As an African, this hit home this weekend. On the one side, the one world was in distress over the ending of season 7 of the fantasy TV show Game of Thrones, while I dreaded the next headline about election violence in Kenya.
It took me a long time to know that Brothers in Arms was written in 1982 during that senseless territorial war between the UK and Argentina over the Falkland Islands - thousands of miles from London and a stone’s throw from Argentina.
Some Africans, lucky enough to live in the first world of pay-TV, were among the distressed millions of followers of the HBO show about swords, magic, dragons and politics, not their dying fellow Africans in Togo.
During its run this show portrayed fictitious continents Essos and Westeros, which endure contestation for the Iron Throne and control over the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros.
The Game of Thrones buffs tell me that there is even a powerful queen Daenerys with a powerful army of dragons, planning to cross the Narrow Sea to avenge the death of her father. Curiously, African migrants are equally desperate to relocate from the lowlands to Europe.
Their mission is not to avenge anyone’s death, rather to escape their own. Either that or starvation, disease, lack of opportunity, but most of all, corrupt and ineffectual politicians, will kill them.
While actors in one Game of Thrones episode reportedly earn over a million dollars, desperate Africans are not living in a fantasy army of Queen Daenerys. They are scurrying for survival in their own reality show. In the Mediterranean Sea this year alone 2 000 have already died. Most of them were Africans, running from countries such as Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia and Eritrea. Europe will naturalise the best of them, leaving the rest fighting for citizenship for decades.
About 83000 asylum seekers had entered Europe this year by June; again, mainly from Africa. These are Africans left with no choice but to flee from the very motherland that people like me like to punt as the next best thing in the world economic order.
The Narrow Sea is not fictitious for them. Crossing the Mediterranean between Libya and Italy - dubbed the deadliest sea passage in the world - is the difference between a life of misery at the hands of dictators and what could be a worse misery as a sex slave.
European superstars, like footballer Mario Balotelli of Italy, were born of such immigrants. Balotelli’s Ghanaian parents probably went into Italy the same way. Later their son would earn £120 000 (R2million) a week at Manchester City in 2012, while his mother, Rose, was reportedly paid £6 an hour as a cleaner not far from her son’s mansion.
Mario and others like him continue to face racial hostility from their adopted countrymen. They nevertheless would rather tough that out than return to Africa.
The paradox of Game of Thrones being the biggest loss for some in the same weekend that African migrants were dying in pursuit of their promised land is indicative of how humanity needs to find itself from across its many different worlds.
The ruling elite of Africa glibly talk of ridding their countries of their colonial stranglehold, while sipping expensive champagne on Avenue des Champs-Élysées and receiving medical treatment in London, with their aloof colonial counterparts. To date, despite all talk about reducing the plight of immigrants, European leaders like France’s Emmanuel Macron and Germany’s Angela Merkel seem to be working harder than our leaders, who should be more agitated about fellow Africans dying running away from home. Instead, they are changing constitutions and arresting protesters just to stay in power longer.
- Victor Kgomoeswana is the author of Africa is Open for Business, a media commentator and public speaker on African business affairs, and a weekly columnist for Sunday Independent. - Twitter Handle: @VictorAfrica.