Africa

Visiting Cape Verde on a Bangladeshi Passport: A Transatlantic Travel Nightmare for The Third World Citizen.

If you are keen to find out whether or not you can visit Cape Verde on a Bangladeshi passport – the answer you will find online and on the country’s website is that you can do so by buying a e visa online and paying the airport tax and supplying the information for your travels such as reservations and ticket out of the country. However, if you want to know about these rules in practice: I will tell you this – don’t go there, it is no country for the third world citizen.

If you’ve read my travel blog so far, you might already know that I love to travel to pretty much any where and everywhere. And as a Muslim woman of colour travelling the world on a Bangladeshi passport, you can also imagine that I face my fair share of trouble. This includes being deported from Macedonia, being subjected to brutal levels of racism which manifested in physical violence in Hungary, being interrogated in Georgia, Serbia, Italy and countless other generally white countries in Europe. But this was the first time in my life, I have been subjected to horrible treatment by immigration in West Africa- and frankly I am stunned. 

Allow me to explain, West Africa is renown for its hospitality. Every country i have been to within the ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States), has welcomed me with open arms in the region which is a characteristic particular to the region. Making my way from Sierra Leone, I travelled to Gambia for a few days and then off to Senegal for a week before getting to Cape Verde. My plan was to be in the country for 4 days and then head to Germany via Portugal from here for a wedding. I paid online for a Visa and the Airport tax for Cape Verde 2 days before arrival  and stood in the queue for immigration with my yellow fever card, passport, visa, reservations for staying in two different hotels and flight out of the country. 

Within two minutes of being the queue, two immigration officers arrived by our sides, looked at the passports of several people including mine, and took inside 3 people, this included two Liberians and myself. The man who was looking through my Bangladeshi passport, looked through every page of it, every time i asked him what the problem was – he said its just security protocol. However, he was not the person calling the shots, his boss was. His boss – lets call her Zala arrived and began to ask me questions, I handed her all the paperwork she asked for, she asked me my purpose for coming to Cape Verde and I said tourism. Zala disappeared for 15 minutes. She came back and asked me to collect my luggage, from a similar experience in Macedonia, I knew this meant they were going to deport me. I kept asking the woman what the problem is and she said: “I don’t have a problem, do you have a problem?” I am not sure what that was supposed to mean. But from the offset, it was abundantly clear that Zala was in no mood to understand any logic. I texted my parents the whole ordeal of what was happening in the hope they could perhaps do something but due to the time difference, they were asleep. So we waited, seeking clarification for what was happening and Zala told us around midnight that we were all going to be sent back to Senegal, i pleaded with her to let me go to Europe instead for which i had all the documentation for already and since I only had a single entry visa to Senegal and would be stranded, her answer was: “That is not my problem, that is your problem and the problem of the airline that brought you here.” 

Around this time, a Nigerian man and a Malian man arrived, having just landed from the Air Maroc flight. At this point i began to see a pattern- they were only detaining solo travellers of colour. In the same flight with me, there were white solo travellers, but none of them were of course detained – it was the third world citizens- those without representation or power in the country or the world in general. Zala, a woman of colour herself, was perpetuating a cycle of racism that she herself had internalised. It was at that moment, that i realised how people of colour can often be socialised into becoming torch bearers of white supremacy and racism. Zala detained us without clarity on why they were deporting us, when we asked her, she told the men that it was due to their lack of paperwork – mind you ECOWAS citizens by law have free movement of upto 90 days. I asked Zala what was the reason for my deportation since i had provided all my paperwork which included my hotel reservations and flight out, she yelled at me “How long are you coming to Cape Verde for? 4 days? Thats abnormal! You can’t stay in Cape Verde!” The last sentence was echoed to me several times in the 17 hours i was detained for. 

Sometime around 3 am, they separated us from our things, this included everything except for our wallets and locked us in a corridor with two rooms, the men’s room was locked for my safety and the door to my room was open with the door of the tiny corridor locked. We were locked into a part of the airport away from everyone else. These doors had no handle from the inside or anyway of opening them, there was no source of natural light and no toilet paper in the toilets. The rooms were clean and had bunk beds for us to sleep in – i slept at a bottom bunk. The four walls that surrounded the room were littered with messages from previous detainees and read “Cape Verdeans will not be happy in this land.” “Cape Verdeans will suffer in this land” “This is no country for black people.” and several other harrowing messages in several different languages depicting the emotions of the people who were locked in the rooms. They gave us a small amount of water and locked us in from outside saying they will be back around 10 am the next day with breakfast. In the men’s room there was a Claustrophobic Nigerian guy who would periodically (Lets say once every hour) bang against his door extremely loudly. So every time i managed to fall asleep he would be banging against the door waking me up in cold sweat. No matter how many times i would ask him to stop he continued banging against the door – at several points during the night, i thought he would manage to break the door down and really feared for my safety if he did. When they eventually opened the door at around 9:30 am, i pleaded with the guards to let me stay outside because i feared for my safety in there, but of course this fell into deaf ears. They gave us food and no matter how many times i asked them what was in it, i got no answer. I explained i don’t eat meat but that did not matter to them. I pleaded once again to the new immigration officers about my case, showing them my work permit for Sierra Leone, passports, visas, ID Card for my job with GOAL in sierra leone and the answer from the new immigration officer was “I cant do anything, my boss decided not to let you in, but i don’t know why.”

