A few days ago I was listening to my small transistor radio, and I heard this pastor praying for those intending to travel out of Nigeria abroad. He even asked those with passports to put them in the direction of their radios for a session of prayers that’llensure that their passports will get visas in the coming week as they go to the embassies of their choice.
I was bewildered, but again I also understood that many Nigerians listening to this preacher will comply with his instructions. I also guessed that if I listened to the same programme next week, most of those who purportedly heeded his instructions may call in to testify of the miracles that would’ve happened in their lives. The miracle of the opportunity to escape from their country.
‘Escaping’ from Nigeria, as well as many African countries has become almost like an ambition for many. It’s become like a goal, an aspiration that must be pursued like education is for many. Many of those who want to get out, don’t even care much about where they are going to, or if there really are green pasture at the other side or just a mirage.
Unfortunately, many of those struggling to ‘Check Out’ (in the eternal words of the late Enebeli Elebuwa’s ‘Andrew’ character of the ’80s propaganda ad of Nigeria’s government of the day) aren’t educated enough or possess skills that will enable them earn a sensible living in the West. Most of them actually believe that the roads are paved with Gold, and all one needed to do was to get there by hook and crook, and by all means possible.
I’ve heard ridiculous amounts invested by friends just to get a six- month permit to stay in the UK, some without work permit. Many others apply to go read master’s programmes, they’ve not the slightest intention to use, all in the bid just to get out of ‘Black Africa’. The sad thing’s that these same amounts, when properly invested in a business back home will generate profits, sometimes geometrically. Enough to allow this young entrepreneur go abroad for holidays.
Africa isn’t where it should be. The rulers seem bent on making life totally unbearable for the ruled but many have made it, and continue to make it under these conditions. They’ve grabbed the opportunities provided by the unfortunate situation of their societies and environments with both hands to make the best for themselves.
I’m not against people going abroad to better themselves, their lives and those of their dependants, but I wonder at what cost they are willing to so do. Many have become so blinded with going abroad that opportunities they could have harnessed today to ensure future of bliss, that would’ve made journeys to the ends of the earth possible tomorrow simply slid past them. Stories of hard earned resources lost to scammers remain very rife, just because intending travelers know they do not possess what it takes to face consular officials to legally obtain their visas. You just have to be on the queue of any of the western embassies to hear the kinda things intending migrants talk about to understand why sometimes visas should be denied some people.
I am not as mad with these ones as I am with those seeking to make the journey by foot (sometimes) through the Sahara desert, on to North Africa, then cross by dingy (sometimes) to the Italian coast of Lampadeusa. A friend once showed me a map of Africa, and the route to North Africa via Republique du Niger, Mali etc and he was pointing and gesturing with his fingers like the points corresponded with the distances of mere streets we were both used to.
He obviously wouldn’t have heard of the about 40 out of about 50 travellers discovered by the Mayor of Agadez in Niger, who had died from thirst while attempting to cross the Sahara, after the vehicle they were traveling in developed a fault and they decided to trek. No one would’ve heard their tale today had 10 of them hadn’t made it to Agadez, from where relief materials were mobilized but unfortunately proved too late.
Many others made it beyond this point, only to then go ahead to drown off many Italian coasts, like the case of the many Eritreans (purportedly escaping from a dictatorial regime back home) lost recently.
A CNN documentary I saw ran an expose on an organ-harvesting gang amongst the Berber tribes of North Africa who target mainly black African migrants seeking to migrate to Europe and Israel. Most of these migrants pay these Berbers to help transport them only for them to have them kidnapped then harvest body parts such as kidneys from them, most times without any form of anaesthesia.
This is the sad tale associated with many a migrant. Many dreams have become buried in the Sahara, the watery graves off Lampadeusa, in brothels in Europe, on the streets of Europe as destitutes, in the overcrowded prisons of France, and in many migrant camps awaiting deportation, amongst others.
There are also success stories from all of these, but for every one success story are many more painful and sad stories of ends, for which no means was met.
We must begin to encourage our youth to look inwards not otherwise. Our potentials remain only that till we decide to convert them to kinesis. Sometimes, the lush green plain on the other side might just be a mirage. There’re many things young minds can do with their time besides seeking to travel abroad, and many of these could be done with a fraction of what is today invested towards pursuing an uncertain future abroad.
African governments must now begin to be more responsible as they are in the main to blame for this shame. No sane man would want to leave a paradise for another they aren’t sure of. It’s their policy of impoverishment of the masses that’s at the heart of the motivation of the African youth to seek greener pasture abroad.
But besides the negative activity of African Governments, especially their anti-youth policies, the youths must now take their destiny in their own hands. They must look beyond the obstacles set in their path to excel even in unfriendly African environments.