Monrovia- I was traveling from Dakar Senegal and transited into Mohammed V International airport, Casablanca Morocco, on Royal Air Maroc on one of those diverted flights traveling within Africa. After our rebellion of being dumped in the terminal for long hours, with neither internet connectivity nor a transit hotel, we were temporarily relocated into another terminal with a wifi access. While wandering around the terminal in search of a power outlet to charge my laptop to access the World Wide Web, I heard some young ladies speaking English, although the accent told me they were most probably from a former
British colony. Our Liberian brand of English is unique across Africa. I walked up to them and greeted with our unique brand of Liberian accent and I could tell from their stares that they mistook me for either an American or someone who lived abroad.
I sat close to a fair skinned young lady who had asked me to chat with them as we all awaited our flights to our final destinations while we dreaded the hours. I got to realize that my friend, Fatima (actual name withheld) was a young lady from Sierra Leone. She indicated to me minutes into our conversation that she was returning home from Kuwait. Fatima was working as a local shop attendant in Freetown, her Country’s capitol and was convinced by Kuwaiti business men in Sierra Leone that she could make a better living in Kuwait. She agreed on a deal to go to Kuwait and venture on a life of the unexpected.
Upon arrival to her destination, her passport was seized and she became a house help to her Kuwaiti benefactor and his family. Over the years, her dreams of being economically liberated were turning into disillusionment. Fatima was being transformed into a house help and threats of sexual advances became to surface. Out of fear for her life and the constant humiliation she endured from her stranger hosts, she fled. Along with Fatima, several other Sierra Leoneneans with similar fates were returning home with hopes dashed of a trip to wonderland.
The story of Fatima and her compatriot friends resonate all across Africa with scores of young men and women finding every single opportunity to vacate the continent in search of greener pastures, somewhere, at least, somewhere far from home. In my country, Liberia, there had been stories of young women who had fled to Lebanon in search of a better living and soon became disappointed because that dream was a mirage. International news outlets are filled with young men drowning in the Mediterranean, trying to cross the Atlantic. This is alarming for a continent that is rated as the world’s youngest continent and stands to lose that vibrant, youthful batch of her population that is often less educated, less skilled, highly disgruntled and yearning for every available opportunity to vacate the continent. Part of this is because there are not many opportunities available to absorb the continent’s most resourceful segment of the population and definitely its future. African governments need to design pragmatic policies that cater to its growing youthful population that represent the crux of its future. Inadequate policies leave youths vulnerable to human trafficking, sex slavery, recruitment into underground drug cartels and international crime hubs. Vulnerable African youths are potential recruits for terrorist cells, International black money operatives, global prostitution, and foot soldiers of drug cartels. Human trafficking might not only be the innocent faces of young children but youths that could become the engine of the growth of the African nation. Most African politicians have used the Continent’s youths as thugs to advance selfish, parochial, political interests through demagoguery politics and trashing them soon after elections, leaving them to prey on society. In the quest for political office, misguided youths are led to believe that change is instant and the solution to all their woes rests in voting for their political benefactors on elections day. My foundation, Africa’s Life has been helping to engage the minds of vulnerable youth through motivational speaking, mentoring and coaching with the hope of raising a new generation of African thinkers and innovators. That promise remains a challenge. Youths are shortchanged and given a failed check. The result is frustration, vulnerability and signing up for the dangerous journey to the unknown either through legitimate airports, swimming across the Atlantic, or going underground in shady undercover deals. The end result is sad.
About the Author
Lekpele M. Nyamalon is the founder of Africa’s Life, a Poet, Writer and Pan Africanist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org