ON THE ROAD

  • Libya’s “Pearl of the Desert”

    January 1, 2013 by marine_olivesi in with 0 COMMENTS

             

              

  • “No Ghana”: The road out of Nkoranza

    August 2, 2012 by marine_olivesi in with 0 COMMENTS

     

    Nested in Ghana’s deep countryside, the sleepy town of Nkoranza has seen over the past 3 decades tens of thousands of its residents depart for greener pastures (though literally speaking, it’s hard to imagine such thing exists!)

     

    Since the 80′s, emigration has thrived on the town’s under-developement and high unemployment rate. Donyina Koranteng, the head of a local organization for Libyan returnees, says Nkoranza seemed so cut off from the rest of the country when he was a kid that locals gave it the nickname “No Ghana.”

     

    That was before the road (above) connecting Nkoranza to Ghana’s North-South highway was built… But little has changed since.

     

    Nearly half of the Ghanaian migrant workers who fled Libya last year hailed from Nkoranza and villages around. And some are on their way North again, undeterred by the risks they face on the road, and in post-Revolution Libya.

     

  • Ishumar

    June 11, 2012 by marine_olivesi in with 0 COMMENTS

    After a two-month long journey that took me from Bamako to Burkina’s remote Sahel region to Ghana’s deep countryside, I’m about to depart West Africa and head back to Libya.

     

    No “travel digest” post here… I’d rather point out to that old NYT article on the Tuareg band Tinariwen’s latest album, Tassili, which has carried me through many hours on the road over the past couple of months.

     

    The story retraces the coming of age of the band (formed in the late 70’s in Libya’s Tuareg refugee-settlements-turned-guerrilla-boot-camps) and of its latest production.

     

    With “Tassili,” Tinariwen, whose music is a hard-rocking hybrid of Berber, Arab, Western and black African styles, has sought to return to its beginnings. Named for a spectacular area of canyons and sandstone arches near Algeria’s border with Libya, the CD was rehearsed and recorded out of doors there, in tents and around campfires much like those where the group’s founding members, political exiles then living in refugee settlements, first came together to play.

    “We wanted to go back to our origins, to the experience of ishumar,” which means exile or being adrift, explained Eyadou ag Leche, the band’s bass player.

     

    Ten months after its release, Tassili has become a worldwide hit and won a Grammy Award for best world music album while a momentous sequence of events rocked the region.

     

    I’ve had a chance during this fellowship-sponsored West African trip to explore at great lengths the migration-based connections between Libya’s uprising and Mali’s unrest: A “Tuareg-friendly” dictator toppled and the homecoming of thousands of Tuaregs who fought for and finally imposed what they had long been asking for: an independent state (publicly supported by the way by some Tinariwen members)

     

    Yet, history still is repeating itself for Tuaregs. Independent state or not, hundreds of thousands have been forced into that “ishumar experience” once more.

     

    Worst, the scarce reports coming out of North Mali describes the emptiness and lifelessness of formerly vibrant towns like Timbuktu, now in the hands of extreme Islamist groups.

     

    Painful kicker in the recently published personal story out of Timbuktu of AP journalist and friend Baba Ahmed.

     

    After five days, the convoy I came with left Timbuktu. As we rolled out of town, around 50 young people jumped on the back of the trucks, taking advantage of the free ride south.

    Another group leaving the place they grew up in, I thought with a heavy heart. Another group deciding they will be better off somewhere else.

     

  • From Burkina to Ghana

    June 3, 2012 by marine_olivesi in with 0 COMMENTS

    Sahel Reserve, Northern Burkina Faso

       ”African Heroes,” Ouagadougou

    Ghana & Burkina Flags                

       Mohamed Murtala & baby girl

    Bolgatanga, Northern Ghana        

            Coco drink at the bus station

    On the road South, Ghana            

  • “Now that emigration has become a cinch, it’s a no-brainer. Just go already.”

    May 18, 2012 by marine_olivesi in with 0 COMMENTS

    A slightly off-track post this morning with this interesting oped published a few days ago on FT Magazine. It hails emigration as “probably the quickest way of improving your career prospects, both now and for your lifetime” and is particularly addressed to the unemployment-striken youth around Europe.

     

    “About a fifth of young people in western countries are unemployed. In Spain and Greece, about half are. They could stick around at home, perhaps eventually find work, and then spend their careers paying for the previous generation’s pensions, healthcare and debt. Or they could emigrate. It is hard to make a start in Brazil, Canada or Germany, but the alternative might be watching TV in your parents’ house for the next four years.”

     

    What baffles the author is why young people in countries that have been migration-prone for decades seem reluctant to go that route while it’s become so much easier and (less scarier) to do so.

     

    “People have emigrated since the first humans walked out of Africa, but since the 1990s emigration has changed its nature. It’s no longer forever. Nowadays, you get on a cheap flight, Skype your mother from the airport, and if you don’t like the place, fly home again.”

     

    Makes me want to head back to Greece soon and ask what stops them from taking the plunge…

     

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@MarineOlivesi

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