Pamela Adie, Nigerian LGBT rights activist, narrates harrowing experience on Mozambique trip
Nigerian LGBT rights activist, Pamela Adie has taken to Twitter to recount the humiliating experience meted out to her by immigration officers on a recent trip to Mozambique.
The filmmaker and public speaker narrated her experience in a Twitter thread on Sunday.
Adie said she was denied access to the country for not possessing a letter of invitation, despite the country operating a “Visa on Arrival” policy for Nigerians.
She said it was unfair that information mandating travellers to possess such a letter was not made available on any online portal so that the intending traveller could apply to get it before arrival.
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Adie wrote, “I left Lagos to Mozambique last week. I planned to be there for about a week and return to Nigeria.
“As I always do before travel, I researched travel & visa requirements. What I found for citizens of Nigeria is that we can get visa on arrival.
“In fact, I couldn’t find any information on a Mozambican embassy or consulate in Nigeria, which let me to believe there isn’t any. The logistics officer and travel agent found the same information that I did: “Nigerians get visa on arrival”.
“My boss even wrote a letter confirming my employment, including a return ticket, and hotel reservation confirmation directly from the hotel. All paid for. I was ready to go! Well, that was until I got to Mozambique after a 22hr flight time with
@flyethiopian (Ethiopian Airlines).
“The immigration officer asked for my passport, hotel, and return ticket. I provided those. Then she asked me for my visa. I didn’t understand why she was asking for that when everything we searched said “visa on arrival”. She insisted that yes I’ll get visa on arrival but I will have to provide a letter of invitation.
“I asked where/who the letter was to come from. She said it has to come from the Mozambican embassy in my country inviting me. Her English wasn’t really great so I often asked her to repeat her questions, which I think angered her.
“But nowhere did it state that. With all our research, we didn’t see that information anywhere. So I told her that.
“She insisted that I need the letter otherwise, I couldn’t enter. So I asked if there was an address she could provide; she didn’t. I asked if there is a website that shows this requirement. She didn’t. So how was I to find this information if she couldn’t show me. She then showed me a sample of the letter, which I couldn’t understand because it was in Portuguese. That’s all she did. Next thing, she put my passport aside and asked me to wait.
“I asked her what I was waiting for, she angrily just said “wait!”. So I stepped aside. After a few minutes, a man appeared. Took my passport and asked me for the same letter. His English was better so we communicated.
“I explained the same thing again; “all information online says visa on arrival”. He said yeah, that’s why I should have asked someone who has been to Mozambique before coming.
“For a country trying to promote tourism, that’s a shitty thing to say and an even shittier travel policy. What happens to people like me who know no one like that?
“He said he’s sorry, but that’s their policy. I asked what can be done, and he said nothing because it takes one month to get this letter. And since I don’t have it, I’d have to go back to my country. Just like that.
“Then he left with my passport. Came back a few minutes later to ask if I had any luggage. I said yes; one suitcase. This was when I knew things were getting serious.
“I asked the woman again if there was anything I could do to solve the problem. She didn’t respond or even look at me. But she took pictures of my passport page, (return) ticket, Hotel reservation, and COVID test result..with her phone. I don’t know if she sent it to someone, but when I peeped at her phone, it looked like a WhatsApp message. Then she kept her phone down for about 15 minutes and checked again. Then called another staff.
“That person escorted me to get my luggage. I still asked her if there was anything I could do, she said that’s their policy and I cannot enter if I don’t have this letter. So, there I was, in the airport, no internet, no way of reaching the outside world, and no information on how to solve this problem.
“I asked if I can use anyone’s phone to let my people waiting for me know what was happening. They just asked me to follow them. We entered a waiting hall, that was when an officer from the airline appeared and gave me a new boarding pass. I looked at it and it was an economy class ticket.
“I told him I traveled business class, so why was I given an economy class ticket. He said I didn’t have a choice in the matter, he told me that my passport will be returned to me when I arrive Lagos, like I was some kind of criminal.
“The plane I came in was about to return, and I was to get on it. But I didn’t want to leave without letting anyone know what happened. So one of the officers agreed to let me use his phone. I called someone in Mozambique to let them know and to let my boss know.
“Then they escorted me to the plane. The flight attendant saw me and asked what happened, I told her and when I showed her my new economy class boarding pass, she asked me pick any Business Class seat I like. That was the silver lining in my ordeal.
“I was so touched by the kindness because she didn’t have to. But she could see my disappointment, sadness, and anger, and probably thought to make it a bit more manageable for me. So, I resolved that whenever I can, I will fly (Ethiopian Airlines).
“When got back to Addis, I wasn’t allowed to leave the airport because they wouldn’t release my passport. Despite the 12hr layover, they made me sleep on a metal chair in the airport over night. Such inhumane treatment for someone who isn’t a fugitive. That was so unnecessary.
“That was how I retuned after a pointless journey over 3 days. Now, I don’t know if this was personal, or if this is the treatment they give Nigerians or anything like that. I don’t know.
“But it’s unfair and unwise to have a policy that people find out about AFTER they’ve arrived or by being lucky enough to know someone who has traveled there before and knows of their policy.
“This is such a diplomatic failure and a very poor tourism policy. As I type this, I haven’t been able to find a twitter handle for the Mozambican government.
“Such information should not be something only a privileged few have, unless they’re intentionally not making information public to prevent certain unsuspecting people from entering their country. It makes absolutely no sense.
“As it stands now, if I wanted to visit #Mozambique again, I have no idea how to proceed or how to get that letter. Imagine the number of people like who they have turned back. Imagine if my life depended on making this trip, or I planned to go somewhere else after #Maputo. Hmmm
“Anyway, I wish I could give you information on how to prevent this from happening to you, but I can’t and that’s the most frustrating thing about all of this. All I can say for now is, don’t go to #Mozambique. They are not friendly at all…at least not to people like me.
The worst part is that I don’t know where to file my complaint for this injustice meted on me. What I have now is social media to sound the alarm and to warn others who might want to visit their godforsaken country. #Mozambique”
The name of the country is even awkward.