Tuesday, 19 February 2013

The Curse of living in diaspora

Certain people would think I am crazy to be washing some of Africa’s dirty linens in public, and yes I am doing exactly that. It’s the begging mentality. Don’t shoot the messenger. I have been asked to write about this and as an author, I can never resist. I have always been admired people who work. One man for himself, and God for all is what I think has made some countries develop especially in Europe. That works well but also the state carry the burden. In these countries those who work do work and very hard, yet there is a percentage that sits on their back side for the state benefit system. The benefit system was from my understanding introduced so people can have some help while they are in between jobs or when they suddenly found themselves out of work. However because of the greedy nature of human beings everywhere, some people actually decide not to work and become benefit scroungers. Don’t get me wrong, there are some genuinely fighting hard to get back to work.

 In some of the African cultures including mine, children are expected to look after the parents in old age. I don’t have a problem with that. The problem is when adults who can work sit on their backside in Africa, waiting for the relations in the diaspora to send the hard earned pounds/dollar/euro every month. It might not be hard earned money but the point is we all have a responsibility to look after ourselves. Some people have been known to resign from ‘’low paying jobs’’ in Africa because a cousin in the UK or Canada can help them. This kind of behaviour is the root of all evil in my opinion.

My article is not about about Europe though but readers think of the similarities. Most Africans would agree with me that we have always looked after each other‘s back- families and even the extended families. Nothing wrong with that but all of a sudden those who moved abroad found themselves in this difficult situation. Here is how those left home think:

·         There is so much money in the diaspora -ALWAYS.

·         You have to help them even when you say you have no money

·         They are suffering back home and they must be helped

·         If you say NO to their demands, it’s not because you don’t have but you are just being mean

·         There are so many opportunities abroad and you can’t be out of work at any point

·         So and so bought their brother/sister a house so why don’t you buy one for me?

·         You have been in the diaspora this long but you have nothing?(forgetting you were busy paying fees and helping out everyone)

·         Money and more money

·         People are always partying here, so let’s all share

·         Economic situations like recession only affect Africa, not Europe

The list is endless but it’s all about GIVE, GIVE, GIVE. To make it worse sometimes you are lucky to get a thank you even after sacrificing for them. These people do not scrounge the state, but their relatives who are working hard to sustain themselves and their family where ever they live. Even so, some people lie in order to extort money from their families abroad. There has been an increased report of relative who had actually stopped working and expect their families in the diaspora to pay their bills. Helping is good and it feels good to help somebody. Is it helping if it becomes a burden on the other person?

Here is the truth:

·         People in diaspora have got bills, University fees, mortgages etc to pay

·         People are working odd shifts in order to make ends meet

·         People are making sacrifices in order to send money to relations back home

·         Some people back in Africa live a worry free life because they know all their needs are taken care by relations in diaspora

·         When people want money they manipulate your and lie in order to make you give them more money.

·         People here have no social life as they are working most of the time to feed these demands.

 (The list is endless- Most African people in diaspora would know what I am talking about)

Do they have to do this? Yes, we have always been taught to look after our own? And yet, this has now ceased to be helping but being scrounged by our own.

Don’t get me wrong, I have done my research and I have spoken to people from Kenya, Zimbabwe, Botswana and many others and it’s the same story- working for the whole clan. What has made some of our people so lazy? Surely it should be every able bodied man’s responsibility to look after themselves rather than all the time expect hand outs from other people. Mind you in Africa it’s not the state that is scrounged, it’s those living and working in diaspora

I did ask those I spoke to what they thought went wrong?

I was told those of us abroad have made it difficult for ourselves. Here is how we helped dig our graves

·         Having left home for greener pastures or whatever reason, we have to prove to friends and relations that we made the right decision.

How do we prove this? - By claiming to have a life we do not actually have, talking money that we do not have.

·         Not telling people the truth

·         Pride

·         Just being able to say No and mean it.

The problem is once you start giving it’s hard to wean these parasites. They want more and more and more. You always feel guilty and sometimes you get so much pressure from other relations and may be in the end give.

My view - Nothing wrong with helping when you have got enough but doing this every month, being lied to and being asked to support projects that do not exist, I would call this being manipulated.

Thanks to those who agreed to talk to me on this issue.

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