They are modern-day adventurers who risk everything to discover new lands by land, air and sea. Every year, thousands of Africans migrate to other countries in Africa, Europe, North America, Australia and Asia.
Most school-age African children have been taught about earlier adventurers like the famous Christopher Columbus and the Portuguese Vasco Da Gama who faced many obstacles in their adventures.
In Africa for example, early adventurers struggled with the malaria disease which is transmitted by mosquitoes. Equally, most African immigrants experience both climatic and cultural shock in Europe and America.
What drives them?
Africa is the second-largest continent and with more than a billion people, is the second most populated continent. Africa has perhaps the most arable land in the world. It is also the land of the Nile, which competes with the Amazon for the title of the longest river in the world.
The 1960’s brought an end to colonial rule in Africa. Unfortunately, independence in many countries was followed by decades of social and political instability.
By the time apartheid collapsed in South Africa in the mid-1990s, most countries in the continent were still struggling to meet the demands of a rapidly growing population.
The African renewal popularized by then South African president Thabo Mbeki, became nothing but a cliché of the African elite and academia. Scarcity of jobs led to massive migration from rural to urban areas.
Unplanned and congested slums without running water, sewerage, electricity, education or medical facilities became the order of the day. This led to high levels of insecurity which in turn scared away would-be investors.
To this day, these are the main factors that drive thousands of African political asylum seekers and economic refugees. In 2014, close to 100,000 Africans were rescued in the sea trying to cross into Europe. Over 2,500 of them were not lucky enough. They perished in the sea.
According to research of recent online obituaries, Kenyans in the diaspora have lost close to 20 of their own to accidents or disease in the last two months. This is a heavy toll for the Kenyan community abroad and a wake-up call for soul-searching, connecting and praying for divine guidance and protection.
By Leonard Njoroge, [email protected]