I had 10 minutes to check my phone and realised that my mom had received all the messages. A little back story: My mother works as the Deputy Representative of UNICEF in Sudan, so i asked her if she knew anyone at the UN in Cape Verde who could find out what was happening to my case. In the 6 hours i went missing, my mother had managed to get in touch with the UN in the regional office – Dakar and through them gotten in touch with the UN at Cape Verde. She said, she had been in touch, they will try and see what is happening. With no idea whether or not I would be able to perhaps catch my flight to Germany and leave this god forsaken country, my 10 minutes was up and we were locked back in and would not be allowed out till 3:45 pm. 

I sat in the dark room, and i prayed. I prayed to a god and all the gods. I meditated, reflected and thought of how much better I had it than the millions of fleeing their homes in search of safety. I sat down and I prayed for the millions of people from the middle east, africa, central america, rohingyas who are subjected to the most brutal conditions in border cells. People who have no connections, no power, no authority, no way privilege and nothing but the clothes on their back. People who were not on holiday but were fleeing death and I felt a deep sadness within me. We as human beings have failed. We have failed the millions of children on the move who seek safety, unaccompanied, crossing harrowing oceans, only to be killed in the custody of “the greatest country in the world” or wash up in beaches. We have fundamentally failed humanity and have become so consumed in our self centric, xenophobic, racist, exclusionary ways that we fail to humanise those that are different from us.

I tried to knock on the door a few times to be able to use the toilet, but they don’t respond to our pleas. They opened the door again at around 3:45 to give us lunch and at that point the first thing i asked was how long it would be till i would be sent back to Senegal – only to be told, for the first time – “You will stay here in Cape Verde. You wont be sent back.” I panicked thinking they were going to detain me further. So I asked, “In here as in, in the airport or in the country?” The man explained in broken in english that someone had called and there were people at the airport waiting to pick me up. I rushed to my phone to find out that the entire situation had been escalated up to the level of the foreign ministry in Cape Verde and it was then that i realised the ultimate level of my privilege. My mother, like any mother would, had mobilised the entire regional office of UNICEF in Dakar and the UN in Cape Verde to figure out what is going on and only then did the Cape Verdian immigration for the first time decide to see my case for it’s facts and not on the basis of racially profiling a Bangladeshi solo traveller. The people who handled my case in the airport provided inaccurate information as an excuse for my detention- citing that i was transiting the country, did not have the permission to travel to Europe, nor had enough funds or reservations to sustain myself. None of which were true. 

Eventually after 2 more hours in custody, I was allowed to enter this country once the immigration there realised they had completely and utterly messed up. I entered the country for a whole 2 days to catch up on some sleep and buy a ticket out of the country as soon as possible. I saw very little of the country as it somewhat spiralled me into a state of trauma whereby i was both half exploring the country’s history, culture and living in a state of constant anxiety from the harassment I anticipated. You see, what i found out after a car accident in Lesotho in 2014 is that psychological trauma from an event that is perceived to be life-threatening or to pose the potential of serious bodily injury to self can often be accompanied by intense fear, horror, and helplessness. This in turn can lead to the development of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  The signs and symptoms of PTSD, often reflect a persistent, abnormal adaptation of neurobiological systems to the stress of the trauma experienced/witnessed. Researchers have observed patterns of the trauma that people with PTSD experience, they are as follows: (i) reminders of the exposure (including flashbacks, intrusive thoughts, nightmares); (ii) activation (including hyperarousal, insomnia, agitation, irritability, impulsivity and anger); and (iii) deactivation (including numbing, avoidance, withdrawal, confusion, derealisation, dissociation, and depression). I had stages, in which I experienced all three of these categories of emotions. I had to take sleeping medication for 10 days following the incident to be able to sleep because every time I fell asleep I could hear the sound of the guy banging against the door so loud that I would wake up fearing he would break it down.

Praia Airport, Cape Verde

The thing about traveling with a Bangladeshi passport is that you will be harassed. And this harassment has less to do with you and more to do with people stereotyping you. And 86 countries later, i have internalised this. But the thing with PTSD is that it does not disappear. I have extreme bouts of anxiety everytime i go to a new country which states that it gives visa on arrival to Bangladeshis. I have anxiety even if i have a proper visa because I have been subjected to undue questioning and harassment even with everything in place and that is the bane of my brown, muslim, bangladeshi existence – people cannot seem to take me out of the box that they have placed me in. I know it seems like I have the time of my life traveling, and trust me i do, but with it also comes anxiety and worry, and doubt, and actual fear for my life. I fear so very often i will be subjected to racist rants on the street (It has happened in Germany in 2015) or to border guards harassing me because i did not know anyone in the country (Serbia 2016) or being told to go back to Syria (some idiot in hungary thought i was syrian?). This is the life of a bangladeshi traveller.

