Illegal migration - Life is all about opportunities

Illegal Migrantss File photo of illegal migrants

Tue, 19 Apr 2022 Source: Ahanta Apemenyimheneba Kwofie III

If conditions of life are better where you find yourself, you will never think about migration. It will not even cross your mind but if conditions of life is unfavourable where you are, you will want to go where life is favourable and comfortable. It is human nature and it is called human security.

Throughout the history of mankind, humans have been migrating to wherever they find life suitable, safe and comfortable. Until humans created countries and mounted artificial borders, migration was never considered to be legal or illegal. Of course, they sometimes have to fight before settling in their new environments.

Today, one needs passports and visas to trigger legal processes of naturalisation before one can be considered as a legal emmigrant in another country. Downtrodden Africans do not have what it takes to trigger legal processes of naturalisation and migration. The only option available to them is to risk everything to migrate when conditions of life become meaningless as death. To them, life is a gamble so better you risk it than never.

Illegal migration is one of the current humanitarian crisis facing Africa. If you look at situation at the Mediterranean where young Africans are risking everything to crossover to Europe despite the dangers involved, it explains how governments in Africa have failed to create conducive environments for youths to harness their potentials, grow and to actualise themselves. African governments have have been nothing but disaster and a curse to the masses.

The most disheartening aspect is women who are risking everything to cross over to Europe with their children or babies. A lot of them do not make it. They end up getting drowned in the Mediterranean sea.It is more precarious if one looks at the statistics of children in their teens who are being driven away from their homelands by conflicts, violence, hunger and other harsh conditions of life to risk crossing the Mediterranean to Europe.

As a young man who grew up in Sekondi-Takoradi, I can appreciate the difficulties of those young men, women and children who are trying to cross over to Europe by hook or crook. When life becomes meaningless as death with no hope for tomorrow, you will do what they want to do. I have been there before and I understand their pains.

I have tried on several occasions to stowaway to Europe. Stowaway is one of the dangerous adventures of life but I was still determined to undertake it. Why? Because life was just miserable in those days at Sekondi-Takoradi and at one point, I felt the only way I could make life better was to stowaway to Europe no matter how dangerous it is.

I grew up as an orphan and my whole life depended on my two uncles whom I stayed with at Kwesimintsim in Takoradi and after completing St. John's School, I felt my uncles have done enough for me and there is no need to continue burdening them with my life. I would take it up from there.

Sekondi-Takoradi is a harbour city and stowaway is one of the inspirations of life. There are a lot of people to look up to as far as stowaway is concerned. Too many examples of people who succeeded in crossing over to Europe and America through stowaway. Many of them have come back and living a good life and they tell you it worth trying it. Just a lot of them and so one is easily influenced by the environment to risk everything to stowaway.

I resolved to stowaway to Europe so I started moving from one Ghetto to the other and joined some "Ghetto hardcores'. Life in the Ghetto is a jungle and survival for the fittest. It is not a place for the weak and weaklings. You must survive the terrain through rough tactics. It is in the Ghettos that all plans are hatched to migrate. That is where we sit down and draw all the plans and strategies about how to evade security at Takoradi harbour and get into the ships at night without being caught.

As I found myself in the Ghetto with the aim of trying to stowaway, I have got to get myself involved in all the plans and strategies though I tried to stay away from Ghetto life of drinking and smoking, especially when it comes to marijuana. Because I did not want to drink and smoke, the Ghetto boys did not trust me enough.

After all efforts made to persuade me to drink alcohol and smoke failed, they felt I was a spy who has been sent to spy on them. Due to that, I was once threatened to be stabbed to death. You know how Ghetto life is? Isn't it? They do not tolerate traitors and if they suspect or find you to be one, they will hunt you down.

I kept roaming at the Ghettos with hopes of getting opportunity to stowaway to Europe or America despite the dangers involved. I tried few dangerous moves and tried to get into ships at nights at Takoradi harbour but failed. I even considered crossing the desert to Libya or Morocco and cross the Mediterranean sea to Europe. The urge was really crazy at the time.

In all this, there is this brother of mine and the only family member who knew about my intentions to stowaway. He did his best to discourage me from that adventure and tried to persuade me to go to university, training college or find another meaningful thing to do than to stowaway but that never yielded positive results.

Eventually, my brother resolved to secure a Captain's cabin for me so we went around contacting sailors at Takoradi harbour about possibility of getting one of them to hide me in their cabins and take me to Europe. Just around the same time, my brother was involved in a motor traffic accident which almost claimed his life. My dreams shattered but I never gave up on them . I kept them alive.

My brother on sick bed still kept persuading me to look at other options in life than to think that one will only be successful after crossing over to Europe or America. He knows many people who have travelled to Europe and America whose life became miserable than when they were here. In America or Europe, things go wrong too but with determination and courage, one can make it here too, he said to me. I still never minded him.

Though with the hopes of stowaway still in my heart and mind, my brother and one another managed to convince me to join an ongoing police enlistment at Sekondi Police Headquarters in 2007. That enlistment was another fitness test of life I passed with determination, endurance and courage. I stood in the rain in the rain for 9 hours all with the hopes of getting recruited into the Ghana Police Service. My 9 hours of standing in the rains eventually paid off after I was selected and eventually reported at Koforidua Police Training School to be trained to become a police officer in May 2008.

After 8 months at Koforidua Police Training School, I successfully graduated on 30th January 2009. Being a police officer slowed down the urge of stowaway to Europe or America though I still nursed those ambitions. In fact, there were times I left my duty beats and escaped to Takoradi with the hopes getting onboard ships to Europe or America but the urge died down when I started schooling and slowly my perspectives changed.

Today I sit back and reflect on life and think about friends in the Ghetto who never got the opportunity that I got and I get sad. A lot of my friends could not make it while crossing the Mediterranean. They got drowned and lying somewhere on the sea bed. They got drowned with all their dreams and aspirations. How I wish someone gave them the opportunity I had?

It is an opportunity that makes conditions of life favourable, suitable and comfortable and once you do not have it, you will try and chase it wherever it can be found, even if you will have to cross the Atlantic Ocean or the Mediterranean sea, you will.

Life is all about opportunities.

Columnist: Ahanta Apemenyimheneba Kwofie III