Of course Africans would like to leave Africa…

Liberian kidsFrom Lammi from Liberia:

A few days ago I listened to a BBC World Have Your Say broadcast which centered on the botched attempt by the pop star Madonna to adopt another Malawian child.

The main view expressed by guests on the show was that it is wrong to remove children from their cultural and racial spaces because, among other things, it makes them to lose their core values – something that no human being should be made to suffer.

While those people’s reasons are understandable, I did not help but note that their views smacked of ungratefulness of people, who with hindsight have decided to demonize something that may have well save them from the clutches of poverty, famine, war, pestilence, etc.

I agree, though with their view that unscrupulous people who are engaged in people trafficking should not be allowed to continue their trade unhindered. But this should not be confused with the kind of adoption that done through the legal process.

Sitting from their positions of relative luxury in the west, these people can afford to talk down on the idea of providing people – in this case – vulnerable children the option of a better life away from the hell-holes they have for home in Africa.

If given the chance, probably all of Africa’s population would escape the continent because of the drudgery of a life that the vast majority of them are subjected in its many nations.

The continent does not provide its people an equal opportunity to strive for success. So as a result of this, many of its people especially the youths are prepared to subject themselves to the risks associated with illegal migration.

If you have every being to a visa interview at a western embassy, you would not fail to notice the mixed emotions that accompany the granting or denial of visa requests.

Those who are granted the visa are so elated that it is like they have received a free pass to heaven, while on the other hand the people who are refused are as dejected as if they have been dealt a terrible life ending body blow.

I live in Africa and must stress that I do not believe that migration to the west is the solution of the continent’s myriad of problem, but equally I do not fault those that risk their lives to board rickety boats just to make it to the west. I guess it is our different value system.

I have been to Europe and the United States several times, but not once have I considered the option of becoming an illegal alien in any of these places, despite the urgings of friends and family simply because I think I am of more use staying in my native Liberia then residing in Europe or the United States.

But not-with-stand this view of mine, I am appalled by extend of the squalor that I encounter everyday in my own country.

People are forced to live in the most despicable unpleasantness, while those who are the leaders live in a kind of opulence that is unimaginable.

Some, in fact most of the people can barely afford a single meal a day. People live and children grow up in conditions that even animals in the developed world would not be allowed to live in.

Can anyone look at these extremely bad conditions an conclude that a little child is best left exposed to them, then live in a better condition in another country even if it means that the child would be assimilated into another culture? I guess not!

Lamii Kpargoi

26 Responses to “Of course Africans would like to leave Africa…”

  1. April 7, 2009 at 17:51

    Hi Lamii, i totally disagree with you. People like you the West the impression that Africans cannot fend for themselves and that they eat out of the refuse dumps. This is not true, Africa may have the highest incidence of wars, but there are still stable countries here where people are making a decent

  2. 2 Assiya
    April 7, 2009 at 17:52

    Man, I want to live Africa and I belong to the continents upper middle class. Imagine such a child.

  3. April 7, 2009 at 19:02

    I am equally from Liberia, but I do not accept the idea that denying a child the right to be integrated into another culture is the right thing to do in the name of preserving the original culture even if it means risking the future of that child. I agree that everyone one should try and preserve their own culture, but how do we go about it? A culture can only be preserved if it is modified or enrich over time and become marketable

    Let me just narrate a little portion of my experiences here. I was never adopted, but I left my country as a child and now live and study in Japan. I have not forgotten any of the local languages I spoke before leaving Liberia as the result of the civil war. In fact, I have added 2 international languages (French and Japanese) respectively to the English Language I do speak. Further more, I am now learn the economy culture of the Japanese and will use this culture to contribute to rebuilding of Liberia, Africa and the rest of the world.

    So the bottom line on this issue is, if there are legal means through which people can adopt and help other children to become self-reliant, please, for God sake, allow them. Those who are standing in the way of these children in the name of preserving “so called culture” will never give a penny in assisting to these poor children for get food and education. Besides, in this 21st century, the new system of globalization will continue to modify those ‘so called culture’ you are talking about and this is the only way these cultures will be preserved.

