A Reality check from the land of opportunity

Sidique-headshot2Welcome to SALT Magazine’s first edition of 2015.

In this issue we continue to highlight the challenges facing African Australians in their daily lives, because we know that no matter where we came from or how we got here we share common problems.

While fellow Africans have lost, and still lose, their lives in desperate bids to make it to the ‘promised lands’ of the west, those of us who have been fortunate to be settled here are confronted with an inescapable fact of life, as we face the stark reality that nice cars, grand houses and expensive clothes come at a cost.

We arrive with much expectation, hope and ambition but the illusion soon fades as we grapple with the stress of living up to the dreams and illusions. We get trapped into paying for the luxuries we have yearned and craved for; we become burdened with guilt for neglecting relatives and friends left behind and may even stop answering their calls; and we become overwhelmed and depressed from all the unrealistic expectations and the overall newness of the lives we now have.

Work replaces life in this struggle to live out our fantasies. Time ceases to exist, family and social life disappears as husband and wife become strangers in their own home, and children become a distraction in the rat race that is menial employment.

How then do we rise above these challenges and contribute meaningfully, not only to our new homeland, but also to the countries of our origin?

How can we do more than just send a pitiful amount of money back to supposedly improve the standard of living of those family members we left behind?

I submit we should instead champion the improvement of our people not just with words, and petty handouts, but with action. We should proactively support and participate in the major fundraising organisations instead of individually and independently sending pittances to only our own families.

Charity organisations, such as those mentioned in this publication, are to be applauded and supported by us. We, African Australians, despite the challenges we face in our daily lives, must be prepared to work collectively to improve the lot of all our people – we must not get sucked into the trap of believing that philanthropy is reserved only for rich people with nothing better to do with their time and money.

We need to work with these organisations, we need to lobby for programs and business ventures that will benefit Africa and Africans. Major improvement in living conditions would stem the flow of people fleeing their countries and could even lead to reverse migration as those in the diaspora seek to assist in the rebuilding of hope in their home countries.

The sooner all of us now here in Australia and elsewhere in western safe havens realise that we do hold a collective power to make a difference, the sooner we can truly benefit our countries of birth.

PHOTO: Alejandro Castro

Sidique is the founder of Salt Magazine. He came to Australia in 2001 after fleeing a civil war in his homeland of Sierra Leone. He studied journalism at Fourah Bay College in Sierra Leone and worked as a reporter for the Statesman Newspaper. He studied a Bachelor of Arts specialising in Multimedia Studies at the University of South Australia.

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