It’s with great concern that I write this article to lament on the future of our country The Gambia. It’s an indisputable fact that the future of every country depends on its young people. Where does ours lie when almost a quarter of able-bodied men embark on the perilous journeys through the high seas?
These are young people who could have contributed to the socio-economic development of this country. But they left because they have doubt about their future prospects in their own country. To them Europe is the only way out to escape the deadly hands of poverty that almost engulfed our continent as a whole.
Despite the fatality of the journey and the tiring process of securing a European paper, they are determined to make it to their dreamland which they think is far better than their country. But one thing these young people fail to understand is that Europe is far different from what they see in movies or the narrations of some friends and relatives who live there.
Our country needs these youths in order to attain the Vision 2016 goal of food self-sufficiency set by our leader. For example, it is from the provinces where the bulk of agriculture is done where you have the greater number of would-be migrants. If they all leave, who will till the land?
The ‘back way’ syndrome has virtually affected all sectors of the economy ranging from education, health and the likes, as those that could have been potential teachers and nurses all left in search of greener pastures.
However, the government has a great role to play in remedying the situation. There are job opportunities for the young people of this country but where are the structures and how accessible are they to the youth? This is a question that every young person asks him or herself in this country.
Government should come up with policies that will cater for the employment of youths and their wellbeing; else the future remains blurred even for the unborn generation.
They have no choice but to take to the desert and the sea
The youth know for sure that they are putting their lives at the mercy of either border guards or the deep blue Mediterranean Sea. Nevertheless, most unemployed, frustrated young men and women whose lives have been threatened by conflicts or dictators, make the tough journey across the hot desert, board battered watercrafts and set sail from Africa to Europe hoping for a better life. I for one do not blame them.
Many youths in Africa have very little alternatives, if you would call them that. Rampant unemployment, wide spread conflicts and outright dictatorship in many African countries have made life a living hell and survival rather slim for many. They see the crossing to Europe as a way to escape the torments of poverty; hunger and brutalities which have no end to them. So the alternatives are either living in these conditions or facing the desert and the Mediterranean Sea. I see a lot of sense in choosing the latter as in Africa, the former is proving to be permanent (at least the latter, you either cross or you don’t). And no matter how many people fail to make it, the situation in Africa will always force the youth to give it a try.
Let’s face it, I think it is high time we started telling the truth about the tiny threads the youth are walking on in Africa, and what are the governments doing about them. We have been told repeatedly that there are opportunities here, well, there are, but whose opportunities are they?
If you will permit a guess, I will say the governments are busy condemning these migrations while forgetting that most of them (the governments) are big time contributors to the youth’s detriments most of which turn them to migrants. And I will also say that the opportunities in Africa are not for all but for a few who fortunately found themselves at the top, and their sons. The poor man’s son struggles to remain in school.
So, like I said earlier, I do not blame the youth for wanting to travel abroad and I certainly will not discourage an ambitious guy who wants to make a difference abroad. Don’t get me wrong though, I am not encouraging illegal migration. In fact, I would like to challenge African governments and leaders to give the youth what they deserve, strive to improve the living conditions of their young populace, and then let’s see what happens. I can almost promise you that it will be enough to discourage illegal migration, at least for many.