Never miss a story

Get subscribed to our newsletter

Picture of Texas Town. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Every Sunday, African immigrants fill the Redeemed Christian Church of God, RHEMA International Assembly, in Huntsville, Texas, to hear some fervent preaching and spirited singing. During the two-hour service, some worshippers may come and go, depending on their work shifts at nearby prisons.

Almost all of the nearly 300 Africans in Huntsville came to this town around 100 kilometers north of Houston for jobs in the state prison system, which is under the Huntsville-based Texas Department of Criminal Justice, the only state agency that has its headquarters outside the capital of Austin. The church preacher, Nigerian immigrant John Okperuvwe, known to all as Pastor John, and his wife, Ofuoma, both work at a nearby prison during the week.

Follow NewsGram on Twitter

He says many African immigrants to the United States end up living in crowded cities with high crime rates, where the cost of living is high and good jobs are hard to get. The prison jobs in Texas, while potentially dangerous, offer good benefits and pay, and the cost of living is much lower than it is in New York or Los Angeles.

“You will not get rich,” says Okperuvwe, “but you will be comfortable.”

Wearing her colorful African head wrap, Nigerian Blessing Prince may not look like someone who works in a prison, but she told VOA she has developed strong bonds with her American-born co-workers.

A town in Texas. Wikimedia

African workers find friendship

“When you are in the workplace, your co-worker is the family you have at that point, because if anything goes wrong, he or she will come to your rescue,” she said.

She said many American correctional officers, especially African-Americans, are curious about her culture.

Follow NewsGram on Facebook

“I have had certain co-workers come to me and say, ’I want to learn Ibo; can you teach me to speak Ibo?’” Prince recounted. “And I say, ‘Sure, I can!’”

Pan-Africanism in Texas

The majority of African-born people living in Huntsville are Nigerians, but there are increasing numbers of people coming from other countries as well. At the church services on Sunday many congregants wear traditional clothes, like Ghanaian Peter Nyanor, swathed in a yellow robe.

“Sunday has been a day that we use to remind ourselves that we still have a rich culture back home,” he said. “Seeing your fellow people put on their attire, it reminds you of where you come from.”

He said people from various African nations come together here to recognize what they have in common, with little focus on differences.

In the same spirit, they support an African food store in a strip mall on Huntsville’s main drag. There they can buy fufu flour, dried fish and yams from Africa and some packaged products.

Follow NewsGram on Facebook

Religious bonds and civic cooperation

In a T-shirt shop next door to the African store, Pastor John visits the man who helped him find a location for his church. Store owner Nathan Smith is also a part-time preacher who shares the same evangelical Christian faith with his African friend.

“I am glad God led us together. Once we met it was an instant connection,” he said.

Smith has designed T-shirts for the U.S. Olympic Women’s Gymnastics Team, which trained in a facility near Huntsville. He said the town of just under 40,000 people is a bit more cosmopolitan, thanks to the presence of Sam Houston State University, which has students from all over the world.

But Smith said the religious connection he feels with the Africans is something special.

“I have met people from Africa before,” he said, “but I never witnessed an African church before and I have been over there and experienced the service and they are real humble and down to earth and they love God.”

Follow NewsGram on Twitter

Africans at home in Huntsville

For his part, Pastor John encourages integration into the community at large through charity efforts and civic projects. Volunteers from his church worked on a highway cleanup project, and one portion of a local road was named for them.

The church provides special help for newly arrived Africans who need help getting settled, but Pastor John also participates in projects with other Christian ministers in the community to assist the poor and needy. The church also welcomes non-Africans, with frequent attendance by white people as well as African-Americans.

As workers, as parents with children in local schools and as customers in local stores and restaurants, the Africans have developed a strong presence in Huntsville. This feeling is perhaps even stronger among their children, who sometimes remember little or nothing of Africa, and act and sound just like other American kids.