    To Madonna, could please go to Liberia and adopt some children legally? In Liberia we have multi-culture and with education of the war ravished children, our culture can be enriched over time. Besides, I wish all children around the world could have the opportunity to learn and become self-reliant.

  4. 4 Jessica in NYC
    April 7, 2009 at 19:10

    Brovo Lammi from Liberia!

    People can be short sighted when it comes to history, especially that of the U.S. This mixing pot of cultures that makes up my great country have migrated here, most willing (ie-African slaves are one of the exceptions) seeking opportunity and a better quality of life. Undoubtedly, I missed out of many of my parents’ cultural heritage by not being brought up int heir home country. However, as you point out, I also missed out on the bad aspects of it. I have also been given the immeasurable privileged of education, access to food, opportunities and more importantly I do not know the pains of poverty that my parents suffered through growing up. I am a proud American, however, I am thankful to my parents for uprooting themselves for their their future kids and honor parents and their roots.

    Core values are not tied to a piece of land, they are carried to whatever part of the world we end up in.

  5. 5 Lamii Kpargoi
    April 7, 2009 at 19:38

    @Mary from Nigeria
    Let us not resort to self denial. Africa is rich but the way our leaders run the continent has left it a hell-hole for it’s inhabitants, most especially its children. Would you want your children to live in squalor if you didn’t have the means to take care of them and someone was prepared to provide them the best care in life? I guess not!

    • 6 Queeny
      February 18, 2010 at 05:26

      I would do anything for my kids than see them die of hunger and starvation in a continent that we keep saying its rich rich rich but not seeing the richness. I thank God I don’t have kids of my own now and working as hard to survive in this continent with the help of God. Then maybe later when God wills, I can have kids that i’ll ensure their survival in Africa. At the moment let all those kids be adopted by those Westerners that want to assist meanwhile their parents have permanent family planing option (no kids at all)

  6. 7 Abram
    April 8, 2009 at 14:32

    Currently, I don’t see any African country that qualifies as an origin of mass emigration into Europe, Australia or North America. The top 20 countries of origin for such immigration are all European, Asian or South American countries. Check out for Wiki!

  7. 8 Savane
    April 8, 2009 at 14:49

    Let’s be clear about this: Liberia is a country in Africa, and your Liberian caller doesn’t speak for all Africans, and clearly, not all Liberians.

    I’ve lived, was educated and work outside Kenya and Africa for many years, and I’m always happy to come home. I’ve been based here for the last 25 years. I recall some African students being shocked that I didn’t want to stay in the US after graduation – I literally caught the first flight back!

    Even through all the turmoil and struggles, I want to be in Kenya. I agree with Mary from Nigeria – the ‘West’ is over-glamourised, and it always amuses me when Western expats can’t wait to get here, and dread leaving, some doing all they can to stay when their work permits expire, while others do everything to come back!

    When I go for an immigration interview, especially for the UK and US (they tend to be the rudest!), I always make it very clear I’m coming home!

    Kenya’s my haven. She not perfect, but isn’t it our responsibility as Africans to create the Africa we want and not just blame our challenges on the leaders we elect?

  8. 9 Alexandra
    April 8, 2009 at 15:26

    Africans want to leave Africa because many Africans are being led to believe that they will lead a besser life in Europe or USA. If the “dark” sides of these countries were to be portrayed by the media, I am sure that many Africans would choose a life in Africa with a family and the people that they love to a life in Europe or USA in an asylum home.

  9. April 8, 2009 at 15:37

    I would prefer to provide assistance to an African without having them removed from Africa, but note that Africa is our home, and not our prison, people should be allowed to legally take out people from Africa to help them and fend for them-something we in Africa have obviously failed to do for ourselves.
    I can’t understand why they denied this child a chance at a good life when hundreds of others get trafficked to Europe and thousands of others are held as slaves in Africa and beyond. True our core values are important and may be lost if one is removed from their ‘roots’ as children, but I think I prefer a good education some sets of values that one will eventually have to discard while growing up.
    Africa is our home, not our prison, we should be free to leave it anytime we please and at any age we wish, just so long as we do so legally and are welcome to stay elsewhere…so what are you saying, that African children born and raised in Europe are any less African than their brothers and sisters born in my village?
    Someone should tell Madona to come to my village!

