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Times of Hostility

VIETNAM | Friday, 3 April 2009 | Views [1775] | Comments [4]

Vietnam is readjusting to an influx of foreigners. In 2007 the country saw 3.6 million overseas visitors enter the country, a 3.7% increase on the previous year. And with scores of English teachers and businessmen relocating here every year, these numbers show no sign of letting up. But one question remains. Are locals extending a warm welcome to every new face?

Recent arrivals certainly feel so. English backpacker Alex Dorey, who has been in Saigon five days, is commendable of his treatment. “I’ve had a great time here the past couple of days, the locals have treated me very well and I’m enjoying it” he says. Newly-arrived English teacher Ryan Davis positions himself similarly. “I felt welcome from the very moment I arrived” he adds. Such a hospitable reputation bodes Vietnam well, foretelling a future that is seemingly bright. But is it reality? Or just the opinion of two white faces?

For a certain minority of visitors Vietnam is growing only in hostility rather than warmth.

A Different Story

“We’re being treated savagely” says Aaron Ewedafe, a 24-year-old Nigerian footballer and native of the Nigerian capital Lagos, hanging out on the corner of Pham Ngu Lao. Aaron is here drinking with friends, enjoying an evening away from the brutality of a hard days training. “The locals look at us with disgust” he adds while swigging the remnants of his VND5,000 beer.

What a professional footballer is doing drinking beer is beside the point, for Aaron it is an act of escapism, a chance to forget just how difficult the life of a Nigerian in Vietnam can be. “It’s tough, my friends can’t ever come and see me” he says.

In February of this year the Government of Vietnam embarked on a serious crackdown on Nigerians following a wave of anti-social and criminal activities reportedly being perpetrated by Nigerian immigrants. Later that month the Government placed a blanket ban on all Nigerian visitors attempting to enter the country. “The government is being very unfair. We can’t set up businesses, find accommodation, we can’t do anything” Aaron and his friends say. But their cries remain dubious. Is there truly no smoke without fire?

Accusations In late February, according to a Ministry of Foreign Affairs official in Nigerian’s second biggest city Abuja, the Vietnamese authorities met with the Nigerian Ambassador in Hanoi to protest over what they consider the unbecoming attitude of Nigerians. According to the official, Vietnamese authorities also announced plans to deport scores of Nigerians already in detention over a diverse range of criminal acts.

What the ‘con me le’s’ (as the Vietnamese call them) have apparently been up to range from petty to very serious crimes. Among reports of robbery, identity fraud and black bank note scams are far more serious crimes that involve allegations of drug pedaling, prostitution, sexual assault and more.

The Vietnamese media has been no stranger to reporting these issues. English language newspaper Thanh Nhien claimed to have uncovered a Nigerian-run sex-ring promising to make women happy in exchange for money in late January, while the Vietnamese press has circulated regular reports of Nigerian scams on Vietnamese locals.

“When people publicize these things in the media they forget” says Soloman Lar, a Nigerian accountant living in Phu My Hung. “The media is tarnishing the reputation of Nigerians, and we are facing greater hostility from the Vietnamese people”.

How Times Have Changed

For long-term residents this rise in hostility can be traced backward. “Politically, socially and otherwise I have noticed a lot of changes in Vietnam since coming here in 2006. When I first came Vietnam was still developing with lots of foreigners searching for jobs and the Vietnamese were very accommodating and friendly” says Lar.

But the reasons why Nigerians have relocated to a country that is so far removed, both culturally and geographically, to their West African home remains largely ominous. Lar tells me he wound up here by coincidence missing a flight to Malaysia, while another businessman, Somuadina Emmanuel, told me he was invited by a friend. To the Vietnamese such reasoning may also appear unconvincing and only fuel the level of antagonism.

For most, it appears, it is the promise of jobs that is the cause for uproot, with most realizing upon arrival that their options are in fact severely limited. Lagos based newspaper ThisDay, sought to hold Nigerians back by referring to Vietnam earlier this year as a “supposed economic Eldorado” where there are “hardly any rewarding jobs”.

But as the number of Nigerians continues to swell in the downtown areas, such warnings seem to have come too late. According to Aaron most of these men hanging around the backpacker area were once footballers tempted to Vietnam by managers in 2006/07 only to be dumped for Brazilian players and released from their contracts. “What these men do now I don’t know” he says.

To the media and the Vietnamese authorities however, the answer to this question is obvious. These Nigerians are now unemployed and dabbling in crime.

Tags: ho chi minh city, immigration, nigerians, saigon, vietnam, visa



Hi, can I please ask you when you made that interview with nigerians footballers???

thanks alot for your reply. Ann

  Anabell Jun 3, 2009 4:50 PM


i think vietnamese should knw that not every nigerian or african is evil....and should treat good poeple with contempt.

  jude Sep 9, 2009 4:08 AM


Run into your blog when checking on Nigerian / Ghanian scams and scumbags .
All that stuff you wrote in that blog of yours is true and should be multiplied by 2 to say the least .
Japan has similar problems and has had them for more than 20 years . Nigerians here are still at it , petty crime , scams , drug peddling and a lot worse like robbing taxi drivers at knife point , two deaths since the past 2 years , and they even have a so called Nigerian Nampa Mafia . Nampa is the Japanese slang for female prey hunting .
Japanese police are slobs because they get bribed , not all of them of course , or the yakuza cover these scum mainly because they use them as drug mules .
Nigerian and Ghanian mules fill condoms and gobble them to carry the whole shebang in their stomachs . Sagami Gomu made condoms are their favorites because they seem to be durable .
Hard working foeigners or GAIJIN here and Japanese alike are fed up with these Western African dregs . Even since the Iranians got finally kicked out of Japan for doing exactly that and more , the West Africans took their place . Roppongi area , being a total slum and red light district is where they proliferate the most . A ghetto where nobody in their right mind would risk to go .
I suppose those that got screwed there had it coming .
Their only good deed here is that they take the ugliest and fattest most disgusting suburbia females , marry them and after milking them and their families of money they just dump them onto another of their pals hands , thus keeping these twats too busy to bug the real hard working foreigners .
A public service of sorts . Basically their Embassies just do nothing or even help them with their scams . I pity the Vietnamese because I think they are just getting the tip of the iceberg . The worst is yet to come .
On second thoughts ; Vietnamese ARE getting what they wished for anyway .
Good luck to you all .
A.K. in Tokyo , Japan

  Kachidoki Katawa Apr 27, 2010 2:08 AM


The Government may have cracked down and placed a blanket ban on Nigerian coming to Vietnam to do their crime in 2009 as written above... but they are back.

Visit Bobby Brewers cafe in Pham Ngu Lao back packer area in Ho Chi Minh City ( Saigon) on any day and you will see they have set up office on the top floor cinema for their Nigerian email scam business. The same group of individuals using laptop all day during the movie.. They don't buy any food or drink, just they sit there watch other things on their computer, talk and send emails. The Vietnamese staff too afraid to ask them to leave.

Two man also use the computers at Highland coffee in Carrefour in Phu Nhuan for many hours every day. Very strange.

  Nigerian Scam Vietnam Apr 24, 2011 4:01 AM

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