They return us the visit

Something is changing in our society. Immigrants no longer appear as the latent and unfortunate threat, as the uncomfortable presence, as the rejected memory of what us Europeans have been: expatriated people in other lands. Now they return us the visit that we made to them for five centuries.
A splendid television report has been transmitted in Spanish television about the whereabouts of a Senegalese immigrant, followed in every step he took until his arrival at Barcelona. The audience was alert and completely committed to the cause of the African.
It is a very well filmed story with convincing storylines and without a concession to folklore or to sentimentalism. We accompanied Ibrahim, the protagonist, since the day that he tells his family, gathered in the lower patio under the big acacia, that he has decided to encounter the call of his older brother, who has found a job for him in Barcelona.
And that his brother has been sending him money, besides the one he sends regularly to his family, to pay for the expenses of the trip and of the intermediaries.
He talks with respect and he prioritizes family values, traditions, the attachment to his land, the respect for his beautiful mother, who presides with contained tears Ibrahim’s younger brothers and his fiancée. The camera stops on her while his son’s voice expresses the emotion in front of her beauty and her human quality in the commitment that joins them and that will force them to be separated for five years. The elderly people of the place also assist with an immense dignity.
What remains clear is that he is leaving to come back. He aims at getting some money with which to palliate the disasters that colonization did on Africa’s populations, which had been self-sufficient during centuries and that saw their economies be destroyed when the metropolis demanded them to root out their crops and to plant products for industrial exploitation: cotton, peanuts, jute and sorghum as monoculture. The television report by “Documentos TV” makes an exhaustive analysis of the causes of poverty in the Third World motivated by the lootings by the colonizers, of the conquerors and of the religious fundamentalists that despised their beliefs and their costumes while they imposed theirs.
His fiancée was always up to date in his projects, but Ibrahim did not want to make sadden the rest of the family. They had both studied in Dakar and once more, the myth that only the poorest emigrate is proved false. The reality is that communities choose and sustain the most prepared people because they will find their own way more easily. Ibrahim had studied to be a quantity surveyor and she was a topographer. They speak French perfectly and they know their vernacular tongues.
After receiving the blessing of the elderly and the embrace with moderate tears of everyone else, the mother takes a water pitcher and goes behind her son pouring a fresh squirt on each step he takes, so that he finds the proper path and the fresh winds.
Without turning back his sight, when Ibrahim reaches the entrance door, he kneels down and traces nine parallel lines on the sand with his index finger, in front of an imposing silence by everyone. He does so for the paths to open before him with ease. He does not trace the tenth line because he will trace it from where he finds himself before returning to his people.
Blind governments that wanted to protect the economic interests of the large national and multinational fortunes, not being able to reject the imperious need for labor that foreigners who are better prepared than what some people has tried to make us think offer, they refill the inks of threat to our religion, to our costumes and to the achievements that were done by exploiting the natural resources of other peoples and their labor.
To survive, Europe needs the help of these people who know how to work, who has children and contributes to avoid the crash of our birth rate crisis with their contribution to social security and the maintenance of retirement pensions for a population that is growing old. The last UN report says that the European Union needs twice as many immigrants to maintain its level of development.
The conservative people with ultraliberal ideas threaten us with the dangers of a multicultural world they argue for. It is those ghettos that they contribute to create in the cities, when what sheds light and what it is urgent to favor is an intercultural dialogue that makes everyone richer.
A new mestizo culture is being born. The intelligent and fine sensitivity of government officials and of the media have the obligation to promote and to order the coexistence for everyone’s good.
Journalistic reports like these, as well as the Volunteering series that some television channels offer, are admirable examples that motivate us to convert our hopes into reality.

José Carlos Gª Fajardo
Translated by Carlos Miguélez

This article was published in the Center of Collaborations for Solidarity (CCS) on 04/18/2005