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General News
Ghanaian immigration into Trinidad & Tobago continues 12/31/2006
While many Trinidad-born Pan-Africanists proudly wave red gold and green banners with intentions of physical repatriation to Africa, the wave of Ghanians and Nigerians into Trinidad and Tobago continues.

Many Trinidad and Tobago nationals have received medical treatment from a Nigerian doctor or heard a sermon from a Nigerian pastor, however not all African immigrants have had such good fortune.

“I prefer to be working as security in Trinidad than to be a lawyer in my country. I love my home and I used to get angry when older people were leaving, but I understand now what was going on. In Ghana we have little children working harder than men work in Trinidad,” said one Ghanian security guard with a sarcastic chuckle.

The 24-year-old, who spoke under the condition of anonymity, added, “it is not about running away, but people in Trinidad do not know what is going on in Ghana. People say that education in my country is good but people do not get jobs. When a man is driving taxi... he might get out the car and walk into a clinic to see sick people because he is a doctor. And that man cannot support his children so his wife has to work. You understand now? I have not been in Trinidad for long but I think it is easier.”

After opening the car park gate at his post, the man continued, “Most people who study in America never come back. If people come to Trinidad for these new Universities, the same thing would happen.”

“What people in Ghana and in Trinidad do not understand is the underdevelopment. Things are the way they are in Ghana because big countries want it to be like that. It is economics. The same countries are where my people run to for jobs and opportunity.”

The young man explained that, “politicians in my country are talking about less poor in Ghana but only some people only get better money. My family was poor and will be poor if I make little money in Trinidad. I try to send things back whenever I get money.”

The young man’s claims were verified by the Ghana Statistical Service (1999) poverty report which highlights poverty reduction that is centralised in the urban areas while very little growth occurs in the rural, agri-dependent areas.

Based on Ghana’s 2002 Census the nation has an 8.2 unemployment rate and an approximate 40 percent level of income poverty.

The owner of one company which has employed three Ghanian nationals explained, “They come looking for work, they have problems and we try to assist. They are human beings too. Once they are not into anything illegal. They pay NIS here like anybody else and we don’t exploit them...we pay them just like any of our nationals.”

According to information sent to Sunday Newsday from the Prison Service, “there are 15 African inmates at our Prisons (four were returned to their homeland approx three-four weeks ago). Efforts are being made to return the others before the year end but due to high peak air travelling it is proving a challenge for the authorities.”

According to the Prison Service’s information the majority of these, “are prohibited immigrants charged with breach of immigration regulations.”

The fact that some of these inmates were reportedly involved in the stabbing of a prison officer earlier this year creates a perception that contrasts with that of the business owner.

“They are good workers and are very conscientious. I have never found them in any act of indecency, no smoking, drinking, they are more into sports, very athletic. When more of them come for work, even if we can’t employ them, I recommend them to other places because they are very hard and honest workers,” said the businessman with a near boastful tone.

He then explained “They tell you from the beginning that their aim is to work hard and go to England. They leave home for England but end up in these Caribbean countries. I have been asking why for the longest while but what matters to me is that they are humans like anybody else.”

“You see some of them buying cellphones and they say that the phones are to send back home. When they send them back for their families, they sell them for double and triple the price. The money is to pay back the debt to the person who lent them the money to leave Ghana.”

An October 2000 Africa News article entitled “Nigeria: For a Living, They Lost Liberty” declared that, “Nigerians have been mistreated and enslaved in Trinidad and Tobago.”

The article went on to highlight unjust incarceration, beatings and general intolerance of Nigerians in this country.

When The Information Officer at the Nigeria High Commission (NHC) was contacted to determine whether the perception of the Nigerian experience in Trinidad has since changed, he replied, “I will have to talk to my boss before I can talk to you.”

Sunday Newsday received no further word from the NHC.

Sunday Newsday

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