Migration Pressure in Ghana? - A personal story
When the huge wave of Refugees coming to Germany reached its climax, I was surprised to see how many Ghanaians were amongst them. Having lived in Ghana for four years and knowing the Ghanaian mentality a little bit, I knew that these were friendly and easy going people. Most welcome. But then again: I was surprised - have the conditions in Ghana deteriorated so severely in the past years that migration pressure grew dramatically? I haven´t been back since we left the country in 2006, but we are in contact with people living there on a permanent basis. They say that things like traffic, power outages and housing prices have gotten much worse. This is nothing that makes Ghana different from many other countries around the world. Generally speaking Ghana is still a model for most other African states. Democracy works well in a relative way (just as we can see in the US right now), the economic situation is more or less stable, and, the reconciliation process of 2003/2004 dealing with the dictatorial abuse led to a respectful handling of the subject through Ghanaian society. Education for all, the single most important pillar of development in any country, is on track. All in all Ghana went through an impressive development and most people have reason to look forward positively. Nothing is perfect and there may always be reasons for (personal) frustration here and there. But where is the unbearable situation that one should run from? In our time (2002 - 2006) Ghana was even a role model for other countries in the region, when many refugees were taken in after neighboring Ivory Coast fell into civil war like chaos. An African nation taking in refugees from another African nation? Sure, it worked and will always work when all are willing. They surely are able, we saw that.
One day George came to me to ask for a loan. George was one of the best cooks in Accra and we had the great luck and fortune that he worked for us for a while. He had cooked in one of the best restaurants in town, but surely the lucrative offer we made him convinced him to switch sides. Much better payment, christmas extra, medical or rental insurance, moderate working hours and the option for long term engagement in the expat community surely convinced him. Apart from his main job with us, he still had extra time to cook for big events, he owned a taxi that someone was driving for him and his wife ran her own beauty parlor. He was, by all standards, a clever and successful entrepreneur. So, one day George came to me to ask for a loan. I was mildly surprised. All sorts of scenarios ran through my head, as I had a certain amount of experience with the same request by others working for us. Usually funerals or weddings would plummet many Ghanaians´ assets into the financial abyss. But George, the self-made man, the personified Ghanaian success story? He didn´t ask for a small amount, so I was curious as to what could have happened and how he intended to repay. Knowing he was well off and enjoying life by all I could see, I knew it had to be something big that was at hand. After trying to avoid telling me what lay behind his plan, I finally managed to get him to talk of his new project. He told me that he met someone who would get him to Europe without the fuss of applying for a visa himself, or buying a plane ticket and all the other bothersome hassle that go hand in hand with big travel plans. Georges´ brother was already working in France, and he´d been waiting for a moment like this, finally he could pursue his dream of working as a chef in Germany. Germany? Why would he go to Germany when his brother was already in France? Surely he mentioned Germany only because he saw his chances rising for me handing him the money. His qualities as a chef were surely high class and I could imagine him being successful anywhere, especially if he would open up his own restaurant. I would've supported him if he tried going the official way; a very difficult and very improbable way - but I would´ve liked to see him succeed and I would´ve supported him in many ways. But his plan was leading him astray unknowingly, it was doomed from the start. He met a human trafficker and he´d already paid him a couple of thousand dollars, he needed a couple of thousand more to set the fairy tale in motion. I said no and started a lenghty convincing speech tailored to fit his personal situation, picturing him crawling through the desert and/or swimming the mediterranean with no coast in sight, and, if he somehow would reach a coast, how crowds of Europeans would embrace him just to hurl him back into the sea with united zeal. And what about his wife? Would she join him, or would she wait for a sign that maybe would never come? No matter what, no matter how, his plan was guaranteed for fiasco and personal downfall. He looked at me as if I´d talked to the wall behind him, not understanding why the wall was in need of such abstruse information. He couldn´t be convinced. In his world view the trafficker was a good person offering super services. But then George wouldn´t let me know who this person was or where he operated from; perhaps deep down in his conscience he knew what he was really dealing with. Nevertheless he proclaimed to continue with his plan for a better and brighter future. Even better? Even brighter? I was flabbergasted and finally speechless. Also, I was starting to wonder wether my speech was too much of a personal intrusion. Who was I to give him a lecture on international crime syndicates, human trafficking and alleged better or worse living conditions? Was I too arrogant? Was I too much the European massa with a pointed finger? Yet, I am still convinced that trying to talk him out of it, that trying to convince him of the evil behind trafficking was the right thing to do. I have no clue what became of George. We separated ways some time after that. And that was that.
Are these people happy with their lives? Are they planning to leave? Hard to say.
Not enough tools, or not enough work?
Ghanas educated future.
Him maybe not so.
Three life guards at a beach. Extremely motivated.
Chiefs of the village.
Resort caretaker. One of his assignments: cutting down the coconuts before they hurt someone.