‘African immigrant’s book on experiences in Europe’
28th January 2010: Coming out with startling revelations and heart rendering incidents, an African in Paris has appealed to his countrymen not to immigrate to Europe. He said Europe was not worth risking their lives for. There, they would find only suffering and failure. This migratory wave was draining Africa of its lifeblood.
He warned the immigrants not to risk their lives attempting to break into “fortress Europe”. Omar Ba, from Senegal, in west Africa, said Europe was not the promised land imagined by Africans; instead it was almost impossible to find a job. He added it was hard to find a place to live and people were unfriendly to foreigners. He had come in search of happiness. But the 28-year-old working in a cafe in Paris found solitude and depression in the city.
Though Ba got his share of fame after penning down a book ‘I Came, I Saw, I Believe’ but things did not change much .Through the book he has put a human face on the plight of African “boat people”.
Ba grew up in a former leper colony and blamed bad government in Africa rather than Europe’s immigration policies for the tragic deaths, at sea of thousands, of would-be immigrants in recent years. He added that if the native place, Africa, provided just a minimum to its people then situation would not have been the same. There was no need for so many to leave their nation.
He pointed out that the immigrants were lured to Europe by hopes of affluence. The hopes were drummed into them from an early age by a society dependent on allowance from overseas workers. But Ba soon discovered Europe was not the heaven that his family and teachers had promised.
The African did not only see the immigrants struggling but even some of the Europeans, who were not leading a great life. Ba was shocked to discover that some Europeans were destitute, deprived and sick. Europe was even difficult for the natives though it was much tougher for immigrants.
Worst of all, they did not want to know him, mainly the beautiful youthful women he had dreamt of meeting. Ba wrote that people avoided him. He managed to enroll as a Sociology student at the University of Saint-Etienne and made stunning girls flee: to think that when he arrived he fantasised about having an affair with some ravishing fair-haired and have mixed-race children.
He wrote even those who had lived in France for three decades were “piled up on top of each other in unhealthy apartment blocks. Ba luckily found a room but knew another immigrant who lived in a telephone booth. He often had to beg and look through in bins. The only jobs on offer were sweeping streets or washing dishes and that was before the global financial meltdown.
Ba wrote that the only white people he had encountered before reaching Europe in 2001 on an overloaded canoe were tourists on Senegal’s beaches. They were joyful and seemed to spend money without counting. They inspired him with desire and charm.
Ba inscribed that a lot of homeless immigrants were turning to drink and crime. Ba had spent two years at a restaurant sink before getting a job at an aid organisation. He noted that employment did not seem to make people less unhappy. Ba asserted that before stepping on European soil, he never knew what stress was. He added in Africa it was impossible to have a salary at the end of the month and be depressed.
African immigrants preferred to bring about the myth about the good life, even if it meant bringing upon them debt to send money home to relatives who treat them as cash cows. Ba wrote that it was a matter of respect and that the immigrants did not want to admit failure. The family would not accept it
Ba further coming out with realities of life, penned down that many new immigrants found their main contact in Europe disappear in a strange manner when they arrived. Yet nothing deterred the Africans’ irresistible desire for Europe, not even the “decomposing bodies that wash up on beaches” with awful regularity.
Ba found the human toll mainly shocking – his first experience of death was in a swell off the coast of Morocco. Another canoe had collided with a larger boat and although they managed to pull the survivors on board, Ba wrote he would never forget the scene of his drowned national.
In the Canary Islands Ba told the authorities nothing, following the instructions of the trafficker who had organised his boat ride. Ba wrote that the trafficker had explained him that if they did not know which country the immigrants came from, it was impossible to send them home.
After two months in a “retention centre”, he was put on a flight to Barcelona. From there he caught a lift to France in a refrigerated lorry and almost froze to death. Ba asserted he was no longer an illegal: after being excluded from France in 2002, he returned on a student visa. Yet Ba thought of going home, possibly to work as a teacher like some of his eight siblings. He hoped that others might follow his example and return to a country that needed them.