A journey to Europe in the middle of August via the desert, its follies and plans for a good life that went awry.
My eyes took in the deep valleys above us as we leave the last vestiges of civilization and the narrow vee of softly breathing water. A great length of luminescent grayness showed and we were filled with expectations, even though, uncomfortable.
A day after,our enthusiasm dampened, my hair tousled and eyes were heavy with
lack of sleep and the news by the head of our crew, that the desert trip to Europe has to be aborted,owing to uproar in Europe and the US, the anti-Brexit affair,the terrorists scourge that has led to the ridiculous treatment of
our people with suspicion that verged on hostility.
With about five deaths on our hands, one can not but
pity the kindly old lady who takes in waifs and strays,suffering from an attack of vertigo,and wailing miserably out of the pretty motley crowd of fortunes seekers; whose
hopes of riding the crest of a new wave of fame dashed.
Meanwhile, hundreds of kilometres in this middle of nowhere, a hundred or so zebras run freely across the African grassland. Their striped flanks heave as their thickly maned necks rock to the rhythm of their powerful movements.The sound of their hooves pounding the perched earth rumbles across the plains.
A cloud of red dust billows upward behind them and can be seen for kilometres. They run, free and wild, with no sense of restraint. As if by some unseen signal,they begin to slow and then stop. With their strong, thick teeth,they tug at the dry grass.
The herd is alert,occasionally looking up, listening, and smelling the air,carried by the wind,the distant sound of a lion’s roar reaches their ears and they tense. They know the sound well.
With ears held high in the air,grass motionless from their mouths, the zebras look in the direction of the moaning cry. Sensing no immediate danger, they bend their long necks again as if by rote and continue grazing.When the sun’s heat begins to intensify they are on the move again.
This time it is the smell of water that draws the wild horses toward a river. On a high bank,they stop and stare down at the slow moving brown water,snorting and pawing at the dry dust. Strong thirst,with one last headlong thrust,they run to the river’s edge.
One by one they drink their fill from an apparently
inexhaustible trough,then turn and head back on to the open plains, silhouetted against the deep red glow of the setting sun and framed by the beauty and warmth of the African veld,looking magnificent, free and at liberty.
I yawned loudly, a thrush
gave a full throat, and they listened in silence until with a rush of wings it was away with its migratory instinct.
If this narrative is winding, it’s because, one has plumb the depths of despair, even as this trip to Europe through the desert is long and winding,and yours sincerely returning empty-handed,defeated and crestfallen.
The fear of president Trump, a fellow good at repartees and arrant display of political callowness and repatriation in a world where everyone (supposedly) belongs is the beginning of wisdom.
The anecdote of the zebras; an analogy that explains how the animal family is wired with camaraderie and flock together as “bird’s of the same feathers”,and the contrasting human family; a brand, born from the very onset to be class-conscious;and bred to
discriminate amongst and within itself,in a world where poverty and inequality are endemic and
that has been curiously designed with the application of principles of natural justice in particular
circumstances,(and this time of repatriation),where the existing laws would not allow a fairly reasonable result.
It is (arguably, though), the first world war,a war that has really,never ended, the subsequent drought and famine that opened the migrants eyes to the European continent and consequently, the broad and wide page of the deluge of
floodgates of emotion, destruction and protest, that has characterized their existence and status,and that has,sad as it were,become an enigma
and a global phenomenon.
It can be argued further, that since the ‘first world
war’ and its attendant hardships and difficulties, people have had to do the only thing they could, to ameliorate their living conditions and leaving for the uncertainty of the unknown became not only an option, but the only option and making the choice was too easy.
In spite of the global enormous social, opportunities, economic and power inequalities and the challenges it posed, people,(including yours sincerely),abandoned homes in search for water,food,sustenance, work and greener pastures.
While some died in the process, those that sailed or landed safely, arrived in
Europe bosom in droves, only to be joined at the borders by an already large and growing number of population, large one at that, who don’t pay taxes.
This increasing number of people have recently soared higher and skyrocketing, and so too has the reluctance of States to provide for the teeming mass of immigrants who more often than not rarely feel at home.
The migrants plight is more compounded, the reason been simple, the US and Europe have also suddenly find themselves inundated with many millions of immigrants (legal and illegal),and are on the cusps of already struggling just to feed their own citizens.
The US and Europe apparently, because of the failing global economic system, could no longer
provide much help to the multitudes who suddenly appear on their doorsteps. And, congruent to this, the wealthier nations, faced with their own peculiar problems are becoming ever more reluctant to help support the many migrants in the world. Hence, immigrants, most of who are hungry, desolate and tired are now exposed to increased risks, dehumanizing conditions and are more vulnerable to intimidation, arrests and now threats of deportation.