stamp to enter Cape Verde

I am writing this post fully aware of my privilege. I know i went to the island as a tourist and I was not escaping wars, i was not compelled in anyway to go there and I also know how much worse people fleeing their lives have it. I am aware of the fact that if i had all but one of my privileges, i would have still been deported. But I also think, it is essential to highlight the differential experiences of women of colour traveling to white women travelling. I think its also important to talk about how much more prejudice and racial profiling i experience because of the country of my birth and how often I have been reduced to a simple statistic. At that moment, it did not matter to Zala that I had visited 85 countries, or that I had studied in 5 European University had 3 degrees, how much money i have in my bank account, or that I work at a humanitarian NGO or how  ‘well spoken’ I may appear to be. To Zala- I was a statistic. To her- I was a Bangladeshi woman out to do something Illegal in her country, even if that thought is wholly baseless. I realised at that moment how very insignificant all my achievements were to someone who was set on profiling me. That is the problem with profiling, with mass generalisation of a race, religion or nationality. People always claim they are speaking of a “certain kind of immigrant” they don’t want in their country or a “certain type of muslim” that are too extreme but in the process end up painting all immigrants, all people of colour and all muslims or other religions in the same light. That is the problem with racial profiling, ultimately, whether you profile one person or 10, you are profiling one too many. The only real way to go through the world without perpetuating these harmful stereotypes is to actually break them in your everyday life and force ourselves to think outside the conditioning of the media and your environment and see people as human beings. We all play a role in this and while not all of us are as violent in our execution of our prejudices as Zala was, but just as we contribute to these prejudices, we also have the power to break them and contribute to a fairer world. 

“scream
so that one day
a hundred years from now
another sister will not have to
dry her tears wondering where
in history she lost her voice.” – Jasmin Kaur. And scream I will, to pave the way for those solo women of colour who are aching to see a world the same way as i do. A world that has so very much convinced them that it’s not their’s to seize.

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74 comments

  1. Samira Vera-Cruz 29 July, 2019 at 09:14 Reply

    I am very sorry that you had such a bad experience in our country. Unfortunately, some people, when given any amount of power, will show their true colors. And this Zala woman showed a lot more about her than about you. Unfortunately the memory and image you take from Cabo Verde is a very traumatic one which honestly saddens me. I hope at least, with all the UN and Ministry’s intervention, the services will improve at the airport and be less racist. Hugs and love from Cabo Verde!

  2. Kaida 29 July, 2019 at 11:27 Reply

    So sorry this happened to you…i own a hostel in Tarrafal and have heard similar stories about travelers struggling to realize their rights to travel.

    • Maliha Fairooz 29 July, 2019 at 19:18 Reply

      I so wanted to go to tarrafal, i actually even planned it but then i just didnt have the emotional energy, given that the prison there would also be a heavy place to visit!

  3. Adira Ferreira 29 July, 2019 at 12:23 Reply

    So sorry to hear that this happened to you. Zala is not a representative of Capeverdean hospitality. Next time fly directly to São Vicente!! And contact me. I will be glad to help you undo the bad image those people left you about CV.
    But yself travelling with a capeverdean passport was put to this kind of ordeal in Europe , meanly in Austria!!

  4. Ray 29 July, 2019 at 15:08 Reply

    Girl you are too humble for not exposing Zala’s True identity. Maybe because unlike Bangladeshi knows how to respect people. I will consider Zala as a representative of Cape Verde. I will think people from Cape Verde is like Zala. You know why? Because the airport authority is well aware of the fact that officials like Zala exist and they allow this racist attitude on purpose. So yeah thanks to that racist woman I won’t be spending my money visiting Cape Verde. Thanks for sharing your story.

    • Maliha Fairooz 29 July, 2019 at 19:39 Reply

      Ray- this is not representative of Cape Verde. Cape Verdeans outside of airport have been nothing but nice to me. Zala is an example of what happens when people have too much power but not enough sensitisation. While i would discourage people of colour from third world countries to go to Cape Verde because of the immigration practices, i would equally ask people to not profile cape verdians based on Zala or the immigration officers.

  5. J 29 July, 2019 at 16:19 Reply

    Wow my friend! I also travel extensively and on many occasions I have those singled out by profiling. One time I intervened on behalf of very well educated Muslim woman. Actually she was a Dr who practiced medicine and was trying to enter Honduras. She was there to render free medical aid to those in horrific poverty. For a moment after I commented and explained to the authorities that I am a retired International Law and Legal Studies attorney and still licensed to practice in many countries. I speak some Spanish and fortunately I had my assistant with me and a personal security guard. Just a few feet from us where you exist thru customs I had a 2 man security detail waiting there to pick us up. They were watching what was happening so I gave them a nod and then I said to the custom agent- she is with us. The security detail waiting showed their badge’s and then the custom officer said you may proceed. We ended up giving her an escort to her hotel. All this happened due to profiling. To really see it happening right in front of you made me reflect a lot on this issue. They were determined to deport her. All because she was a person of color and different religious beliefs. I feel for you my friend. It’s not right! I am quite impressed with your travels and enjoying life. Don’t let it stop you. This world belongs to ALL of us! Have a great week! J

  6. Adilson Jesus 29 July, 2019 at 16:47 Reply

    Dear MALIHA FAIROOZ,

    Please accept a sincere apology on my behalf and I believe it is on behalf of most of the Cape Verdean people.

    This inhuman treatment you have been through is not and cannot represent the Cape Verdean way of being.

    Unfortunately in some airports there are people with some power who think they can do what they want, because they protect each other and everything they do is hidden from the authorities and society.

