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Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 February 2006, 14:53 GMT
How free are you to travel?
As passport scandals make headlines across Africa, what lengths would you go to, to get a new life?

Malawi's immigration department is warning that passport fraud in the country is on the rise, blaming much of this on foreigners moving to the country to get a Malawian passport because nationals are free to travel to many European countries without a visa.

People are also prepared to enter into bogus marriages or undertake dangerous and illegal journeys to move abroad.

What would you do to move to the country of your dreams? What would make you try to get false papers, or marry for convenience? Is the illegal route worth it?

This debate is now closed. Thank you for you comments.

Your comments:

As a Somali, there is no country i can travel to freely. I can't even travel to another African country with my Somali passport let alone Europe or north America. The only way we can get out from Africa is to use family sponsorship and forged passports. Most Somalis travel with citizenship of other countries. I would like to live in Somalia if the conflicts end.
Mohidin, London, UK

I was born and brought up in the oil producing state of Delta Nigeria. I Had my Nigeria Certificate in Education, and a Bachelor in Economics. We have all the major oil companies in the state but could not get a job. I could not fish or farm because the waters and farmland have been polluted with oil, I could not move freely in my village because of pipelines everywhere. I thank God that I am now in the States. The perpetrators of this evil will surely pay for their sins in the nearest future.
Taylor Udugba, Washington DC, USA

I do not buy the idea that this or that is the best for Africans, Europeans or Asians. The world is increasing becoming one. In Africa the infrastructure may test ones patient just like cold weather and racism does in North America and Europe. But ultimately home is where you make it.
Akuku Mourice, Mannheim, Germany

In western Uganda, they have a saying that you are better-off ashamed, than dead. I cannot raise my finger at anyone pushed into illegality by poverty or the threat of destitution. Those who've never experienced involuntary hunger can talk, those whose children have never died of easily preventable diseases can talk, those who haven't seen an entire generation lost (most of them your friends) in fighting over who gets what can talk. As for me, I'm glad I'm in England, however much I'd wish to be home.
Robert, London, UK

Since the "Bush" era I have wanted to leave the US, but found out it is not as easy to move to another country even if you are American. I would love to have a passport that allowed such free travel- Do anything illegal to get it? No. If I am caught I will go to jail- Then all my dreams would really be lost.
Sabrina, Hawaii, USA

Interesting that those who've managed to travel abroad paint a picture of depression, stress and hard work ... and yet, they are not coming back to Africa! If I ever get the opportunity to travel, I will certainly travel, earn the dollar or pound and come back. But I am not losing any sleep over such dreams, for I love my home...even with all the hardships.
Ndung'u wa Ndegwa, Nairobi, Kenya

I think the focus should be on why individuals are unrelentingly aspiring to engage in illegal immigration in spite of the consequences. Once issues of poverty, lack of security, unemployment, lack of access to education and basic amenities etc are tackled in their home countries, people will cease to immigrate at all costs. That is the only issue!
Adewale Ajani, Delft, The Netherlands

As a Malawian passport holder, I am free to travel around the world without raising any bushy eyebrows. My country is peaceful and free of controversy, as such we can go to most countries without a visa. I am afraid though that this privilege may be short-lived as conmen have taken advantage and are busy either forging or getting Malawian passports illegally.
Pacharo Kayira, Malawian studying in Lund, Sweden

I have become a victim of the West. I work day and night to offset my commitments and return home tired and disillusioned
Adewale Adebanjo, London

I have British and Nigerian citizenship. I suppose I should consider myself fortunate. Why then do I suffer pangs of jealousy whenever I see how far some of my friends have progressed in their professional lives in Nigeria? I have become a victim of the West (I have a mortgage, credit cards and owe vast amounts of money). I work day and night to offset my commitments and return home tired and disillusioned. As a result, my social life is non existent. To the desperados who would use forged documents to travel to the West, I say my current nightmare would seem like paradise to you. I am legally resident in the West and find life tough. You as illegal immigrants would find it unbearable.
Adewale Adebanjo, London, UK

While few Africans have genuine need to leave the continent, the majority have no such need. The unnecessary risking of life is unjustifiable. No matter where one lives, one must work hard first to survive and then succeed. Why do you continue to contribute to a country's development that will never appreciate you, while your "country of birth" remains underdeveloped and urgently needs your contribution to develop? It is pathetic to see for example highly trained and qualified medical doctors driving taxis in Europe, Australia and the US while their brothers and sisters die at home for the lack of (trained and qualified)doctors.
Swalihu K Jusu (Sierra Leonean), Palmerston North, New Zealand

It's very funny because I asked this question to my cousin who is a native in Hargeisa, he said when you guys come from Europe or the Americas you come back with money, you build a big house, you have a huge fancy wedding, and get married to a beautiful woman, so why wouldn't I want to go there. I told him that life there isn't as great as you think. You lose your sense of identity, your culture and if you're not careful you could lose your religion, but yet it's like Elloinye said they think it's heaven, and everyone wants to go there except the ones who have already been. If there was proper education in Somalia I wouldn't ever leave!
Jafar Dirie, Hargeisa, Somaliland