The immigrants are seen as destroyers and usurpers,who are seemingly seen as potentially harmful and destroying Europe’s
increasing cost of administration and living
and that of general
maintenance of infrastructure and physical planning; and subsequently,
due to Europe’s inability to capture the immigrants in their planning and development, the visitors
suffer and face severe hardships, employment restrictions, unemployed and underemployed, the situation is so bad, that you don’t know how they make ends meet;and to add verisimilitude, going by Trump’s (who some people have come to admire greatly while some others consider him a poseur)threat and repartees at every turn and events, they now face the misery of displacement.
The scope and scale of this problem,the human suffering which underlies it,as well as its impact on international peace and security should actually, and rightly so, make the grave issues of repatriation, deportation and immigration an issue of great international concern.
It is no coincidence that no international organization or body cares for the welfare of such persons, and their desperate plights often draw scant attention from the media,coupled with the bungling ineptitude of our African mealy-mouthed
political leaders on this occasion and the continent’s governments, bogged down in a conflict of resolution of its diverse political and socioeconomic problems, may be unwilling or unable to protect and provide for them.
Many of the soon to be
uprooted “has-been and been-tos” would be limited to a meagre existence,that’s as maybe. Sequel to this, there is the growing tide of economic migrants. There are several reasons for why the number of migrants
population is increasing by the minutes, even as the African verdant hills and meadows are left fallow:i)the gap between the rich and poor countries of the world keeps growing alarmingly, and ii)the TV and internet daily flaunt the affluent lifestyles in front of some poorest citizens of the globe at a time,when,iii)worldwide travel has become easier, even if expensive, and iv)borders are getting more porous.
While some migrants-especially those who already have relatives in industrialized countries-make the move successfully, others end up ruining their lives. Those (like me) who fall into the hands of fraudulent and criminal traffickers face particular danger and some
have wasted hard-earned money on processing fake visa’s only to face deportation at Europe’s entry points; some have died of shipwreck in the attempt to stray into Europe, others endured weeks of deprivation, hunger, thirst and physical abuse in the course of looking for the mirage in Europe, which is like the appearance of a sheet of water on a hot road -a mirror of our times.
The world’s migrants population is increasing by the day within the European cultural matrix and many of this ‘Journeys to prosperity’ turned into nightmares that ended in tragedies for millions of migrants, and in any case,it is becoming quite difficult to differentiate between who is a political refugee and an economic migrant.
Practically, every migrant
has his own nightmare to relate. Whatever the reason for which these people have been uprooted-be it war,persecution or poverty-their suffering provokes the whole gamut of human emotions, despair and empathy. For some of them,it would be easy to reconstruct their lives,but for others, the feelings would be that of inertia and resignation.
Even in the best of circumstances voluntary or forced repatriation of immigrants involves hardships because it means being totally uprooted and
consequentially, the start of a tough restoration process. Even more distressing, is the situation of millions who will be
forced to return their home country against their will.
One must state in parenthesis,here,however, that forced or reluctant repatriations will never solve the problems poised by immigrants if the underlying causes are not addressed. The events of this decade-and,indeed, those of the past years-indicate very clearly that migrant issues cannot be discussed without its security implications and
addressing the conflicts, interests, and the causes which bring about displacement in the first place. Hence, it is about recognising the human rights of all men,women and children to enjoy peace, security and dignity without having to flee their homes.
The solutions to the intractable global phenomenon should be a three-pronged attack,by the three separate forces that can be identified in the ongoing saga of global political intrigue and sordid affair, advancing from different directions. The number one force is the US
and Europe,the second is the nations from where the immigrants originated and three,of course,the migrants.
The search for a global solutions which should not be kept in mothballs any longer, needs to be predicated on a three dimensional multilateral
action as the best way of achieving good results
and bearing in mind that, States and empires have collapsed as a result of internal and communal conflicts, economic and social factors depriving their citizens of any effective protection,
and everyone a loser.
Elsewhere, human security has been jeopardized and compromised by governments which refused to act in the common interests of their people, which are the fundamental causes of insecurity-usually have their roots in hatred,prejudice and injustice. Therefore, since,wars begin in the minds, it is the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed- a change of thinking is needed.
There’s sometimes a difference between fact and truth-truth based on information;the African continent ( being,arguably,
the most populous beneficiaries of the US and Europe’s bountiful bouquet of roses-migration and its latest reality offers repatriation),should not focus on the sin of commission inherent in the migration reforms and regime in Europe and the US-the wrong that would be perpetrated-but about its own leaders sins of omission-the good the African continent fail to do.
Man,often,seldom know ahead of time the full significance of what we do, don’t do,or fail to do, and when wrong desires coincide with opportunities the battle has always been challenging; particularly, now that the US and Europe are poised not to make the continent feel good about feeling bad.
The African continent must quit oversimplifying the immigrants laws that has bred not only discontent,but that is going to sentence its immigrants citizens to adversity, but, rather, consider the rational calculation of its effects and embrace the intelligent convictions based on a feelings of a real people with real problems, in need of solutions, palliatives and succour.
The African must be eager to arrive, even as we begin to look for immediate, remedial and lasting solutions. Our sores were caused by crumpled roses,not thorns. And we must accept that today,we need to encourage the multitudes that had the grounds in Europe and the US cut off from their feet’s and who have their heads dropped like a rose on a broken stem to rise up.
