I am a Black from Nigeria, living and working with and among migrants who come especially from the subsaharan regions of Africa in Nouadhibou â€“ the economic capital of the Islamic Republic of Mauritania (check our activities : www.msndb.net). This north-eastern region of Mauritania, bounded proximately on the east by the atlantic ocean, separating Africa from Europe, has been a remarkable zone for these migrants who want to go to Europe especially through the sea. Years back I heard about this phenomenon, now I see and live the reality of these green-pasture seekers ; all what they do in order to survive the impartial, unjust, marginalised and racially discriminated world around them. They are ready to do anything to survive, through marketing themselves into slavery to the european land, even if it costs them their lives in the atlantic ocean. One recently expressed courageously to me : “ it is a risk I take with my own life and not the life of another person ; it is a game of chance for me, better than for me to kill another person or commit a crime in order to survive. It is my life“, he concludes.
Certain Facts : Hopless and rejected because they are Blacks.
This background provokes a lot of diverse sentiments. I intend to focus on the aspect of the evident hatred and marginalisation of race. Imagine how someone â€“ a human being, with a complete human biological composition is discriminated against because he or she is Black ? Legal structures are set-up, laws are promulgated to make more miserable and unliveable his or her already underprivileged and impoverished condition.
In this film le piÃ¨ge, youngmen and women are seen, who are not sure of living the next minute because they are Blacks and are forbidden the basic fundamental human rights under pain of arrest and imprisonement, ending up in deportation into the desert. As such, they cannot even come out openly to look for means to live on. This is happening in Algers â€“ Algeria, yet an African country, where the majority of the citizens are white in complexion. One sees the account of the daily life of these subsaharian migrants who are rejected by the society. For them, it is a daily practise of the government authorities to invade the mountains where they hide to chase and pack them up in trucks, and then transport them into the plane desert frontier. The society simply does not want to see them because they are Blacks and are called names like negroes, slaves, monkeys, etc. They have no rights to live ; they have practically no rights to come out in public, not even to look for job, as they are chased around by the state`s police force. They live daily, weekly, monthly and yearly in the rocks, under a temperature between 8 â€“ 12 degree centigrades. The rains beat them, the sun hits them, and the cold of the night freezes them. They have no means of survival, not to talk of means of medical attention when they unfortunately fail sick under these deplorable conditions. These are human beings that God created, but dehumanised and marginalised by men in our modern society because they are black-skinned. When arrested and chased away from the rocks they are abandoned in the sahara desert, where they wander aimelessly and die. Many Black migrants are dying right now in the deserts of Algeria, Libya, Tunisia, Morrocco down to Mauritania.
Le piÃ¨ge reveals migrants of the nationalities of Nigeria, Cameroon, Mali, Senegal, Cote d`Ivoire, Congo. Also from Algeria and Morrocco, who suffer these similar harzards in attempt to reach and work in Europe. Many of them have skillful occupations but are outrightly refused occasions of services through which they could gain their daily bread. A youngman from Nigeria introduces himself as a carpenter by profession. He went looking for job in the streets of Casablanca in Morrocco. The answers he received at several points were that he cannot be given any job because he is Black. For a young Cameroonian woman, who managed to get a job of a cleaner in an algerian home, no one cares to address her by her name, but rather “slave girl“ or “negro girl“. With this kind of condition, she does not have an option rather than bear and continue to earn a salary below 20 dollars per month. Oftentimes, many of them are used equally as sex-girls, talkless of the ones that survive through prostituting themselves. All these, because they are poor, our society`s disadvantaged and, then Black.
Pourquoi nous voulons tous partir ?
Why do we all want to leave for Europe, as asked by a malian migrant. There are millions of reasons. You are a youngman, all around you is poverty. Your aged parents are sick and poor. There is no food in your home on daily basis. The younger ones cannot go to school because there is no means to sustain them in schools. You are not sure of the next day. You use all your energy in craftwork and agricultural works under the heat of the sun, but nothing to show for it at the end of the day in the face of these hard realities. Then you decide to take the bull by the horn and do whatever it takes in order to survive. Seeing the counterparts of the white race, the impression is simply that life is better in their own country, since you could gain better resources and in turn help to liberate the poverty that dominates in your family.
The young African/Black man struggles daily in the history of a cruel world â€“ of slave trade, of Europe`s underdevelopment of Africa (as asserted by Walter Rodney), of racial politics of the past years like Aparthied and the policies of Assimilation, of colonialism, of cover-up policies of neo-colonialism under the guise of helping Africa`s development. In his mind there are constantly these memories of historical realities, and he/she asks, does God hate me because I am African ; because I am Black ? Why can I not be like my counterparts from other continents of the world like Europe and America ?
