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Giving Voice to African Migrants
Alex Steffen, 18 Jul 06

Underemployment and lack of opportunity plague much of the developing world. It's a bitter irony that, particularly, many African countries seem mired in poverty while many of their young men and women, while bursting with energy, have no work or educational opportunities. Many set out to emigrate to places where there are jobs, namely Europe and North America, often crossing borders illegally to get there. The remittances these undocumented workers send home are vital to African economies, but their path is hard and dangerous.

Take the plight of Senegalese travelling to the Spanish Canary Islands. Often, they make the journey in rickety boats over sixty miles of open water. An estimated 10,000 Africans have already landed on those beaches this year, but thousands more are thought to have drowned.

In an effort to draw attention to the plight of his compatriots, Senegalese singer DJ Awadi has released a new song, Sunugaal, whose lyrics draw attention to the suffering of the young men migrating in hopes of better jobs:

"You promised me I would have a job You promised me I would have food You promised me I would have real work and hope But so far - nothing That's why I am leaving, that's why I am taking off in this canoe Swearing not to stay here a second longer I would prefer to die than to live in this hell."

You can listen to the lyrics and watch an online slideshow here.

Some people say that one of the biggest challenges facing us as a planet is that our problems are all global, and so their solutions must necessarily be global, but our circles of compassion -- the kinds of people who we feel are worth our empathy and help -- remain generally local and provincial. But art has a unique ability to shatter the walls between people, and increasingly the Web is bringing us amazing art from and about people who most of the time we forget even exist.

What art has expanded your understanding of, and care for, people elsewhere?

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Comments

The Direct Expatriate Nationals Investment (DENI) project (http://www.deniafrica.com/) could be seen as means of securitising remittances and bringing more efficiencies to bear. It would if successful help create a Diasporan constituency that presently does not exist.


Posted by: Emeka Okafor on 18 Jul 06



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