It is no longer a matter of argument that many Igbos in the Diaspora come home every Christmas for many reasons. Their reasons may vary greatly. But by and large, they must include coming home to see old parents and guardians and those who made their travel possible in the first instance or to see loved ones, friends and old professional colleagues. Others may be coming to complete or initiate new projects for themselves, or for their communities. More still many may come to participate in different types of ceremonies either personal or general such as the installation of their parents with chieftaincy titles, celebration of anniversaries or birthdays of their parents. More so, many may come either to look for some to get betrothed, wedded or conduct traditional wedding.
There is one common denominator irrespective of the reason for their visiting home during the Christmas festivities. That common denominator is that they come with a lot of money to spend for whatever reasons are there for them to visit. The type and extent of certain amount they bring varies from individuals to individuals. It may range from one thousand dollars, Euros etc to several thousands of dollars.
And given today’s exchange rate, one dollar is likely at least to fetch over four hundred naira. Indeed, to a returnee it looks like a lot of money. Consider this if a returnee is to change five thousand dollars. This will give him or her over two hundred and fifty thousands of naira.
Indeed, if this is translated into buying power of naira, they would soon find out that they simply don’t have enough to spend because of the very weakness of naira.
Unfortunately, many Igbos whose wards, sons, daughters, friends and well wishers come home with such amount of money don’t even care to know how these various sums come about into the pockets of the returnees. In fact, experience has shown that many of these returnees don’t come home out of enough and sufficient amount to spend back home or too much money to spend. No, absolutely no. Honestly, if we see or know what these returnees who live abroad see to make one dollar, we will be only too glad to appreciate them more. Most of them make their money through employment or self- employment. Some are working as nurses, doctors, medical supplier aids, clerks, accountancy, lawyers etc. others work in different professional occupations. Many, although, are self- employed personnel.
In fact, no matter what type of job one is doing in America, one is making his or her income through the mills of harsh and hardship. In America, there is no longer a free lunch. Nobody but nobody can make even one dime in the US without discharging a corresponding amount of sweat both from his nostrils and through the armpits. America is one country among others, where one must earn every dollar one makes.
Some of them out of sheer desire to visit home because every Igbo man is usually attached to his home or family, many of them go extra length to borrow money or buy a lot of things for people at home on credits, just to look good or to be good to home folks.
Unfortunately, many people at home have great misunderstanding of the financial predicaments which these returnees go through before they can visit home. Honestly, there are some of them who are comfortably disposed to be visiting home on yearly basis but others are not so disposed to do so.
Unfortunately, home bound returnees sometimes tend to give wrong impression to their people at home of the status of their financial capabilities hence people at home expect so much from them. Even some can go as far as trying to cheat the returnees, selling things to them out of the real price, selling to them adulterated wares or products in place of real one or even going as far as outright dupe.
Even when some are asked to go and exchange dollars for returnees, they may give them wrong naira exchange rate.
However, some returnees give rise to such behaviours by those at home because they do not display any air of hardship or penury. Rather, they show off with their bunch of exchanged naira notes. But once they have made any type of huge purchase such as clearing imported vehicles, buying cements and rods for building projects, etc. they would soon find out according to one returnee, “my bunch is gone.”
It is important to advise returnees to be wary of some people at home and know how to exhibit their affluence in the public, lest, they are either robbed or grossly cheated.