COVID-19: African Immigrants and Matters Arising

By Francis Onabis

I woke up this morning, with shocking news. In Verona Italy 100 out of 140 immigrants tested positive for the dreaded coronavirus. The story is the same in Milan and other cities around Italy. This occurrence begs for the question, is it possible God made African so bad that we just can’t figure out what is right or wrong. Obey simple orders; most importantly we don’t want to help ourselves.

How do we really help a person who does not want to help himself or herself? Some people blame this on former colonial masters or the white people. They came to our continent and change the way we do things forever. Others blame it on racism, but nobody has ever looked in the mirror and says we are our own problems.

Most African nations got their independence more than 60 years ago. A country like South Africa and a few other nations got their independence in the 80/90s. If a man at 60, just can’t figure out what he wants to do with his life something is seriously wrong.



This brings us to questions of immigrant not following simple rules of their host nations. Let’s face the fact you came to someone else house uninvited. He took you in, gave you shelter and food. You turn around and spit on his face. If you were in his shoes, how will you react? Will you throw his things out? Call him names or even fight him? Whatever your answer is be rest assured what goes around comes around.

I am of the opinion that most Africans will call me a sell-out or black man with a white soul. I honestly believe as somebody who has basically lived half of his life in Italy, I stand a better chance to make the case for both the immigrants and the host nations. I came to Italy when there were few blacks in this country. Back then most of the blacks were students. Then there was a lot of respect for both ways.

From the time I came here, I realized that black people were less than 0.01% of the entire population. I made up my mind that if I want to succeed, I must work very hard, respect the people around me as they respect me. This decision has worked for me for almost three decades. I strongly believe if the new waves of immigrants should leave behind their attitude, take this place as home instead of a war zone, and integrate with the populace, they have a greater chance of success. Let’s find that common ground by learning the local language of your host nations and their culture.

Most of all, love them as you love yourselves and your country of origin. For example, if you can’t speak the local language, how do you work itch free? Ultimately, if you are not working how do you live that life you dreamed of before risking your life to come to Europe or wherever you find yourself. When that purpose is defeated, you turn to beg or committing crimes that will end you in jail. The choice is ours. You want respect, dignity, then you’ve got to earn it and work hard for it.

On the part of our host nation, personally I know you have demonstrated your affections for immigrant’s time without numbers and you are still doing it. Its heart grading to accept uninvited guests in your home or country. The people agitating for the stoppage of immigrants, I hear your voice. I honestly believe you have a reason to be angry. I think its morally unjust to let these immigrants die on the high seas. But since they are here let’s all join hands together with the government to find a workable solution acceptable to all.

The majority of these immigrants are youth and educated to some degree. The question now is how do we make them useful to themselves, society and not a menace?

1- ORIENTATION CAMP: I would suggest the government replace the present camps with orientation camp. This camp should be run by the military. Every immigrant must be compelled to stay in the camp at least for six months. This will enable them to learn the language of the host nation. Inculcate in them discipline and train them for any job they want to learn. After 6-12 months at the orientation camp, they will be ready to face the challenges of living in a civilized society.

2- GOOD BEHAVIOR: All immigrants must be made to sign a good conduct agreement. Should they violate the terms of the agreement, they will be sent back to their respective country.

3- RESIDENCE PERMIT: After undergoing this training, the host government should give the immigrants resident permits so they can work and fully contribute to the economy of the host nation.

4- ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS: Everyone would agree with me there are people benefiting from the movement of immigrants either from Africa, Asia or the Middle East. The EU government must work with the African government to help identify the people behind this crime. It’s also imperative that the host nations must work diligently with the police to fish out the other partners in crime on this side of the shores. Without a coordinated effort, it will be difficult to stop illegal immigrants coming into the EU.

5- EQUALITY: The EU governments must look at Africa in a different light. They should be treated as equal partners, not just a continent filled with poverty and diseases. The world and EU government should stop given aids to African countries. It has never worked and will never work. The purpose of the donations has always been defeated and will always be defeated. In light of this, I would suggest the EU government encourage EU investors to invest in key projects in Africa. Example- agriculture, electricity, and infrastructure, etc. the EU government should guarantee this investment with the current aid package set aside for African countries. This way, the investors can tap into the raw material market and highly skilled labor force in Africa. This way, they will be creating jobs and the Europeans making money. This is a win-win situation.

Francis Onabis is a Nigerian residing in Italy

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