Femi Akomolafe (FA):First, congratulations on the successful completion of your movie. How do you feel?
Ssuuna Golooba (SG): After five years of hard struggle, it gives good feeling to see that one has achieved something.
FA: How did you come up with the idea?
SG: Actually, it was a story begging to be told. It is based entirely on my personal experiences. People do not understand what it means to be an illegal immigrant in a foreign land. Not having enough to eat; no good place to sleep, and cannot go to hospital when you're sick. And the trigger was the fire at Schiphol that killed 11 detained illegal immigrants. I was an illegal immigrant so I easily could have been one of them.
FA: How did you meet the director of the movie, Rogier Kappers?
SG: It is very complicated. I am glad that they saw the potential in my story and that we could work together to bring it to fruition.
FA: From an "illegal immigrant" to a celebrity, that is some transformation. Do people look at you differently?
SG: Ah! If you know me, you'll know that I remain the person I have always been. I like my privacy and I don't hug the limelight.
FA: What has been the reaction so far? Do Europeans and Africans react differently to the movie?
SG: The reaction, as I expected, has really been mixed. Many Dutch people are truly shocked that people exist (not live) in such conditions in their country. Many Africans find it courageous that I came out to tell a story to which they can relate. Some of them however think that it will jeopardise their status. But that's life.
FA: We saw your mother and some family members in the movie; can you tell us what their reactions have been?
SG: Luckily for me, I never hide anything from my mother. I kept her fully aware of my situation at all times. She knew all along what I went through. But the release of the film also brings her tears of joy. She receives calls from people telling her that "Oh, we have seen your son on TV."
FA: What are your feelings when you hear some Africans say that no matter what you say, they will like to go to Europe?
SG: Like I said in the movie, I am just putting out information about what the life of an immigrant is like in Europe; what people do or decide not to do is left to them. Of course, many will take heed and learn from my experience. To those who say that they will risk it, I say "good luck."
FA: What reasons do you think are responsible for Africans wanting to go to Europe at all cost?
SG: Poverty, corruption, lack of opportunity. Back home, you are limited if you don't know the right people. So, people say, let me go out and try to make it.
FA: What are your plans for the future?
SG: I plan to finish writing my book. It has taken me too long to complete; I'd like to put more time to its completion. I also will try and take the film to many African countries to let people be aware of life in Europe. We can have question-and-answer sessions with students.