The Illegal Immigrant

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The Illegal Immigrant


Who is Mustapha? A respected Nigerian journalist and an aspiring filmmaker or an illegal immigrant wanted by the Home Office? Is he even Mustapha, or is he Michael, Kimani, or any one of the other identities he takes on to survive? This is not just Mustapha's story. It is a social saga with a glittering array of memorable characters embodying the ethnic and cultural diversity of London. Samuel Selvon's Lonely Londoners gave us the city from the perspective of Caribbean immigrants who arrived in the 1950s. Mohammed Umar's The Illegal Immigrant not only gives us the African experience of the 1990s, but reveals a society knitted together from a tapestry of multiple brightly coloured strands: Africans from different parts of the continent, West Indians from different Caribbean islands, sub-continental Indians, Europeans, Iranians and many others. What they have in common is their quest for 'another world, a new chapter, a new dawn and a new dream.' The journey of self-discovery and self-creation on which we accompany Mustapha dramatises the idea that identity is endlessly open to negotiation and change. This process can at times be simultaneously painful and liberating.

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