I had an experience recently, when as missionaries in Nouadhibou Mauritania, we wanted to take the car and go for a weekend in the neighbouring Morrocco ; a journey of about 100km. We, comprising various nationalities : Nigeria, France, Poland, Ghana, India. Since it requires a visa to make cross-border travels, we went and applied in the Morroccian embassy for the visa. Do you know that the french colleague â€“ an European, a White, did not even need a visa to enter Morrocco, an african country ; but we, Africans, Blacks, were obliged to apply for visas in order to enter into another African country, where an European did not need a visa to enter. We applied for the visas and still we were refused because of our colour ! This is still in Africa ; one could imagine then the catastrophic situation that takes place in embassies all over Africa. As migrants in these maghreb regions of africa, one sees the White migrants, Europeans as well as Americans travel freely in their cars, motorbikes and bicycles, aeroplanes and ships, in and out of African countries on daily basis, but the Black people are never allowed even to travel with their valid visas and hard-earned money.
Therefore, the rhetorical question continues, does God also conive with the White race to dominate and reduce to slavery conditions the black race ? This is because he is aware of everything ; he sees the injustice, and he is all-powerful as our faith tells us, yet he allows this injustice to thrive. Is he not again the creator of the Black people who suffer this marginalisation for so many centuries now ?
For example with Mauritania as a case-study. Before her colonisation into a nation, Mauritania was inhabited by negro Africans who owned the land originally so many years ago. From the independence into a republic, the White race of the Moors started to dominate every meaningful sphere of life. These original owners of the land â€“ the negro Africans, only have the privilege of being their slaves as the only means of survival. Is it in the government, like the present administration of president Mohamed Ould Abdelaziz, no single black-coloured person is in the Cabinet. In the sectors of public life, hardly can you find the Black Mauritanians at the head, no matter what qualifications you have.
I once listened to the lamentation of a Black Mauritanian who works as a techician in SNIM â€“ the Iron Company that generates a great percentage of the countries principal resource. He bemoaned this racial discrimination and injustice, adding that as a Black, you do not have a place in Mauritania. Even with your qualifications, hardly can you be promoted to the top of affaires. Most annoyingly, before your very eyes, your colleagues of the White skin, who did not even do better than you in school are employed and made directors over you. As it is, you are therefore created to be a slave â€“ their perpetual servant, if you must survive.
And so, we all want to leave and go to anywhere that is possible to look for greener pastures. Apparently, Europe becomes the target in search of a better life ; and in some cases, in search of a means to change our seemingly cursed and forbidden black skin, into the also seemingly blessed and accepted white skin. Of course, this is not and can never be a solution, talkless of the condition.
Can anything be done ?
Yes ! First of all, an open letter is needed to be addressed to racial discriminating societies all over the world in the light of this sin against the black humanity. However, we need some practical steps to be put forward. Why are frontiers closed up by international immigration laws of the white-dominated International Community ; can anybody answer me ? It is clear that these laws are put up against negro-Africans. If not, why then do young Europeans and Americans travel all over the world freely, while young Black Africans cannot ? They are refused entries and the frontiers are closed against them. I remember when I went for my Mauritanian visa in Dakar Senegal, November 2008. I arrived at the embassy before a british youngman. There and then, I was told I cannot be given visa with no definite reason irrespective of my genuine and complete documents with diplomatic recommendations. To my greatest amazement, the british youngman was given visa right there. It took the intervention of the Mauritanian Minister of Internal Affaires, who gave an automatum that I should be given visa within 48 hours before I was granted entry visa the next day. I inquired to know why I was denied visa initially, and I was told is because I am a Nigerian. One can then imagine what people who cannot get access to a minister`s office pass through in order to travel around. Unfortunately, when they go out of there own way to hide and travel, the same structures that discriminate against them will qualify them as clandestine migrants.
Let us tell ourselves the truth for once !
Are there justifiable reasons to keep closed the frontiers of nations ? The whole world is at the moment clamouring for Israel`to open up the Gaza Strip. In the same manner, frontiers should be opened. Open up the frontiers, just like African frontiers were opened in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries of the world`s discovery of the continent. It is never a crime to travel around our world. It is never a crime to migrate in order to change life conditions. It is never a crime to travel to another race because you are not of that race. It is never a crime to desire to emancipate one`s impoverished family through seeking a better life in another economy. On the contrary, it is a crime to chase people around, causing them to die because they want to travel from one country to another. It is a crime to refuse some people entry into countries that are not their own based on the colour of their skins. It is a heinous crime to put up laws which make races find unnecessary difficulties in travelling around the world today no matter the reason. It is a grave sin against humanity to deny right to life to a fellow human being, in whatever disguise, and most unfortunately because he/she is black-skinned.
World mentality, which discrimainates against the black race must be changed.
Chimaobi Clement Emefu,
Nouadhibou â€“ Mauritania.