The Immigrant Song: Inua Ellams and His Long Journey to OKC Rep

I really wasn’t sure what to expect as I nervously shuffled into the Te Ata Theater at Oklahoma Contemporary last Saturday night to see the first show of OKC Rep’s reboot season. I was invited to see poet and playwright Inua Ellams tell his story of displaced living in An Evening with an Immigrant, as he is a Nigerian by birth and a European by choice.


I figured that, while his story might have peculiar similarities to those trying to live a life hidden from view here in the United States, I wasn’t prepared for it to be so incredibly universal, As he told his tale, oftentimes mixed with his poetry, it became clearer that some Europeans hate immigrants just as much as some Americans do theirs.


For any minority in the audience, his story was hard to hear. As Ellams relayed his story of leaving school after school to the roving gangs of thugs that threatened—and even worse—his family and others like him, he lived in constant fear and persistent danger, one that, even as he achieves success, still haunts him to this day. It probably always will.


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