The African community in Germany is growing exponentially and many immigrants have grasped the opportunity to make Germany home. The passer-by mentality,which owed its existence to many aspects we plan to address in another post, is slowly giving way to home-maker mentality. Automatically growing within this development are the number of young aspiring youths, with potentials to achieve high and are unfortunately not encouraged or recognized. In our attempt to bridge the gap, we spotted the lights on and interviewed this young exemplary woman Olivia Njinjoh. Thanks for giving us your time Olivia.
Olivia: I am Olivia Njinjoh, 28 years old and come from Cameroon. I am a graduate electrical engineer and work in the automation branch. I am married to Francis Njinjoh and we live in Bayern - Germany.
A Sister in Germany: What were your initial difficulties when you came to Germany and how did you adapt?
Olivia: That was like 10 years ago when I moved to Brunswick. I felt like I was out of my element. It was difficult to master the German language and also to adapt to the very organized system. There was also the difference in mentality. I had to deal with a lot of clichés as a black African.
I had to adapt through integration. They say, “if you cannot defeat them, join them” and that worked for me.
A Sister in Germany: You left Cameroon as a young girl to study in a country millions of miles away, whose culture and language you knew little or nothing about and today you are a successful career and family person. What is your advice to many young ladies who are still studying or plan to study against all odds?
Olivia: I’ll advise them to hold on to their dreams and make them happen. The challenges are many but I don’t think it is easier elsewhere. I can assure them that at the end of the day, it is worth every bit of the struggle.
A Sister in Germany: In everybody’s life, there are phases when all seems lost and sometimes one is close to throwing away their goals for one reason or the other. What is your source of hope in such moments?
Olivia: My source of hope is always my goal. When all seems lost, I concentrate on the little or maybe last chance and build on it. I know it is not easy to keep doing what is right especially when it is hopeless. I also know it is very important to do what you know is right even if you do not feel like it.
A Sister in Germany: I can see you are a well-integrated person in Germany. What do you think is the key to a successful integration?
Olivia: I think it is important to understand the mentality and culture of the Germans by getting involved in their activities and making friends in and out of campus. The German language is also a necessary key to integration.
(pic left: Olivia and her husband Francis in traditional bavarian wear)
A Sister in Germany: As immigrants we face another spectrum of daily challenges of which non-immigrants might have no clue. Do you agree?
Olivia: Definitely. The fact that your visa is limited to a year or two and your activities in and out of campus are supervised makes you limited. Immigrants always feel a pressure because there is little room for mistakes.
A Sister in Germany: We are close the end of the first quarter of the year. How time flies. To what percentage have you achieved goals you set for yourself at the beginning of the year?
Olivia: The year is unfolding as planned. I guess it is because I didn’t really set anything extra ordinary goals..
A Sister in Germany: Many people, including me, find it difficult to keep and respect new resolutions. Any tips on how to stay focused?
Olivia: I think making some principles can help. If you cannot stand for something, you will fall for everything.
A Sister in Germany: As part of a very aspiring African Diaspora in Germany I would assume you are conscious of the somewhat exponential growth of this minority group, especially families. What role must Africans assume to ensure a good and safe future for their kids in Germany?
Olivia: I think the first role is that of the parents. Parents should understand the gravity of the task to bring up their kids with their African mentality in Germany. It is even a greater challenge to do so in this era. Even German parents have a problem in understanding and bringing up their kids in this new era. The parents have the challenging task to make sure that these African kids with unfortunately so many clichés should not be a nuisance to themselves and the society.
Secondly, Africans should continue to build up strong communities to which these kids can proudly identify themselves to. It leads to better networking and eases the consequent integration.
A Sister in Germany: Who are your role models in the following categories: family and career?
Olivia: I think my mom, if we have to combine both categories.
A Sister in Germany: Anything you might want to tell the African Diaspora in Germany, especially the women?
Olivia: Yes, to take advantage of this democratic and industrious society. The odds for an African will always be there but should not be a point of focus. There are so many opportunities we have as Africans to explore.
A Sister in Germany: Anything else you would like to chip in?
Olivia: This might sound funny but it is a serious issue. The African Diaspora in Germany should realize that they are here in Germany to stay. Most of us are always hanging between Africa and Germany and not deciding where we want to settle. From the statistics, more and more people are settling in Europe.
We should assume our responsibilities as the African Diaspora by getting involved and representing Africa in the society we find ourselves. We are not just guests. We should join political parties and have a political impact on the society which can lead to a consequent political impact in Africa. The same goes to building a strong economic network and more.
A Sister in Germany: It was very refreshing talking to you. Thanks
Olivia: I should be the one saying thank you..(smiles)