Dec 7, 2022

Mawazo Writing Africa

Writing about the main

Border fences in Europe won’t stop deadly migrant trips

A few days ago, around 2,000 African migrants stormed the border fence between Morocco and the Spanish enclave of Melilla. Over 20 migrants were killed and scores injured in the stampede and clash with Moroccan border police.

Images of the dead scattered on the ground were a powerful reminder of the urgency to discuss the migrant crisis honestly and seriously. For years we have been inundated with news of migrants drowning in the Mediterranean. We see images of survivors sneaking onto rescue ships, happy to be alive and on their way to the “promised land”. We hear of migrants hiding in the undercarriage of airplanes that drop dead at airports in Europe. We hear of migrants dying in the Sahara while risking everything to reach the shores of the Mediterranean.

In a recent column, I bemoaned the seeming normalization of African deaths by the world and, ironically, by Africans themselves Mass killings in eastern Congo scarcely touch our collective conscience. The shooting of unarmed people in Uganda, Nigeria or Kenya seems unworthy of the world’s attention. Similarly, the hundreds of deaths in the Mediterranean and deserts have become routine and hardly deserve a fuss. Yet the world and Africans are loud and furious in criticizing the police killings in the US.

The AU and African countries have balked at raising the migrant crisis because it is a painful admission of the failure of the development project would left millions of Africans in desperate poverty. African economies are anomalies that produce a few billionaires – mostly government officials – and millions of poor people. For example, a recent report showed that fewer than 10,000 Kenyans own over 60 percent of the country’s wealth. This obscenity is repeated in almost every other African country.

The wealthy elite have created parallel countries for themselves. They have thousands of acres of land. They own cars one usually sees with oil sheikhs in the Arabian Peninsula. They hide their billions in offshore accounts just in case widespread debilitating poverty sparks armed rebellion. They send their children to expensive private schools because public schools are a mess. They fly abroad for treatment because they don’t trust public hospitals.

That’s why the wealthy elite look the other way and shake their heads when they see news of dead migrants, because deep down they know they’re something created the conditions that are triggering this desperate mass exodus from Africa.

The fences around Europe will not stop the exodus. Corruption creates poverty, which in turn sends hundreds of poor people on these desperate and deadly journeys. Therefore, the way to tackle the migrant crisis is to stop massive looting in Africa by government officials in league with cartels.

Thus, to solve the migrant crisis, the international community, and Africans in particular, must do their best to put pressure on African governments to stop plundering the continent.

Tee Ngugi is a Nairobi-based political commentator.