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"Crosspass" - A Poem on Migration by Dr. Joe McIntyre

On the occasion of our recent screening of the documentary film "Victimes of our Wealth", we hereby publish the poem by Dr Joe McIntyre, which features prominently in the film and which has been requested by the attending public on several occasions.


Goodbye Mam, goodbye Dad,
Thanks for all the money you never ever had:
Paid my pass, paid my way,
Paid the journey I start today.

Thank you family, sisters, brothers,
This your money – yours’ and others’:
Paid my pass, paid my fare, sent me on my way.
Wiping tears, shaking hands
Try my luck in distant lands.
Bless me that I pass. Pray that I pass over.

Good day policeman, customs man
Take your bribe it’s in the plan:
Crossed your palm, let me pass, see me on my way.
Cross the desert, shifting sands
try my luck in richer lands.
Just let me pass. Just let me pass over.

Through the desert, through the fence
Through Ceuta’s Red-Cross camps,
I survived, paid my price. Others lost their way…
Punctured boats, tired hands
flailing short of Spanish lands.
God take those that didn’t pass! Let their souls pass over.

Punctured boats, tired hands; failing short of Spanish lands.
God! Let their souls pass over.

Hello white man, now I’ve come
I surely paid a tidy sum
Paid in sweat, paid in blood, surely paid my way.
Don’t get cross, let’s shake hands
I’m your guest from distant lands.
Now I’ve passed. Please don’t pass me over.

Here my story (Dis I learn
Tell de truth, my tongue he burn):
Lost my pass, not my way. This my story   let me say:
The truth demands that it be heard
not crossed and re-crossed word for word.
Please believe me, give me pass. Please don’t pass me over.

Take me in, don’t pass me back
Don’t tell me “Go!”   I can’t backtrack
I’m here for those back home.

I’m here to pass my money back
Is why I’m here, I’ll send it back
Is what they need back home.

Please don’t pass me over.
Please don’t pass me over.

Biographical details
Studied Hausa language and ethnography in London (1969-74). He lived in Kano, Nigeria from 1974-78 where he taught "African Social Systems" and "Sociology of Education" in Bayero University, Kano (1975-78). Since 1978 he has taught Hausa language at Hamburg University (and in Cologne, 1983-1993). From 1983-2000 he worked for the Hausa Service of the German Radio (Deutsche Welle) and from 1982 into the early 1990s interpreted in the German courts, for the police and the immigration office. Between 1998 and 2003 he participated in a course jointly organised by the faculty of Oriental Studies (University of Hamburg) and the Hamburg Police School: "Dealing with people of other cultures". As part of the Special Research Project 520 he undertook research into the Hausa community in Hamburg (1999-2002). He has published articles on both Hausa language and culture, compiled two dictionaries (with a colleague) and recently co-edited a book on West African Migrants in Hamburg.



