Three years ago Prince Wale Soniyiki arrived in Croatia as an asylum from Nigeria a ‘complete nobody’, today he speaks Croatian fluently, is the voice for refugees in the country and has a job working for the famous General Ante Gotovina…
Prince, which is not some royal title but his real name, fled Nigeria after a terrorist attack killed his brothers, and made his way via Libya and Italy to the city of Split on the Dalmatian coast. After gaining asylum, the 30-year-old last year landed a job on the boats at Gotovina’s tuna farming firm.
“Ante Gotovina is a brilliant boss. Ante cares about all of us. I can say the best things about my boss, but the most important is that he is a good man. I have managed to save for a car by catching tuna. In Biograd (where he lives), everyone has accepted me. I am a free man now, full of plans – Croatia is my second home and has accepted me better than I could even dream about,” said Prince, who has been given the nickname Afrički Šime (African Šime – a typical Dalmatian name) by his co-workers, to daily Jutarnji list, before adding.
“There is no racism here. I have more Croatian friends than I had friends in Nigeria. They are surprised how in such a short time I have learnt the language. In Nigeria there are around 450 dialects and the difference in languages is big. A lot of us learn languages easy because we are used to different dialects. I learn Croatian still every day,” he said.
Prince is off to Zagreb shortly where his life in Croatia in photos will be exhibited at an exhibition organised in cooperation with UNHCR. (photos Nena Lukin/UNHCR)