By Toyin Falola
Do you remember the wedding party I attended the other day? The one I saw Bẹ́kùnBẹ́kùn at? Yes, that one. I called it Ayamatanga! Google it!! I saw something else too. The bridesmaids’ dresses looked like they had a mission to seduce. Indeed, two of them were looking at me, and it reminded me that my father married my mother when he was almost 60. I looked back at them, telling myself that a product of polygamy can never be free of sins. I was even thinking in my mind of an appropriate verse for a sermon:
“For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments” (Deuteronomy 5:9-10).
I looked further, from head to toe, via the middle. The clothes clung tightly to their bodies, and cleavages in various colours and sizes were put on their faces. I saw breasts fully exposed, although I was told in New York that if you have not seen the nipples, you cannot claim to have seen the breasts. Nigerians, be warned. Oyinbo people have defined the meaning of breasts, so all the upper parts are now classified as chest extensions (skin làsan ni). How did this lean girl get to wear a size 40 D? I wondered whether she would not trip! God works in miracles. The one behind her, a heavy woman, had the orange (òroñbó) sizes, but perhaps she had no money to buy a foam breast pad at Shoprite.
The Aso-ebi ladies were worse. One lady’s breasts threatened to jump out of where they were confined. And oh, the slits! So high you could have seen their privates if you cared to look. I did, and she was wearing red underwear, which did not match the Aso ebi colours (pardon my manners, my curiosity pushed me). Where did I get the idea that colour combinations must include what we see and cannot see? The bride was not any better. With her low cleavage, probably because the dress material finished there, I worried about the Priest joining them in Holy matrimony. Could this explain why the Priest lost coordination? Our Priest forgot to read Matthew 5:30:
And if thy right hand offends thee, cut it off, and. cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee. that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.
He did! I don’t know; just guessing. It is impossible for a priest who calls you a sinner once a week not to know this important biblical passage. But what wicked God will mandate a Priest to pluck his two eyes for the lovely pastime of looking at the breasts of our new Ìyàwó? After all, she will soon be discarded for the side chicks after three babies and baby fat that will disfigure her body—the flat tummy of today will become the big belle of tomorrow (well, not in all cases, sha). Many end like that—the wedding day is when they are at the peak of beauty. I have recommended that marriages become like a driver’s license, which must be renewed after three or five years. You cannot marry a man with full hair on his head and not throw him away when he becomes bald, making God his barber.
As the world evolves, manners seem to deplete. Moral and cultural values are neglected. This Gen-Z generation needs to be called to order on their belief systems. Every generation is unhappy with the current: your grandfather was unhappy with your father; your father is unhappy with you, and you may not be happy with your son. The systems of belief of a people are seen in their culture, in their mannerisms. Sadly, the modesty culture has been perverted recently, all in the name of fashion trends. If God makes this Gen-Z the end of what we know since no other alphabet follows, we can sing in praise and shout hallelujah! Perhaps we will start all over with Gen-A, creating fully naked Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.
Fashion has transitioned into the live display of immodesty, especially with women’s outfits. The vast majority of females cannot dress up without revealing some skin. It is old school to wear full-length skirts and high-neck tops, but it is not old school to dress decently. When I attend social gatherings, weddings and birthday ceremonies especially, I sometimes cannot help but wonder how many yards of fabric was used to sew certain styles worn by some ladies; I would often ask myself if the styles were an attempt to manage the fabric or the dress mistakenly got torn in the sewing process and it had to be sewn that way. Every mistake is a style, they say. In the part of the world where I am from, an ọmọlúwàbí, meaning a responsible person, is expected to dress in a manner that is not only presentable but covers all sensitive parts of her body.
