The book Americanah by author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (http://chimamanda.com/books/americanah/) is a great read for anyone who wants to dig into the challenges that continental born Africans face when immigrating to the Western World. It tackles the concept of race and racism in a world where it is often a taboo subject or the writer is accused of being overly sensitive. In this sense it is a great read, however, what is most intriguing about this particular book is the ideology that is discussed and promoted throughout the world that Africa is a place that must be escaped for a better life.
In one scene Obinze one of the main characters is at a dinner party of the elite in London and they are discussing mundane issues that are irrelevant to most Africans. However, one thing is interesting about this particular scene is the fact that a woman who is most likely British was part of a NGO that addressed “Brain Drain” of doctors leaving the African Continent. Here is a short recap of the scene, “Speaking of which, I’ve just got involved with this fantastic charity that’s trying to stop the UK from hiring so many African health workers.” Alexa said “There are simply no doctors and nurses left on that continent. It’s an absolute tragedy! African doctors should stay in Africa” (Adichie, 2013, p. 338).
Of course there is irony in this-the UK creating a charity to prevent the hiring of African health workers. While it may seem noble the very development of the UK and other western powers is the primary reason that Africa is resource rich but the people are the poorest worldwide. This is another topic altogether but it is worth stating the obvious!!
At what point will it become common knowledge that “Brain Drain” is not only hurting the continent’s ability to develop but is most likely literally killing the very people that made it possible for that young person to get a degree to even be eligible to leave.
The Kwame Nkrumah International Conference in Vancouver, BC last week hosted a workshop that addressed the “Brain Drain” of medical doctors leaving Ghana to go abroad directly after they finish schooling. What was most perplexing was the fact that about 50% of fee paying students left the country for the chance to live a “better” life in America or the UK. What struck many in the audience as odd was that these students despite the challenges of becoming licensed in another country were willing to take the chance even if that meant many years of economic and social suffering. Often immigrants (particular African) are treated with such low levels of respect it is despicable, they face unknown accounts of oppression, they can end up dead like Ali Ahmed Mohammed who was killed in DC while at DC9 a local nightclub on October 16, 2010. He was killed by the owner of the club and 3 employees at the club with no regard for his life here is a link to an article about the incident-(http://www.ethiopianreview.com/index/29832); and in some cases must find that life in the Western world is harsher than the reality that they so desperately wanted to escape. Despite the challenges that will be faced yearly droves of bright African minds leave the continent for a variety of personal/individual reasons.
The mentality that promotes “Brain Drain” is a very individualistic mentality that is fueled by the capitalist system which dictates the ideology of society. It promotes individual economic wealth over the social, political and economic wealth of a nation and continent. This ideology is what is fueling “Brain Drain” and making it possible for young Africans who could use their talents to help Africa develop move to America or the UK and struggle for years to become the doctor that they dreamed of as primary school students. However, as these young Africans move to the west they are unwittingly participating in the underdevelopment of Africa by doing the following: 1) leaving the African continent in a lurch without a cadre of intelligentsia to help move Africa to its rightful place in the world; 2) providing economic and intellectual assistance to the country in which they land-these students are paying taxes, working in companies that provide services and most importantly they are using their intellectual talents to contribute to the development of the western world; 3) they are supporting and advocating the worldview that Africa is not worthy of well trained doctors, nurses, teachers, professors and the such and that the only way to be respected and prosper is to go to the west and 4) finally they are helping the western world to devalue Africa and deepen its pot of underdevelopment.
Despite the large number of Africans who have migrated to the west to seek “better conditions” there is easily a way to fix this problem. There must be a great migration of continental born and diaspora born Africans who are willing to move back home and lend their talents to the development process. However, prior to this happening one must adopt an alternative ideology which promotes collectivism over individualism. The narrative needs to be repainted that Africa needs Africans who are willing to become the Kwame Nkrumah’s, George Padmore’s, Kwame Ture’s and Shirley Graham Du Bois’s of this generation. The transition will not be easy and in some cases the planning may take a few years, however, one must ask themselves if a little sacrifice today is worth freedom, unification and liberation tomorrow!!!!
Living our lives in service to Africa and African people will ensure that the next generation of African people will live in better conditions then those that came before them!!!!
Adichie, Chimamanda, Ngozi (2013). Americanah. Anchor Books, New York, New York.