There is no apple-pie order for doing this, as the continent’s ship appears to have wreck in a storm,and
leaders that show they are not really up to the ingenious and creative challenges needed in sociopolitical engineering. To move forward, the leaders must appreciate that the core of the continent’s problems, which led our people on the migration adventure in the first place, is the immense disparity between the continent’s productive capacity and the ability of its people to consume.
The continent therefore has to by all means possible, revive ailing and or dead industries, and, to raise the output of industries. The leaders must do what they must to give vision to our dream;vision is the continent’s most desperate need,as there are no hopeless situation, only people who think hopelessly. The dream that would lead to fostering a new set of economic and social measures, fight corruption, combat poverty, counter unemployment with work and provide social safety net.
Granted that the US and Europe in a bit of lateral thinking seem to have gone off social upstarts and are fast becoming less welcoming towards the unconventional in a world enshrouded in need, a recession and a global retarded economy. But in interface with charm and diplomacy,it is a pity not to appreciate the difference between repatriation viz the migrants psyche in a land that has been variously described as a “land of tenants”. If you have become paranoid aand pompous,it borders on preposterous to profane
and debased the,’tenants’, for no reason, other than they have settled down, you’ll have debased the American Dream. It’s a retrograde step for humanity. plus ça change.
Those who consider that the migrants brought insanity and its own troubles, should consider that over the years, greed coupled with timid,vacillating leaders brought the continent into disrepute for giving no thought to provision of infrastructure, communication, power,housing etc,the lack of this essential have frustrated their compatriots to seek refuge in the extreme cold of Europe and a new moppet trying to stun the continent with his precocious statesmanship. One can expect sensations in his moral crusades and love for propriety. Of course,for the migrants crying blues about the situation is like looking for the skipper of the Titanic.
But we should grasp no straws at the reality, our continent have the character, drive and resilience, but just need the rich vein of form to right the wrong in the polity; the wrong uses of resources and a desire to holistically free up more resources and assets for investment and reinvestment; even as it facilitate a conducive, enduring and enabling environment. Environments that should be insulated from any
network of bureaucratic bottleneck and taken cognisance of the fact that the vogue all over the world is downsizing and outsourcing.
It is said that most millionaire’s are made during and right after a recession, therefore, for the African continent with all it has pleased nature to endow it with in human and material resources to be passive and quiet would be a chevron on the road to its progress,material well-being, prosperity, freedom and development.
The African continent must begin to march and match with the rest of world in to the new economic order. To do this and in the pursuit of wealth and wealth creation, it needs.(i)a steady and uninterrupted power supply and new energy levels.(ii)to prepare a blueprint for a tariff regime that would protect its local investors and entrepreneurs.(iii)proper tax incentives including tax rebates, with tax benefits and direct access.(iv)indigenous industrial and productive base such that Africans would have the right to participate in their own welfare and to take advantage of ownership opportunities in a free and fair competitive environment.(v)increase political will to ensure there’s a boost in its economy and curtail the influence, power and impact of the dinosaurs and politicians that prey and appropriate to selves the people’s resources.(vi)to close the ever widening vast chasm separating rich and poor,chasms which at first seem shallow but were deep and wider than
imagined-a chasm that met but do not mix.
Africans must lift themselves out of this dark,dreary and depressing movie. The elements are saying amidst the looming economic doom and the embarrassment of immense proportion called repatriation the continent can no longer be shushed on the issue of life’s necessities, provisions of which are the primary duties and for which its governments should be soppy about,but presently in a curious blend of sophistication are neglected.
The threat of imminent repatriation of our kith and kin from US and Europe should ignite in the African leadership and their consciousness, the theory of paradigm shift, as a vital key to its success; a key that in literal sense, challenges us to think differently in order to discover new truths, to begin to think outside the box.
Let Africans change their mindset and move from the stable of lies and greed as it begins to invest in its peoples in a transformation that can only be achieved through education. Its time
to boldly go for politicians,men and women who will dream dreams and have great visions of what can be achieved in their lives and in the lives of others. But they really do not have to be fantastic heroes, to provide the little niceties and privileges of life to the teeming mass of our people, if only they could be sufficiently motivated, honest and altruistic enough.
The last but not the least is to reckon. The word “reckon” is an accounting term, meaning,”to put to one’s account.” Having taken all things into consideration with all the variables; and having made their calculations and arithmetic, families should be circumspect and count the cost before migrating for economic reasons, in view of the many criminal gangs involved in trafficking migrants and the difficulty of legally migrating to countries of the developed world.
The reality of repatriation is a heart-warming and salutary ‘tale’ of unending shattered lives which will either leave one yearning for a chance to get away from it all or convince one that the uncomfortable security of life in the stinging cold is not such a bad thing after all.
Last line: Herrick wrote, “The world is round and is nowhere found to flaw, or else to sever;so let our love as endless prove and pure as gold for ever.”