Some of the Africans stranded in Lebanon have given their various reasons for not wanting to return to their countries. Their reasons can be summed up in one word - shame. They don't want to go back without anything to show for their time in Lebanon. It seems to have escaped them that given the circumstances, they should be forgiven for not taking anything back. Unless I'm mistaken and Africans are a cold callous bunch lacking in human compassion for their war ravaged countrymen.
After all, the news about Middle East crisis is dominating news headlines the world over. There was a representative of Hamas (I think), on Nigerian current affairs programme 120 minutes discussing the conflict. Nobody in the world could fail to know, or at least have heard of what is happening. But Africans still feel that a war is not enough to excuse them for not bringing back a fortune from the neighbours of the original land of milk and honey they left their countries for. Or at least a cow and a beehive. Something. Anything.
This happens all too often, and I can mainly speak for Nigerians. Nigerians abroad sometimes stay in menial jobs which they'd rather not do (often looking over their shoulder for immigration officials), because they're too ashamed to go back home. "What do I have to show for my time here?", they ask. It isn't that they can't reestablish themselves back home in whatever capacity they left originally, because quite often, they can. But they won't go before they've built a house back home, or at least bring back some gold from Dick Whittington's London. Nobody wants to return a loser, which is fair enough. Sadly, it reinforces the notion that "abroad" is heaven, and that it is impossible to fail once one leaves Nigeria's borders.
People end up putting their lives on hold because nobody wants to return in so-called shame. Take the woman who says she left Nigeria when she was 10-years-old. Why on earth should she have to prove anything to anybody in Nigeria? The woman who even says that she doesn't feel like Liberia is home anymore says, "if I arrived back after 37 years - just me and my handbag - everyone will laugh at me." And this isn't even her home. The Ghanaian also refuses to return empty-handed. The people back home are so used to Western Union Money Transfer, that when the source of that cash comes back they're expected to bring the bank with them.
It's an indication of the state of Africa that people would rather stay in a warzone, than return home with just the clothes on their backs.
Whereas some have too much shame, others have very little. The body of Funso Williams has barely gone cold, but the Yahoo boys have assumed his wife's identity and are firing off emails across the globe. The BBC World Service is broadcasting a programme on Monday morning on combating the crime associated with such emails, featuring interviews with Scotland Yard, and EFCC "tzar", Nuhu Ribadu. I'll put a better link up when the World Service schedules website is fixed.
I tried to make some capital out of Funso Williams's death, but failed. (Don't give me that look, I'm a journalist, and we peddle stories). Israel and Hezbollah had taken up all the pages on the Sundays, so a political murder in one of the world's largest democracies disappears into the news ether. During a google trawl for Funso Williams news, I came across his campaign website. Unsurprisingly, it hasn't been updated to display news of his murder. The campaign slogan "Keep Faith Alive" is even more poignant after his death. People's faith Nigerian democracy is precisely the thing that may have died with him.