My heart breaks when I hear about all the people being trafficked from Africa to Europe. This year alone, at least 1,750 migrant lives have been lost as people from Africa attempt to cross the Mediterranean Sea, many of them fleeing desperate conditions brought about by poverty and war. Many of those that do survive the high seas are then cramped into overcrowded camps mostly in Italy and Greece. The major news networks have been asking the European Union to do more to help save the lives of migrants who find themselves on the high seas, left at the mercy of the winds and the waves.
But what I want to know – what is the African Union (AU) doing to stem the flow of the tide of migrants? What is the AU saying against the madness and mayhem that African leaders cause, which forces people off their mother land to seek life in a ‘promised land’ via a perilous sea or through harsh desert sands of the Sahara? When I think of what is happening in Burundi right now, where the current President, Pierre Nkurunziza, wants to stand for a third term in office, in clear contravention of the Constitution – these are the kinds of actions that force people out of their motherland, smack into the hands of greedy and callous human traffickers. When I think of all the money lost through corruption, which then cripples our countries to the extent that they cannot provide jobs, living wages and quality services – then people are pushed to the edge and in order to survive, they fall smack into the hands of the traffickers. When we have country after country in Africa, being run by leaders who refuse to leave power, who amass wealth for themselves and their families, who flout the rule of law – these are the conditions that make people flee their countries and run smack into the hands of traffickers.
We cannot always rely on Europe to save African migrants. As long as conditions of indignity, human rights abuse, war and poverty continue to ravage our continent, we will constantly have migrants. We are the ones responsible for lining the pockets of the traffickers when we see things going wrong in our countries and keep quiet. We must stop the wave of bad governance and the rule of ‘big men’, if we are to restore sanity on our continent.
The issue of migrants is first and foremost ours. We are the ones to stop it in its tracks. It is our mountain. We must face it head on.