In order to appreciate the benefits of leaving Africa one has to be educated first. Most Africans think that you only have to be in a developed country to have all the necessities of life. When I left Zambia 12 years ago, I had the main building blocks for a good life in a developed country. With good education, the developed countries are the best places to live in. In Africa, educated people are not appreciated and paid accordingly. My advise to those wanting to leave mother Africa is get an education first and then jump on the plane otherwise you will be miserable in the so called developed country. I love my Canada.
Dalis, London, Ontari, Canada

Norway is the richest country in the world. But after eight or so months of living in Norway, I have a great nostalgia for my poor Malawi. I totally have dropped my dream of leaving my beautiful country and settling in one of the western countries!
Ellis Tembo, Flora, Norway

The issue is broader than just getting false papers to go abroad. No matter how much we all have been brain-washed, visas are a breach of human rights and an insult to dignity. I dream of a global civil rights movement pushing to change this: globalisation means goods and money can move freely. Only human beings are segregated and discriminated for their passport.
Claudio Scotto, London

As Congolese, we are not free to travel or get visas easily with our passports
Mimie, Lubumbashi

As Congolese, we are not free to travel or get visas easily with our passports. We are asked to present tonnes of supporting documents before we are granted a visa. All that because the Europeans, Australian, Canadians and Americans do not trust Africans, they think we're going to turn their countries into hell.
Mimie, Lubumbashi, DRC

I used to eat once a day and didn't have a job when I was back in Ghana. I now get three square meals with desserts, my own apartment, University degrees and a full time job. Friends that I left in Africa are still struggling and have made no improvements in their lives. Life is not easy in the West but it's better than Africa.
SK Amparbeng, Ghanaian in USA

I am glad to see that people encourage others to remain on the continent and work to improve life. These Western nations do not exist necessarily for our benefit. The impact of the 'brain drain' has a devastating effect on the African continent.
Michael, Detroit, USA

There is no better place than Africa. If you want to be a moderate slave come to these countries. I can't wait to go home, inshallah.
Aba Abdullah, London, UK

According to a recent survey, 85% of Moroccans want to leave the country. If they can't do it legally, they will cross to Europe illegally. The economy in Morocco isn't strong enough to catch up with the national birth rate. Secondly, there is no redistribution of wealth, so only the upper 10% gets the benefits.
Moussa Aynan, Nador, Morocco

I don't think it's worth the risk
Moses Pila, Lagos

I don't think it's worth the risk considering that at best you may end up being a second class citizen in another country than that of your birth. As a young man I believe in staying to make my country work as well as those places I can easily run to. Sightseeing and vacation in another country is ok but total relocation is out of the question.
Moses Pila, Lagos, Nigeria

Africans think that heaven is in Europe or in USA. Simply think of how Africans are treated in foreign land, the difficult, dangerous, and dirty jobs that are given to Africans, the time has come for us to stay in our own continent to preserve our dignity.
Elloinye, Tel Aviv, Israel

For everything a man does there is a purpose. There is no place like home but man must live. Where you belong is where God wants you to be, the struggle continues as long as you live either in Europe or State.
Adetoke & Yetunde, Lagos ,Nigeria

Travelling on a Zimbabwean passport is incredibly difficult anywhere in the world. First world countries demand dozens of supporting documents before they consider our visa application. I'm residing in the UK until I qualify for a British passport. After that I will be a free man.
Tatenda Ncube, Glasgow

If you are prepared to undertake dangerous missions to travel abroad then be prepared to face the harsh realities
Uche, London, England

Life in Africa is the best! There is no stress and it's inexpensive. I was craving to come abroad but now it's time to go back to my roots and live a full life. I would personally encourage Africans to stay in Africa and find ways and means of making it.
Drew, Atlanta, USA

Life abroad is not what you see on TV. It's not easy being in a foreign land; only Canadians are happy in Canada; Americans are happy in America, and as Africans we should be happy with our Africa. there's no place like home, and you don't realise it until you've left.
Kudzai, Harare, Zimbabwe

I concur with Abdul. Life is not a bed of roses in the western countries, you have to work extra hard in order to make a good living. Honestly, some of us are better off being home in Africa than be miserable abroad.
Tope Idowu, USA

The economy of most African countries is largely to blame for the problem. Many people are willing to go to great lengths to make ends meet elsewhere. The illegal route is not the best way out but if you cannot get things done the legal way, you have no choice. A lot of talents are wallowing away in Africa with most graduates not being able to get jobs.
Omorodion Osula, Boston, USA

Poverty is a disease which can lead to death. I think it is better to take the risk and survive than to remain in poverty.
VO Ukaegbu, Madrid, Spain

I will try to do all the right things to get to the country of my dreams but if it doesn't work then I would feel tempted to do what it takes to realise my dreams.
Eva, Arusha, Tanzania

There was a time I was so desperate to go to the UK, I tried and tried and each time I was refused an entry visa. I was advised to get a new passport, I still didn't get the visa, now I am not desperate anymore, Nigeria is my dream nation, I can visit the UK or US when the need arises, that is if I am granted a visa.
Victor Owo, Eket, Nigeria

Many people get their hands on false documents or marry for convenience for different reasons. I know people who got married and even had kids only to end up regretting it. It is not worth it. It makes sense to travel with a false paper only if your life is in danger.
Michael, Nigerian in South Korea.

This is the psychological problem among African young people. They think that life can be made in Europe while it is not true. I am here studying but when I am finished I am planning to go back home to Egypt because life is too expensive in here. African young, you can make life where you are! The continent needs you.
Nasir Abdul, Brussels, Belgium


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