HOW MANY MORE WILL DIE IN THE MEDITERRANEAN
Is there something in our history or culture that makes us not to seem to value human lives? Could it be an acquired syndrome? It is true that Africa fought several wars with itself and with outsiders which led to the loss of many lives and some wars are going on right now across Africa( including the Bokoharam and the Elshabab wars). But other regions also fought wars in the past and are still fighting wars ( including that in Ukraine, Syria & Iraq). And of course there is the global terror war initiated by Alqueda and sustained by ISIS. Perhaps it could be that Africa has lost and continues to lose many lives to all manner of diseases, chronic and acute( including malaria,Ebola & 'Ondocide'). It was common and may be it is still common that many African women gave birth to many children hoping that a few would survive the several childhood diseases and afflictions ( including 'abiku'). Have all these numbed our feelings and care for human lives?
I do not know but I have been troubled in my spirit for a long time that we do not place much value on human lives. Beyond wars and diseases, we consistently show in other ways that life does not mean much to many of us. Look at the way we drive in many of our cities and highways for example. Many drivers do not know or do not care to know traffic rules, those who know fail or refuse to observe traffic rules or obey speed limits. The carnage on our roads is higher than elsewhere. When the roads are bad, they become excuses for frequent accidents and when they get repaired, the rate of accidents increases as many of us have no ideas that tyres have expiration dates. I do not know. Even the way, where and what we eat and drink do not suggest that many of us care about our own lives sufficiently, not to talk of caring about other People's lives. This 'disease' is wide spread through the length and breadth of Africa.
For more than a year now I have been watching often on global TV networks, the almost daily 'suicide' being committed by the so called migrants, most of whom are Africans and Arabs. Each time I came across the news that hundreds of immigrants have perished on the Mediterranean Sea trying to migrate to Europe from Africa and the Middle East region and traveling on rickety and over loaded boats, I would sigh and say prayers for the repose of their souls, peaceful or not. Thereafter, I would wonder aloud what could be driving normal people into that kind of morbid desperation. Is it poverty or persecution?Then the next day another set of desperadoes would embark on another journey of no return on the same sea on similar boats. And again I would wonder on what could be the motivation for this daily tragedy. And then I would ask my self if this must happen and so repeatedly?Could it not be stopped? Don't these people see, hear or read of what had happened to those who had gone ahead of them. What of the rings involved in arranging these dangerous and illegal trips? No body can bring them to justice. No body can regulate these boats or prevent them from ferrying human beings to their death everyday? Terrible!
I must confess that for a long time I thought that all these so called migrants were Africans and Arabs from Libya, Sudan, Iraq and Syria, very troubled Nations. I reasoned that they must be running away from the wars ranging in those countries. But I was shocked to my bone marrows to realize very recently, that Africans from other 'more peaceful' Nations were involved in these daily suicidal missions across the Mediterranean. I almost went berserk most recently when I heard that some Nigerians died in one of the boat trips. I even heard that some of them were Christians thrown overboard by Muslims from the over crowded boat. What a painful and tragic joke! What could get Nigerians into this morbid enterprise? Could it be economic? The cost of the trip to death which I hear ranges between 2500-5000 US dollars can be used to start up a decent business in my Country- a land of opportunities. Why would anybody spend such decent sums to go and die on the Mediterranean or at the best to go into 'slavery' in Europe. I am sorry I do not get it.
All this while I have not heard any African Leader make any comments on this pestering tragedy involving mostly Africans and blacks. Often, it is the European Countries of Italy and Spain and the European Union(EU) itself that have been involved in the daily rescue mission of trying to save Africans who are running away from Africa. At one point, the EU got tired and decided to slow down and allow those who insist on committing suicide to go on,but the recent escalation of the tragedy has compelled them to resume active rescue missions on the Mediterranean. Yet African Leaders and the African Union(AU) are silent. They are neither involved in the rescue missions of their perishing Nationals nor are they doing anything to stop or discourage this most embarrassing and shameful development. Since the news broke that Some Nigerians died in the boats, my country has said nothing and done nothing to the best of my knowledge. What is wrong with us? Have we lost the humanity in us?
The most recent incident where over 800 so called immigrants died on their way to Italy has raised so much furore across the globe, yet the voice of Africa has been only a hush. One would have expected the AU to call an emergency meeting to discuss this Mostly African problem, yet it is the EU that has called an Emergency meeting as if it was an European problem. Yes in a way they are the ones who are bearing the brunt of the failure of governance in many African and Middle East countries, but it is Africans and blacks that are drowning everyday on the sea. Should we not be ashamed of this. Must Africa remain a burden to the World even in the 21st Century?
Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa OFR