Naija people.
A couple of months ago, when I was coming to school from NYC, I erroneously tendered my passport (Naija) for identification. Boy oh Boy!!! I went through layers and layers of security, just because I was carrying a Nigerian passport. I was close to tears at the singling out and treatment of prodding and poking. Tomorrow, I am planning on flying back home for the Thanksgiving break and I am left to decide among my choices: shall I use the body scan (screaming….RADIATION), the full pat down (when in fact, I direct and censor where my boyfriend touches or does not) or take the trip home by road for some 8 hours or thereabout?
For me, unlike the Americans, I do not think this has anything to do with my rights; it has everything to do with cultural sense of moral right and wrong. For me to take the stance they want in the body scanning machine, I’d feel like a criminal. With my hands raised up like an accused, it is easy for me to immediately loathe that option. The groping is even worse. I have culturally been taught of how to be touched and not touched. This procedure falls into the “how not to be touched” category. It looks extremely dehumanizing! The third is not even an option for me. 8hours on the road to NYC is not that much of a big deal, but one month on sea for a trip to Nigeria is pure torture!
All of this makes me sad. Why? Because I feel somewhat guilty by virtue of nationality. Because I feel like I am a reason why this measure is taken. Because I realize that we, as Nigerians are a part of this intrusive decision arrived at, courtesy of Mutallab ( the young Islamic Nigerian who attempted to bomb a US plane last Xmas). I cannot even be upset about these measures because I, as a Nigerian, am one of the reasons why it is called for….so, off to the Airport I go tomorrow, and while all of America is bickering and nagging, my mind is silently begging, “grope me please, realize my innocence and leave me the HELL alone,” while cursing Mutallab under my breath! :)
For Nigerians home and abroad, how do you feel about this whole TSA procedure? How does it make you feel about travelling, especially to the States? Above all, tell of your experience about using your Nigerian passport as identification in a US airport.