    I would like to ask you to come back someday and experienced the wonderful people we are, but i realised I can’t ask you for such a sacrifice.

    I hope you to be happy and do not have to go through the same situation again.

  7. Elisabete Almada 29 July, 2019 at 16:59 Reply

    I am very sorry for what happened to you. But believe us ehen we telling you this “Zala” do not represent us, that is not how Capeverdeans normally treat foreigns. Allow us to invite you to visit the Country once again… You would be surprised with capeverdean hospitality. We have a beautifull country and people, but as a traveller you also might know that good and bad people you will find it everywhere. Bless you

  8. Bruniguel 29 July, 2019 at 19:38 Reply

    As a I Cabo Verdean I can only apologize for this person’s behavior, which is unacceptable. What baffles me is that immigration plays a huge part in the Cabo Verdean culture, to the point where our diaspora is twice our population.

    How do you expect to me treated with respect, to be shown compassion, if you are incapable of empathy? Unfortunately, it’s not the first time this happens to people of color, nor it will be the last. However, Cabo Verdean people are kind and warm hearted; and under different circumstances you would have fallen in love with our “morabeza”.

    Please, write a formal complaint and ask your mother to make sure it reaches the right people.

    • Maliha Fairooz 29 July, 2019 at 22:39 Reply

      I hope it doesnt happen to many more after me. And i truly do believe it does not reflect your culture, it was just some people drunk on power. Maybe one day i will get a chance to fall in love with your Morabeza 🙂

  9. Valter Rodrigues 29 July, 2019 at 20:21 Reply

    I am embaressed by the way you were mistreated in my country and all you wrote made me feel really ashamed of being from CV. I am sure that you would like it in here, for it’s a nice country with lots of nice people who know how to make others feel as if they were at home. If all you said is true, and I am not doubting you at all, it is really bad for a small country that aims to have Tourism as their stanchion, and as so I’ve had a moral duty to share it to as many people possible!!! SO SO VERY SORRY…

    • Maliha Fairooz 29 July, 2019 at 22:36 Reply

      please dont be ashamed to be from Cape Verde- the little i saw of the country was so incredible. Rich in history and culture, advanced in so many political and human rights fronts! I wish i had the chance to see the country properly and maybe one day I will. But for now, i would urge you to demand that immigration services in the country stop doing this, its horrific and i have heard several stories like this up till now. I hope the policy application changes!

  10. Jorge 30 July, 2019 at 04:38 Reply

    I have traveled around with a Capeverdean Passport and it was no joke. My nightmare was in between Turkey and Greece. However, it does breaks my heart to read about your experience in Cabo Verde.
    We definitely need to open more to our brothers and sisters, worldwide!!! We need and have to do so much better.

    Thank you and I’m sorry!

  11. Junaid Abrar 30 July, 2019 at 06:18 Reply

    Hello apu,

    It saddened me to hear you had such a terrible experience in Capevarde. I lost in words to get to know about your situation when you were in custody. Its like a nightmare!

    Im glad that you made it possible to tour so many countries carrying our green passport.
    May allah be on your side and take you out of trauma asap.

  12. Daniela gomes 30 July, 2019 at 06:30 Reply

    I feel so embarrassed and ashamed for what happened. I’m from the capital Praia it self. Cape Verdean people are really nice and kind, don’t know how this woman is incredibly mean! I’m so sorry for what happened . And yes now I understand the point, they live those white people because they come and stay for weeks and months traveling from island to island. I recommend you to travel to s.vicente next time. The people are way friendly there. And Sal and Boavista are way better than Praia.

    • Maliha Fairooz 31 July, 2019 at 01:16 Reply

      Thank you for your support Daniela. I will come to Sal and bao Vista next time. But to be honest, i wanted to go to tarrafal in Santiago and see other parts of the island before heading to Sao vincente. Maybe next time 🙂

  13. João Carlos Morais 30 July, 2019 at 09:29 Reply

    I can’t help feeling ashamed of my own country for the way you were treated by those Immigration Officers.
    Please do believe me when I tell you that these people do not represent us and our way of being. Cape Verdeans are known for being very welcoming and very laidback, and it saddens me to know that you were put through such a horrible experience. I really hope you give Cape Verde another chance, but to be honest, in your position I probably wouldn’t.

    • Maliha Fairooz 31 July, 2019 at 01:10 Reply

      Maybe one day I will! Thank you for kind words, zala truly don’t represent a nation of people who have said overwhelmingly wonderful things to me since hearing about this. ❤️

  14. Lamanary Pina 30 July, 2019 at 10:08 Reply

    That shouldn’t happen. Of course we, capeverdeans, are all sorry, as we can see in the comments.
    I’m glad Maliha deliberately states her privileges help her, so I’m afraid we miss the point of this post. I don’t think she is talking about herself, so there’s no point inviting her back to prove her wrong guys.
    Maliha’s is beyond that, as she addresses inhumane treatment that we should not tolerate in our country for being what we are as a people and how historically we came to this point. Not to mention country level agreements that forbids what happened and will continue to happen to people from ECOWAS that doesn’t have the voice that Maliha has.
    Thanks Maliha for give them a voice.