When the purpose of a thing is unknown, abuse is inevitable. The unique purpose of clothing is to cover one’s nakedness and reduce vulnerability to nature. The only set of humans who are scantily clad or wear rags are termed mad and have lost their sense of consciousness. If a madman had the right senses, he would have clothes on. That is why when a madman recovers, the first thing he becomes aware of is his appearance, and he takes cover immediately, as he can no longer bear the shame of being naked. However, it is baffling that even people in their right senses today no longer seem comfortable covering their nakedness. The new normal is to wear clothes for sexual attraction and attention in disguise of fashion and style. The funniest part that keeps baffling me is how a lady will jealously protect her phone by wearing it in a pouch and also use a difficult-to-guess password to deny it access but feel free to make it easier for all to gain access to the areas that were supposed to be confidential in her body.
The problem of indecent dressing in our society today is rooted in civilization and the adoption of foreign cultures. In their bid to explore and express creativity, designers have set a new fashion trend, forgetting the core value of decency and morality. Crop tops, miniskirts, sleeveless dresses, bikinis, backless dresses, crazy jeans, and all kinds of revealing outfits are the bane of fashion today.
It is alarming that ladies do not even wear bras anymore; they confidently wear a dress without a bra underneath to reveal their nipples and seduce the opposite sex. We would always blame men for being promiscuous, for wanting to get into anything under a skirt. If men must have control of their sexual desires, ladies must also be modest in their appearance. But you will be shocked that a woman’s indecent dressing fuels another woman’s sexual desire. The rate of immorality and promiscuity today is largely based on the level of indecent dressing in society. One does not have to get to the internet to see pornography; it is easily accessible, and you can see it anywhere; step out of your home, and you would count at least 5 half-naked people on the street. Although some men cannot be helped, even if one wears a sack, they would run after her as long as she is a woman. But indecent dressing only makes everything worse. (May God deliver me from all temptation).
A woman’s wedding dress is supposed to speak purity, elegance and modesty. If your reason for revealing sensitive parts of your body is to attract a suitor, mission accomplished, you have finally attracted one, and it is your wedding day already, so why pick a wedding dress that pops all your breast out, revealing all that is supposed to be yours and your husband’s? Should I mind my business and rejoice with you? Okay, but I feel for the husbandman sha. Wait o; it seems he does not care too. A day earlier, on his Bachelor’s Eve, he had sex with one of the rented and half-naked guys.
A woman can dress stylish and elegant yet still be conservative and modest. It is a cliché that modest dressing reflects old school and is unattractive. Women do not have to wear oversized and non-fitting clothes to be modest. Everyone dresses with respect for his/her individuality. It is a common saying that how a person dresses is how they will be addressed. You should look like what you say you are; your dress tells people more about who you are even before you open your mouth to speak. Stop confusing your identity; for example, you say you are a doctor, yet you wear a policeman’s uniform. It does not in any way correlate. People will only be confused about the container and the content. You cannot dress promiscuously and not expect to be harassed by the opposite sex; even if you wore the dress to look good, you have innocently sent the wrong signal. Modest dressing is also about being comfortable with what you wear. Ladies would wear short gowns or skirts and start dragging them down as if they were not aware that it was short before putting them on. Dresses that make it difficult for a lady to sit down, sit on an òkadà, bend to pick things from the ground and do other basic things. Why have you chosen to make life difficult for yourself?
There are different ways to dress for different places and occasions. For instance, if you are invited to a meeting with the Queen of England, you would not dare to strip yourself half-naked or dress like a queen of the coast to meet the Queen of England, the same way you would not wear a suit to a clubhouse.
The media has played a vital role in advancing the gospel of immodest dressing. Many indecent dresses are inspired by celebrities and adopted by people. Modesty is seen in physical appearance, manner of behaviour, and speech. Offensive and foul language are immodest speech mostly adopted from the internet. The majority of song lyrics are sexualized and offensive which promotes immodest behaviour amongst young people. Music videos that showcase sex and romance and portray women as sex objects. (Let me not even start listing them). Children are not left out; they are no longer allowed to be children. They are now being taught to dress in a way that calls the attention of the opposite sex. You would see a mother dress her daughter up for a school party in a mini skirt and half tops, stripping the child half naked, then finishing it with a frontal wig and makeup. Children are now exposed to immodest dressing and behaviours through cartoons and comic books. The entertainment and movie industry also promotes immodest and immoral acts through sexual and erotic scenes. (I know your mind went straight to the Big Brother Naija reality show). But then You would hardly see a movie that does not have an immodest scene in it, even if it does not correlate with the story, just to sell their market. Promiscuity in the media has encouraged young females to sexualize themselves, making it an obligation to fit in and catch up with trends.
