Gofundme Appeal to Help Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki Attend World Fantasy Convention

Photo (right) by Richard Man.

Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki made it to the Worldcon in Chicago after a suspense-filled visa application process and is able to stay in the U.S. til next February. While he’s here he’d like to attend the World Fantasy Convention 2022 being held in New Orleans from November 3-6. He’s also asking help in covering the extraordinary expenses caused by the last-minute travel changes to get to Chicon 8.

“Send Oghenechovwe Ekpeki to World Fantasy Con” is a Gofundme started by Jason Sanford.

Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki is the first African editor to be a finalist for the World Fantasy Award, with the awards to be presented at the 2022 World Fantasy Convention in New Orleans. He’s nominated in the best anthology category for the first ever Year’s Best African Speculative Fiction anthology, which he edited and published. Ekpeki would like to maximize the opportunity of being in the States and attend the World convention. It’s an opportunity that would normally cost infinitely more without a visa and were he out of the country.

A successful previous fundraiser brought Ekpeki to this year’s Worldcon, where he was a finalist for two Hugo Awards. However, his gruesome battle with the US embassy in Nigeria for a visa and exorbitant fees and repeated payments resulting from that (including last-minute changes to his international flights) resulted in costs far exceeding what that fundraiser brought in. So this new fundraiser would also mop up those expenses as well.

The costs to be covered by this fundraiser are:

  • WFC Registration: $250
  • Flight to and from convention plus expenses: $1000
  • Hotel (5 nights): $1250
  • Resolving fees and payments from WorldCon 2nd visa hassle and resulting last-minute flight changes: $1500
  • Total: $4000

Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki explained for File 770, “My visa is for 2 years. Though not a straight stay. I have to go out and in severally. At intervals. This first interval is 6 months. So I’m good till February.” Then he will go back out and return in March when he is a guest of honor at the International Conference for the Fantastic in the Arts.

Before then he’d like to maximize the benefit of his trip to the U.S. by going to World Fantasy Con. “I am attending WFC because think about it, I’m already here. No need for visa hassle. Already went through that. No need for cross continental flights which are Uber expensive. Already did that too. It’s actually cheaper for me to attend. Since I already paid a humongous price to be here. It’s maxing out the work I took to get here attending. It’d be a loss of some of that effort if I didn’t.

“Another thing. A huge part of the reason for the Gofundme isnt just the WFC but to mop up the WorldCon expenses which were infinitely more than people know. Almost the entire money I crowdfunded was finished on just getting a visa interview appointment. People don’t know what it is leaving a Third World country for the U.S. Corruption plus racism plus discrimination.

“Then the whole war and another interview. Then cross continental flights booked within 24 hours of flying time. You know how expensive flights get when they are close? That’s thousands of dollars. Not my fault, because I got visa a day before the event. Then I missed a flight, booked another same day flight. I flew across 3 continents to get here.

“Then they forced me to book a return ticket I wouldn’t need. Cuz racism. Even though I had a visa. It’s been my own money, plus loans and so much more ingenuity the average person can’t imagine.

“Some of this is to recover those unexpected costs. But it made sense for me too. It would be penny wise pound foolish, a loss of a great chance not to attend World Fantasy Con, too. I want to max out my allotted stay, the six months. Because why do all that, and not?”

18 thoughts on “Gofundme Appeal to Help Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki Attend World Fantasy Convention

  1. The 2022 World Fantasy Convention is pleased to be able to offer Mr. Ekpeki a membership at no cost to him. We’re excited to be able to welcome him to New Orleans!

  2. Mm-whilst (post-Chicon 8) I cannot directly help here: I’ll repeat what I said during Chicago Worldcon (which I attended and enjoyed –it being my very 1st visit to the USA-tho not my 1st Worldcon: that was 1979/Brighton). I was indeed glad –thereat– to see ODE. And my previous comment was re the annual UK NatSFCon (Eastercon/”Conversation”): Fri 7 – Mon 10 April inclusive : Hilton Metropole Hotel, NEC site, in Birmingham (UK). It is right beside both Birmingham Airport [ IATA code: BHX ] and Birmingham Intl UK National Rail Station. Web page : conversation(dot)org(dot)uk. If he can sort out a UK visa, I’ll happily cover his Conversation membership (tho’ I cant help re travel or accommodation at that Con). best wishes.