    • Maliha Fairooz 31 July, 2019 at 01:18 Reply

      We should totally not stand the horrible treatment of ecowas people in immigration. This really is unacceptable especially coming from a another ecowas country. I wish someone wrote about that. Hope this gets highlighted soon!

  15. Wasiur 30 July, 2019 at 14:18 Reply

    So sad to hear your story. Once upon a time, I was a mariner sailing across oceans and seas. I have had first hand experience of mistreatment with Bangladeshi passport. And then I decided to migrate and obtain ‘passport of privileges. I got it now. I thought I would go for holiday in CV with my British passport. But after hearing this story, I am no more interested to visit CV.

  16. Kula Ramos 30 July, 2019 at 15:23 Reply

    I feel sorry for what happened to you at my country.
    Unfortunately this “Zala” behavior doesn’t match with our “morabeza”.
    Make sure you write a complaint and let the authority know what happened for this can’t happen to nobody else.
    Next time go to S. Vicente islands, we’ll erase your trauma on our warm arms. Please don’t let this experience keep you away to come back.
    I hope you made it to the wedding.
    Love from 1 capeverdean who’s feeling ashamed for what happened to you.

  17. Evelise Gomes 30 July, 2019 at 15:50 Reply

    Sorry to hear that. I would make sure the Ministry of Borders finds out about this “Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras, e o Ministério da Administração Interna da Republica de Cabo Verde,”

  18. Paulo Cabral 30 July, 2019 at 15:59 Reply

    Hi. We know that say sorry is not enought but… no more words for this situation. Police oficcers are human and they make mistakes. So unfair for you and others same cases similars and also for all us capverdeans. So we just hope that someday you came back to see the real and frendly Cabo Verde.

    • Maliha Fairooz 31 July, 2019 at 01:21 Reply

      And maybe one day I will, InshAllah. I- if your ministry of tourism wants me back 😉 till then peace and love to you and all the wonderful cape verdians who have reached out to me. May peace and love prevail ❤️

  19. Ariane Pina 30 July, 2019 at 16:31 Reply

    Dear Malila,

    I’m very saddened by your experience in the beautiful islands of Cape Verde. I wish I could take back your experience and have you experience the beauty of the people and the country. I wish I could take Zala myself and teach her a thing or two about how to treat people (maybe I will).One day I hope to share the true Cape verdean experience with you so you can share it with the world. I apologize in the name of all the Cape verdean people.

  20. Joaquim Lopes 30 July, 2019 at 16:57 Reply

    Dear MALIHA FAIROOZ,

    I feel so sorry, becouse you didn’t have the oportunity to experience the real Capeverdean people behavior and “Morabeza” in that situation.

    Believe, we are different from that. That kind of people exists and they’re Capeverdean also, baut they don’t represent us at all.

    We will have the oportunity to have you here again in the future and, I hope, it will be better.

    I wish you the best, for you life and, for us in our Country, I wish peoples better than them!

  21. Eugenio Duarte 30 July, 2019 at 17:22 Reply

    Thank you for sharing your story. It is a very sad one. Please allow me to join the other Capeverdians and apologize on behalf of our hospitable nation.
    Four times I have been to your country, Bangladesh, and each time I received decent treatment at Dhaka airport. Shame on us.
    Please consider visiting the islands again, and you will know that what you experienced at Praia airport is a very ill representation of our culture.

  22. Rony Lima 30 July, 2019 at 18:03 Reply

    Hi Maliha. On behalf of the people of Cape Verde here goes a sincere apology. Zala for sure doesn´t represent us at all. She represents a minority that, given some power (illusional power) will use it to confront their own complexes.
    I sincerely hope that you will some day give us a chance to get to know us better and all the greatness that we can offer.
    Thank you very much for exposing this, as it is really important if we want some changes in the way some people think and act.

  23. Arcy 30 July, 2019 at 19:13 Reply

    This makes me feel ashamed to be Cape Verdean. How is it possible?
    I apologize to you for everything that has happened and hope you can come back one day. On this day, you will be sure that what has happened does not characterize us.

  24. Tony Vaz 30 July, 2019 at 19:49 Reply

    Im very sorry for what you had experienced from my lovely home. I feel ur pain cause I went through some stuff like that, in 2006, during my interrail trip,trying to cross Slovakian border to reach Budapest…But come guys, let’s be realistic. We all know that stuff like that happens very often with West Africans trying to enter Cape Verde. Cape Verdeans know that but haven’t put the subject on the table yet.

  25. Sivienne Goncalves 30 July, 2019 at 19:52 Reply

    Dear Maliha,

    First and foremost, as a human being, a Cabo Verdean woman and a fellow solo traveler, my sincere apologies for your terrible experiences at the airport in Praia, Cabo Verde.
    I am writing to you with a heavy heart, sadden by your story and experience in my beloved Cabo Verde. I felt pain while reading the horrific events that happened to you while in custody of the immigration officers. I am in loss of words, trying to express how I’m feeling, knowing that everywhere I travel to I tell people about the Cabo Verdean hospitality called Morabeza. I’d love to know that in Cabo Verde people are still owning to our traditional ways of receiving people from other nationalities in to the country with open arms.