  • 1980. The Language of Hausa Greetings: the Social Construction of Hierarchy; in: Afrika und Übersee 63: 39—67.
  • 1981. Knowledge, Status and Behaviour: the Socialisation of a Malam and its Theatricality; in: Kano Studies 2 (2): 153 168.
  • 1982. An overview of education in Northern Nigeria: Attempted from the perspective of Qur'anic education. In: Afrika Spektrum 82/1, pp.21-31.
  • 1983. Hierarchical contexts of Hausa Imperative/Subjunctive; in: Wolff, Ekkehard and Hilke Meyer—Bahlburg (eds.), Studies in Chadic and Afroasiatic Linguistics. Buske, Hamburg. pp. 329—372.
  • 1984. Context and register in Qur anic education: words and their meanings in the register of Kano Malams; in Rainer Vossen and Ulrike Claudi (eds.), Sprache, Geschichte und Kultur in Afrika. Buske, Hamburg. pp. 249—270.
  • 1988a. A NAg—ging Question in Hausa: Remarks on the Syntax and Semantics of the Plural Noun of Agent; in: Furniss, Graham and Philip J. Jaggar (eds.), Studies in Hausa Language and Linguistics, Kegan Paul, London and New York.
  • 1988b. Remarks on the Short Form of the Noun of Agent in Hausa; in: Afrika und Übersee, 71. 229—244
  • 1988/89. Bayani a kan 'zoo' da 'jee' a Harshen Hausa; in: Harsunan Nijeriya XIV, Centre for the Study of Nigerian Languages, Kano.
  • 1989. Is zoo a Grade 6 Verb of Motion? in: Afrikanistische Arbeitspapiere, 19, Köln, 7—22.
  • 1990. Is Hausa jee a Grade 4 Verb? in: Afrikanistische Arbeitspapiere, 22, Köln, 5—17.
  • 1991. Lexical Innovation in Hausa (Niger, Nigeria). in: Utta von Gleich and Ekkehard Wolff (eds.) Standardization of National Languages. UNESCO, Hamburg, 11-20
  • 1992a. Dialect or Idiolect: The speaker of 'Spoken Hausa'; in: Hausa Dialectology Newsletter, 2: 28—31.
  • 1992b. Roxana Ma Newman, An English—Hausa Dictionary. New Haven & London: Yale University Press, 1990. xxi + 327 pages; in: Journal of African Languages and Linguistics, 13, 219—234. Review Article
  • 1993. Das Hausa—Verb: Syntax und Interne Rekonstruktion; in: Wilhelm J. Möhlig, Sigmund Brauner and Hermann Jungraithmayr. Beiträge zur afrikanischen Sprach— und Literaturwissenschaft, Köppe Verlag, Köln, pp.157—167.
  • 1995a. Transitive Verbs in Hausa: Nominalisation Strategies and Time—Stability; in: Dymitr Ibriszimow and Rudolf Leger (eds., assisted by Gerald Schmitt), Studia Chadica et Hamitosemitica, Köppe Verlag, Köln,>pp. 309—319
  • 1995b. It's still NAg—ging: Compounds in Hausa; in: Afrika und Übersee, 78: 239—259.
  • 1996a. The writer as agitator – Ken Saro—Wiwa; in: Afrika Spektrum, 31, 3: 295—311.
  • 1996b. A cultural given and a hidden influence: Koranic teachers in Kano; in: David Parkin, Lionel Caplan and Humphrey Fisher (eds.), The politics of cultural performance. Berghahn Books, Providence, pp. 257—274.
  • 1998. Verbal compounds in Hausa: Remarks on phonology, morphology and internal syntax; in: Afrika und Übersee, 81: 87 111.
  • 2002. Living away from home: Hausa speaking migrants in Hamburg; in: Ethnoscripts 4,1: 41 60.
  • 2002. Away from home: Hausa-speaking migrants in Hamburg www.vad-ev.de/2004/download/01tagung/018papers2002/mcintyre.pdf
  • 2004. (forthcoming). Away from home: Hausa-speaking migrants in Hamburg; in: J. Oßenbrügge, M. Reh (Eds.), Social Spaces of African Societies. Applications and Critique of Concepts of "Transnational Social Spaces".LIT Verlag, Münster [123 150].
  • 2004. (forthcoming). Hausa Migranten in Hamburg und ihre Mitbürger: Wer weiß was über wen? In: Ludwig Gerhardt, Heiko Möhle, Jürgen Oßenbrügge, Wolfram Weisse (Hg.), Umbrüche in afrikanischen Gesellschaften und ihre Bewältigung. LIT Verlag, Münster.

Joint publications

  • 1991. McIntyre, Joseph A. and Hilke Meyer—Bahlburg; assisted by Ahmed Tijani Lawal. Hausa in the Media: a lexical guide: Hausa—English—German, English—Hausa, German—Hausa. Buske, Hamburg.
  • 1999. McIntyre, Joseph A. and Hilke Meyer—Bahlburg. Arbeitsvokabular Deutsch—Hausa. Lit Verlag, Hamburg.
  • 2000. Hellwig, Birgit and Joseph A. McIntyre. Hausa Plurals: a diachronic presentation; in: Journal of African Languages and Linguistics, 21, 1: 1—43.
  • 2004. Joseph McIntyre, Beate Balliel und Katrin Pfeiffer. Wurzeln in zwei Welten: Westafrikanische Migrante und Migrantinnen in Hamburg. Brandes und Apsel, Frankfurt.
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