Africa Youths should Stop Dreaming of Good Life in America and Europe

For the previous five years, the western media has been vividly covering the upsurge in the number of youthful illegal immigrants from Africa to Europe and North America. Pictures of black boys and girls drowning in the Mediterranean waters as they try to steal their away to Europe are very regular news items in the New York Times, Deutsch Welle, The Economist and other high powered media outlets of the West. The way these Newspapers and other Western media houses cover the phenomenon of African refugees in Europe and America is pejorative, sarcastic, wry, sardonic, and very mocking in all possible gears of the negative Press-coverage. Truly, young people from Africa have been running away to Europe and America, some have been doing so lawfully, most of them are economic, political and climatic refugees but the majority have been illegally moving out of Africa to enter illegally into Europe and America out of the unfounded imagination among the youths in Africa that there is good life in Europe and America. This is the day-dreaming the African youths have to be disillusioned, so that they realize that there is no good life for an African immigrant struggling to get a space in the developed Countries of Europe and north America.

Basically, the youths of Africa, and I mean all the youths black, Arabic, Indian or white, whether boys or girls must know that problems at home cannot be solved by running away, but instead by remaining or staying to fight on.It is clearly understood that bad politics, absence of infrastructure, regular wars, gender violence and hostility unto the sexual minorities, crude culture, poverty, lack of job opportunities, hostile climate, low payments to the professionals, and absence of opportunity for academic advancement are the key forces that have made Africa to look very un-attractive to its youths, but it is also important for the youths in Africa to understand thatAmerica or Europe have their own problems but their youths are not running away. It is also important to realize that a few years ago most of the Countries in Europe were in poverty the same way north America was but these two societies fought and wangled their away out of poverty, curtesy of their youthful populations that never ran away.

Economic and social Problems in Africa are indicators of bad governance, which is in turn a brain child of bad politics. Bad politics of Africa is perpetrated by the old men and women of Africa. Most of these old politicians of Africa have been in politics for the past five decades, they often justify their clinging on political power by an argument that they fought for independence from colonial tyranny, yes they fought for Africa’s liberation from colonial brutality but this does not justify old people’s version of politics to perfect social and economic suffocation of Africa. This old people’s version of politics survives and persist because of state sponsored ideology of tribalism, economic exclusion, police and military brutality and all other practices done in defense of moral panic in top leadership. Careful examination of different strands of the political culture of Africa evidently shows that these old men in African politics are not ready to give Africa an opportunity to enjoy political modernity based on democracy and inclusivity, the old men in politics want Africa to be the way it is so that it can give the first families and other few politically correct families a leeway to enjoy economic and political advantages. This is the behavior that emanates from old people’s fear of change, as it goes the Greek proverb, it is also the behavior which has lain a political sub-structure for social and economic hardships in Africa catapulting the youths into un-lawful migration to the un-receptive West.

However, running away of the disadvantaged youths to Europe or America is not a perfect solution, instead it gives leeway to culture of bad politics and social degeneration to cement itself in Africa, the youths must stay and fight the way the youths of Algeria and Egypt fought in the Arab spring for the good of their Countries. It is understandable that it is sometimes hard, to remain and face hardships but it is also important to know that no freedom is earned without injuries. The prevailing small spaces of democracy seen in Africa to-day is an out-come of very arduous battles fought by the youths of those days in the likes of Thomas Isidore Sankare, Nelson Mandela, Amilcar Cabral, Steve Bantu Biko, Dedan Kimathi, Markham Singh, Walter Rodney, Elijah Masinde and many others. They chose suffering instead of enjoying, prison instead of fake freedom, local entrepreneurship than fancy jobs in the west, struggle to survive assassin’s gunshots in the battle-field than ivory towers or arm chair philosophizing as a state poet to the economic powers that be , radicalism in service to the oppressed humanity than sycophancy in the palace of the oppressor, and hence this is why Amilcar Cabral rallied a call in his book Unity and Struggle, for the oppressed youth of Africa and all other youths in the same fix all over the world to unite and fight against all forms of oppression. It was in recognition of the need for good courage and struggle against oppressive systems that Amilcar Cabral cautioned the oppressed people in Africa and anywhere else in the world not to accept cheap victories.

How I wish those of you running away from Africa to Europe and America do realize that you are only looking for cheap victories. In fact, cosmetic victories that come after you have rejected yourself and your identity against the good conscience which commands that Africa is now a battle-field in which the war between human dignity and poverty is being fought, soldiers on the side of human dignity are the youths and vanguards for poverty are those perpetrating bad politics, those who will die in the battle-field are more glorified than those running away across the Mediterranean Euro-tunnels to be the self-made refugees and cowardly immigrants in Europe or America, doing menial jobs like washing drawers and smalls of old women in the homes of the elderly as they feverishly blame Africa for having bad leaders.

The problem with the majority of those running away to Europe or America through illegal means, green card lottery and other dubious machineries is that they are unfortunately not good readers, they don’t read. If at all they read I would have recommended to them that they better read the Quran, the Bible, Das Kapitel and Aristotelean discourse. They could learn that the Quran is not sympathetic to slavery, the Bible does not condemn slavery, it is in the Bible that a black person was declared a servant of servants. In Das Kapitel and other writtings of Karl Marx it is discussed that there was a lot of folksy culture, primitivity and ignorance among the oriental societies like the Indians and the savages of Africa and hence colonialism was a blessing to them because it was the only way the middle class could be created among these societies for effective revolution. Similarly, Aristotle in his discourse argued that slavery is the gift of nature which is useful in enabling the citizens to sit and discuss politics as the slave toils for the citizens.