    Regardless of how long you were going to stay in Cabo Verde, you and everyone else that was detained, should’ve not been treated in such inhumane ways. It was more like mind-torture, than anything else. Gladly, your Mother was able to get in touch with the right people to get you out of the misery.
    This incident has to be investigated, should be reported and you should file a formal complaint, against this Zala-person to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, given that you had provided them the proper documentation, to justify your (short) stay in Cabo Verde. Saying that they are “following protocol” is not a reason enough to deny you entry and to hold you in the conditions they did. Zala disrespected you as a woman, a world citizen visiting our country and she is wrong in so many other ways.

    Thank you for sharing your story, hopefully now, the government give more attention to the treatment of our tourist, regardless of their background and nationality. Everyone deserves fair and equal treatment and to be respected with dignity as an individual.

    Praia, the capital, is not Cabo Verde as a whole. If you’d ever consider going back to Cabo Verde even for a day, there are so many places to go, as we have 10 islands and a lot to choose from. I am sure you did some research before deciding to go there; We are a young independent island-nation, rich in history that dates back to more than 500 years ago and with a culture so deeply rooted; that I am afraid that we are slowly losing it to racist ideals and stereotypical views. If that day ever comes, please let me know, as I’d love to show you the real Morabeza of Cabo Verde and you’d see that Zala doesn’t represent us as a nation.

    Please accept, our sincere apologies on behalf of every Cabo Verdean who knows and understand that this is wrong doing (in so many different levels), that needs to be stopped and changed.

    I can only hope and wish you well. Please be safe and take good care of yourself. This was just a rock in your way, don’t let it ruin your passion for traveling.

    Happy travels!

  26. Wasiur 30 July, 2019 at 20:06 Reply

    As a British – Bangladeshi I would like to mention that any further mistreatment by your official with any genuine Bangladeshi true traveller will cause further reputational damage to your tourism industry. Millions of Bangladeshi origin passport holders of privilege countries such as UK, USA and Canada will treat this type of harassment as direct insult to Bangladeshi Diaspora. We will be watching your behaviour from now onwards!!!

  27. Osama Khan 30 July, 2019 at 20:30 Reply

    This is an incredible piece of powerful writing. I felt fragments of the anxiety you went through as I was going through your blog describing the harrowing experience. Remember you shouldn’t be apologetic of your privileges as long as you are using that as the voice for the voiceless. I am so proud of you, your bravery and the voice you are for many without privileges.

  28. Papi 30 July, 2019 at 21:08 Reply

    Wow. This is incredible. I do not understand why you would be discriminated in such a matter. That is unacceptable and I pray that responsible parties will take necessary action for this not to happen to anyone. Consideration for Others training is one aspect that is lacking in CV. How can anyone mess up the only think we truly have:”Morabeza”. You should expose this lady even though she will probably know the damage she cause after this blog. I feel your pain and hope that you reconsider coming back to Cape Verde to erase the nightmare this bad Apple caused you

  29. TAUHIDUR RASHID 31 July, 2019 at 01:54 Reply

    Dear Maliha, Thank you for writing such a powerful blog. As a fellow Bangladeshi, and a colleague of your Mom with UNICEF for 30 years, I lived in Africa for 20 years and left behind many fond memories and friends. This one incident however, show how a little person with authority can damage the reputation of a country. I hope this is an isolated incident and Ms Zala and her Boss are made aware of their duties more not to abuse their authority, particularly in such a sadistic manner. We can only expect such behavior from the most psychologically damaged people who cannot relate to the agony they cause to others. I wish you had some time to explore the good people and country of Cape Verde, where I myself wanted to travel many time. But I am sure you already have made a profile of that country through your short stay there. As you have said, there are people in immigration desks around the world, who unfortunately shows only the darker side of their souls — I hope one day things will improve, and this one incident won’t prevent you from traveling further. Please keep writing …

  30. Yannick 31 July, 2019 at 08:53 Reply

    4:46am in New York City reading this, it’s too hot to sleep and now too angry to lay still. Sorry this happened to you, and please do not judge my people and country on the actions of those individuals and our system that failed you. Living in America I usually tell people that I am African so that I don’t need to go into details explaining where my country is so that people don’t try to create small talk, but a few cape verdians will sometimes say “your not african” as if to denounce the best part of our history. Real talk I feel ashamed reading this and the saddest thing for me is that i was able to perfectly and vividly able to see everything that transpired through your words as if I was there watching it live. Once again sorry this happened to you and I hope you give us another shot.

  31. Anicia 31 July, 2019 at 12:37 Reply

    Dear Maliha
    By now all the comments you have received from real cape-verdeans should show you our true hospitality and kind hearts. Yes, you are lucky to have a mother in the position she has because those who don’t unfortunately probably were left in that predicament to suffer longer and then sent back. I believe it is good that you documented your experience so we can all see what is happening in our country and hopefully change these procedures. We cannot speak about the tourism being our economic engine and then do this to tourists, we cannot speak about human rights and do this to humans. I understand security must be hightened in our days but then we must train our border police and provide all the necessary equipments to better do their jobs and not torture people the way you described. PTS is serious and you are educated enough to know and recognize it but imagine all those who don’t even know what is happening to them. It saddens me to such a level I can’t even describe it. We are Africans and as such we should be proud of our descendency and not brainwashed to clear white people and harrass colored people. Capeverdeans are incredibly warm people and I am sure you would of had an amazing time amongst us. If one day you decide to re-visit our country I live in Santiago Island, the place of your ordeal, you can contact me and I will pick you from the airport myself and welcome you to my country the way we do it here. With love and empathy in my heart for you and all those who suffer such descrimination and abuse of power.

