One day Obinze comes to work and can tell that something is different. Everyone acts awkwardly towards him, and he is sure that they have found out he is an illegal immigrant. He is about to run away when Nigel appears with a birthday cake for him, and they all have a celebration. Obinze is intensely relieved, and he suddenly weeps with joy and feels safe. He hadn’t remembered his own fake birthday, but his coworkers had.
Obinze must live with such a constant sense of fear and unworthiness that he never even considers that a surprise might be a good thing for him. With his coworkers he has found a real sense of connection and belonging, even in a country where everything seems to be working against him.
That evening Vincent calls Obinze and says that he wants a raise; he wants forty-five percent of Obinze’s earnings now. Obinze decides to ignore him, assuming that Vincent is just bluffing. But a week later Roy calls Obinze into his office and says that someone called him and told him he was using a fake identity. Roy tells him to just bring his passport tomorrow and “clear it up.” Obinze works the rest of the day, trying to control his rage at Vincent, but grateful to Roy for not turning him in. Years later, when Obinze was rich and wanted a white “General Manager,” he had called Roy, told him his real name, and offered him a job in Nigeria.
Obinze has no real bargaining power against Vincent, except for his consistent paycheck, and so Vincent abuses his power and turns Obinze in. Just when Obinze had found a sense of community and belonging, he has that snatched away from him by greed and the unfair, convoluted immigration system. Unlike Emenike, when Obinze becomes rich and successful he remembers his old friends who helped him when he was poor.