Immodesty is loud in the female gender, but it also applies to males. Unku, your shirt is fine o, but this one that you didn’t button up, se cold will not catch you? Are you allergic to buttoning up? Oh, it is the trend? That is why we’re seeing your hairy chest. Hian! Immodest dressing for males is such as wearing tight shirts to reveal their chest and muscle in an attempt to seduce women, sagging trousers to reveal their smelling boxers, wearing short shorts (ashawo shorts, as they call it) in public, tight jeans and so on. Some do not even wear underpants, so their dangling does not go unnoticed as they walk about, giving innocent people an eyesore. Ìranù-àbàshà.
Religious standards on dressing are deeply rooted in modesty. Truth be told, modesty cannot become an old-school topic. In an attempt to correct immodest dressing, some churches now provide wrappers for ladies who dress indecently to church, if they would be allowed to enter at all. Do not cause your brother (and sister) to sin; any dress that would arouse sexual desires in any gender is inappropriate. God indeed sees and judges us by the intent of our hearts, yet it does not mean He does not care about how we look on the outside. On the other hand, Islam instructs that a lady must cover every part of her body, including her face.
The increased rate of rape and sexual harassment, to many men, can be traced to immodesty in society. I don’t see a correlation between how a woman dresses and male sexual violence. Rapists, you are sick, and don’t blame scantily dressed women for your mental illness. It is true that even those who wear dresses that cover all parts of their body still fall victim to rape and harassment. Nevertheless, if indecent dressing can be curbed, the “lookery” rate would drastically reduce, and we can save the pastors and the priests some work to do. As a nation, we do not want to raise a generation that is not culturally oriented on how to appear in public and drag our cultural values into the mud. Or we can agree to change the culture—allow men to wear earrings, wear lipsticks, and use wigs. Let us agree to something without using violence. Irrespective of what we do, violence is not an instrument to be deployed to correct what we dislike.
To solve the problem of what some see as immorality, the correction would have to start from home, school, and religious centres and use every media possible to drum modesty into the brains of young people. The immodest dressing may be handled as a problem and not as a crime if the way to curb it is to preach to those who dress immodestly. I am not a member of the cultural police, and I will not call immodest dressing a crime and charge them with any offence. The politicians who steal our money are the criminals, not the prostitutes at Toyin Street, Ikeja, Lagos. Cultural, moral, ethical and religious values need to be re-taught and emphasized again. New fashion styles should be welcomed, and those who disagree can express disgust. We have to respect individual freedom. No violence and no need to burn down a club because you don’t like what you see.
As for me, my bùbá and ṣòkòtò never go out of style. It is always giving everything it should give. I dress to look intelligent and not to look handsome. There is a difference; the former brings me respect, and the latter brings me “lookery” and seduction. Upholding modesty speaks to a deeper understanding of one’s worth and respect for others. It signifies a willingness to balance self-expression and societal norms, acknowledging that personal choices have broader implications. Finally, as we celebrate the journey from “Ayamatanga” to “Ọmọkọ́mọ”, let’s also celebrate the resurgence of modesty, bringing it to the forefront of our hearts and wardrobes, all the while staying true to our essence.
PS: I had this idea in Lagos while visiting nightclubs. I am grateful to the young men and women who spoke with me without inhibitions.