  10. 11 VictorK
    April 8, 2009 at 16:19

    @Savane: life in various African countries can be wonderful if you’re a member of the elite. For the bulk of the population of these countries, who are outside that elite class, life can be nasty, brutish and short. You’re in denial.

    The other side of the coin is that however many Africans may want to leave the continent, there aren’t many countries that would want to take them unless they are educated and bring with them skills that are in demand. Who would want mass immigration from a place like Somalia, for example? Emigration isn’t going to solve Africa’s problems.

  11. 12 Savane
    April 8, 2009 at 17:06

    @Victor – I’m not sure what you define as the ‘elite’, but isn’t the ‘elite’s’ life better in every country in the world, and they form the minority of the population? And isn’t there poverty and suffering everywhere? II’ve been appalled by the poverty and suffering I’ve seen in the West.

    Are you as ‘elite’ as I am?

    I agree that educated emmigrants are more welcome than uneducated ones. In Kenya, we don’t want, but have too many uneducated, unskilled and ‘obselete-skilled’ Western expats whose skin colour and our government’s colonial hangover qualify them for work permits! We don’t want them here either!

  12. 13 Bert
    April 8, 2009 at 18:27

    It would be wonderful if everyone could be happy to stay in their country, and strive to make it a better place. The fact remains, boat loads of Africans try every day to sneak into Western Europe, while none of the news agencies have reported a similar phenomenon in the opposite direction.

    Whatever the case may be, my own opinion is that any immigrant into any country should only make the journey if he intends to (a) assimilate into the new host country, accepting THEIR culture and THEIR traditions, and (b) work to make it a better place. Conversely, it truly frosts me to see immigrants attempting to import those aspects of their native culture that might be antithetical with their new host culture. Because that’s when the immigration starts feeling like attempted invasion. Adding new traditions can be a good thing, as long as these don’t subtract from traditions that exist now.

    It’s basic manners, really. A guest into someone’s home is responsible to find out what the host’s customs are, and to respect those customs. Even the most gracious host will not tolerate his home to be trashed.

    As a transplant myself, I can only say that I was looking forward to participate in the new culture, not to try to recreate what I had left behind.

  13. 14 VictorK
    April 8, 2009 at 18:34

    @Savane: here in Britain there is no reason for anybody to live a life of suffering and poverty. We have managed , across many generations, to develop a society in which opportunity and certain basics are available to all. And that’s the case in most Western countries. I’d be interested to hear what poverty and suffering appalled you ‘in the West’, and where.

    There are two principal reasons why many African countries employ foreigners – White or Asian – (a) they (the Africans) lack the skills themselves (e.g. to build a nuclear power station); or (b) the skills in question are to be found in a ‘tribe’ that is anathema to the ethnic group who rule the country. The reason you give, ‘colonial hangover’, sounds very unlikely. Can you give an example of what you mean?

  14. 15 Robert
    April 9, 2009 at 14:39

    Almost all the Angolans I work with have no plans to leave Angola. They work for a multinational, and have ample oppotunity to get empolyment elsewhere in the company in the UK and US. But few ever take it. They want to be in Angola.

  15. 16 Kelly, from Chicago, IL, USA
    April 9, 2009 at 14:43

    Any migration results in a blending of cultures. We are all so possessive of our culture; it seems we do not realize that the more of a world community we create, the more we are creating a global culture. Even without a global culture, individual cultures grow and change constantly, just like the people living in them.

  16. 17 Savane
    April 9, 2009 at 15:28

    We could go at this forever! We’re similar in some respects, but I guess our differences will keep this debate going!

