5.1. Description of the Portfolio

All in all, the interview and the historical research have been key factors to understand the deconstruction of the African myth, both in terms of success and migration, and alsp to realise that the image that Europe portrays of Africa is not entirely true. Sometimes, and as discussed above, it is a real struggle for African people to be accepted in the host country and to find a job where they can succeed. Besides, Europe’s biased belief that it is almost impossible to earn a living in Africa has been dimmed taking into account the fact that, as Aliou mentions in the interview, Africa is a continent with a wide amount of chances in store for its inhabitants. Hence, the created portfolio is aimed at supporting the above-mentioned ideas.

Firstly, we invented a short story that clearly mirrors the difficulties that immigrants have to undergo when arriving to Europe alongside the possibilities to find a job and to live a successful live in the African continent. Besides, a documentary has been recorded in order to provide information about migration policies coming from real data obtained directly from official web pages and books that masterly deal with the aforementioned topic. Finally, the portfolio contains an album with pictures Aliou gave us in order to illustrate his life in Africa and, using his own words, his “shift into being a European citizen”. The cover of the portfolio highlights, with the picture of luggage, the idea of migrating in order to find a better life in another country. The globe underscores Aliou’s route from Senegal to France and, eventually, to Spain.

The video entitled “Mapping Migration: The Deconstruction of a Myth”, is the clearest example that underscores the reality hidden behind the flux of migration that is usually displayed. After a very scrupulous and deep study on migration, paying special attention to African migratory movements, it has been observed that a lot of Africans leave the country and seek for comfort in Europe. Among the countries that are usually chosen as the destination for African immigrants feature France (which, worthy of mention, is the first place Aliou emigrated to), UK, Italy, Germany or Spain. It is important to value that such a careful study of African migration has revealed that some of these countries, as exemplified in the video, have become harshly racist, developing policies against black immigrants (Juba, 2003). Therefore, the barriers they have to overcome are not only those of a difficult and dangerous journey, but also a situation of racism in most cases. Emigration thus needs to be read as a process that involves multiple decisions -including the abandonment of a family, a culture and a homeland- and which usually derives into the disappointment of the emigrant when arriving to the place of destination. The aforementioned portrayal can only account for those emigrants who actually leave Africa as a continent. But is that really the unique type of migration that is taking place in Africa? The video reveals that this is not so. While we are only offered images of black people il/legally migrating to Europe, the number of African people who claim for intra-migration is actually outnumbering that of people who decide to leave the continent. Hence, more migration within Africa takes place than migration outside Africa (Koutonin, 2014). Mass media seems to be a direct element affecting the perception of black migration, and thus it is a determinant factor when it comes to craft European beliefs about racism, rejection and hatred. This reveals not only that a lot of people decide to stay within the confinements of Africa, but also that it is a country full of possibilities. We should not believe everything that we are told, because, sometimes, reality is far away from it.

In order to complete the piece of work with a more creative and informal part, it was decided to create a tale. This story presents two friends, Aarif and Kaamil, who live in a small town in Senegal and struggle to create their own story in the world.

As in Africa it is very difficult to find good job opportunities to make a living, Kaamil decides to look for those opportunities in Spain, whereas Aarif stays in Africa looking for those same possibilities. In a series of letters these friends send one another, we have a glimpse of the struggles a black person may undergo when in a European country. The main purpose of the story is to provide the reader with an overview of those struggles as anecdotes that lead to the adaptation of the immigrant to the new country and lifestyle. The drawings have been made by hand and afterwards photoshopped so as to introduce some real elements to the original drawings. Moreover, the letters have been written as if we were those fictional characters in the story, trying to show the emotions and worries they would feel.

Sometimes, those Africans who need to leave the country and need to acquire false identities in order to be accepted as factual part of the destination demography, they need to stop at places such as Cape Verde. This problematises their journey towards a new land, for they have to fight for achieving a new identity and hence abandoning anything they claimed for before.