Moral Values In A Changing World
By Hope O’Rukevbe Eghagha
JUSTICE: This world has degenerated into abysmal filth, immoral ungodly concupiscence, infantile greed, atavistic, primitive acquisition of property, and satanic hopelessness! The judiciary, the political class, the church, our royal fathers, and most other socio-cultural institutions have fallen into the cesspit of indiscipline and lack of respect for ethics! The Labour movement that used to be in the forefront of discipline cannot be trusted anymore!
MARIAM: Hehehehehehe! Okpoyibo! Big grammar is talking. I must invite Hon Patrick Obahiagbon to compete with you on explosive vocabulary.
PROFESSOR: That’s an old song. Our parents said the same thing some forty odd years ago.
UMUKORO: You are right; it is the way of the old to berate the world and say the past was better!
JUSTICE: Kindly don’t reduce the profundity of my introspective submission to the jejune level of the banal as has been the hallmark of pseudo-intellectuals in the polity!
MARIAM: I am going to get a new and bigger dictionary. I can’t find Michael West anymore!
JUSTICE: If you still restrict yourself to the archaic confines of Michael West, then you are a victim of historical detention, arrested development, and exploration of the brave new world!
MARIAM: I give up!
UMUKORO: Who still uses a dictionary in the 21st century? Ask Google my dear, ask Google!
JUSTICE: Your infantile and rudimentary knowledge of homonyms limits your capacity to process thoughts of the new century. Away with you, thou physically beautiful body without an intellectual soul. I take exception to people denigrating my exceptionally brilliant exegesis on the state of Homo sapiens!
PASTOR: ‘And in the last days, iniquity shall abound and the love of many shall wax cold’, so said the Master. The time is here!
PROFESSOR: A broken record! A broken record waxed hundreds of years ago!
PASTOR: But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved!
PROFESSOR: Saved from what? Another holocaust? Another atomic bomb dumped on humanity?
PASTOR: Do you spurn sacred and biblical prophecies?
PROFESSOR: General prophecies mean nothing to me. Look here Mr Pastor. For all the false prophecies which members of your infernal gang of profiteering pastors gave before the last general elections, you should be behind the bars of God!
JUSTICE: It is not late, not too late at all. The hounds of heaven are waiting for all the false pastors, especially those who have commercialized the Lord’s work! A wonderful and abominable thing is happening in the land. The prophets prophesy falsely, and the people love it so!
PROFESSOR: One preacher I knew used to say that one false prophet was more dangerous than 100 armed robbers. Now I understand why!
UMUKORO: Armed robbery is no longer fashionable. Pen robbery fetches millions of naira with one stroke. Just add two zeros to the figure or transfer public funds to a private account.
PROFESSOR: I spoke metaphorically!
PASTOR: When it is becoming fashionable for persons of the same gender to marry and be recognized by the state, then the world is coming to an end.
UMUKORO: Sodom and Gomorrah incurred God’s wrath with that abomination!
MARIAM: When Supreme Court judges dispense political justice, then the end of the state as we knew it, has come.
UMUKORO: Even in America! Democratic judges give judgment guided by the so-called liberal values of the democrats while republican judges give conservative verdicts like abolishing the right to having an abortion!
JUSTICE: What then is justice?
MARIAM: Self solution! Your name is justice!
PROFESSOR: Aren’t we mixing oranges and apples in the same basket?
PASTOR: Let the tares and the wheat grow. At the harvest the Lord shall do the separation of sheep from goats!
JUSTICE: Eschatological metaphors can be used to rationalize and explain currents and undercurrents of contemporary events. It is very convenient to do so!
PROFESSOR: I am disappointed that our Nobel laureate could make such a one-sided pronouncement on the 2023 general elections. Unlike him, he didn’t speak like a man who comprehends the totality of our traumatic experience in February 2023!
MARIAM: But he spoke his mind. The Constitution guarantees freedom of expression!
JUSTICE: He spoke with the finality of a judge. I respect him for that. But he should also like an elder have acknowledged the level of rigging and violence which marred the exercise. The general thinking is that he is silent on that aspect because a friend of his now occupies Aso Rock!
