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OPININON - The irony and agony of brain drain

2021-04-01  Staff Reporter

OPININON - The irony and agony of brain drain
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Africa is experiencing another Scramble, but this time around it is a scramble for Europe, not for Africa. Many Africans are on a continuous exodus to Europe and leaving Africa in large numbers, the majority vowing not to return to Africa, their Motherland, while others sojourn there as contract workers or mere unskilled labourers. 

Whatever form this Scramble manifests itself, the consequences and impact thereof are similar. At the end of the whole process, it is the African continent that is robbed of its energetic workforce and manpower, in most cases in specialized fields and different rare expertise. 

It becomes a vicious triangle which Mazrui talks of in his documentary, “The Africans: A Triple Heritage,” in which Africans were taken to the Americas as slaves, worked on the cotton plantations, then the raw material sent to Europe where clothes were made and transported to Africa and exchanged with slaves. In the process Rodney’s book, “How Europe Underdeveloped Africa,” becomes the opposite of, “How Africans Developed Europe and All the Western World.” It is amazing how Africans are flooding Europe and other Western countries, including Russia and China, seeking better job opportunities despite being degraded and humiliated in most countries. In some ports, Africans are sold and bought as slaves, but surprisingly the march to Europe continues unabated. 

What has happened with the continent with the most valuable natural resources such as minerals? Mazrui is on record maintaining that Africa is the only continent endowed with so many minerals yet; it is inhabited by the poorest people. 

Namibian experts have not been spared as quite a number of them are heading to Canada, the United Kingdom, the USA, Germany and other countries for better job prospects. In some cases, Namibians are known to have applied for political asylum in those countries. This is agonistic as the country is rated as one of the most stable countries in the world political-wise. Few factors have driven many Africans to emigrate to overseas countries and sometimes within the SADC Region and within the continent itself.

The push factors

The situation in terms of employment in many African countries is pushing many Africans including Namibians to seek greener pastures elsewhere. Add the unconducive political situations in many African countries to the list, which contributes to the emigration of brains elsewhere. While great and constructive brains are being sought in the developed world, it is ironic that they are seen as threats in Africa, Namibia being no exception. While the developing countries are falsely appealing and asking for academicians for development of the country, the same countries are bent on frustrating and detain these intellectuals, hence sparking a wave of exodus on a massive scale. When these academicians and intellectuals are usually not appreciated in their own countries, where else can they go? Of course, they cannot allow themselves to be frustrated forever hence think outside the box and find places and countries where their services are appreciated. We still have academicians in Namibia with Masters degree qualification who are appointed as primary school teachers. This means the Master’s degree is not put into good use and therefore will be lying fallow and rot in the wardrobe.

The pull factors

Although the Western countries are not homes to many Africans, they usually find the atmosphere being cordial in many aspects. Yes, there is discrimination and humiliation against Africans in these countries, but sometimes these economic refugees find themselves without any choice. In addition, the grass sometimes appears greener. Living and working wages there might be better than the ones in motherlands. The political aroma might be accommodative and conducive from a state of being witch-hunted. 

Unavoidable consequences

It is painful to witness Africans being sold and bought by fellow Africans who are in desperation to leave Africa thinking that life will be fairer on the other side of Jordan. However, sometimes, the hell these Africans are running away from might be worse than the hell they are hurrying to.

The new trend

In all intents, the aim of the scramble this time around is to indirectly rob Africa of its workforce and manpower subtly. In this process, there is no force used, but Africans themselves emigrate to the Western World, China and Russia for greener pastures, unlike in the earliest scramble when their territories were forcefully demarcated amongst the colonisers without the consent and knowledge of the African themselves. 

Former colonisers, who come to Africa through scrambling, do so in a subtle and neo-colonialist manner. It is Africans who are under developing Africa and developing the Western World and her developing partners. In an effort to slow and curb this situation, mother countries in Africa should be tolerant towards divergent views from these experts and academicians and create conducive situations for better employment and accommodative political panorama. 


2021-04-01  Staff Reporter

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