Mr Doe says people in Spain, still ask him whether he has just arrived by boat to the country, even after living there for 14 years!
This world is a world where “man” suspects “man.” Yes, man suspects one another. The problem, however, is that Africans are more the suspects!
Most Africans are unable to get visas to European countries because Europe does not want them around. BBC reports that, “the arrival of boatloads of African immigrants to the Canary Islands is a sorry sight for Ghanaian businessman Tomas Doe, 51.”
The reason behind boat trips is because some Africans cannot board a plane to any European country due to lack of visas.
According to BBC’s report the Ghanaian man, ”has lived on the island of Tenerife for 14 years and has a boat maintenance business in Los Cristianos. He is president of the Sikaman Association for the island’s Ghanaian community which has about 35 members.”
For him, who has lived in Europe for 20 years, seeing Africans resorting to boat trips because Europe has closed their doors on his fellow brothers and sisters is saddening.
BBC quotes him saying, “the situation is a disgrace. I’m ashamed as a black man to see my people in this way. The problem is that Europe will not give Africans visas. If they could go by plane they would not have to resort to this.”
After living in Europe for many years, he understands the European mentality, saying “I have been living in Europe for 20 years – 14 in the Canary Islands. Before the European Union countries created joint policies, many African countries could rely on trade with former colonial powers. Now that has ended, the local currency suffers and trade with Europe is expensive.”
It is not wrong that Africans are exposed to international events. However, exposure causes interest and he puts it rightly that, “television and events like the Paris-Dakar rally tempt young Africans to want to go to the West. These are young guys, they see the bikes, the computers, the internet and they are attracted,” adding that, “they cannot get visas – even to go to watch the World Cup – so they prefer to gather their money together and buy a cayuco (fishing boat).”
He says when he saw the first group arrive, it was alright, but that the success they got by reaching Spain pulled many others over and from there on they all started arriving.
For him as a black man, he feels his people suffer a lot trying to achieve their goals saying, “It is a real shame because many have died on their way to Europe. Nobody can say how many have died trying as we only see the bodies that come ashore.”
Using a friend as an example to put his point across he says, “a friend from Ghana who works in Senegal called me to say he had paid for his daughter, Linda Peter, 25, to come by boat. His business of salting fish to send to Ghana had collapsed because all the fisherman had gone – they had either sold their boats or driven them over to the Canary Islands.”
The plight of many families is in the balance and those who are able to get an opportunity to make a better living will not hesitate to use any means to travel. And because his friend was determined to send his daughter out and, “could not get a visa, so his daughter made the trip to Tenerife,” – nine days at sea in dreadful conditions, then she was held at the police station for five days before being transferred to the centres.”
In symphaty with the new arrival, Mr Doe decided to check out what was happening with her after arrival. He took time to visit and got a terrifying story from her experience when she briefed him that, “they do little more than sleep. They are allowed out for a short time each day then are taken back underground.”
BBC has quoted him saying, “I tried asking the Red Cross and a lawyer what I could do to get her out, but once she was in the centre it was too late. She has now been transferred to a centre in Fuertaventura.”
Some countries that do not want Africans crossing their borders tend to make arrangements with neighbouring states to ensure no Africans get through. He says, “Spain has created this problem for itself. It had a deal with Morocco to keep its borders secure and gave them money to look after the immigrants that arrived there – but they just bussed them out to the desert and left them.”
Such arrangements causes problems in the future. He says, “when people talk about an immigration problem they only think of black men. If two white men and one black man are selling things in the street, the black man will be asked for his papers.”
Making himself clear he says he does not say this things because he is a racist but that he wants the authorities, “to be fair,” adding, “I’ve been here 14 years but some people think I’ve just arrived and ask how did I come? Did I come by cayuco?”
It is the same almost everywhere in Europe. A black man remains a suspect in almost everything. When European authorities do this things to black people, the problems are taken up on TV, and when European children watch the way the black people are being treated, they conclude that every black man in the west has entered the west by boat illegally, because the TV scenes stikk in their minds.
BBC quotes him saying, “the EU does not respect Africa – and Africa’s leaders just go there to beg. The EU should deal more with the African Union and regional blocs like Ecowas to help or put pressure on countries like Senegal.”
However, this will only happen if African leaders start the ball rolling by demanding, not begging, EU to treat African Union as an equal partner.
By Korir, African Press in Norway, APN.