MARIAM: That is a most uncharitable thing to say about a man of such intellectual distinction and moral probity!
JUSTICE: Excuse me! Has he occupied any public office in the country to enable you to arrive at that conclusion? Has he been tested?
MARIAM: His name is a shield. His name travels before him.
JUSTICE: Why did he wait for the PEPT to make a pronouncement before proclaiming his tigritude?
PROFESSOR: Let’s leave that old man alone jor! I’m more interested in the shuffling feet at the CBN. What exactly is going on? Was there no due diligence before Shonubi was asked to act as Governor of the Central bank of Nigeria? Didn’t they know, couldn’t they have suspected that he was part of the rot that ran that institution aground in the dying days of the former president?
PASTOR: Alas, it has given the president the opportunity to appoint his own man as governor. The new man by all account is competent and exposed in the financial world!
PROFESSOR: My only worry is whether he will have the gumption to say no if he receives obnoxious directives from his boss.
JUSTICE: How many appointees in our country have the liver to say no to the indiscretion of their bosses? It is not in our DNA!
MARIAM: In Lagos state, the Speaker of House said no to the governor on the appointment of some commissioners! The heavens did not fall.
PROFESSOR: The heavens almost fell. But that speaker is arrogant. No big man can trust him. Or was he dancing to music being played in higher quarters to spite the governor?
MARIAM: Who knows! It is possible. The ways of politicians are not straightforward. How could he say that he and the governor are colleagues! He has no respect for the office!
UMUKORO: I felt sorry for the governor! This attempt to humiliate him all in the name of politics.
JUSTICE: I hear it is all about 2024. If he is thinking of becoming governor, that statement will return to haunt him in future!
PASTOR: Now! Now! Now! Is the Dubai visa ban still hanging over us or Mr. President got the desert kings to lift the embargo?
JUSTICE: Is there any ‘gbajue’ going on?
PROFESSOR: Hahahahahaha! The more you look, the less you see. Proverbs to bones and silence!
UMUKORO: I don’t think it is ‘gbajue! It is possible that there was an agreement in principle which would require Nigeria to finetune certain details before going public. A federal government cannot tell lies about such public matters!
PASTOR: When the saviour comes, let him that be on the rooftop not come down to be saved. You will run to the mountain and the mountain will be melting!
MARIAM: And the sea will be boiling!
PROFESSOR: Who will save us? Who can take the nation back to factory reset? Shall we invite Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obafemi Awolowo, Gen. Aguiyi Ironsi, and Ahmadu Bello to rescue us?
PASTOR: Perish such thoughts please! Those men have not been able to save themselves. How can they save anybody? Jesus Christ is the answer!
A Response To Toyin Falola’s Obasanjo, Obadide And Obajoko
By Yinka Agbetuyi
Toyin Falola’s “Obasanjo, Obadide and Obajoko” is a timely article that captures the complexities and contradictions of a Yoruba (even Nigerian) in transition. It reframes the questions: ‘transition to where?’ How will this transition be better managed? Until these two questions are adequately resolved Yorubaland (and Nigeria) will always be in constant crises.
It is very important that the essay brings out the fact of extant kingships alongside modern polities in Europe like the UK and Belgium, (there are still twelve extant monarchies in Europe) where the monarchs are not subordinated to modern politicians and humiliated thereby. So which West are the Yoruba (and Nigerians) copying? Newfound lands, mainly the US – as well as Australia and Canada- stolen from the aborigines.
Yoruba people and fellow Nigerians must constantly be reminded that the success of the anticolonial struggles was about stopping such occurrence in Africa. Perhaps Yoruba Nation advocacy was geared toward the same goal, but lacked effective strategies. At the last stop before Tinubu’s unexpected victory, the groundswell was for Yoruba Nation advocates to go into partnership with other Nigerian ethnic nationalities and evolve a workable blueprint that takes into consideration each group’s preference and the rate of and speed of integration into the totality – the North’s preference at independence, and Awo’s true federalism- supplanted unfortunately by the adoption of an American presidential federalist model, hook line and sinker! My reaction over the decades is that Nigeria is not necessarily vying with others for the position of the 51st state of the US.