  32. Sigs 31 July, 2019 at 13:38 Reply

    My darling I am not surprised !! This has happened to a lot of Senegalese and others…. I am sorry… But you should surpass the trauma and go back and enjoy good moment. Cape verdeans are facing a very strange period in time.. its like we´re completely lost in all aspects, political, social, economical etc….

    Unfortunately the human being can be so cruel.. all over the world… now its a matter to get strong and get over it… rehab…

    Wish all the best

    Do not pray to all the Gods… Try just one… find him… there is only one!!!… this a tip ….

  33. Fabio Spencer Andrade 31 July, 2019 at 14:41 Reply

    Dear Maliha
    I’m so sorry for your ordeal in my homeland Cabo Verde, i wish you could experience the true colors of my country, the people, the music, the food etc.
    When people get drunk in power, especially in the border,they forget that they represent the whole country, they are the first contact, the first image that a foreigner will see, they should be welcoming everyone with open arms, without looking at skin color, religion or nationality
    Once again my apologies and on behalf off the people of Cabo Verde i would like you to come one day to experience our land
    May Allah blesses you with love and forgiveness and his powers will protect you wherever you go

  34. jose galvao 31 July, 2019 at 17:09 Reply

    Cape Verde is one of the most racists country in the planet.
    I don’t doubt it.
    I am capeverdean.We suck.
    I feel very sorry for your experience.
    I don’t know if I will advice you to go again.

  35. Ondina Ferreira 1 August, 2019 at 11:36 Reply

    Minha Jovem viajante do mundo: para além de lamentar consigo a forma incorrecta como foi tratada no aeroporto da Praia,
    também junto o meu acordo e o meu lamento com os comentaristas que me precederam.

    Infelizmente, o meu país, Cabo Verde, nos últimos anos vem sofrendo um autêntico retrocesso civilizacional. As pessoas nos

    atendimentos públicos, quer seja no aeroporto da Praia, quer seja nos balcões ou guichets de contacto com o público, o

    viajante,e mesmos locais, estão cada vez mais ignorantes na matéria sobre a qual atende e cada vez mais descorteses e

    incorrectos na forma como nos abordam. Sei do que falo e eu sou nacional. Uma tristeza!

    É a triste realidade de uma país que quer receber turistas. Como? Se logo à entrada,

    leia-se aeroporto internacional da Praia, estão autênticos ignorantes e rudes na forma de tratar quem chega? quem nos visita?
    É isto que está a acontecer no aeroporto dito internacional da cidade da Praia.
    Espero que um dia, mais esquecida deste acontecimento deveras confrangedor, nos dê o prazer da sua visita, com gente no aeroporto da Praia mais profissional, mais correcta e mais sabedora da matéria no atendimento, para que possa conhecer as ilhas. Algumas merecem uma visita com vagar. E estou crente de que irá gostar.
    Para si desejo que continue e bem, as suas interessantes viagens pelo mundo.

  36. Ondina Ferreira 1 August, 2019 at 11:40 Reply

    Agradeço que não publiquem o meu comentário, pois foi completamente alterado e num português em que não me reconheço.
    Obrigada.

  37. Ondina Ferreira 1 August, 2019 at 11:48 Reply

    Mais um acrescento que agradeço seja publicado. O meu comentário foi quase completamente alterado e ficou incompreensível.

    O meu português não é assim. Sei escrever muito bem na minha língua.

    Agradeço que removam o comentário em meu nome.

    Obrigada.

  38. Maria Rocheteau 1 August, 2019 at 17:34 Reply

    Dear Maliha
    My name is Maria and as UN staff I have met many Bangladesh citizens. You are known to be polite, respectuful and kind. I feel saddned for your expereince in my Country which, despite being poor has a wonderful peolpe as humble as Bangladesh people. In any airport you meet ill-trained and disrespectful employees and this, is for sure, the case on the day you arrived in CV. We present our appologies to you and your wonderful nation. I felt heartbroken with this occurrance and I hope that the competent authorities will take appropriate measures preventing it from happening in the future. One day you will realize that CV is a good country to visit, where any citizen of the world is treated with respect and dignity. As lesson learned, I think that its time to put in place, at the airports of CV competent professionals and a second level of decision making on visa issues. Please, as an educated young lady, forgive us and decide to come back.

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  40. Gilliard Monteiro 2 August, 2019 at 05:39 Reply

    This is extremely shameful! I caanot imagine what you went through in the airport. I feel really bad and sorry for the way you were treated here. We definitely have many issues as a country and nation, but we are good hosts for those who come. We are happy people who love enjoying life, even facing different levels of problems. Unfortunately, as somebody has already pointed out in the comments above, the behavior of people like Zala is the consequence of granting too much power to people with no sense of responsibility, zero tolerance, and no respect towards other people. Its sad to say but, there’s more than one ZALA! There are several other ZALAS spread all over this country, whose daily routine and main focus on a regular basis is to make people’s lives miserable. But I assure you that we are not all like that. In fact, if one day you manage to win this traumatic stay in Cape Verde, come back and surely you’ll see our bright side. Wish you the best.

