Sweat Your Way Up
By Maria Dombaxi
Young African students, graduates and undergraduates living abroad are told to go back home. They’re told that Africa is the future, and they’re told that they can help change their countries. Young European graduates are told to try their luck in Africa, there are no jobs left in their countries and not enough graduates in Africa and they can get financially stable and they – Africans sure need the help.
Someone lied. Or we’re lying to young African students, or they’re lying to foreign graduates. Either way something is not right. I’ve been back home, in Angola for less than a month and I’ve spent more time writing than anything. I guess being back has gotten my inspiration fully loaded. Now, may it be good inspiration or bad you’ll be the judge of that but I, beyond any doubt have a lot to say.
Since I’ve gotten back, people have been asking me the same question, “are you planning on coming back to work in Angola after you’re done with your studies?” Much to the disappointment of my father my answer has been “Africa most definitely, but Angola not just yet”. I’m a strong believer that African students should come back home. Nevertheless I understand why they refuse. The reality of our countries is unbearable. Abroad we dream a lot, we dream big. We dream that maybe we can make a difference; maybe just maybe we can change things. Then you come back to visit and you’re slapped with a wake up call. If you don’t have a proper last name, or an uncle who has some influence, you will be just as unfortunate as the uneducated. You can be smart all you want, if your father is not the boss you are not going anywhere. There are no such things as CV’s, what is a CV? They don’t ask where you worked, if you worked, or if you have any experience. They only ask what your last name is and if not then how much do you have in your bank account.
Graduates that have lived, studied, put up with the perplexities of their countries should be prioritized on employment applications but are forced to stay home or accept jobs they are overqualified for because they don’t have a choice. The smartest teach, the most determined leave and the names stay to enjoy the fruit of the weakest laborers.
Here opportunity doesn’t knock at your door like they tell all the foreign graduates who adventure into our world, here you have to wake up at 5am and knock on opportunity’s door. I’ve had more than a dozen people ask me why I’m wasting my time with studies when there are no jobs. I can’t seem to rap my head around the idea that a booming city such as Luanda, the most expensive city in the world has absolutely no jobs available for graduates. The struggle is real, and someone has been lying to me. I don’t care who, I don’t know why but my heart aches, my headache is my country. My tears are meaningless because nobody seems to care. The only thing they found relevant to tell me is “welcome home” with irony.
I’m supposed to be satisfied with that answer and accept that my country is just the way it is. How can I be welcomed home when I’m homeless? How am I supposed to be satisfied when I’m in distress? “Our country is fine, it’s the people that aren’t” says a man walking by a pile of trash and noxious sewers on a sizzling Friday night. The people are fine; in fact they’re courageously happy. They’ve come to peace with their reality; it’s the country that is bleeding.
I speak only for me and I don’t agree. I haven’t come to peace with this absurdity.