When Pastor John strolls around Huntsville’s picturesque town square, he greets merchants and friends, who recognize him as someone who has contributed to their community and with whom they share an interest in keeping Huntsville a good place to live. (VOA)



Hackers have stolen crypto tokens worth $120 million from Blockchain-based decentralised finance (DeFi) platform BadgerDAO.

Hackers have stolen crypto tokens worth $120 million from Blockchain-based decentralised finance (DeFi) platform BadgerDAO. Several crypto wallets were drained before the platform could stop the cyber attack. In a tweet, Badger said it has received reports of unauthorised withdrawals of user funds. "As Badger engineers investigate this, all smart contracts have been paused to prevent further withdrawals. Our investigation is ongoing and we will release further information as soon as possible," the company said late on Thursday.

According to the blockchain security and data analytics Peckshield, the various tokens stolen in the attack are worth about $120 million, reports The Verge. According to reports, someone inserted a malicious script in the user interface (UI) of their website. Badger has retained data forensics experts Chainalysis to explore the full scale of the incident and authorities in both the US and Canada have been informed. "Badger is cooperating fully with external investigations as well as proceeding with its own," it said. DeFi is a collective term for financial products and services that are open, decentralised and accessible to anyone. DeFi products open up financial services to anyone with an internet connection and they are largely owned and maintained by their users. While the attack didn't reveal specific flaws within Blockchain tech itself, it managed to exploit the older "web 2.0" technology that most users need to use to perform transactions, according to reports. (IANS/ MBI)

Keep Reading Show less

Kishan said that the organisers have been asked to strictly follow all Covid-19 protocols.

A total of 120 top Bollywood and other celebrities are expected to attend the wedding of film stars Katrina Kaif and Vicky Kaushal which is scheduled on December 9 in Rajasthan, said Rajendra Kishan, the District Collector (DC) of Sawai Madhopur district of the state on Friday. The District Collector told mediapersons: "These 120 guests shall follow all COVID-19 protocols and fully vaccinated guests will get entry in the much-hyped celebrity wedding."

Kishan said that the organisers have been asked to strictly follow all Covid-19 protocols. Also, those who are not vaccinated, will not be allowed without the negative RT-PCR test report, he added. "We have been informed by organisers that a total of 120 guests are invited to the wedding and the events will take place between December 7 to December 10," he added.

Earlier at 10.30 a.m., Kishan called a meeting which was attended by administrative, police and forest department officials, hotel and event managers to ensure adequate arrangements for crowd control, smooth regulation of traffic, and law and order situation amid the VIP movement. The wedding venue Fort Barwara, that has been converted into a heritage hotel, is situated in the panchayat samiti Chauth Ka Barwara. The venue is around 22 km away from Sawai Madhopur and is around 174 km from Jaipur. Sawai Madhopur district is famous for the Ranthambore National Tiger Reserve and as per reports, the guests are likely to be taken for a tiger safari. (IANS/ MBI)

Keep Reading Show less

The National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS) is continuously monitoring the situation in four cities - Bengaluru, Hyderabad, New Delhi, and Pune.

The National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS), which confirmed the first two cases of the Omicron variant in Bengaluru on Thursday, is continuously monitoring the situation in four cities - Bengaluru, Hyderabad, New Delhi, and Pune. The NCBS is a part of a consortium of national laboratories performing genomic surveillance across four city clusters. The consortium was established four months ago with support from The Rockefeller Foundation's Pandemic Prevention Institute, and is led by the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) in Hyderabad.

Dr Rakesh Mishra at the CCMB said on Friday that the consortium is continuously monitoring the situation in all the four cities and has upscaled its efforts to sequence as many samples as possible Apart from the CCMB and the NCBS, the consortium includes CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology - IGIB in New Delhi and the Pune Knowledge Cluster, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), Pune, and CSIR-National Chemical Laboratory in Pune.

covid virus The first case of the Omicron variant was detected in South Africa and reported to the World Health Organization on November 24. | Unsplash

Keep reading... Show less