The plight of migrants crossing from North Africa to Italy has been in the headlines lately due to the scores of people who have perished in the Mediterranean Sea. However, the story of Senegalese former migrant Babacar Dialor Faye (pictured) stands in contrast to those who remain in Europe for a better life. In fact, Faye decided to return home, after he became disillusioned with the so-called opportunities of Spain.
Face2Face Africa Ugandan Contributor and Professor Dr. Philip Kwesiga recently wrote about his peers who, conditioned to long for life abroad, leave their homeland as soon as they get the means…only to struggle.
It has not always been easy for most Ugandans to secure an opportunity to travel and “work” abroad. I emphasize the word “work” in the context that most Ugandans who ended up working abroad did not have proper work entitlements. In fact, most of them indeed work(ed) but under very clandestine circumstances: Their travel papers have long expired but because they traveled as “visitors” after spending so much to secure visas, they need to convince everyone that one can go and work (ekyeyo) abroad in spite of their personal challenges.
The first group of labour immigrants from Uganda date back to the 1960s, but more serious large movements came in the 1990s. And indeed due to the struggles that await them abroad, quite a few of them have had to give up their “new life” and return to Uganda. A new crop of such groups also started returning to Uganda the beginning of 2010. The reasons for their return are vast but the most sophisticated reason is that it is no longer lucrative to work in such places.
And it appears that Faye would agree with at least some of Dr. Kwesiga’s points.
Faye traveled in a boat from one of the beaches of Dakar, ultimately ending up in Spain for six years.
“Here, people used to say that if you stay in Europe for three or four years, you can come back with enough money to help your family or build a house,” Faye said.
“But the first disappointment is how hard it is to get your papers.”
After struggling to secure proper papers in vain — and working one menial job after another — it became clear to Faye that home was better than what he was currently experiencing.
“I had to ask for food from the Red Cross. I never had to do that in my country, and at one point, I had to sleep in the streets.”
Watch Babacar Dialor Faye’s story here:
But the blame of Africans looking for a better life abroad doesn’t rest on the shoulders of migrants or expats.
Instead, the blame rests squarely on the shoulders of Africa’s leaders who have generally failed to harness the energy, skill, and resources of their respective countries.
It is their responsibility to make the beautiful countries of Africa habitable.
As Liberian Face2Face Africa Contributor Olympia Jarboe recently wrote:
Educational access and job growth must coincide in order to utilize Africa’s greatest asset.
It is not enough to educate the youth, because after they graduate there must be jobs available for them. As highlighted in “Africa Renewal” (2013), a United Nations publication, 60 percent of those unemployed in Africa are youth.
There is yet great potential for African nations to improve their school systems, create vocational and trade programs, offer financial assistance to students, encourage private sector job growth, and employ graduates who will help modernize their countries.
That way the Babacar Dialor Fayes of Africa won’t have to waste their lives and talent abroad; instead, they can hone and enrich their skills in their homelands.