Yearly, scores of hopeful Africans lost their lives while trying to cross to Europe and other continents for greener pasture. The COVID-19 traveling barrier is the only reason we haven’t heard any of such recently. These migrants, filled with hope to reach “the other side” and frustrated by the situations in the countries which are significantly under-developed as a result of various unprogressive political and economic occurrences, often believes that when they get to Europe, life will be much easier. The sea is the barrier between where they are and the promise land.
I sat with Eghe Nimose, a Nigerian Musician from Benin City, who sings Congolese Rumba and Highlife music. He narrated bitterly how he lost his childhood friend Timothy Alubi Uyi in the Libya sea enroute Spain. In his words:
“It hurts me and I sang it out in a song I titled ‘Tabitha’ “. He said he grew up with Timothy and only left his hometown Benin City to Abuja for greener pasture while Timothy left for Spain via the Libya route.
The news of his friend’s demise came mid 2017 but he rejected it claiming soon his friend will call him. Well, after three years of waiting for the call that never came, Eghe Nimose has to accept the fate and truth that his beloved friend was no more. Such and more stories like that are easily told in Nigeria especially in the ancient city of Benin which is notorious for high migration of the youths to Europe. Some barely make it pass the Sahara Deserts, others are sold off as slaves or into forced labour, many drowned in the sea. Only a minor percentage make it successfully to Europe.
Although governments of various nations and several agencies have policies and programs in place to discourage youths from embarking on such journeys. From skill acquisition to empowerment and others. But these have played little or no significant in such desisting efforts.
I strongly believe addressing little domestic issues like provision of basic infrastructures as electricity, good roads and a good taxing policy and programs for startups and SME (which the Nigerian government has implemented recently), will help giving hope to dreams.
After this COVID19 era, we hope life returns to normal quickly but in the positive areas and that Africans start developing Africa for themselves. Europe, Asia or America’s economy are not doing too fantastic these times but I tell you, a typical African will rather die in a degrading European economy than suffer a mere head-ache here in Africa.