Okay o. So there I was sitting jeje and I get an e mail saying I have to go to Tanzania later in the year. It's for work and I'm quite excited because I've never (whisper it) been to another African country. There I am gallivanting to Spain and Italy and France and the US and I have never even been to Ghana....na wa for WAEC....
Anyway they tell me flights are booked and arangements made and I'm asked to check if I need a visa. I go to the Tanzania High Commission website http://www.tanzania-online.gov.uk/visa/visa-who.html and carefully go through the list of countries whose nationals require a visa.
Nigeria is not on the list so I'm quite excited. Let me explain. In my office, everyone knows about me and my visa wahala. Whenever I need to travel for work or even for play, I often need to get a visa. Thankfully some of the embassies have given me long duration visas (stand up US and Canada to be acknowledged) but others including the Schengen states insist on giving me itsy bitsy visas that need to be renewed ever so often. Anyway I digress.
The point is that when I saw Nigeria was not on the list and the UK was, I laughed. Ehen, for a change, my English colleagues would need to get a visa and I would not- let them see what it is like to be filling forms and sending it up and down. Hooray for African solidarity!
Anyway I noticed a bit of small print at the bottom of the web page that said to call the High Commission if your country was not on the list. So I picked up the phone and called:
"Tanzania High Commission"
"Good morning, I'm a Nigerian based in the UK and I need to go to Tanzania later in the year for work and was calling to find out what the visa requirements are?"
"Hold on a minute I'll transfer you"
Another female posher voice comes on the line and I repeat my question
"You cannot apply for your visa here, you have to apply from Tanzania. Nigerians need what we call a referred visa- it's only issued from our Immigration Headquarters in Dar es Salaam"
"I beg your pardon, but I can't go there without a visa, can I?"
"No, the people inviting you have to apply on your behalf in Tanzania"
"But they sent me a letter of invitation and asked me to apply at the Embassy here"
"I am telling you what you need to do"
I decide to try a different tack- "But what if I'm a tourist- just going on holiday"
"Then the people you are going to stay with have to apply for you in Dar"
"So there is no way I can apply from here"
"Have you been listening to me?"
"I don't think so, because if you had been listening that question will not be necessary"
As I sit with my mouth open, I hear a click. Madam has dropped the phone on me.
So much for African brotherhood.
I Google "Tanzania Immigration" and find this:
" Referred Visa
The referred visa is one that requires special clearance or permission from the Director of Immigration Services in Dar es Salaam or the Principal Immigration Officer in Zanzibar. This type of visa is required for nationals of Lebanon, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Somalia and for Refugees, stateless people and other nationalities as may be specified from time to time by the authorities. People affected by this regulation may make enquiries at the nearest Tanzania mission abroad."
So I've asked my office people to get in touch with the people I'm going to see in Tanzania, but as it stands, there's no guarantee that I'll be seeing another African country anytime soon :-(