The BBC Calls Peckham, The Little Lagos In South London. We Call It The Ajegunle Of London?

From the BBC; Nigerians have migrated to Britain in significant numbers since the 1960s. After the independence in 1960, there was a need for more skills and higher levels of education. Many Nigerians, therefore, went to the United Kingdom to study.

After civil and political unrests in Nigeria in the late 1960s, refugees began arriving in London. A number of Nigerian asylum seekers also arrived in the UK in recent years. However, most Nigerians arriving at present come with work visas, student visas for a family reunion.

Nigerians live in many parts of the United Kingdom, especially in London. A significant number of them live in Peckham, Dalston, Hackney, Swiss Cottage and Kilburn.

A former reporter of the British Broadcasting Corporation’s (BBC’s) Focus on Africa, Robin White, once wrote about Nigerians resident in Peckham, South London. “The African immigrants I have come across in some two months of traveling in England, Wales and Scotland are hard working, idealistic, and bright, a long way from the popular view portrayed by some in the UK.

“Everyone I met, I asked them when they wanted to go home. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but - when their countries are at peace when they've made a bit of money when democracy returns - they will return,” he said.

Peckham, also called, by Nigerians, little Lagos, and Yoruba town, is home to one of the largest Nigerian communities in the world; many of the local establishments are Yoruba-owned.

Nigerian churches and mosques can be found in the area. As immigrants become assimilated, English is becoming the predominant language of the local Nigerian-British population. About seven per cent of Peckham's population was born in Nigeria.

A Nigerian resident in London said Peckham looked like Lagos. “I used to live there and over the past 10 years, it has been transformed into a Yoruba heartland.” A Yoruba taxi driver, Olusola Dixon, was quoted to have said many of the shops in Peckham were Yoruba-owned and one could buy any Nigerian food one wanted.

“Peckham is where the living meets the dead,” Dixon said. It is where Nigerians can bump into a distant Nigerian cousin who they never even knew was in the UK. Not only this, Nigerian churches and mosques flourish and compete for worshippers in the place.

White said: “The successful churches run several Sunday sittings. Newcomers are welcomed with open arms and everyone is given an envelope with instructions on how to donate money for the church’s upkeep.

“But the trouble is that many Nigerian living in the area have neglected to pass their traditions to their children. A few insist on the languages being spoken at home, but many have given up the struggle of teaching them to unenthusiastic children, and the English Language has become the family language.

“True, they take their children home on holidays, but their culture and language, as known in Nigeria, are on a steep decline. Dubi Imevbore, an expert on language, said if a language dies, so does the human spirit. A people without a culture will lose their self-respect.

“Some Nigerians living in Peckham and have found home there came on student visas and never went home. Some came on holiday to visit relatives and “missed” the plane back to Lagos. Some smuggled themselves in and have been in hiding ever since.

It doesn't take long to discover that many Nigerians in London shouldn’t be here at all. But being an illegal immigrant is not an easy life. Because they can’t work officially, they have to take the worst paid jobs at very unsociable hours and live in squalid flats – at the mercy of unscrupulous landlords.

Many would like to go home, but they’re ashamed to admit failure to their friends and families back in the motherland. With bbc.co.uk.