The overseas dream-a cry from Lampedusa

Mon, 11 Nov 2013 Source: Dale-Asiedu, Michael

Through all the changing scenes of life, day and night, in seasons dry and in seasons wet, the quest of making life a safe haven for ourselves and our families has never changed, the tenacity and sheer determination often to succeed elsewhere other than Africa still rages on like an onward rushing water from a dam over spilling its banks. The path of the overseas dream has been threaded by many a people in years past and the statistics do not seem to end anytime soon. The horrendous repercussions do not even seem to deter.

Diverse reasons have often been alluded to this development. The reasons could be political, often due to the wrestle for power and political upheavals which make the inhabitation of a particular country very distasteful and panic stricken to say the least. For many a citizenry too, through no fault of theirs, they are forced out to be refugees due to the crass interests and ill begotten ambitions of what I call “Vampire Politicians”. There are also economic reasons, where people find the living conditions of a particular country rather harsh and unfavorable so their only panacea to a better living is to leave for so called greener pastures abroad. Social issues including the want of a better education abroad and the inviting aspects of the “good life” lure a considerable chunk of Africans too.

Some African folks go overseas and within some few years start embarking on meaningful projects back home, building houses, catering for family members and opening business ventures here and there, often to sell the second hand goods they bring along. This has been the chief motivation for several others to pursue same, for this very reason, the rush for American lotteries has not ceased, the long queues for visas still stretches, the forgery of documents, all to ensure one gets to overseas have not ceased.

On the other hand the means through which we get there has been the more worrying and saddening, it breaks my heart to hear scores of African migrant disasters here and there mostly in considerable numbers.

Recently, it was that of the Lampedusa Boat Disaster with the death toll rising up to about 232, with about 200 people who were still missing. “Tens of thousands of migrants attempt the perilous crossing from North Africa to Sicily and other Italian islands each year, and accidents are common - but last week's shipwreck was among the deadliest on record”. The 20m (66ft) boat was carrying more than 500 people, mostly from Eritrea and Somalia.

UN says 3,000 people try to flee each month from Eritrea and Somalia for different reasons notable among them will be Human rights groups’ assertion that, the country is becoming a giant jail, with some 10,000 political prisoners and young people often conscripted to army, sometimes until age of 40. On the side of Somalia, much of the country is controlled by al-Shabab Islamist militants and the Country has also been ravaged by two decades of war.

Some statistics of estimated deaths coiled from the BBC shows that, in this year alone, 2013, 30,100 people are said to have reached Italy illegally by sea, with both Syria and Eritrea sharing 7500 people apiece with the remaining 3,000 coming from Somalia. The death toll since 1988 has also been pegged at 19,142.

Upon hearing the incident, Pope Francis I, who visited Lampedusa in July, immediately offered his condolences but added: “The word disgrace comes to mind, it’s a disgrace.” Aye and I totally concur with him not because he is the pontiff of my church but because of how downtrodden the lives of some Africans have become lately, when I heard him say that, all I could mutter was, ’has it come to this’? This is the Africa blessed with any natural resource you can think of with unimaginable hectares of arable land to match, what more can we ask for? Where did it all go wrong for the African continent? How can the continent’s leadership plunge us incessantly into an abyss as this, it is said that the west dreads their tsunamis and Africa dreads its leadership, whilst tsunamis are given up to the task solutions when they do occur, we sit here and discuss unend how things ought to be with everybody wishing the other takes the initiative.

The more surprising also was the fact that around 8,400 migrants landed in Italy and Malta during the first six months of 2013 although many were immediately sent home for not having a work permit. Taking the deadly illegal voyage of pursuing the overseas dream only to be repatriated home again, has the plight of the African suddenly turned into that of a gamble?

Also, commenting on the incident, Giusi Nicolini, the mayor of Lampedusa said, “Shipwrecks are very frequent,” she told the Italian television channel La7. “We know about some, but often we don’t even know that they’ve happened.” so the very ones we even get to deliberate and lament upon are the ones nature is kind enough to reveal to us, what happens to the countless disasters we hear about not?

After all the authorities and powers that be might instantaneously want to sweep it under the carpet, who cares about an illegal migrant drowned somewhere in the ocean? Could the pathetic plight of most Africans in the horn regions be any safer? These are the very lives governments pledge to protect and swore to make available enabling conditions necessary for the fulfillment of their dreams or should we cling in tandem to the vain line of the pursuit of happiness and never in actuality fulfilling it? The overseas dream rages on, the plight of the African becomes downtrodden and dejected the more. Pellets of foreboding and foreshadowing hangs around the necks of all prospective illegal migrants, yet they waver not in their pursuits as they fervently hope for the eclipse of gushing grace, to be or not to be!

In another disaster too, a ship filled with migrants apparently trying to reach Europe capsized in the Mediterranean Sea about 100 nautical miles southwest of the island nation of Malta, sending rescue boats and helicopters racing to the scene, officials said. At least 206 passengers were rescued, and 27 bodies were recovered.

What is more the desert dunes bore ill-fated news of rapturous dread, The decomposing bodies of 87 migrants from the impoverished West African nation of Niger were discovered in the Sahara weeks back just a few miles from a well, apparently stranded after a desperate search for water, said the head of a local humanitarian organization who helped bury many of the bodies. Five other victims were discovered earlier, for a total of 92 dead.

It breaks my heart to read stories as these whilst our African Union, and respective governments sit aloof literally unconcerned with “plans are far advanced” kind of conversations and promises. We want a more up and doing Africa, a responsible one. Africa must unite against the fight of this canker, loosing greater chunks of people, people who could have contributed in Africa’s developmental surge, every year through this must be addressed head on, few rebels and insurgents here and there cannot dethrone us perpetually from the lands of our births. Calculated and categorical investments and resources must be channeled in wiping them out, there is no reason whatsoever why we can’t, AFRICA RISING MUST HOLD ON TO THE CREED OF RESPONSIBILITY. We cannot go on like this, not today, or tomorrow.

Michael Dale-Asiedu,



Columnist: Dale-Asiedu, Michael