Africa has been regarded as a continent of mass displacement and migration. This mass migration has always been driven by negative factors affecting the Black African. It started with the Arab slave trade, then the European slave trade.
In 2022, Black Africans are still migrating out of Africa, running to the very countries that a century ago enslaved and sold their ancestors. Many migrants risk death or severe injury for what is now known as the European Dream. This dream offers political stability, better education, stable income, and human rights. Unofficial immigration into Europe from Africa usually occurs by dinghies, through the Mediterranean Sea. And by land at the Spanish Enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla.
Is the European dream worth it?
UNHCR reports show at least 72 deaths per month between 2018 and 2020 from victims looking for “greener” pastures. These deaths occurred on African soil in the Maghreb region. Thousands more died in the Mediterranean Sea in a desperate attempt to cross into Europe. The migrants that survive often deal with lasting mental health issues caused by the traumas they face.
Source: United Nations
The Maghreb region encompasses five Northwest African countries. These include Libya, Algeria, Mauritania, Tunisia, and Morocco.
In the last several years, the Maghreb has been a transit point for thousands of migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea into Europe from Africa.
A favorite destination for this type of migration is Libya. People trafficking cartels thrive in the Maghreb area due to government chaos and the struggle for power between rival groups.
There is a lot of anti-immigrant sentiment globally, and surprisingly, even within Africa. This means that Black Africans transiting through the Maghreb do so at risk. It is a grueling journey filled with extreme human rights abuse.
The UNHCR speculates that more sub-Saharan Africans live in this region than in Europe.
For many migrants, arriving in the Maghreb is the last stop on a trip marred by atrocities such as arbitrary killings, torture, forced labor, and savage beatings.
Others have reported being subjected to heinous acts such as being burned with boiling oil, melted plastic, heated metal objects, electrocution, and being bound in stressful postures.
Human trafficking in this region has become more lucrative than drug trafficking. Traffickers often coerce migrants into prostitution and other forms of sexual exploitation.
Migrants also run the risk of being sold into slavery by the very traffickers they paid to transport them to Europe.
The Exploitation of Africa
The history of underdevelopment has to be unraveled for us to understand why scores are leaving their homes.
What exactly happened to Africa that it is worth almost any risk to move to Europe?
In a world riddled with anti-immigrant sentiments, people will always come up with an excuse for why immigrants should stick in their countries.
The most annoying argument is the one that claims that European presence in Africa developed the continent. Therefore, Africans are to blame for their problems and should stick in their countries.
In truth, benefits from colonialism were diminutive and were fruits of African labor and resources for the most part.
The negative impact of colonialism on African society was dramatic. Overnight, nations lost their history, independence, culture, and societal structure. African political power and systems that had existed for eons were systematically eradicated in a span of 70 years.
An ideology known as Pan-Africanism was born in the 1950s in the United States. This was around the time many African countries had started the struggle for independence. In Africa, this movement called for political and economic freedom. Africa would achieve true liberation only if Africa controlled herself and its resources.
Pan-Africanism was successful in decolonizing Africa. Unfortunately, by the '70s and '80s, many of the leaders that had led African countries to independence were disposed or murdered by corrupted Africans that served as European puppets.
European influence on these puppets birthed Neo-Colonialism, sending some African countries thousands of steps back. Western countries still benefit from African labor and resources by masking their activities under the pretext of economic support. This creates a loop of continued reliance on western economies. This dependency did not allow African economies to fix their economic problems themselves.
Additionally, policies enforced by organizations such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Trade Organization (WTO) are partial to western economies. This generates a trade imbalance that benefits the already prosperous Western countries at the expense of Africa's struggling economy.
The economic colonization of Africa continues to damage the continent just as imperial colonialism and its after-effects did. This damage is the root cause of all the factors causing Africans to risk undocumented immigration to Europe.
Political instability influencing migration encompasses civil war, state persecution, stifled political rights, and ethnic strife. Asylum seekers and undocumented migrants are a direct effect of political migrants fleeing oppressive regimes for more democratic ones.
Ethnic strife influenced by governments or political leaders is the worst driver of political instability in Africa. People of a given cultural affiliation move within the country or leave the country altogether due to political instability created by cultural variety.
As a result of ethnic warfare, ethnic groups who were formerly segregated may be forced to coexist geographically. An influx of one cultural group can cause another to be displaced. Governments can also force cultural groups to relocate internally or outside to gain political benefit by reducing cultural variety.
Migrants seeking more freedoms are pushed by a lack of political liberties and rights, as well as widespread corruption. People leave because of issues limiting their freedoms, even though they were not persecuted in their birth countries. The economic situation is likely to be poor if the political environment is unfriendly, leading to migration. Most migrants migrate to more “democratic” countries, searching for better jobs, education, and freedom.
Uncontrolled migration is caused by systemic poverty, economic instability, and a lack of sustainable jobs. According to the International Labor Organization, about 100 million African employees live on less than one dollar per day.
The economic collapse of some African countries due to globalization result in mass emigration.
Furthermore, the economies of most source African countries hinge on global price changes and weather circumstances. These “push factors” cause unemployment and a high cost of living in countries that rely on agribusiness.
Migrating is a costly affair. Most immigrants save for years and sell all they own to afford the journey. Sometimes, families and villages will organize fundraisers to sponsor their kin in paying traffickers. They do this in the hopes that the person making the journey will send money back home once they are established in the destination country.
Hope for Africa
In 2022, Black Africans are still migrating out of Africa because colonial powers suppressed self-development in African nations while supplanting their own capitalist, exploitive methods to gain from the natural wealth of the nations they colonized.
Africa's hope relies upon fully attaining economic independence. Economic independence can only be achieved by overall stability. This is not a pipe dream because we are witnessing fewer cases of political strife within the continent yearly. Increased incomes in emerging markets within Africa and developing economies will alleviate migration pressures.