African leaders must save Africans dying at sea

African leaders must save Africans dying at sea

Sunday, February 12, 2017 3:17 pm


Rhulani Thembi Siweya


By Rhulani Thembi Siweya

When the colonizer was in the continent Africans upsurged demanding his departure. Now that he is long gone, children of Nkwame Nkuruma are busy risking it all to enter Europe, following him, looking for a better life. A life they said he had denied them while he was in Africa. Poking one to remember the slave error, the cold, unsafe boats where Africans were forced to leave Africa in. They were chained! Today another form of slavery is on the rise. Africans are forced by their living conditions to leave the continent unchained.

Many boats have left North Africa and have been heading to the Italian island of Lampedusa. Google photo

The people of Africa continue to endeavor having first world countries and cities to reside in. Even when we have gained independence, our people still struggle to ‘tighten one’s belt’. The democracy we hold does not seem to truly liberate its children. Our history informs where we are today, an excuse most leaders make even when we have been governing for decades. In April 2015 few hours after leaving Libya a few shipwrecks capsized and more than 400 women and children died in the Mediterranean sea. These were illegal immigrants on route to Italy. The same year more than 3000 males from Gambia joined the risk to leave their native land by scary boats to Europe. By the end of 2016 more than a million Africans from Libya, Gambia, Somalia and Senegal were amongst the many Africans who had risked their lives in sought of a better life. This they continue to do despite the daily risks reported. At the beginning of February 2017 more than 181,000 migrants arrived in Italy by boat. They were lucky to have made it alive.

What makes Africans to continue to be adamant and insist on risking everything and leaving their respective countries, away from Africa to Europe despite the high risk? With African leaders doing little to salvage the situation. Georgia Meloni of the Forza Italia Party says migrants should be stopped as they set sail for Italy from their respective African countries. The huge influx of asylum seekers from Africa is putting a strain on Italy. In Veneto a neighbouring region which includes Venice; governor Lombardy has consistently said there is no space for any form of asylum seekers and they can not be subjected to invasions anymore. Politicians and the people of Italy have taken a posture to protest and complain about any form of migrants especially from Africa. Others are recorded as having said ‘ We are totally opposed to taking any more migrants’.

Initially when the crisis escalated, African Union ( AU) emphasized that there were no quick solutions to the problem. They further reminded African head of states that until their people’s livelihood are improved, less wars, hunger dealt with and unemployment solved Africans will continue to depart by boat looking for greener pastures. Throughout the continent Africans continue to travel from one country to another seeking refuge and better living conditions.


Now that the colonizer is long gone, children of Nkwame Nkuruma are busy risking it all to enter Europe, following him, looking for a better life. A life they said he had denied them while he was in Africa.

Now that we are in 2017 the problem still continues and lives continue to be lost. Of concern is that where they are going they are no longer welcome. This sends a clear message that as you travel one must know that they might not get a better life as expected. The comfort is that there is no war where they are going. In light of this employment and better living conditions are not guaranteed. They are likely to face Xenophobia and many forms of human degrading. This will soon cause tensions and conflicts between Africa and European countries. Citizens will soon scramble for resources. With the existing understanding between the AU and European Union ( EU) matters might get strained.

African leaders must tussle and improve the living conditions of their citizens. If there are problems in African countries, our people must prioritize visiting a fellow African countries instead of risking it all by boat in the Mediterranean sea. In its own programmes and priorities, the African union must ensure Africans do not illegally enter Italy or any country, illegally leave their respective countries and of importance stay in the continent. Traveling the world for an African child must be on different bases, not fleeing from hunger and wars, not because they are forced based on poor leadership and governance. We must continue to strive to make Africa a better place to live in.

Rhulani Thembi Siweya is the founder of Africa Unmasked and a NEC member of the African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL). She writes in her personal capacity


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