Opinion / Blog

The man with a plan

By teamkrejados (blog.chinadaily.com.cn) Updated: 2015-09-08 17:18

He was born in Nigeria, to a Nigerian father and South African mother. He was raised by his father in Nigeria, his mother apparently having decamped, taking her nationality with her. Life was not easy for this father and son. Minimal education, social strife and income disparity all culminated in a young man with few chances at a decent life. His father, wanting the best for his boy, advised him to seek his fortune elsewhere. Or maybe, in desperation, the young man took it upon himself to hatch a plan.

In some back alley in the bad part of town, he traded with a forger to obtain a fake passport. How his father felt about that is not known. Now the world was open to him, and he set about finding his fortune. He set his sights on China because of their urgent demand for English teachers.

Once there, he worked hard at teaching for the first institution that would hire him, and every school after that. He sent most of his salary to his now ailing father. To augment his income he opened a small English school; soon his gates were flooded with little ones struggling with the intricacies of English grammar.

No doubt with the specter of his homeland and his family's poverty never far from his mind, he enrolled in university. He had been too poor to afford much schooling when he was younger. Remembering his fathers words – that education will improve his station in life, he studied furiously. And he didn't stop at a bachelors degree. When our paths crossed, he was headed for his masters.

When he first came to China, things were a lot more lax - both in this country and in the world. Obtaining official documents was nowhere near as rigorous as it is today, and it was common for official papers to be rubber-stamped rather than being closely scrutinized. Many countries did not have any counterfeit measures embedded in their passports and, if they did, those measures were easy to forge. In the ten years our man lived and worked in China under a fake passport, never once was that permission challenged.

Eventually the fear of being found out must have lessened. This man started taking chances. He bought an apartment, and a car. With his little English school flourishing, he rented a larger building and hired a few teachers.

About 2 years ago, he came close to being found out. China had tightened visa regulations for foreigners. If a person is here on a work visa, s/he cannot own a business. The official representing the school our man was currently teaching at, charged with keeping foreign teachers' documents current, had taken the man's passport for its annual visa renewal. Apparently, Chinese databases had been updated. The school he worked at learned that their foreign teacher was illegally operating a business. The Bureau of Foreign Affairs initially refused to renew the visa, but then compromised. Our man was placed under notice: within 6 months, the business should be either put in someone else's name or disbanded altogether, and an official certificate to that effect should be produced.

Imagine how our man must have felt! Having worked under deception for so many years, perhaps even getting comfortable with his higher quality of life, and now to suddenly come under scrutiny! Nevertheless, he transferred his business to someone else's name, and the whole scandal went away. He must have again gotten complacent with his rich, secure life in China.

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