In my own summation in diverse forums, as it exists now in Europe, the royal houses should be clearly delimited and given definite CONSTITUTIONAL roles and worthy remuneration. First Class traditional rulers should earn the same salaries as sitting governors (Nigeria can afford this option many times over from a mere fraction of its stolen wealth if recovered). Monarchs will in turn underwrite the integrity of the polity by being constitutionally tasked with the appointment of auditors who will scrutinise State spending (states and federal) and projects in their domains and report directly back to such MONARCHS for onward transmission to state chief executives and the presidency.
Traditional rulers should be elected and appointed only by traditional councils and their appointment signed into law (but not subject to nor subordinated to) the state governors. After all the days of crass illiterate caricature of traditional rulers is long gone. Traditional rulers should therefore be structured as parallel instruments of and facilitators of governance in a check and balance structuration of governance, in a carefully integrated whole to achieve total governance – the transient and the permanent. Lesser traditional rulers should be administered by the First-Class rulers (in council) who will recommend their emoluments, (and functions) subject to rankings to state governments.
Only First-Class rulers (in council) should be able to recommend the creation and elevation of lower ranked rulers to the states according to the existing norms of such communities, (they did this well enough in the precolonial days) and the state government should only administratively approve or reject such recommendations based on financial contingencies. This formulation should neutralise party politicking in the creation and maintenance of traditional rulership.
Yes, traditional rulers must be constitutionally barred from seeking and accepting contracts from their states of origin and from the federal government, the same way a governor is not notionally entitled to be awarded a contract by their own government. In the British system, this is called declaration of interests by parliamentarians (whether in government or not) in the register of interest book. This is to prevent conflict of interests of the person in government (and their associates) and their official duties. This provision demonstrates that greed is a universal phenomenon unless and until checked by relevant laws (witness the UK Parliament’s expenses claim scandal in 2010.)
Now that the Tinubu struggle has been fought and won, the Yoruba Nation advocates, must in continuation of their activities not rest their oars on the ship of State, but intensify such by taking the lead in the quest for this new reality, by reaching out to like minded nationalities across the country to achieve the constitutional change for a better, stable and prosperous tomorrow for Nigerians.
Prince Agbetuyi is a Professor of Comparative Arts & World History at the Edutronix Institute, London.
Use Your Penis: Hopes, Expectations And Realities Of African Migrants In Europe
By Leo Igwe
The issue of migration to Europe has been in the news. There has been intense discussion on how to tackle the flow of migrants to, not from, Europe. There have been reports of boats carrying migrants capsizing or missing on the Mediterranean Sea. Many Africans have died trying to enter Europe via the Sahara desert. North African and European countries have taken measures to curb illegal migration and human trafficking. Still, the migration flow out of Africa continues and shows no signs of abating. Why has the migration of Africans or migration from Africa become such a huge problem? What are the hopes, experiences and realities of these migrants?
In August I was invited to speak at a seminar on migration. The focus was on the migration of Africans to Europe. The event took place in Bergen, Norway. As a doctoral student, I lived in Germany for six years. I was invited to speak at programs on migration. Governmental and nongovernmental agencies in Denmark and Germany organized the events. I did not find these events interesting because the focus was on human trafficking and the role of African juju and witchcraft. Do not get me wrong. Human trafficking is a huge problem and needs to be addressed. But we have to tackle the problem from the root. These events were by my estimate a complete waste of time and money because organizers and participants were not ready to tell themselves the truth, face the facts and address the real issue. They want to make themselves feel good and privileged while talking about these helpless Africans streaming to their shores. Organizers were more interested in marginal voodoo, and oath-taking issues. They made it seem as if there was something unusual about African migration. But there was not. Migration is as old as human beings. Humans from all races and regions have been migrating from one region to another, from one country or continent to another. Before this recent wave of migration out of Africa, people from Europe, America, and Asia have been migrating to Africa. They are still migrating for business, social, economic, religious, and political reasons.
