Outrage Over State Department Ekpeki Visa Decision

Jump on THIS bandwagon and help get Ekpeki to Worldcon!

Yesterday on Facebook (Chris Barkley) and on File 770, it was announced that the US State Department had denied award winning Nigerian author and editor Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki a Visa in order to attend this year’s Worldcon (Chicon 8) in Chicago;  Ekpeki is in the running for a Hugo Award.  Additionally, he has been scheduled to be a guest of honor at another convention a bit later in the year.

Both sources encouraged readers to write to the Embassy in Nigeria and to the US State Department, with Barkley offering up his version as an example for others:

“SENT to the US Department of State TODAY!

Hello,
My friend from Nigeria, Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki, has been denied a visa to visit the United States to attend Chicon 8, the 80th World Science Fiction Convention in Chicago, IL starting on September 1st.
He was denied a visa in an incredibly short interview. Mr. Ekpeki, is a rising star in world literature and has been the recipient of several major fiction awards, including the Nebula Award from the Science Fiction Writer’s Association this past May.
In addition, he is also nominated for two Hugo Awards, for Best Novelette and Best Editor – Short Fiction, the very first African born writer to be nominated in either category in the history of the awards. These awards will be given out at Chicon 8 on September 4th.
If your office can offer any assistance in helping Mr. Ekpeki appeal the Nigerian Embassy’s determination, it would be greatly appreciated.
Cordially,
Chris M. Barkley
Cincinnati, OH
The Nigerian Embassy can be reached through the following email addresses:
PLEASE, do not duplicate my email word for word. Write in your own (respectful) words how distressing you find this situation and why you think Mr. Ekpeki should be allowed to attend Chicon 8.”
I penned my own as well –

“To Whom It May Concern,

I recently learned that Nigerian Science Fiction author and editor Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki was denied a Visa to travel to the United States for Chicon 8, the annual World Science Fiction convention.

Mr. Ekpeki is a rising star in the science fiction field.  In particular, he is also helping to bring positive attention and acclaim to both Nigerian science fiction authors, African science fiction authors and Africans in Diaspora authors.  He has, in a very short time, greatly raised the profile of all three groups which have previously not been receiving all that much attention on the world stage.

Additionally, Mr. Ekpeki has been nominated for awards that will be presented at Chicon 8 and it would be a terrible injustice if he were not allowed to attend because the NIgerian government has seen fit to deny him a Visa.

I respectfully and strongly urge you to look into this matter and assist Mr. Ekpeki in obtaining his Visa so that he can attend the event and represent both Nigerian and African authors of Science Fiction.

Sincerely,

Steve Davidson
Owner & Publisher of the World’s First Science Fiction magazine –
Amazing Stories, first published in 1926 and still going strong!”

(If you use either letter as your starting place, please do not copy directly.  Instead, re-write them in your own words.)

I response from the Consulate was received via email, essentially stating that Mr. Ekpeki had not provided sufficient information to support his intention to return to Nigeria following his visit to the states.
Quite frankly, I can’t think of anything offering a stronger reason to return than being one of the titular heads of a burgeoning, national-level literary movement.  (It’s almost like the French government refusing to allow Ben Franklin to visit France because he’s got no reason to go back to the colonies….)
This is utterly ridiculous and should not stand.  Please join this and other efforts to get our state department to change its mind and issue a Visa for author and potential Hugo Winner Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki to attend this year’s Worldcon!
Please write to the State Department, your Senators, your Congresspeople and anyone else you think might be able to exert a little pressure.

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