On October 19, 2020, a Kenyan woman known as Emmanuella Akinyi departed Kenyan via JKIA to Canada. She shared her bitter experience as follows:
“I have been wanting to share this experience because it was bitter sweet for me.
Relocating and leaving everything I have come to know behind.
I had booked a KQ flight to Amsterdam then KLM to Calgary. I arrive at JKIA 3hrs early just ro be safe(pandemic rules mean extra screening)and alas, the person manning a KQ counter is a security guy who asks me 1052 questions. He is trying to say he isnt sure about how real my visa is but also saying he has no way of verifying it! Strange! I answer but get tired and go and sit. Tell him when he is done I will be over there.
Coincidentally, I had met one of his colleagues outside as I dragged my suitcases and we had small talk. “Unatuacha unaenda wapi?”
“Hapa tu Canada”
“Nchi poa sana hio,niko na mtu huko”
“My uncle alioanga mzungu huko”
That same guy found me seated,asked me whats wrong and I told him I do not understand his colleague. Did he maybe speak to him? I don’t know but I dont under estimate the power of small talk.
He finally gives me back my passport but asks me to look for him and give it to him after immigration. Strange again. Why would I be giving you my passport after immigration clears me?
Anyway I move to KQ counter. Two ladies can’t find my flight. Am getting a little irritated. My flight doesn’t exist. How? I have the itinerary. I booked on a legit site we have been using for years. They murmur something about my flight being pushed to months away! Huh! You sent me emails to upgrade my seat ,one would think you would maybe also to tell me there is no flight today. Or even call,you have my number.
So I am sent out of the security area to the KQ office. I wonder why they feel like its easier to send someone out there with their luggage than to call the guy in office.Annoyed,I carry my luggage out. KQ office take an hour making calls (or pretending to?). They are trying to put me on the next KLM flight. I call a friend (thank God for such friends)who calls a friend who puts me on that flight. I leave the KQ guy talking to himself and go back through security with my luggage again.
Its now 1 and a half hrs to go and that’s almost late for an international flight. Finally i have a flight. Immigration and other security checks are easy. As I sit at the last lounge,security guy comes around,talks to one of the ladies who cleared me at the last lounge,looks at me. The lady shows him something on her book, am thinking lady tells him am cleared,they talk for a bit, as if push and pull,I see him insist and see the lady frowning and pointing in the book,almost like putting her feet down.The way you look when your mom makes you rewash the dishes you know are clean.I can imagine their conversation in my head.
“Huyo ilikuwa tuongee tena”
“Lakini si unaona ako cleared siwezi mrudisha”
“Haita take long. Kumstua tu kidogo tuone ako na ngapi”
“Hio ni risky, mngemalizana huko”.
My fate seems to be in that little conversation but for some reason am not fazed,am listening to Seduce me by Alikiba -“….Nina majina mapya, kila mmoja amenipa, wananiita kipusa, oohh pasua kichwa”
Amsterdam was easy again. Visa, vaccination test, go. Calgary was even smoother. Visa please,documents,a few questions,any food? Just some goodies from KLM? Oh, chocolates and Uganda waragi (750ml) are Okay too, next counter,visa please, documents,a few questions,very very polite, congratulations you are now a permanent resident of Canada!
KLM outdid themselves though,even in the pandemic. Flight from Amsterdam and Calgary were almost empty so I stretched out and slept across the chairs. And got fed with good food and lots of wine. Polite, polite attendants. Reminding you to wear your mask every other time when you aren’t eating. Got a whole package of goodies on both flights,took me a week to eat all of it.
Sitting in this polite Canada of cold and comfort(not even THAT cold,just -4 today), I sometimes think of that security guy and wonder what he was up to! Was he just doing his job maybe?Frustrate me for some bribe maybe? If I didn’t give up and tell him its not my duty to verify visas,would he make me miss my flight? How do they verify visas anyway? I thought I heard him say something like the embassy is closed but he will call someone,what if that person isn’t there,with all the hundreds of people travelling to Canada everyday,what would he do? I do not think much of KQ though, they are resigned to their fate.
Why would your own people give you a harder time, Canadians asked me. I don’t know, I have no answers.”