Spiderman and the African Plague


…The never ending cycle dearth

About a week ago, Mamoudou Gassama rescued a four year old boy hanging from a balcony in Paris, France. Gassama left his native, Mali as a teenager in 2013. He crossed the Sahara desert through Burkina Faso, Niger and Libya before going through the Mediterranean sea to Italy in 2014 at his second attempt.

He lives in a squalid migrant lodging in Montreuil. He was given a residency permit while awaiting full citizenship. Gassama was given a job in the fire brigade too for saving a life.

After his heroic act in France, news filtered in that Gassama was offered the post of a General in the Malian Army. Guess what? He turned it down. This for me was a poor decision. What a great example he would have been to the little ones back home.

So what’s the problem with Africa and Africans? Why won’t this 22 year-old accept the offer of the exalted position of a General? After all, his story will change through this “fortunate promotion”. The truth may not be too far from the dearth confronting Africa. Africa is besieged with a lot of challenges: poverty, poor education, corruption, poor health care, infrastructural deficit and the biggest of them all bad leadership. As a matter of fact, all our problems can be traced to poor leadership.

Looking through the social media last week and seeing people’s reactions, I realised a lot of people supported Gassama’s decision to stay back in France and be a fire fighter. Some even suggested that they would have done same.

The sad reality is that many people in Nigeria will travel abroad, if they have the means. Many will leave the known for the unknown. Many are even trading their good jobs for some lesser venture, all in the name of travelling out. So, you find Nigerians in Canada, Italy, and UAE and anywhere considered favourable other than Nigeria.

Do I really blame people for leaving their Mother-land? Absolutely not! Come-on, this place is tough. Life expectancy is low. Jobs are scarce; people aren’t getting married for economic reasons, governments aren’t paying salaries as at when due, and the list is endless.

Unfortunately, things haven’t been this bad.  Sometimes ago, I read about a man in 1982 who bought $8000 at N6000. This shows the Naira was stronger than the dollar at that time. Apart from that, Americans were denied visas to Nigeria. So qualifying our exodus out of the country as being adventurous is far from it; what then are we looking for in some parts of the world?

Is this how Africa will continue to lose skilled and un-skilled hands? What happened to allegiance? What happened to loyalty? Is our marriage with Nigeria a marriage of convenience? Is it for good and for better only? Beyond the curse of leadership on Africa, I think we have lost our sense of value, or how do you explain travelling out as an achievement? All we think about now is the good life, our belly, the rat race, earn good money and live our dreams. Frankly, I think there is something wrong with the ideology of life in this part of the world.

So, who are we abandoning this land for? Who is going to deliver this place from bad governance and manipulative leadership? Does the word sacrificial living mean anything to anyone? Medical doctors, Academicians and even Pastors just want to exit this “messed” up place.

What a pity! I will like to conclude with the immortal words of J F Kennedy “And so, my fellow Americans; ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” Despite the enormity of challenges confronting this country, I believe we can rise and succeed. It is time each one of us begins to think of how to influence our sphere of life.


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