More mass deaths. A ship carrying African migrants catches fire and sinks in the Mediterranean sea. I sit here at my laptop enjoying my privilege. I did not have to risk a death defying journey to leave Africa and come to Europe. I did not have to sell the family’s last plot of land to pay for the outrageous travel cost. I did not have to go to a voodoo shrine and make oath before being trafficked into prostitution. I did not have to recreate the sea crossing of the slave trade era, voluntarily selling myself into slavery in the west. It is indeed a shame as Pope Francis has rightly called it.
This is the story that has come to our attention, what of the thousands that die each year unremarked and unnoticed? The ones who die during the crossing and are casually tossed over board, the ones that die crossing the Sahara whose bodies are covered by the shifting sands? What about the ones that die in detention camps? Or the ones that die at the hands of security agents in the countries they have ‘migrated’ to? Has the slave trade ended? Really? And Africans are still part of the sale, it is our fellow Africans, the privileged and educated few, that encourage and facilitate our young men and women to go into the slavery that illegal immigrant status so reminds me of.
Europeans hire them, because they don’t have to pay them minimum wage even while they complain about the invasion. Europeans benefit from their labor their services and their hardiness. I wish I could say to my brethren from all across the continent not to leave, to be proud, to remain despite the hardship, not to see the west as some sort of utopia where life is good but compared to what many of them are fleeing it is despite the suffering and the racism.
According to the World Bank migrants from the developing world are expected to send $414billion home this year, a 6.3% increase from 2012. Nigeria accounts for $21 billion alone. In Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, remittances are larger than the national foreign exchange reserves. Obviously life in the west pays off, and this money goes to private sector not into corrupt government coffers. Meanwhile even the World Bank continues to call workers from the developing world ‘migrants’ while westerners living in the developing world are expatriates.
It is at times like this that I feel such an overwhelming surge of hate and anger for Africa’s privileged elite who would have me believe it is the white man’s fault who would ask me to focus the fight on the imperialist. Indeed the white man is not without guilt and blame but you my brother, I could endure the oppression and the betrayal of the white man but that I must also endure your oppression and your betrayal, my brother, that I must continue to watch you sell my sons and daughters into slavery that is the pain that is worse than death.