On a recent clandestine trip to Paris via the channel tunnel amidst the media storm of the Syrian refugee scandal derailing European immigration policies and borders respectively, our Eurostar train came full frontal with the debacle when the conductor suddenly pulled to a sudden halt half-way from London. The reason, the passengers quickly leant, was that of migrants smuggling through the cables illegally trying to cross into Britain risking their lives with such perilous journey. As French immigration officers descend on the scene arresting the terrified poor souls putting handcuffs on their person, I could only watch in awe and utter empathy for the frightened and hungry young men being led away. The British passenger-train soon grew into conversation, the small-talk kind with people whispering why those immigrants would risk life and all just to enter the U.K. but here was a scenario and a story all too familiar to me. On arrival in Paris, I later learned that the migrants are of Sub-Saharan origin, from such countries as Ivory Coast, Nigeria, The Gambia, Ghana, and Senegal, and that they will be subjected to detention and deportation respectively.
In a world of extreme wealth, and an age of major technological strides, it is unacceptable and absolutely scandalous that young men and women from Africa have to cross high seas to reach Europe with many perishing amidst the high tide of the merciless Mediterranean sea. Yet, more outrageous and troubling is the fact that in 2015, Africa is still poor, underdeveloped, and unable to escape the traps and shackles of colonialism. As usual the Western media will report on the casualties, the politicians drool over it with tough talk embracing photo ops along the way, the morning newspapers will provide commentary and the pages rolled over because tomorrow there will be another brand new occasion to report on; only this time with such headlines as – Russian aggression on Ukraine, Middle East turmoil in a dramatic twist, Castro’s Cuba in major rapprochement with Washington, Libya’s oil wealth disappears into thin air, Another corruption scandal engulfs Nigerian Politics, and so on. Black lives matter too and each life lost across the high seas is a tragedy, and about time African politicians recognize this!
Europe should take stock stepping back and reflect deeply on itself pondering asking tough questions. Interestingly, however, hard talk is common currency in the American political domain where the immigration issue takes center stage each election cycle. The tussle between the Democrats and the Republican political parties over the issue and policy stance is contested, scrutinized and analyzed, but also the economic worth of immigration to the U.S. economy recognized which European leaders and media habitually and deliberately fail to acknowledge. Europe and leaders in such capitals as London, Paris and Berlin must come to the realization that the status quo is unrealistic, thus unsustainable. For centuries Africa’s resources lay at the hands and mercy of European nations and multinational companies extracting vast sums of profit in the process. Mineral companies, gas to oil companies continue to exploit and ransack Africa’s resources with total disregard to the natives it belong to or their wellbeing; nor the environment. This unethical behavior culminating in dodgy deals and bribery of a corrupt African political class had been the norm for centuries and must change. The emergence of fresh ideas embodied in a new generation of educated young Africans guided by ethics and moral compass is charging in charge of their own destiny. Finally, change is coming to Africa and its long suffering citizens. The challenges are enormous in an already globalizing world, but if Singapore and China can do it, why not the Gambia, Senegal, Kenya, and Africa as a whole?!
Climate change is one of the biggest threats to both African states national and continental security and must be prioritized and tackled as such. We have witnessed countries blighted by drought such as the Darfur region of Sudan, Mali, North Africa into Syria, and many others leading to rural-urban drift; and therefore ought to be approached and challenged as a matter of national security priority. Climate change and climate-related effects has led to and exacerbated the migration of Africa’s youthful population from the countryside into the cities in search of jobs. This leads to cross-border migration culminating in the so-called and maligned migration crisis into Europe. Africa’s wasteful politicians are ill equipped or prepared in solving their own domestic climate related emergencies affecting local farmers. Poor rainfall and crop failures are common currency on that continent for years and unless new terms and a fairer trade system are renegotiated with Europe and farmers in the developing world paid their fair share implementing farming best practices, Europe’s borders will never be secure and free from migrants seeking pastures new and a share of the good life!
Written By Gibril Saine, England