Two Afro-Aussie Girls in Malaga

September 18, 2013

Last week I went away with one of my dearest friends to Malaga (Spain). Besides the stares and the general questions about where are you from, it was a great trip. I recommend it if you want a place to chill and relax especially beachside. Over dinner one night I was telling my friend how I hadn’t seen many Africans which was a surprise to me. However, I was happy that I was not seeing a repeat of what I saw in Paris. African boys trolling top tourist spots harassing tourists to purchase their souvenirs. Armed with either a Ghana must go bag or a blanket with their goods ready to up and go at the sight of police officers. At the Sacred Heart Basilica, there was one guy who was aggressively harassing my friend to the point that she nearly hit him. She probably did, I don’t remember. I just remember it being a really bad situation and my friend being quite uneasy after it.

I think I spoke to soon in Malaga. Within moments a guy from Senegal came around selling trinkets. We sparked conversation and he told us he had been living a tough life in Malaga for seven years selling stuff on the streets. He ended up having two items which my friend liked. We tried to haggle, but my friend gave in only to find out minutes later that she had been over charged by 10 Euros. That realisation came when another Senegalese guy came around selling the same things. He said he had been in Malaga for about ten months and said it wasn’t a good for him. He asked us if Australia was good and we said it was very good for us. I asked him why doesn’t he go back. He said that he doesn’t have money or papers. Quite concerned we asked him what was he going to do. He said he didn’t know.
His uncertainty stabbed me. I felt guilty, here I was with my friend chilling like we had no worry in the world stuffing our faces on paella, chorizo, cheese and cocktails and there was this guy in front of us telling us his plight. There was really nothing we could do for him. We couldn’t just take him to Australia and marry him or give him our life savings hoping he will be able to get out of Malaga.

It brought me flashbacks to a situation about a friend’s friend. My friend’s friend came to Australia from Ghana with a football (soccer) team or something like that and didn’t go back with them. I remember my friend calling me from Ghana and asking if I could help his friend who was stuck in who knows where. My friend honestly thought I could save the situation, but I couldn’t. His friend lived in a different state about 5 hours away from me. What was I supposed to do? Go to the state find him, bring him back to Sydney and let him stay in my house as an illegal immigrant and run the risk of getting in trouble by Australia immigration? Maybe if he lived in Sydney it would be a different story but at the time I still couldn’t do much and my friend’s irrationality over the situation drove me crazy. I said to my friend ‘Why didn’t your friend go back with his team?’ My friend said ‘Gillean, it was a way out’. Months and months later that line struck a chord in me. I felt bad and helpless.

That same kind of helplessness engulfed me in Malaga. I have watched countless of documentaries about people practically running from Africa and endangering their lives all in the pursuit of a better life. They get stuck just like the guys in Malaga and my friend’s friend and I often wonder if these people saw a glimpse of what their life would be like in the present, before they left Africa, would they have left? I think I would have stayed wherever I was, but what do I know? I am a product of the immigrant struggle reaping the benefits now. I am really grateful for my situation, yet I can’t help but feel guilty at the same time.


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