Contemporary African migration is mainly economic. It is driven by poverty, miserable living conditions, and the devastation of African economies by European, Asian, and American companies. To tackle the problem of migration, African economies must be fixed. The continent must realize an economic leap. Now instead of focusing on the economic roots of the problem and how to address them, many Europeans and Americans expend energy discussing trivialities, such as the role of voodoo and so-called powerful witch doctors in Nigeria. Well, at these events, I told the organizers the bitter truth. I told them to forget this juju or voodoo talk and face the reality: the destruction and revival of African economies. I told the organizers what they did not want to hear. And they never invited me back.
But this time around it was different. The organizers were not Europeans or Americans. A Nigerian student at the University of Bergen staged the event. He contacted me some months ago, drawing my attention to the plight of African migrants in Norway. He explained how many who travel to Norway and other European countries had their hopes and expectations dashed. Many who migrate to this country or other European countries end up entrapped. They are compelled to go into things they did not plan to do. Many migrants end up in a new form of slavery, in a marriage to a European citizen. Left with the option of going back to Africa at the end of their study or marrying to get the documents to stay, many end up contracting a marriage, in many cases a paper or document marriage. These marriages entrap them, they turn these migrants into errand boys and girls. Many of them are mistreated. They suffer silently. If they misbehaved, their partners would threaten to report them to the authorities and get them deported. I was told that many in the African migrant communities were not helping matters. Someone told me that he approached some migrants seeking and wanting to know how he could navigate migration issues. But the person told him: “Use your penis”. I guess for a female it would have been a case of: Use your vagina. While studying in Germany, some African migrants told me how they were sexually exploited, and dehumanized before they could get legal documents to stay in the country. One woman told me that everyman who wanted to help her wanted to sleep with her.
So, the program was cathartic. It provided a space to let out these pains, sufferings, disappointments, and frustrations.
The event brought together ‘free-will’ migrants and Norwegians. The panelists were from Ghana, South Sudan, Nigeria, and Belarus. I was the only international guest on the panel. Other panelists discussed the hurdles that they have faced, and the challenges that they confronted trying to live and integrate in Norway. As one panelist noted, many who come to study were unable to find a job at the end of their program. In many cases, they graduated and found out that there was no job for them, or they were unable to speak the local language, which was a requirement for many jobs. Another panelist from Ghana, married to a Norwegian, discussed her challenges as a migrant parent in Norway. She recounted how her child had suffered racism in the school. She narrated an experience where the child did a group assignment with four other white Norwegian children. And the teacher gave her child four marks for the assignment and other group members five marks.
There was some discussion on illegal migration and the risks involved. Some Norwegians in the audience noted that many African migrants knew about the risks they could face migrating to Europe. And still, they decided to embark on the risky journey. There was a lot of focus on migrants and their experiences traveling from Africa. However, little or no attention was paid to the European connection with the problem, the fact that western foreign economic policies have devastating effects on African economies. Africa is a market for Western goods including Norwegian stockfish. Apparently Europe needs African markets not African migrants. Western multinationals are relentlessly plowing and plundering the resources of Africa in ways that have displaced the local populations. African professionals are leaving in droves. They are migrating to work in the West and the Middle East. So, Western economies profit from the migration flow and the cheap labor it provides. Western countries benefit from the economic status quo that has turned Africans into migrants and refugees in Europe and America. To contain the flow of migrants to Europe, the situation in Africa must change. African economies must begin to grow and improve. Western governments must end the economic exploitation of Africa.
Dr. Igwe directs the Advocacy for Alleged Witches.
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