[ 02. Jul 2007 ]

A Plea to Abolish Visa Trade

Isn't it ironic? In those days the slave merchants went to Africa, exploited and forced the inhabitants to relinquish their responsibilities, and robbed them of their dignity. These human traders then shared the slaves among themselves without the latter's consent. And now that the descendants of the former slaves are willing to embark on similar voyage voluntarily, the door is being closed ala visa.


The transportation of Africans to America and the Caribbean from the 16th to the 19th centuries known as slave trade was eventually abolished at the very time no one expected. It was like yesterday when minds of slave merchants were rendered unwholesome by contaminants pollution. Their complex mental state brought a seemingly endless tears to a people of the same genetic stock. But one day the tears stopped. The "new" minds started viewing the fad as crude and uncivilized. The slave owners then broke down in tears, admitting extreme cruelty. Have we forgotten so soon?

At the peak of that period, had someone stood at the market, foretold by divine inspiration that such barbarous act would soon be destroyed completely, the fragile and confused minds of that period would definitely dismiss such prophesy as hopeless optimism. Even they would have persecuted such thought like the Holy son. Likewise if someone had predicted that Saddam Hussein, an Iraqi man who ruled his people with tempestuous mind, would be conquered in a snake or mouse hole, and subsequently hanged, no one would have listened to such doomsday prophesy.

But it happened. And there comes a time when the minds of those who engage in visa trade would become repentant, having realized that such manner of acting is almost similar to the slavery period. The good thing is the fact that the crusade has already started even though it is still at the incipient stage. The EU (European Union) initiative to open its borders for the benefits of citizens of member states is commendable. Gone were the days when they too must struggle for visa before crossing one border to another.

Certain minds may consider it quite unrealistic calling for the abolition of visa trade, which has been the practice for donkey years. One needs an official on a passport, permitting the bearer to enter the country making the endorsement. However, methinks this visa thing berates the notion of freedom of movement in which all nations profess to cherish. Okay, I also understand there's limit to freedom. But we cannot overlook the impact of this phenomenon called visa. As with other things, Africans are bearing the brute. For Africans, visa has brought back tears of slavery period.

Many have perished in Italian or Spanish water. They often drown while attempting to cross to the other side of the Atlantic after their visa applications must have been rejected. Such tragedies have been shown many times on International Cable News Organisations. Majority believe the street of America for example, is paved with dollars; some do envisage harvesting euros on the trees in Europe, etc. And I am talking about youths who are skillful. Uche Nworah, the author of :: The Long Harmattan Season, has told the story of how it took him six months to reach Germany in search of a better life. Many are yet to tell their own story, while many would never be able to tell it because the dead have no story to tell.

Isn't it ironic? In those days the slave merchants went to Africa, exploited and forced the inhabitants to relinquish their responsibilities, and robbed them of their dignity. These human traders then shared the slaves among themselves without the latter's consent. And now that the descendants of the former slaves are willing to embark on similar voyage voluntarily, the door is being closed ala visa. Interestingly enough, there are expectant mothers and fathers in Africa who would go the extra mile in order to deliver their babies in America or Britain or other "advanced" nations. Things like this, and or the readiness to die while pursuing lusher pastures in the Western world is what I call :: The Second Slavery Ship. It is a metaphor for inept rulers who have failed their continent - at least for now.

Africans are dying at alarming rate in order to search for a better life in America or Europe or even Asian countries (Do I need to repeat?). Some have been knocked out due to mental and physical insult. Some have been subjected to inhumane interrogation at different embassies. We have been told of a winner of American Lottery Visa who was asked during an interview the exact position her husband enjoys most when making love! Or the colour of her husband's favourite underwear! Some have been shot while attempting to beat border patrols. Some have frozen to death. It is sometimes a mixed up situations which can even confuse the most enlightened ones. Abolition of visa trade may be a practical way to curb human trafficking, which has become a global big business.

But who cares? Let them perish - all of them if need be. The world population is on the verge of alarming anyway. These people are just breeding like pigs, and without contributing to the development of the world. They are parasites who could not advance their own course of thought. Theirs is an environment where the strong pummel the weak, and the latter much of a crawler to fight for the best portion. It is a society where a soldier loves peace, and a Bishop war. They solely rely on the Western world to feed them, cancel their debts, and greedily demand reparation for slavery. Do they still live on trees? Do they think at all?

Whereas Rudolph Lewis, Editor Chicken Bones: A Journal, says "Africa gave up enslaved men, women, and children by the hundreds of thousands who brought America many gifts (not only labor but music, dance, and words) that have enriched the cultural and social life of the modern United States... Africa also supplied the uranium (of Congo mines) used to produce the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki..." Obviously this is not enough for African continent to be regarded as one in a million. It must do than just begging for aids here and there. Its rulers must get started, for apparently they have been in a blissful sleep while others are burning the candle at both ends to maintain highest standard of living - for their citizens.

So I am going to argue here that this visa thing is a class thing. The more a country is respected in terms of international economic power, the more its citizens are exempted from visa burden. The so-called advanced or industrial nations allow their citizens to cross borders without hindrance. For example, the United States of America waives visa in the case of citizens from Canada, Germany, Italy, United Kingdom, Japan, France and so on. In return American citizens are visa free to many places on earth. The twenty-five member states of European Union also open borders for their citizens to cross with absolute ease. There is also Schengen Staten comprises of Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Austria, France, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Luxembourg, Portugal, Spain, and Sweden. A bearer of such visa can use it to cross any of the members borders.

But how can I agitate for Africans to be visa free to the rest of the world when they even need visa before travelling within their continent. What the policy makers have failed to realize however, is that the more people are restricted, the more the urge for them to loose free. Human nature does not enjoy being caged. Perhaps the thirst for migration would decline if people know they can actually move without hindrance. I remember how my uncles and aunts used to travel to "London" or "Yankee" without any aim of settling there. Those were the days when Nigerians were visa free to Britain, and when American or European visas were not a do or die affair.

How can I be calling for a visa free world in this era of terrorism! Am I so insensitive? Where was I on the day bomb went off in Britain and Spain respectively killing hundreds of innocent people? Where was I on 9/11? In fact, America should deport all undocumented aliens in its midst. Since America is still practicing death penalty, an act other "civilised nations" abhor, it can go further to get rid off all criminals in the region. Of course I am aware that the so-called terrorists might exploit such generosity of visa free world to perpetrate their nefarious acts. Yet we can find solution - if we want - without necessary punishing innocent soul whose aim is basically freedom and, or lusher pastures.

In conclusion, I should not forget to mention the arrogance of certain embassies in Nigeria and Africa at large. Apart from the ill-treatment of visa applicants, their passports are often damaged as well. If visa was refused, the passport would be badly stamped. Why? Is it a crime to apply for a visa? If an application for a visa was unsuccessful, why not return the passport without tampering with it? Under what law could someone tamper with another woman's property and go scot-free! Lord Embassies do it to Africans whenever the former arrogantly stamp passports without issuing visas. I don't know about you but my Nigerian passport is very dear to me. But I know that if slavery could be abolished, so is this visa thing. En, abolish am.

This article by Hakeem Babalola was published first on 27 June 2007 @ ::