    I haven’t been to a Western country (and I haven’t been to all), where EVERY person’s basic needs are met, i.e. food, clothing, shelter and healthcare. I was first fascinated, then appalled because prior to leaving Kenya, I’d never seen a white person begging on the streets, denied healthcare or losing their home and living on the streets. I hadn’t been exposed to the reality that every country has its wealthy and those living in abject poverty, and without the support systems that Westerners criticise (incorrectly) African countries for not providing their citizens in need. So in that respect, we are similar because it happens in the West and in Africa

    Colonialism came with an ‘I’ve-come-to-save-you-from-yourself-because-my-life/culture-is-better-than-yours’ attitude and a lot of African traditional political, economic and social structures that had existed for centuries (that worked)and forcibly ‘abolished’ them.

    The ruling elite in Kenya today are the first ‘beneficiaries’ of post-colonial rule and strangely have kept the colonial structures in place, and their belief that only expats have the skills to fill mainly senior positions is as misguided as yours. I don’t deny that there are some African countries that lack enough professional skilled populations, but to apply that across Africa is what is misguided.

    The post-independance generations (the 45s and under, which I fall into) refer to this as “Colonisation, Part III – the sequel continues”. These age groups form the majority of the ‘brain-drain’ population we are trying to bring back to work and develop Africa.

    There are 1,000s of skilled African professionals across the world (yes, including nuclear scientists designing and working in nuclear plants), who aren’t coming home because their skills are not considered necessary for these ruling elites’ political agends. What really ticks me off is when the same ruling elite prefer to offer work permits to expats to fill jobs where skills are competent and available, and in most cases, the expat performs at a lower competency level. Ever had a boss whom you know is less competent than you? Not fun!! There is little, if any, skills transfer, and I’ve encountered too many expats who’ll do anything to stay in Kenya, and unfortunately, they have the ruling elite’s support based on their skin colour in the same way you refer to those who think certain skills only come from certain ‘tribes’. They’re both wrong!

    p/s: I’m a HR professional and I offer career guidance to high school students through to working professionals. I’ve had useless expat applications land on my desk to chase work permits for, and have been threatened several times for not towing the line and making an expat work permit application ‘relevant’.

    What I say to you Victor, is what I’ve said to my directors. It has got me threatened, but never fired! And those incompetent expats? They didn’t get their work permits, but qualified Kenyans did!

  17. 18 Sylvester Rochea - New York City
    April 9, 2009 at 15:50

    Hello Lamii Kpargoi, your points were certainly a lightening rod magnifying Africa’s entrenched poverty, and the disparity between the rich, and poor. You offered the reader such as myself a window into this dark reality called life. The viewer from the West who wrote in to express his/her position on the adoption of the Malawiwian Child has failed to balance culture vs human survival. If the continent were to remove its tattored cloth of poverty, political instability, war, and curruption without question we will see the birth of a true democracy. A continent pregnant with such rich natural resources of immence wealth remains in such chronic poverty cannot be fully explain in these tiny spaces here. The adoption of the child certainly raises a potent level of consiousness, and a movement that can affect change. I heard that the Superstar singer Madona funded a number of schools through her foundation. This tiny taste of change from a bitter pill of human struggle, and abondoment can result to bigger changes. A child’s culture trapped in the “jaws” of poverty means nothing if we cannot provide for the growth, and development for that child.
    Mary from Nigeria has failed to understand Lamii’s position here. There might be certain pockets of stability in some regions, but if it fails to trickle why should we look at that silver lining trapped in the dark cloud of poverty. Hopelessness, and abandonment become the way of life; it does not, and should not be that way. African remains one of the most impoverished countries in the world. No longer can we blame our colonial masters. The failure of bad governance, and corruption is like a ghost in the lives of many resembling the painful images of colonialism. Break the vaults of the tax haven jurisdiction, and let us see the capital flight of the billions in the coffers of these Nations – let the true leaders stand up and affect change. Africas problems will be a ghost of the past. Thank you,
    Sylvester Rochea

