Work to Survive

Barry Chukudi is from Nigeria, from Biafra. He fled to Turkey in 2013 due to the violence of the Nigerian military in the struggle for independence of the Biafra region. He talks about finding an own flat and how he and his family finance themselves.

Barry Chukudi, private picture. 2021

Initially, we came to Istanbul, I don’t know anybody. When we came, we see some black people and they told us a place, Tarlabaşı in Taksim. We met some people in Tarlabaşı, there was a grand room and ten people were living in that room. We took a room with 7-8 people, then we stayed 2-3 days in that place. So those guys help us to get a small house. So, when we get the place, the man said that you will pay 300 TL, every month. Then we said that we don’t have money, so he took that price to 250 TL. We said okay, now we were looking for job, we didn’t see any job, then we were introduced with a man. He was living in a beautiful house, and we started to work, sometimes we work from 8:00 AM to 17:00 AM and he gave us 50 TL, about seven or six months we worked at that house the other people joined us and we stayed around 11 people in that little place. So, we go out in the mornings, if we see any work, we worked. We started making contacts with some people who were building house. They came and took us, we go and work, they gave us 50 TL, sometimes they bought food for us. It’s not easy for us. That is how we are coming until today. As I am talking to you now, after 3-4 years, things have been changed. I met with good people. Me, my sister and my wife, we started to make contacts, then we start to get money to be able to rent a home. So, as I am talking to you now, we are in a room, one room with my son and my wife. She is working three times in a week, sometimes she makes cleaning, this is how we are able to stay here. It’s not being easy for us. But Turkey is better for us, at least we are alive.

Barry comes from the Biafra region of Nigeria. The region was briefly independent from 1967-1970. The population continues to try to secede from Nigeria, in some cases by force of arms. The Nigerian military is taking violent action against them. According to Amnesty reports, in 2020 at least 115 people have died at the hands of the military, many of them civilians. 11Amnesty International, 2021: Nigeria 2020. https://www.amnesty.de/informieren/amnesty-report/nigeria-2020 (18.10.2021).

Barry lives in Istanbul with his wife and son.

    Footnotes

  • 1Amnesty International, 2021: Nigeria 2020. https://www.amnesty.de/informieren/amnesty-report/nigeria-2020 (18.10.2021).

This interview was conducted in 2021 in English via video call by Elif Yenigun for the We Refugees Archiv.