My dear reader, it is not that I am being tendentious in this situation, but my I intention is to jostle the youths of Africaand its diaspora as the descendants of the society which has experienced the down-side of slavery to the objective reading of the above literatures. This is my plangent gonging of the intellectual bell to the youths of Africa to be objective about materialist lures of the West, which only invites them to the treat of slavery in one form or another.The youthsof Africa have to benchmark on Mahatma Gandhi who was very objective in his manner of reading the literatures on religion of slavery. His remark was that no one is able to ride your back unless you bent. And it is true, slavery, colonialism and currently African immigrants in Europe and America thrived and are thriving on the bridge called the stooped or the bent back of an African person, though there was and now there is an opportunity not to bent. Henry Louis Gates Jnr. Was very much faulted ten years ago when he blamed black people for being handmaids of slavery. Those that faulted him were only chauvinistic and self-adulatory. There is rich evidence which confirms that Slaves from Africa were captured by fellow black men either during tribal wars or commercial slave raids and then handed over to the white slave buyers, the best or hard working slaves in Africa was always to be brutally buried along with the dead master even if the slave is not dead, white slave raiders successfully operated in the villages in the hinterland of Africa because they had local black informers and spies that gave them information about the good targets. There is also a lot of historical evidence which shows that the number of African chiefs and snobbish people that collaborated with colonial adventurers is more than those that resisted colonial entry; In fact, this is the bent back that led slavery and colonialism to thrive in Africa. Currently, young, educated and strong Africans from peaceful countries like Kenya, Tanzania, South Africa and so-forth run away to Europe and America against resistance and protest by the host communities. After getting entry into the European or American labour market, these young people are forced to shelf their academic qualifications to work menially as street cleaners, gate-keepers, gardeners and what not. Similarly, some trifle reading of Buchi Emecheta in Joys of Motherhood and Equiano Oloudah’s travels readily brings out literary perspectives of black man’s positive hand in slavery as the ones mentioned above. Especially in regard of how we black Africans all over the world are carelessly not guarding ourselves against the brutality of nature which easily packages the slaves as the gift to those that are economically shrewd.

In response to the palpable immorality among the self-styled African refugees in Europe and America Mr. Joe Rateng, a colleague in the department of Health Sciences at Turkna University told me that after he graduated with a second class honours degree in Bio-Chemistry at Kenyatta University, he stole his way to the United Kingdom for a good job. Fortunately, he got a job as a gate-keeper with a civil engineering and construction firm in East London.Given his Luo good physique and sense of duty, Rateng excellently performed his work as a watch-man and security guard at all the sites he was assigned. His boss, a white British, was very happy and pleased with his work. A time came for confirming each worker with a permanent job status based on training. Rateng submitted his degree for confirmation, his boss was bamboozled, how comes Rateng is a worth of worthies in the station of gate-keeping yet he has a training in science. The boss declined from confirming Rateng as a scientist, but confirmed him as a gate-keeper. A lesson?

It is not wrong for youths from Africa to go to Australia, Europe, China, America or Canada. In fact, it is very right for them to go there as entrepreneurs on a business journey or as students immediately to come back after graduation. Something more immoral is for these youths to declare themselves as refugees so that they can get a way of settling in these countries because they want to enjoy the riches in these countries. It is immoral to enjoy the sweat of others. Wealth, riches and abundances in Europe, Australia and America are testimonies of long history of sweat, hard work, saving, investing, political fortitude and good governance. The founding fathers of these countries were sweating for their posterities not for opportunistic foreigners. The only genuine gain we can enjoy from the rich world of Europe and America is a lesson that we can also fight bad politics and then sweat our brows for a prosperous Africa of tomorrow.

I know an African youth will challenge me by arguing that the likes of Wole Soyinka, Ben Okri, and Ngugi wa Thiong’o are excelling intellectually in the West, are opportunity which they could not get in their respective countries of birth. Just like Achebe, I would call such reasoning as a statement of self-defeat. In Things Fall Apart the opposite of Okonkwo was Nwoye and Unoka.They were efulefu, she men. In fact, a hard working girl like Eznima was better than the tow of them. To Okonkwo, Eznima was a he-girl in contradistinction to the men like Unoka and Nwoye who were the she-men. The basis of these categorization was the manner in which one fought for his or her father-land. Okonkwo’s exemplarysolidarity was in how he used to work from cock-crow to chick roost in his farm in Umohia and how he used the machete to fight for Umohia.Extenting this analogy to the present world is that those working or living the afropolitan lives in the likes of Soyinka, Ngugi and Ben Okri are mere efulefu. Their time for coming to Umohia was long overdue. There is no dignity for being a world paragon in teaching and writing in English when Africa your fatherland is the poorest continents when it comes to teachers. Ben Okri is the most efulefu of all the efulefus, given his desperate efforts of fighting the English community to accept him as an English writer. Pity! O dear Ben, - one is English by blood and birth not by writing and speaking. You are only a Yoruba writer writing in English, come back to Nigeria we soldier on together. That Nigerian Igbo doctor, Oluyinka Olutoye of Texas, an expert of fetal medicine working in America, that cured a fetus of sixteen weeks of spinal cancer, in the womb of a white woman, is only expressing service to humanity but he is a paradox of paradoxes. How many women in Nigeria die in labour wards in a day? How many children die in Lagos in a day? How many American Newspapers mock Africa and Nigeria for not having good hospitals? Answer me, answer me Doctor Oluyinka Olutoye before I tell you what you’re supposed to do next.

Alexander Opicho writes from Lodwar, Kenya

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Articles by Alexander Opicho