Thursday, September 5, 2013

Baked to Death in the Sahara

I stumbled on a video ( posted on FB showing scores of dead Nigerians in the baking heat of the Sahara Desert. The eerie video was no different from a similar one on Nigerians marooned and isolated in the Sahara en route Europe aired by CNN recently.

I once talked a GIRL from embarking on this trip in 1994. She had the list of all the safe houses and pass phrases including the fees and brief for migrats who wish to go on this journey through Benin – Togo – Ghana - Boukina Faso-Algeria – Europe. She said it was full proof and she knew many who had made it to Europe. I thank God she listened to me and is now happily married and still lives in Lagos.

Emmanuel Mayah, the renowned award winning investigative journalist documented the travails of migrants in his exposé Europe by Desert: Tears of African Migrants. in a recent interview he said “Nigerians are being executed in Libya; many have perished in the Sahara while trying to cross the desert on foot; many have drowned in the Mediterranean Sea trying to cross from Morocco to Spain and hundreds of thousands of Nigerians are in prisons in different countries. Many are at a point of no return; they have no money to buy food let alone transport themselves back to Nigeria.”

So from the above, it’s a known fact that Nigerians go on this trip and from various routes all across West Africa, but I am a bit worried about this video. It raises a few questions. How can all these men slump and die at the same time, within the same area? Even more worrying is the fact that the dead all seem to be bent over hiding their faces - as if they were been robbed or hiding from someone/something. Since there is no evidence of blood, I will eliminate gun shots but what about poison? Another worrisome issue is how the nationalities of the individuals were ascertained. The clothes worn by the deceased do not seem to originate from Nigeria (debatable). To me they look like those worn by our other west African neighbors.

I ask these questions because from that same document I mentioned earlier, I learned that locals from the communities migrants pass through despises these migrants, especially as the local operators are usually the same people that organize other vices in these same communities - gunrunning, smuggling, armed robberies, child trafficking, name it. Similarly, the locals are also very aware of the large sums of money they carry (usually US$). In fact their handlers have been known to rob migrants and drop them off in the middle of the desert to die. This is well documented by Aljazeera, CNN, BBC, and you can watch all this on youtube… watch the video -

While one can easily dismiss this all by saying the migrants are to blame. Why should Nigerians, especially the (Igbos including Delta and Edo states) continue to rub our name in the mud? Why do they think that they must seek greener pastures at all cost? Some have been known to “Sell all that they own to secure a bleak chance in a foreign country only to reach there and end up hawking / Hooking on the street in J’boug, Italy, Israel, Turkey, etc. These questions are debatable, but I blame the state, our leaders and the Federal Government. Nigerians are scattered all over the world, most of them struggling to earn a living in communities that loathes them. The federal government should look into these issues and ascertain or verify the events that led to the death of these people with a view to curb the trend.

To my mind, if our communities are made more habitable, if there is better transparency, if our leaders are more responsive to our cries, if there is more security of lives and property, then and only then will our people stop seeking greener pastures. What is your take?

No comments:

Post a Comment