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05.01.2006 Diaspora News

Six things Africans living abroad must note!

By Gbenga Badejo

The political landscape of the world is changing fast, not least the developed world which attracts huge numbers of migrant labour from Africa. What impact does the changing politics of Europe have on resident Africans? Is there a need for Africans to be worried by the rising asylum levels in England, or by the enlargement of the European Union in 2004?

The following are important issues to be considered by all Africans who live abroad irrespective of their status:

1. As European countries become more and more politically liberal, there is a possibility of a right wing backlash. Recent events in Holland, Austria and Belgium have highlighted a move to the right by ordinary people who are not necessarily racist. In the UK, the ultra right wing BNP recently won eight seats in the Burnley council election. A major trigger for this development is the issue of asylum which has generated huge concerns even amongst traditional immigrant supporters who justifiably complain of the resultant pressure on services and resources.

According to the influential UK Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, the number of asylum seekers in Britain is spiralling out of control having risen from 4223 in 1982 to 110,700 in 2002 and could lead to social unrest. Interestingly many African immigrants are beginning to express concern about the rising numbers of asylum seekers and the benefits cushion they enjoy. It is not unlikely that a right wing party may emerge at the helm of affairs campaigning on the ticket of curtailing immigration in the future. What impact will this have on other immigrants?

2. The accession of ten Eastern European countries into the EU in 2004 is a major development that will impact Africans living and working in the UK considering that an additional 80 million people from Eastern Europe will qualify to work and compete for jobs in the UK. Although the accession treaty delayed by five years free movement for citizens of the new member states, a relaxation of travel visas followed immediately after accession in 2004. Further, more countries will join in 2007 most of which could supply the nurses, doctors, skilled artisan and cheap labour so much needed in Western Europe. Is there a need to be worried?

3. Post September 11 2001 policies in Europe and the Unites States may continue to impact on immigrants generally. The fear of a future terrorist attack may make these countries more isolationist or even gradually become police states.

4. In April 2003, the UK parliament for the first time in history passed into law the power to strip British citizenship from anyone who holds dual citizenship. A few days later, the Home Secretary used that power against a militant Islamic cleric in London who had held British citizenship for almost two decades. Whilst I believe that British hospitality should never be abused, and that most Africans are not supportive of terrorists, the implications of this new law cannot be lost on naturalised British citizens. An extension of this law in the future may result in differentiation in British citizenship.

5. In other words, it is incumbent on Africans abroad to be involved in the development of their home countries. Current political upheavals and terrorist activities may mean that citizenship is redefined. A worse case scenario of the future may see a Hitler style leader embark on ethnic cleansing in Europe. The sad fact of World War II is that many of the 6 million Jews killed by the Nazis were third, fourth and longer generation Germans born and bred in Germany.

6. Many African nations are in turmoil. Some are ruled by politically inept and permanently corrupt imbeciles. The future doesn't look good. Does this justify inaction on the part of Africans abroad? No! for the very reason that should any of the above scenarios happen, everyone is at risk.

 What if there is a right wing political backlash in Europe?

 What if Africans or most immigrants for that matter are repatriated en-mass back to Africa?

 What if EU enlargement means mass unemployment for African immigrants in Europe?

 What if citizenship is redefined and differentiation introduced even to Western born citizens?

 In the event of any of the above scenario, what will be the fate of children of Africans abroad, many of whom have little knowledge of their ethnic origin let alone speak or understand the language?

This is not an attempt at scare-mongering. However, it is important that Africans who live abroad ponder on the above and be motivated to rebuild their home countries. It is equally important for immigrants to seek the good of the countries where they live and work.

Personally, I live in England, love and cherish its history, I do not agree with those who advocate that England loses its heritage in the name of building a multiracial society. I believe England remains one of (if not) the most civilised country in the world, and it has the best police force. I appreciate the freedom that the country affords me and other immigrants. I supported England at the last world cup, howbeit only after Nigeria had crashed out of the tournament. The truth remains that my heart lies in Nigeria which is why I am determined to continue to work for its progress and desire that others do the same. Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of GhanaHomePage.

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