Exodus of Syrians, the Iraqis, Afghans, Somalis
THE world’s television screens have been replete with their sorrowful, heart-rending images. Like swarming locusts, they kept coming, traversing desert land and its sand dunes, over hillocks and briar scrub, sallying forth across some Mediterranean straights between land and islands, on leaky, un-sea worthy contraptions that the fly-by-night exploitative smugglers who crowd them mercilessly into dangerous boats call vessels. Lawd, where are you? The miserable boat that ferried the young three-year-old kid to his watery death had the cockatrice of a smuggling boatman dive into the salty sea, leaving the beautiful toddler and the rest to their fate, which claimed about 14 souls. The boat operator’s body was never washed ashore, unlike those of his fleeced customers. He had sold his soul to the devil and the Grim Reaper came as always for his harvest.
The three-year-old body washed ashore, because even the Mediterranean did not wish to have any vicarious part in this bazaar of man’s inhumanity to man and child. In Old Testament lore, it was the pursuing Pharaoh that drowned in the deep waters of the Red sea. Millennia later, it was not the evicting ISIS, who made these proud, noble descendants of ancient civilisations and cultures head West at all cost –possibility of a brine grave inclusive – that got drowned.
The Arabs with their thoughts, mournful wailing music and rich poetry, whose meanings beget other meanings and the existence of a deep recess of their mind, which can be vaguely accessed by looking deeply into their sultry eyes through dark brown pupils. They hardly blink, while in deep reflective thoughts, but you can’t glean any weakness of body and soul from their weather beaten faces. The discipline evident in the determination of their migration and their forbearance of pain in walking on those rusty rail tracks, sleeping in open untamed bushes and sharing of the meager victuals they managed to buy, scrounge or do without, if they are better-off handing it over to a famished child with a running nose. Nobody, and we repeat no one within the Indifferent, near hostile and infernally hostile nations whose borders they had to trudge through complained that they were a thieving hoard.
Raise your heads high brother Arabs, Afghans, Pakistanis and a sprinkling of Somalis for taking your fate in your hands. You proved ready to pay the price wherever fate and the vicissitudes of your Hegira exacted its pound of usurious flesh. In some cases, it was death like that of the toddler now lying forlornly in his cold grave dug out of some flinty ground, back in a land he had sought to escape. While you return back to your Maker, little Aylan Kurdi; yes, to your very Maker, because your soul didn’t have or rather wasn’t given time enough to be tainted with the callousness, the hideous denial of mercy and the inured hearts of stone your surviving co-boat people and their ilk were meted in the Balkans and central European nations they had to trek through. Return, speedily to your Maker, thou sinless baby-child, with a precious heart of snow-flake whiteness.
Let the guilt, let the eternally indissoluble pangs of conscience torture that Trans-Atlantic nation of Anglo-French immigrants waving a crimson, tri-petal leaf that refused, or in their elegant subterfuge language denied you, your late brother, your late mother and grieving father a visa of refuge. They are belatedly contrite and now making hurried quota amends along with the hitherto aloof nations within their ‘brotherhood’. The shame is immense. But thank goodness that in our interconnected world of live television networks coverage, the billions of viewers worldwide could see, horrified, a beefy ex-communist of a policeman showing off his true, brutish viciousness in wrestling a family with another toddler down unto the rusted iron slippers of a quaint railroad track.
How come that a nation that had suffered so much all through human history from the Mongolian sacking and occupation, through the Habsburg vicarious rule, to the Nazi Occupation, to the Soviet yoke behave as our beloved Hungary has done? Some of their forbears fled before the rampaging barbaric Mongols under Genghis Khan. When the great patriotic poet Petofi Sandor led the 1848 rebellion, they were beaten down and most of their best statesmen fled into exile in such places as Italy, Switzerland and France among others. When the Soviets brutally beat down the 1956 uprising many fled as refugees to Germany, United States, Canada and as far away as Argentina and South Africa.
In 1989, when following the weakening effect of the Polish upheaval led by the walrus-mustachioed, son of history, Mr. Lech Walesa, the East Germans got up in multitudes and fled through Czechoslovakia. It was these self-same Hungarians that pried open the ‘great Iron Curtain’ and let them escape through Austria to join their kith and kin in the Federal Republic of Germany. Thereafter, the Berlin wall fell! For this writer, who had in 1976 watched the anguish of a new acquaintance, an East German female student as she pointed out to her Nigerian friend that she cannot step beyond a yellow line drawn at the train embarkation point in East Berlin’s station the re-unification of Germany drew redeeming mists of tears.
The question is how come that a nation of probably the kindest people on earth could show themselves up in this way? This writer knows so! First hand for that matter, from long sojourn among them and repeat visits. We know those railway tracks from close-up and had ridden on them so repeatedly. How can they so internationally traduce themselves through the curious, if not bewildering refugee policy of their right-wing leaders who played ‘magyarorsag politics’ in a most reproachable manner, while the civilised, uncivilised and all in-between humanity watched aghast? Miert, Orban Ur? (Why Mr. Orban?) Minek kellet mindez? (What was the need for all this?) They said that they wanted to go on to Germany.
Germany said it wants to receive them and cater for them. Austria said it would allow them come in across the Hegyeshalom border station, a la the East Germans. They said they would receive them, clean them up, re-energise them and send them along through the picturesque Mozart’s hometown of Salzburg to go have a great taste of spirit restoring Bayern beer in the bierstubbes of Munich for those of them who drink alcoholic beverages. Fact is not all Arabs, Kurds or Afghans are teetotalling Muslims.
Postscript of the Prologue: We vicariously tender heart-felt apologies for what the world saw lately in Hungary. Hungarians are more like the former Prime Minister, who took in and catered to the refugees in his home. The people currently in power would, we predict, be voted out of power and run legitimately out of the Gothic marvelous parliamentary building on the Pest-side bank of the Danube in the next election. That would be sweet revenge and atonement.
•Dr. Esiemokai PhD, Managing Consultant at Atlantic Consulting, and author of ‘The African Renaissance: Imperatives for Business Investment and Growth’, is an expert in East and Central European Affairs.