Immigrants and Europe’s hypocrisy
OVERWHELMED by unprecedented number of immigrants from Syria Afghanistan, Eritrea, Darfur, Iraq Somalia and Nigeria, fleeing dictatorship, religious extremism and poverty, Europe, the wealthiest continent which made her fortunes through the sweat and blood of others across borders, is now fighting to protect its own borders.
Europe seems to have suddenly forgotten, the world was told sovereignty was dead a long time ago, that it is perfectly normal for the political and economic policies of new colonial states to be controlled offshore by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank and World trade Organisation (WTO) and that the world has become a globalised stage where globalisation, their new god “guarantees free trade, (albeit of unequal partners) mobility of capital, technology, information and people”.
And now, all immigrants, asylum seekers ask of European leader is that, in tandem with the tenets of the new god, they are allowed into Europe to sell their labour in a world we are told is borderless.
Unfortunately, unable to face up with their demons, European leaders have suddenly become incoherent. With the exception of German Chancellor, Angela Merkel who recently warned that ‘if Europe fails in the question of refugees, its close connection with universal civil rights will be destroyed,” others have been busy building border wall, barbed wire fences, and dispersing migrants with tear gas in total disregard of what globalisation preaches.
The authoritative Financial Times of London, an advocate of a borderless globalised world, announced with undisguised regret the collapse of European borders. Britain, the greatest imperial power of our age which sadly falls behind all European countries, including impoverished Greece in her response to the immigrant crisis, finding no more excuses for her ambivalence, now says her problem is with African economic migrants who according to Philip Hammond, the British foreign Secretary are “‘marauders who would soon hasten the collapse of European civilisation”.
She forgets European civilisation is a product of the exploiter, the exploited, Africans, Asians, and Judaism, Ifa, Christianity, Buddhism and Islam. If Cameron and Hammond are in doubt, they should consult Prince Charles who in a recent interview admitted Islam contributed immensely to the European civilisation.
The past also seems to have been lost on European leaders. They forget their forebears outwitted the rest of the world preaching Christian virtues of ‘being our brothers keepers’ through Roman Catholic and Protestant priests. Of close to a million asylum seekers in 2014, Europe accepted only 626,000. And with all the antics, the United Nations (UN) projection for Europe, the richest continent in 2016, is one million migrants. With the scale of human tragedy we daily witness on television, Amnesty International’s condemnation of European governments for “negligence towards the humanitarian crisis in the Mediterranean” and its warning that EU must not “turn its back on its responsibilities,” European leaders have continued to look for justification to preserve the fortunes immorally appropriated for themselves and their children.
European fortune seekers hardly trade in morality. ‘What heart could be so hard, as not to be pierced by piteous feeling to see the other company?’ wrote Zurara, chronicle of the Discovery and Conquest of Guinea’, during the slave raids of 15th Century. But I think we can at least remind the prosperous western nations, their right wing parties and some of their over-pampered children, described as ‘a disgrace to humanity’ by the German iron lady, of the source of ill-acquired wealth of Europe whose leaders in character today remain indifferent as 2,500 lives, including the 1,200 deaths recorded from the boats which sank in the Mediterranean, the 71 migrants found dead in an unventilated food truck near Vienna on August 27, 2015, and the hundreds of women and children drowned while making desperate efforts for new life in Europe.
Anti-immigrant Europeans hardly know that that the wars and misery currently forcing people to flee European-created nation states of Nigeria, Sudan, Kosovo, Syria, Iraq, Afganistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh are direct consequences of colonisation and European self-serving policies in these ex colonies.
But how did we get to where we are? Basil Davidson has shown in some of his works that most parts of the world were at the same level of development until Europeans, forced out of their hostile environment where life was the survival of the fittest, in ‘Search for gold, God and Glory’ struck fortune through the exploitation of the wealth of other nations. Walter Rodney, killed by a bomb in his car at 38, has shown in his 1972 classic ‘how Europe underdeveloped Africa”, by building fortunes on the misfortunes of other nations.
Before 1300 AD, it was almost inconceivable that Europe could conquer the world. But taking advantage of their discovery of gunpowder, military weapon and improvement on shipping, they effortlessly enslaved most parts of the world including Africa from where Europe between 1492 and 1870, shipped 10 million blacks to their plantations in America. Slavery which was the source of Europe wealth was later replaced with colonial rule, an ideology which presupposes ‘a superior, civilised and smarter group ruling a devious, lazy and immoral tribes’, with the help of Roman Catholic and Protestant priests and Islamic clerics.
At the Berlin Conference of 1860, driven by economic and military interests, they divided Africa among European member- states, by drawing ‘borders without consideration for pre- colonial ancient tribal boundaries and social history,’ merging different cultural groups at different levels of cultural development. Spain took over the Philippines and Cuba; France: Indonesia, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia while Britain took over most part of Asia, Burma, India, and Africa. Just as it was in slavery, the colonised new states produced cash crops and mined minerals as raw materials for European industries. Europeans determine the price to be paid for labour as well as the price the labourers paid for Europe’s processed goods.
Following agitation for independence, they forced different groups at different levels of cultural development together even after admitting it was their presence alone that had ‘prevented a disastrous descent into turmoil of warring sects.’ Nigeria, with about 16,000 communities and about 350 distinct language groups, shares similar fate with other colonised nations. Congo, the most endowed nation on earth in terms of mineral resources after centuries of Belgium rule, had at independence about five university graduates and about 600 Roman Catholic priests.
Patrick Lumumba, Congo’s independent Prime Minister who was later murdered in the presence of Belgium soldiers over Katanga mineral deposits, had only four years of formal education. Mobutu, through whom Europe pillaged the resources of Congo or Zaire for over 30 years, was a cook in the Congo army. Today, Congo remains one of the poorest nations of the world. European over-pampered children must be told the prosperity of Belgium and the rest of Europe was piled up at the expense of those they now claim are coming to ‘destroy their civilisation’
Then, Europe and its allies in America decreed globalisation is the new god we must all worship. Globalisation, we now know, is another name for slavery. It has continued to increase the gap between the rich and the poor nations. What an average Ethiopian ‘earns in a year is what an average Swiss citizen earns every 24 hour’. A pastoral cattle farmer in Europe gets a government subsidy of $2 per head of cow while about 1.5 billion people in the rest of the world live below $1 a day. By the logic of globalisation, Europe’s unjust god, the life of a cow in Europe is worth two human lives in the impoverished and pillaged third world nations.
Now, children of impoverished nations are opting to worship the same god in Europe and America, risking their lives through precarious voyage through the desert and seas, guaranteed with nothing beyond clearing sewages, working in old peoples’ homes and in their farms. What crimes, if one may ask the European leaders, have immigrants, worshippers of Europe’s unjust god committed by opting to sell their labour in a world we are told is borderless? Europe sows the wind. Europe must reap the whirlwind.
•Dr. Oluwajuyitan wrote from Lagos.