Myth and Reality of Migration from Africa to the Global North
Panel organiser: Olusegun Adekoya, Department of English in Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria.
A reversal of adventures by Europeans to Africa in quest of glory, fame, power, or material wealth in empire days, as portrayed in colonialist texts such as Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, present-day migration of Africans to the global north in pursuit of academic qualifications, better economic opportunities and security of life is both real and delusionary. Paradigmatic was the search for the magical city of El Dorado by Spanish explorers in South America in the sixteenth century, which was not only bloody, delusionary and extremely wasteful of the lives of the autochthonous population, but also brutalized the collective mind of the conquistadors. Any form of migration stems from a condition of disenchantment with reality and a strong belief in a future that holds great promise of prosperity for migrants at the end of their hazardous journey. Sometimes, after settling down in their adopted home, immigrants meet their expectations and realise their dreams but at great costs to cultural-cum-personal identity. At other times, hopes are shattered and despair overwhelms them. Between the two extremes lies a third possibility, the commonest, which is a paradox of fulfilment of certain desires, goals and disappointment that the destination arrived at is blighted and different from the dreamt-of paradise sought. African travel literature is replete with the three kinds of migration experience. The panel invites original essays that examine creative works that explore the theme of migration from Africa to either America, Asia or Europe. Pertinent issues for consideration are factors that propel people into exile, problems engendered by migration, experiences that either confirm or negate previous beliefs and expectations about where immigrants are domiciled, perceptions of their home from exile, and choices made to either accommodate or evade emergent realities.