How to be a good African
I like to think I am a good African – or at least that having visited nearly a dozen countries in Africa and Europe, I can say something about what it means to be a good African.
I see it in your eyes, the question: How do I travel to so many countries so quickly? You are right to ask. It is not by paying anyone money. I have no travel agent who secures visas for me. I have no special connections.
I just decided one day to stop being an ordinary African and become a good African. An ordinary African is confined to his/her country or subregion like a chick in an egg that never hatches.
An ordinary African – or, God forbid, a bad African – will never see another country outside their subregion, except perhaps illegally, by boat or through some desert, in both of which cases you are as likely to survive as you are likely to receive an email about money from a real Nigerian prince.
We both know you do not desire death. So, swallow your pride and listen.
A good African knows his place
Now, don’t take this the wrong way. Knowing your place is simple to understand.
You know that the only place where you belong – that is, assuming you are not an undesirable minority or vulnerable person in your own country – is your own country.
If you are a skilled professional, especially, you do not want to be a traitor by desiring anything other than living in the country of your birth and origin. Have a conscience. Don’t add to brain drain.
Respect the good men and women who worked on the Khartoum Process and stay in Africa. The Europeans, and especially Germans, are not spending all that time and effort with your leaders to stop the Europe-bound flow of people like you for nothing.
No one is saying don’t ever travel, but knowing your place means realising that to travel, you need a compelling reason. You are not an American or European who just finishes school, decides “I want to see the world” and books a ticket online.
This is the most important rule of all and you will find this coming up a lot as we move forward.
A good African knows that migration is a dirty word
Migration is a dirty, dirty word. Migration causes instability. No right-thinking, good African would wake up and decide they want to move to another continent.
I know Americans and Europeans do this, but it is mostly to help people and all. Who will you be helping when you decide to abandon your country? What value will you be adding to Europe or America?
Why would you see a politically and economically stable country and just decide you want to move there? A good African does not allow the things of this world to determine their choices in life.
I know, I know. You are thinking you are a professional who will not be a burden and you just want to exercise your right to movement, blah blah blah. Those are not rights a good African desires. Contentment is a virtue. And a good African is virtuous.
A good African doesn’t complain about paperwork
A good African does not ask why they are required to produce a certain document or sign a certain document. If it is on a list, a good African produces it without complaining.
A good African is truthful and doesn’t have creases on their forehead when answering the questions: “Are you a member of a terrorist organisation?”, “Have you ever been involved with torturing someone?”, “Are you coming to our awesome country to engage in prostitution?”, “Have you ever been involved with human trafficking?”, or “Do you plan to engage in espionage activities while in our awesome country?”
A good African does not covet humans that do not belong to him/her
To be clear, all love is not the same. Some types of love are regular, while others lead to severe and official consequences.
The latter can lead to paperwork that can radically affect your ability to travel, thereby subverting the necessary process of verifying good Africans. Do not covet this extreme consequence.
I am not implying that you want to do a fake marriage. I know you believe in love and all, but I am saying you shouldn’t risk being associated with bad people. And isn’t there a nice African you can marry?
A good African does not try to settle
As a good African, you must provide proof that you have no intention of staying one minute beyond the period of grace as specified on your visa. One way of doing this is by making sure you always have your return ticket with you at all times.
Don’t be proud. You are not an American or European who can just travel and decide on a whim when they want to return.
Not knowing exactly when and how you will return is bad and is a sign that you are one of those dangerous Africans who sneak away upon landing in Europe or America and try to stay there forever, ruining a country that took a lot of time and energy to make perfect.
A good African discourages other Africans from spoiling chances for other good Africans
You must frequently speak up against those bad Africans who smuggle themselves onto boats or through deserts and spoil things for people like you. Regularly refer to the Khartoum Process. Write against Africans who give you a bad name.
Embassies should be able to read that you are of the opinion that dangerous Africans who try to settle do not represent you.
Say occasionally that Africans who have somehow settled abroad should come back home and stop embarrassing the rest of us good Africans who need to travel for conferences and training and medical treatment and short holidays.
A good African always comes back home
No one can read your mind. You must prove that you will return home by swearing that you have strong family and economic ties to the country where you belong to for life.
It is nicer if you have a wife and many children who you could never abandon because you are a child of God. And a nice bank account that shows that you are not poor or anything.
Sometimes, however, coming back home is not sufficient. Depending on what country you travelled to, you may be required to write to the kind embassy that granted you the privilege of travelling, telling them that, as you swore in the beginning, you are truly back in your country avoiding all temptation that may have come from bad Africans abroad.
The temptation was great, but you had given them your word. And the word of a good African is their bond.
From the December 2016/January 2017 print edition