  41. Yanick Baltista 2 August, 2019 at 23:47 Reply

    I’m realy sorry for what happened with you. One person action can efect others life forever and give a percepion of an intire country that moustely is wrong. I studied with a Bangladeshi military and I had a realy good experience and he had the same with me. We shered gave each other the good and not soo parte of our country and culture. I hope that sameday you will have an opportunity to know and experience the true Capeverdian “Morabeza”.

  42. Yanick Baltista 2 August, 2019 at 23:50 Reply

    I’m realy sorry for what happened with you. One person action can efect others life forever and give an percepion of an entire country that moustely is wrong. I studied with a Bangladeshi military and I had a realy good experience and he had the same with me. We shered and gave each other the good and not so god parte of our country and culture. I hope that sameday you will have an opportunity to know and experience the true Capeverdian “Morabeza”.

  43. Edson 3 August, 2019 at 16:28 Reply

    Oh my… my eyes is full of tears now, I’m so sorry for what happened and ashamed. I worked as a tourist guide for 5 years in my country and I always try to show the tourists all our “morabeza” ( the art of well receiving and good treating people). So I wish you all the best in your life…

  44. Julio 3 August, 2019 at 16:52 Reply

    I am so sorri for what happen to you , reading your story i could not believe you were talking about my cape verde. I know that the authorities there they things that shows there ignorace you know what happen when you give power to a ignorant people but believe me we are not like that and next time go direct to São Vicente and go for de carnave that is the second best in the world believe me and if i am ther my house is your house you don’t need to pay for hotels

  45. জাহাঙ্গীর মোল্লা 3 August, 2019 at 19:12 Reply

    এই লিংকটা আমি কাভো ভেরদে’র একটা ফেসবুক পেজে পাই, আসলে ওদের Immigration কিছু সমস্যা হয় যদি আপনার পরিচিত কেউ না থাকে!

    জাহাঙ্গীর মোল্লা
    ইকুটেরিয়াল গিনি
    ০০২৪০২২২৬৩০০০২

  46. Claudio Pretelli 4 August, 2019 at 00:49 Reply

    Dear Maliha,

    The way you felt is awful, absolutely unacceptable, especially if you have not given any explanation by the authorities.

    However I have a question:

    You mentioned to have bought a visa online.

    If you hold a Bangladesh passport and you are travelling to Cape Verde for 4 days you are requested to get a visa through Cape Verde Embassy or Consulates.

    This is a contradition.

    Is there any possibility that you were entering the country through the wrong process (ease.cv online platform) therefore your entrance has been rejected?

    Please share more information about this “online visa purchase”.

    Kind regards from Cape Verde

  47. Adelino 4 August, 2019 at 13:00 Reply

    so sorry to what happened to you. Hope you will be able to overcome this trauma very soon.
    As you pointed out, this treatment seems to happen to many african migrants willing to travel to Europe. the issue is structural and we urgently need to tackle it. I blame the Cap verdian authorities and European Union for this situation. The new EU migration policy is to pay african authorities to “regulate” the migration before they reach the fortress Europe. We see the result in Libya, we see the result in Cape Verde: basic human rights are not respected.
    Peace and stay strong

  48. Princess 4 August, 2019 at 17:46 Reply

    So sorry about this but I must tell you that it’s not strange to me. My cousin from Nigeria tried visiting me last December because she was in Senegal for vacation. So she thought of coming for my 40th birthday. Oh dear, it was horrific. She ( being a lawyer) showed them all her paperwork but fell on deaf ears. She was detained for 3 days and later deported back to Senegal after all we tried. My husband got to the level of the police service minister and, the chief of immigration division but she was eventually deported. She’s been traumatized as a result and she hates Cape Verde for this.
    She believes that Cape Verdians are racists even when I told her they’re not.
    I think the Immigration service of Cape Verde should look into this. As much as they’re trying to secure the country and protect the country, they should use reasonable measures. There are innumerable black skinned people from the third world countries that are responsible and legal.
    The banging of the door was probably from the immigration officers and not the guy next door because I remember vividly that my cousin said that an immigration office came every one hour to bang the door so as to wake them up.
    So so sorry about your experience.

  49. Armindo Correia 6 August, 2019 at 01:49 Reply

    Darling,
    I’m so sorry for you… But this is definitely normal practice in Cape Verde because they considered themselves not Africans because of the mix race colour of maybe most of them. I’m citizen of Guinea-Bissau a country that Cape verde used to be part of and Cape Verde become independent because of Guinea-Bissau… But nowadays people from Guinea-Bissau are treated “like dogs” in Cape Verde… They keep them at airport and send them back to Guinea-Bissau… Racism that doesn’t make sense because of the history… Very racist… Again very very racist country where black Cape verdian(badiu) and a mix race(sampajudu) don’t “eat in the same plate”. There are several videos on YouTube from people from Guinea-Bissau complaining about racism I Cape Verde… Not good… Not good at all… Someone may don’t be racist but he needs to tell other people that his people is racist when they are.
    https://youtu.be/eRS_81x_p3c
    https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=2010884192352859&id=100002938942989

    You are welcome in Guinea-Bissau… Poor country but full of people with good heart and everyone is welcome ❤️

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