  3. Richard Man: Happy to link to your project. And I have added a photo credit in the post.

  4. Opps (it is my advancing age..!!) correction: the website for Eastercon (UK) / “Conversation” (7-10 April) 2023 is conversation2023(dot)org(dot)uk. And –just a gentle plug for possible future travelling abroad– with the UK£ Sterling “semi-tanking” against many other currencies at present –including the US $– UK-based SF events are good value now (eg the above Eastercon, the (on now till May 2023) London Science Museum Exhibition on SF and of course, in Aug 2024, Glasgow Worldcon). best…

  5. “Then they forced me to book a return ticket I wouldn’t need. Cuz racism. Even though I had a visa.”

    Who is “they”? What is he talking about here?

  6. Michael D: Who is “they”? What is he talking about here?

    US Customs and Border Protection, the people who decide whether someone gets to come into the country for a visit, and what hoops they have to jump through to be allowed to enter and stay for a while.

    For most Americans returning to the U.S., this consists of having your passport scanned and maybe being asked what the purpose of your trip was. You wait in a line for a bit and then have a 20-second check before being passed on. So I can see why you might be mystified.

    For non-Americans, especially people of color, this step can consist of spending hours confined to a small room without food, water, or toilets, having your person searched invasively and your baggage and cell phone ransacked, being grilled repeatedly about your intentions, and being forced to meet onerous conditions in order to be allowed to enter the country. At which point you have missed your connecting flight and have to shell out for new tickets, because CBP isn’t going to accept any responsibility for additional costs incurred due to delays caused by them.

  7. “For non-Americans, especially people of color, this step can consist of spending hours confined to a small room without food, water, or toilets, having your person searched invasively and your baggage and cell phone ransacked, being grilled repeatedly about your intentions, and being forced to meet onerous conditions in order to be allowed to enter the country. At which point you have missed your connecting flight and have to shell out for new tickets, because CBP isn’t going to accept any responsibility for additional costs incurred due to delays caused by them.”

    And you’re saying this happened to Chovwe? Because he hasn’t said anything about that, and with as much complaining as he’s done about his problems getting here, I’m sure he would have if that had happened.

    It sounds to me like he’s saying he bought a return ticket ahead of time to show CBP that he was going to go home by a certain date, when he knew he wasn’t actually going to honour that date. Na so?

  8. @Michael D
    That was on his way to Chicago. He wrote about it. He put it on his Twitter account.
    (I think I read about it here.)

  9. It sounds to me like he’s saying he bought a return ticket ahead of time to show CBP that he was going to go home by a certain date, when he knew he wasn’t actually going to honour that date. Na so?

    It doesn’t sound like that to me. He said his visa allows him to stay two years with returns home each six months.

    Why did you use Nigerian Pidgin in that last question?

  10. Because I’m Nigerian. Check my IP address if you think I’m capping. Yes I know “capping” is American slang. I travel back and forth often and know about visas, both visiting and student. That is why I am concerned about Chovwe, because unfortunately he is wrong about how visas work.

    “He said his visa allows him to stay two years with returns home each six months.” No no, this is a misunderstanding. The visa is good for two years, he can use it to ask to enter the United States any time in those two years. Then CBP decides whether to let him in and how long to let him stay. Good explanation here, “A person may stay in the U.S. a maximum of six months per year. Therefore, a person who stays for six months and departs and attempts to return to the U.S. in less than six months from the departure date, can be barred from re-entry for six months. The key CBP concerns to address are that: a) they suspect you are unlawfully working in the U.S. and, b) that you are really living in the U.S. and just pretending you are a visitor.”

    Also, asking to see a return ticket is not racism, it’s something many countries require of all visitors. Nigeria requires it. (https://nigeriahouse.com/visa) Plenty racism in immigration policies, true, but this part, asking to see a return ticket, is not racism.

    I am proud of Chovwe and proud to see Nigerian and African writers gaining respect in the rest of the world. Same time, I see him and others spreading bad information. Wish he would talk with an immigration attorney to get the real facts instead of making assumptions. Everybody all spun up about Chovwe’s visa when they don’t even know how visas work.

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