  18. 19 Muthee in Nairobi
    April 9, 2009 at 15:58

    Hi Lamii,
    I agree with you that the argument of being culturally uprooted as the reason for denying Madonna the adoption in Malawi does not really wash.
    But I totally disagree with you on several fundamentals:
    1. True Africans have an in-born sense of pride in their culture even when at their lowest moments. It therefore happens that even when your action is noble and beneficial to them, it has to be respectful. Look at Madonna, she uses her wealth and fame to try and have her way and has the audacity to tell a bevy of journalists that it is none of other people’s business why she wants to adopt the child. If her actions are really benevolent or philanthropic, why not be content with a children home?
    2. True we do have faulty political and social set-ups, but how do you justify spending lots of money just to go drown in the Mediterranean while you could have used that money to better your position while in your country? And apart from the young child in the Malawian story who might have that ‘better’ life, where is the guarantee that immigrating to the West whether legally or illegally will get you a well-paying job? It is all in the mind and I would urge Africans to remain in their homes and try doing something about their conditions rather than fallaciously running away from them.

  19. 20 Msemwa
    April 10, 2009 at 15:21

    Im Tanzanian living in the US. While I agree that most Africans would leave Africa if they could I also think that alot of Africans living in the US would love to and are going back home, provided that the opportunity exists for them to make a decent living. The truth is that for the overwhelming majority of Africans living in Africa those opportunities do not exist.

    Lets not forget that this specific point of discusion is not about an adult who can weigh their options, but this revolves around an orphaned child who would grow up with better opprtunities with Madonna than life in an orphanage.

  20. 21 ahmed patigi, Nigeria
    April 11, 2009 at 06:32

    this world is not all about material but i agree that less privillage children need external help especially from the government and int he case they can be provided by thier goernment and someone is willing to help is not a problem. the way we help people determine how sincere or committed
    we are. lets take for example this issue of Madonna if really she wanted to help she should have built a home that can occupy more than 200 less privillage kids rather than taking care of only 1 or 2. she should consider herself lucky that the government had earlier iven her 1 why coming back for another. there is this thing i have to say there is no place like home no matter how rich, famous and celebrated your are you must always want to come back home. she should set up a less privillage home for the kids instead of adopting them.

  21. April 13, 2009 at 11:04

    Why is this question being asked exclusively about Africa? Why not planet Earth?

  22. 23 Kondwani, UK
    April 16, 2009 at 01:42

    Madonna is right in asserting that the child would have a better life living with her in the US or whichever developed nation she happens to stay in. The opinion of most people in the west is that Africans are miserably poor and have no descent livelihood whatsoever. This is true for the majority, but one reason for such widespread poverty is the population. It’s a difficult thing to manage a population that’s approximately 1 billion especially with misfortunes like war, famine, and drought. What the continent needs is leaders who can manage the countries selflessly and diligently. Africa can only be saved by Africans.

  23. April 30, 2009 at 11:27

    you may respond to my blog: http://afrogaddaf.blogspot.com

    Thank you! all comments and responses are welcome.

  24. 25 Abdul-Mubarik
    October 13, 2009 at 12:48

    i am very happy to write you.i want you to adopt me so tha i can go to school.i have dropt from school and am looking to be adopted to be able to school.my parents dont have money to pay for my school needs.so i wil like you to help me in that and to take me as your son.

  25. October 16, 2009 at 17:54

    Please i am looking a job and would like you to assist me to get a job and migrate to USA. I am ready, and have my traveling passport already in place. The remaining thing is how to find any kind of job in USA AND IMMIGRATE. I am a single man aged 26 years, Diploma in Computer Science, with 2years experience as an Administrator, 3 years as a Data entry clerk. I can’t secure another job since i lost my job during post election violence in my country in 2007. I am an orphan and doesn’t have somebody to assist me secure a job in my country due to corruption. It is therefore in this regard that i reach you or anybody who may be willing to assist me secure a job and migrate to USA and even to further my studies abroad.

    Thanks in advance for coming into my assistance.
    Yours faithfully,

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