Friday, 19 August 2022 18:53

African communities at the heart of universal change

This edition of the International Book and Publishing Fair (SIEL) is being held in a unique and unprecedented context. It will be the first event of international scope hosted by our country after a two-year suspension due to the repercussions of the Covid-19 pandemic, with a large influx of Moroccan and foreign visitors. This is a fine way to celebrate the Kingdom's inspiring success, under the wise leadership of His Majesty King Mohammed VI, in overcoming the most perilous undertakings to breathe new life into Moroccan cultural and intellectual life, this time from Rabat, the city of light, the capital of culture in the Islamic world and the cultural capital of Africa, which qualifies it, exceptionally, to host the continent's biggest cultural event this year.

The Council of the Moroccan Community Abroad (CCME) has chosen to focus its participation in the current edition of the SIEL on the theme "Africa in the eyes of its communities", with the aim of placing the issue of African migration at the centre of the societal debate and the cultural and intellectual current affairs of this global event, which this year has chosen Africa as its guest of honour.

Africa is one of the priority themes for the CCME, which had decided, due to the anchoring of the African tributary in the Moroccan identity, to dedicate its participation in the 2014 SIEL to Africa, being a continent at the source of human mobility. In addition to the achievements of the different works undertaken in this sense, the council intends to deepen the debate on the contemporary challenges of African migration, particularly in Europe, in the context of the profound political and cultural changes that are taking place in its societies, where the migration issue, in this case African, is becoming a major issue, the pivot of political conflicts and electoral programmes.

The debates on immigration in Europe in recent years reflect the dominance of nationalism due to the rise of extreme right-wing waves and the revival of conservative ideological theories that reject pluralism and advocate introversion as a way of life, making people believe that immigrants are a threat to the existence and culture of European societies based on misleading arguments and erroneous data that have been disproved by all the official statistics of international institutions.

Migration is an ancient phenomenon, but its treatment is currently being unjustifiably amplified. If we stick to the real facts, migrants constitute only 3.5% of the world's population, so 96% of them live in the countries where they were born. Moreover, African migrants represent only 14% of the world's migrants, a much smaller proportion than European (24%) and Asian (41%) migration, bearing in mind that more than 60% of migration in the continent is intra-African. Thus, adopting an objective and scientific approach to the treatment of African migration, whether in elections or in media debates, is one of the greatest challenges to be overcome.

On the other hand, an accurate understanding of the migration phenomenon requires a deeper understanding of several related changes. The structure of migration has undergone a radical transformation in terms of composition, since it is no longer undertaken solely by a labour force of workers with a view to returning to their countries of origin, but has become a rooted migration that has produced intellectual and scientific elites who have risen to high ranks in their fields of competence. This intelligentsia then expresses expectations that go beyond the thresholds of the first generations, their social interaction is no longer limited to migrant or worker services in the host countries but extends to state institutions as they enjoy full citizenship and hold two or more nationalities. More than that, these elites have become capable of developing visions and theories that question the intellectual and philosophical structures of the state and society.

Thus, addressing the issue of African immigration cannot be done in isolation from the issue of our time, that of the international race to attract highly qualified talent in such advanced fields as health, engineering, agriculture and modern technology. This is one of the modern and complex issues that are widening the gap between developed and developing countries, which are threatened with losing their skills due to the temptations and opportunities.

Therefore, addressing the issue of African immigration cannot be done in isolation from the issue of our time, that of the international race to attract highly skilled talent in cutting-edge fields such as health, engineering, agriculture and modern technologies. This is one of the modern and complex issues that are widening the gap between developed and developing countries, which are threatened with losing their skills due to the temptations and opportunities for professional and financial advancement offered by the countries of the North.

Finally, the Covid-19 pandemic has also had a profound impact on the world of migration. For the first time in contemporary history, the movement of people is confronted with closure measures in all continents, as almost every country in the world has imposed a general quarantine. Immigrants in Europe have lived through a most difficult period as they represent one of the vulnerable fragile groups, but these extremely difficult conditions have above all been an opportunity for them to assert their added value and to affirm that all the components of a plural society contribute, each thanks to their uniqueness, to the destiny of humanity. Immigrant communities working in vital sectors have found themselves in the forefront of providing basic services to the community of residence, and supporting materially and morally their family members in the countries of origin, through financial transfers and intercontinental civil initiatives.

These transformations and contractions experienced by the immigrant community, including the Moroccan community and all African communities, must be apprehended according to a global, scientific and objective approach in order to understand the contemporary migratory reality from all its angles and to anticipate responses to the issues and challenges of the future. Above all, it will be necessary to measure the cultural and intellectual wealth that African migration has produced and to value the contribution of African migrants to development, whether in the host countries or in the countries of origin. The ultimate goal is to develop a unified vision involving all civil actors of African migration in order to succeed in the process of integration and coexistence and to change the reductionist mentalities of certain groups in Western societies.

To this end, the stand of the Council of the Moroccan Community Abroad offers a rich and diverse intellectual and cultural programme on various aspects of African migration at the Rabat International Book and Publishing Fair, while presenting an important set of recent publications of the Council on several migration-related topics. The program is not limited to the stand area but extends to cultural and intellectual activities in other areas, in partnership with academic institutions and civic organisations, to make our participation in this year's edition a unique contribution to the influence of Rabat, capital of lights.

Abdellah BOUSSOUF

Secretary General of CCME

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