ngozi fakeye calais migrants

Calais migrants: A case for investing in Africa

The images I see in the UK media of mainly African people who have fled their countries of origin because they are desperate for a better life is truly distressing.

Not only because of the inhumane conditions that is evident, but also the labelling that has made ‘migrant’ a negative word. My concern? I am British but will not deny my African roots and I cannot help but feel that in another life these people could have been my brother, my father, my mum, my sister – or me.

The cynic in me wonders how many of my British compatriots think my ancestors came off the back of the lorry in Calais rather than as seasoned professionals enticed to the West for their skills. It is not a pleasant thought, but one that is laid bare when people ask me, so, ‘where are you from originally’? Its ignorance, probably the name, but and I am tolerant. I have never asked a Smith, ‘hey where are you from originally’, I probably should.

Anyway, I am a firm believer in the truth that Africans must make a solution for Africa to be a land flowing with the proverbial milk and honey. However, if the UK and the rest of Europe feel besieged by all these migrants, then take some pragmatic action by investing in Africa. That way, you don’t have to feel guilty when a vocal minority clamor for them to be left to drown at sea, send in the army or starve them in concentration camps.

That said, one pragmatic and long term solution to your African migrant problem is to invest in Africa:  Look to development from a grassroots perspective and  encourage diaspora action instead of focusing on handouts in aid.

This is why we host events annually like the Afro Business Exposition in Reading UK, to bridge the gap between Biz Britain and real African entrepreneurs who are at the coalface of enterprise in Africa.

Why should you attend another conference on Africa? Well, it is in the UK and indeed Europe’s best interest to make sure that Africa can care for its people and its people want to stay not flee. The UN has estimated that by 2020, Africa’s population will be about 1.5 billion. If you think Calais is a swarm, do nothing till 2020.

But all frightening talk aside, it is a minority of Africans that want to come to Europe, even though the UK media would like to give the impression that it is all of Africa. Perception vs fact: understand that we are in a global world and Africa is not a country. When you say a swarm of African migrants, you give the impression that one country is coming to the shores of Europe. Ergo the ignorance and mischievous press people who trade on western ignorance and fear. Africa has 54 countries. If they were to make an incursion to Europe, they would overrun its inhabitants 100 times over.

Africans, like most people, want jobs, power, security and a good quality of life. They want to aspire, prosper and be respected in the world. They want the BBC and its ilk to report the facts that speak positively about Africa or at best, factually and with balance.

Yes, there are problems, but look to any country and tell me who does not have the poor, the corrupt and the suffering. Thank God for social media and WikiLeaks, no western country should throw stones as they clearly live in glass houses with skeletons worse than any stereotypical African leader may have.

Finally, rather than keep on with the armchair commentary, come for yourself and see what Africa has to offer. Educate yourself and support the diaspora to lead the charge in Africa’s economic resurgence.

Stop the fearful rhetoric and demonstrate the British spirit of adventure and charity that made Great Britain great, with the help of its colonies and migrants.

Join us September 15th & 16th at Green Park, Reading

Ngozi Fakeye

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