Isabel Flaquer Beltrán
Sílvia Pérez Carro
Mireia Trejo Domingo
Ada Guiteras Canal
Eva Puyuelo Ureña

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The Script of the Documentary

MAPPING MIGRATION: THE DECOSTRUCTION OF A MYTH

[Read by E. Puyuelo]

Africa. The continent of wilderness, power and freedom. The invisible land of native cultures and pure art. A voiceless home. A silenced paradise. African emigration nowadays seems to be constantly increasing. Although the presence of African people has always been palpable in Europe, the number of emigrants leaving their homeland is eventually outnumbering that of people who stay in the continent. Over 0.44 million of African population are estimated to emigrate every year, fact that arises multiple questions related to Africa’s ethical politics, diaspora, economy, culture and, above all, to its chances to succeed in an emerging modern and functional society.

WHY?

[Read by I. Flaquer]

Africa has always been described taking into account its darkness, its lack of goods and moral beliefs and its violence. Mass media is constantly reminding us of how dangerous and inaccessible African society is, and it directly affects the creation of clichés and stereotypes that withdraw Africa in a marginal position in the universal scenario. First-hand information, directly obtained from the Migration Policy Institute, confirms that among the determinant factors that prompt emigration, we should highlight “seasonal patterns and flight from ecological disasters or civil conflict”. Although family and ethnic ties seem to retain people in their homeland, the constant state of warfare and the drowning economy are key points to understand migratory movements in Africa. Most of African emigrants leave to industrial, middle-income countries, and thus Germany, Canada, the UK and the US are the places that receive a wider number of immigrants. We should not forget, though, that false documents are obtained in order for emigrants to be accepted ads residents in their country of destination. This forces them to stop in places such as Cape Verde or New Guinea, which really problematizes their journey towards an actual hopeless future in Europe.

AN UNWELCOMING DESTINATION

[Read by A. Guiteras]

However, and taking into account the ethics that characterize our generation, we should not forget the barriers emigrants are forced to overcome when they get to the place of destination. Racism is palpable everywhere. In Europe, Australia. Even in the US, although having fought against it for many centuries and having a black president, many situations in which racism has been exploited have ended with death. This opens new questions as to the extent to which an African emigrant may be welcomed in a place that is not his own. Does having a job really suffocate the loss of one’s identity? Is it worth leaving your homeland?

NUMBERS

[Read by S. Pérez]

Although most migratory movements take place within Africa, there is prominent migration to Europe. Actually, approximately 7 million African people left Europe in 2007. France remains as the country that receives more African emigrants, with an estimated stock of 4.5 million in 2011. United Kingdom, as previously stated, welcomed almost 3 million Africans in that same year. Italy, Germany and Spain directly follow the aforementioned countries. Thus, 5.3% of the population in North Africa emigrated during those days. But what happens to the rest of the people?

WILL AFRICA BE EVENTUALLY EMPTY?

[Read by M. Trejo]

Mawuna Remarque Koutonin affirmed that “contrary to what you see on the BBC, CNN and RFI, Africans are not desperate folks seeking prosperity in Europe” Recent polls compiled from Peoplemov.in show that, actually, most Africans emigrate to other African countries rather than elsewhere. Cote d’Ivoire features as the place that receives more African emigrants. Over its 21.058.798 inhabitants, 2.406.713 are actually African immigrants from Burkina Faso, Mali or New Guinea, seeking for prosperity without leaving the continent. Nigeria also has quite a high number of immigrants, 1.127.668, stock that, again, demolishes the early theory of African people abandoning the beauty, the purity, the innocence of a harshly portrayed country.

[Read by A. Guiteras]

Taking everything into consideration, it seems like mass media directly intervenes in describing Africa as a country full of violence, war, poverty and hunger. This unfair characterization of Africans deeply influences the emergence of racism and, all in all, the decay of moral values in Western societies. We should not forget, though, that we only receive a 1% of what is really going on in Africa. We are allowed to see only the tip of a huge iceberg. There are possibilities to live there, chances to work, chances to succeed. We only need to value who can speak for whom. And we should listen more to the silences that hide constant truths, than to the voices that yell futile lies.