Desperate journeys: Prepare for the worst

This is not a feel-good story. As impossible and improbable as it sounds, last month a story broke out of Libya, shocking images of thousands of African immigrants caged behind bars like cattle for auction. Emaciated and frail, some were sold for as little as $200.

This is not a feel-good story. As impossible and improbable as it sounds, last month a story broke out of Libya, shocking images of thousands of African immigrants caged behind bars like cattle for auction. Emaciated and frail, some were sold for as little as $200.

What happened in Libya is the beginning of future mass exodus, mainly to European countries. Years from now threats of climate change will leave cities and countries completely deserted.

Should you survive droughts and floods, certainly economic inequality and political pressures will plow you away.

Across Africa, the distribution of wealth is almost a sacred taboo. The elite are sensitive to this idea and certainly will be offended. Next time you vote, make sure it’s not based on political loyalty but for a candidate who matters to you.

Ironically, one of Africa’s biggest challenges happens to be its greatest of assets. I am not talking about the natural resources, or all year-round beautiful weather but the people of Africa.

While most Western countries are facing rapid population decline, Africa’s population is expected to more than double by 2050. Fast-forward your time machine and imagine yourself in that world.

Demand for energy will soar but still four people out of ten will not have access to electricity. In order to feed all these people, according to the United Nations, Africa would have to double its food production; and global water predicts a forty deficit of fresh water by year 2050.

Countries will not welcome refugees; hunger and clash of classes will become a global phenomenon.

This population boom is the glass half empty or half-full situation. Some might see this explosion as an opportunity, I don’t. Africa is producing many college graduates who will go three years plus without employment.

This is primarily the cause for brain-drain and higher taxation among many, a reason for capital flight. Across Africa, governments are the largest employer and that’s a recipe for poverty wages.

A few decades from now, healthcare and social security will not be a strong social safety net to hold societies together. Even then, governments could delay or deny responsibility and blow steam in your face.

The inner workings of any government are just too complex, intricate and delicate. Governments work as hard as they know how but sometimes we expect too much forgetting that they too can be broke, unable to lend, borrow or finance national budgets.

Next time there is a furlough, sequestration or tax increase—just remember that your government could be running out of options. Usually because of functional corruption that has crippled many countries in Africa. This is rather a sensitive topic usually denied or defended whole-heartedly with no face of betrayal.

With many moving parts, each piece trying to fit into the bigger picture; the system churns on with or without your liking. In the end, your representatives are not your greatest advocates.

Your minister may not always be your champion and the governor will not always represent your values. At the heart of all this is a fierce competition. “What’s in for me” is the systemic blood vessel.

The rich are getting richer and poor poorer. These officials make up the system. They have preferential treatment and that is almost an entitlement, not merit. Your military neighbour who is no smarter than you will guarantee a job for their children. Just another way governments recycle the same people.

So my fellow Africans, tighten your seatbelt and brace for impact. There is no guarantee it is going to get any easier but there is a glimmer of hope. In the midst of uncertainty, the Nigerian economy will likely hit a trillion dollar mark by year 2050.

The life of a regular Rwandan will see its better days yet and Africa as a continent will have a say in the global economy. What will be done will be, it’s just a matter of political will and tolerable greed. Just remember, every vote you cast is significant and hold government officials accountable.

The views expressed in this article are of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The New Times.

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