The process of applying and getting approved for a Visa to stay in Australia was not one of the easiest in the world. After getting my job offer, the hurdle was to prove to the Australian authorities that we were not coming over to Australia to infest the resident population with diseases from Africa. The medical results from our reputable medical practitioners were not enough, the Australian Immigration insisted that the results must be from one of only two approved practitioners for the whole of Nigeria.
One beautiful morning, we left our abode to get the required medical tests done. We succeeded in tracing the obscure address in downtown Lagos. The medicals involved filling a series of questionnaires and then getting examined by the doctor focussing on such diseases as Malaria, Hepatitis, Fever, Whooping Coughs, etc. Tests for HIV were carried out as well Following this, there was a need for Chest Xrays and we have to make another tortious and, to me, an unnecessary journey to Victoria Island. The results were then mailed to Sydney for the authorities gracious review and approval for visas. The way the examinations were conducted, I left with the thought that Australia must be a rodent, pest and disease free piece of God’s heaven on earth.
On arriving at Perth, it didn’t take long for us to be pulled aside by the Australian Immigration Officers having noticed our Nigerian Travel documents. Politely, questions were asked as to whether we have taken Yellow Fever vacinnations to which our answer was No. With friendly smiles, we were issued a ticket requesting that if we develop any of some listed symptoms within two (2) weeks, we should show ourselves to a Doctor for treatment. Well, I was not expecting that we would develop any sickness and none of us did.
Our sojourn in Australia began on this note until I saw a cockroach. The creature with its feelers was busy strolling out of its hiding on a cold evening when we met by the door of the laundry. Of course, I won the contest of who has the right to live in the house.
It wasn’t long after this that I had to visit the University of Western Australia (UWA). I simply could not stop thinking about the similarities and differences between this university and my alma mater – the University of Lagos (Unilag). Both Universities are situated next to large expanse of water – Unilag is by the lagoon while UWA is by the Swan River. The location of these campuses by a body of water brings some beauty to the views that accost their patrons. I think that is where the similarities end. While the Ijaws have managed to take over the waterfronts of Unilag and build shanty houses on stilts on top of the water, their relatives have not managed to get themselves into the Swan River and do the same. I believe this must be one of the results of the strict Australian regime for Visa approvals. However, in the absence of the invasion from the Ijaws, the bourgeoises have taken over the waterfronts of UWA and turned these into a park for their luxury yachts. The colours and ambience that this adds to the view from the grounds of the University is beautiful. Years of non enforcement of environmental laws to control waste disposal in the Lagos lagoon has resulted in the pollution of the water at the Unilag Lagoon. It is virtually impossible to see clearly beneath two or three inches of the water. This was not the case at the UWA, I was able to see clearly beneath the waters. In fact I was tempted to drink from it as it was.
On leaving the shores of the Swan River at the UWA, I needed to ease myself and found my way to the rest room of the Faculty of Arts. As I started the task that brought me to the restroom, I lifted up my eyes and there it was. I almost shouted and then I pulsed a little, I just couldn’t believe it. It was a Mosquito, unperturbed with what I was doing, lying on the wall near a spider’s web. Then my attention was drawn to another and then another and I counted at least six (6) of them.
Finally, I got the evidence I needed. Australia is not really the piece of heaven I had been made to believe it was. It has its own mosquitoes, cockroaches and spiders as well. The question then is – what makes Australia free from Yellow Fever, Malaria,cholera and other such diseases that are prevalent in Nigeria? Answers anyone? Did I hear someone say leadership?