AEFJN  participated in a migration colloquium organised by the Jesuit Refuge Services (JRS) in the upbeat of the EU elections and made position clear on the issue. Perhaps, apart from climate change debate, no subject garnered as much as migrations in Europe while the election campaigns raged on. Most of the debates have focused on the downstream sector, highlighting the social consequences of migrations on Europe in the last decades and how it would affect Europe in the future, what the EU has done right or wrong about it, the disagreement among member states arising from their respective positions and other similar concerns. Similarly, the European Union (EU) has in the past had meetings with African leaders seeking to reduce or rather stop the influx of migrants across the Mediterranean Sea to Europe from Africa. It seems that the yet unexplored alternative with regards to migration from Africa into Europe is the objectionable Donald Trump option. Let us hope that it does not come to that!

In the midst of all these, there were always strong evidences from the conversations to point the actors to the upstream sector of the phenomenon but they would prefer to look away to the other side. But the gabbage swept under the carpet today only waits to pollute the whole house tomorrow. They have treated with levity the deeper question of; why are people moving in the first place? Are they moving out of choice, or are they compelled to move out of circumstances of life? What is certain is that if people choose to move, it is a much simpler matter and such migrations do not constitute a major problem to any nation because adequate arrangements are made for such movements ab initio. Also, such migrations come with a lot of values and have been known to be great development actors to the countries of destinations. After all, majority of the American Nobel prize winners have been migrants or their descendants.

While acknowledging migrations made out of choice as a natural phenomenon which comes with great values to countries of destinations, we contend that the story is different when people are forced to migrate. Forced migration comes with numerous challenges both for the migrants and the countries of destinations. But the unanswered question remains: why are people forced to flee their countries? Why are young Africans moving out in their numbers even through the perilous Mediterranean Sea? We cite two concrete examples in history for our inferences. First, during the period of great depression, a lot of Europeans migrated to America and other parts of the world in search of greener pasture. Certainly, they were compelled to migrate because the socio-economic conditions of Europe at this period could not guarantee them living a dignified life. Secondly, and long before the experience of Europe, the Jews migrated to different parts of the world after the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem. Obviously, the socio-cultural climate of their environment threatened their very existence, and they migrated to other places where they could find security.

We can easily infere that living a dignified human life in a climate of peace is an authentic and universal human NEED. Whenever the economic well-being and security of a people are threatened, it triggers off migration. Poverty and insecurity have always been fingered as the two key drivers of migration. It gets more severe when both are present at the same time. Unfortunately, poverty and insecurity (conflict) breed and reinforce each other but how these two key drivers of migrations are treated in the international diplomacy with respect to Africa  by the global actors  leaves one in limbo about their anticipated outcome.

We must also, at this point equally underline  that not all forced migrations have been driven by the so-called Poverty and Insecurity. Recall that tens of millions of Africans were forcefully shipped away to other continents in the Trans-Atlantic and Arab slave trades. These forced migrations were not in any way motivated by the poverty and conflicts in the lands of the victims.

Therefore, it is imperative to look beyond poverty and insecurity in our quest to understand the root of the current wave of migration. However, venturing into this dimension of search is very unsettling because it is an ethical voyage and touches what is most fundamental and truthful about us as human beings. It is a voyage that we would prefer not to embark upon because it challenges the very foundation of our current civilisation and all its values.

Viewed critically, the human mind contains a strong element of dysfunction[1] which constantly seeks to dominate; take advantage of others and make a monument of self even out of the sufferings of others. Invariably, it seeks only power and control even in the name justice and God.  It is communitarian as well as personal. That is the mindset that was behind slavery and the colonialization of Africa. It is the mindset that has created and sustains our so-called democratic and economic systems that legitimise and reinforce systems of poverty and conflicts in Africa. The status of trans-national corporations as legal entities through which the dysfunational mindset unleashes terror on African communities in order to grab land, lute her natural resources and destroy her ecosystem without responsibility for their action is the height of this mindset project.  It is the mindset behind “The pact for the continuation of Slavery” through which France has legitimatized her continued lutting of Africa resources and then turns back to label Africa a poor continent which she aids. Hence, the ominous silence of the international community at the on-going genocide in Cameroun. It is the same mindset that drives neo-colonialists wave in Africa, so why would they raise their finger against France. It is the same mindset that drives terrorism through religious institutions. Science and technology have only magnified the destructive tendency that this insatiable dysfunction has brought upon the planet, other life forms and other human beings[2]. Poverty and conflicts are only the by-products of this mindset. When an individual wakes up from his personal dysfunction, he quickly sees himself powerless in the structures already created by the collective mindset. It will require a synergy of awakened individuals to break away from the system and enthrone a different system with new consciousness that serves life.

On the flip side of this dysfunctional mindset is the deeper human core that always wants to live in freedom and dignity even if it means passing through the crucible of fire to achieve it. These are the primary genes and drivers of migration. The good news is that each human being has the capacity to choose between these dimensions of his or her being from where to live and relate to others; and here lies the imperative of the ethical choice. The former leads to ego serving and only creates structures of domination, controle, poverty and conflicts while the later leads to compassion and creates structure of solidarity, peace and harmony.  Any liberating work toward the eradication of forced migrations must aim at dismantling the mindset that created the systems that force people to flee. As Albert Einstein aptly underlined, “you cannot solve a problem with the same consciousness that created it”.

Unfortunately, the journey of the African migrants to Europe is even a journey from poverty to destitution because the same mindset that created the economic system of poverty and conflicts in Africa has equally created an economic system of exclusion in Europe. The system makes it impossible for the migrants to be integrated in Europe, but it is a system that will become a dangerous gun powder for Europe and the so-called developed countries at the long run. The pressure cannot be resisted for too long if genuine channels are not employed to address the drivers of migration. Sad as it may sound, any solution that does not acknowledge the dysfunctional mindset which triggers human-induced migration is only a veiled problem.  Any genuine effort to ameliorate the situation will have to take into consideration the realities behind the current phenomenon. The perspective must be widened: it is not about Europe or Africa or indeed about any particular nation or continent. It should be seen for what it is. Even though Africa appears to be on the spot, migration concerns the destiny of our collective humanity.

[1] Eckhart Tolle, “A new Earth: Awaking to your life’s purpose”. Penguin Group,  2005

[2] ibid