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Hope for 2016 -  A World Without Walls


By Kola King

 

Tuesday, December 29, 2015.

 

Some twenty six years ago, the Berlin Wall fell. The fall ended 40 years of division between the capitalist west and the communist east.  As the Cold War began to thaw across Eastern Europe the communist rulers in East Germany gave the nod for the walls to be brought down. Today, walls are springing up again in Europe. The Berlin wall was the symbol of the East-West conflict. It was an ideological divide between capitalism and communism. It was the Iron curtain. Back then the wall separated families and communities. Those who made attempts to cross the wall were either shot dead or arrested. But despite all this, many made several attempts to circumvent the wall by building tunnels and other underground devices.

 According to records, it is estimated that about 2.5 million East Germans had fled from East to the West between 1949 and 1961. Because of man’s ingenuity, people found a way around the problem and sought refuge in the west. Those in the east were poor and wanted escape out of poverty. They did all they could to leave, risking life and limbs in the process. The wall separated communist East Berlin from West Berlin.

The fall of the Berlin wall further marked the fall of communism. Communism was tossed out through the window. For now, the division between the two ideologies has become blurred. Even socialist Russia and communist China have embraced capitalism wholeheartedly. Both socialism and communism are in dog’s disgrace, as it were.

This time walls and barriers are springing up in Europe not to check the spread of communism but to stem the tide of refugees streaming into Europe from Africa and the Middle-East. Thousands of people are running away from war and internecine conflicts and famine, hoping for a better life in Europe. They are risking their lives just to cross the Mediterranean Sea and enter into Europe. And in the process thousands have perished at sea. Daily the television networks bring to our homes the terrible conditions in which the refugees go through traveling to Europe. The plight of bedraggled women, children and men as they make the journey to Europe is heart rending.  This has set the world thinking.

However, it is heartwarming that the world of virtual reality has broken down many barriers.  It has connected people in ways never before imagined. Now communication is instant. The world is now a global village. However, the gains of the world of virtual reality are gradually being rolled back by the new barriers being erected in Europe against refugees. The European Union is at the receiving end of this tidal wave of humanity.  The Island of Lampedusa in Italy has become a Mecca of sorts for refugees.

Right now there is need for enlightened policies that would help solve the problem at hand. It is fitting that the European nations have come up with quotas on the number of refugees to be admitted into member countries. But this problem goes beyond the European Union. Time has come for the United Nations to step in and intervene. For instance Canada and Australia have huge landmass with very small populations; hence they should be encouraged and persuaded to take some refugees too.   

Walls have been around since the dawn of time. The Chinese built the Great Wall of China, which opened in the year 206.  It is the world’s longest walls and biggest ancient architecture. Walls are erected by man to fence criminals and marauders. Nations also erect walls against perceived foes. Because of fear we build walls to protect us from the unknown. There are invisible walls everywhere. There are racial walls and social walls. There are religious walls and political walls etc. There are also other walls erected because of ancient prejudice and hatreds.  Man is the only creation that erects walls. Birds have no walls. Animals have no walls. They roam in freedom. 

Today Israel has built walls and barriers in Palestine occupied territory in order to fence off the Palestinians. With this Palestinians need permits to go back and forth. They have to carry passes before they are allowed to pass through Israeli checkpoints. And even pregnant women from Palestinian territory are known to have delivered their babies while waiting to cross the check points. There is also the Gaza- Egypt barrier to monitor the movement of goods and persons along that route. Also Saudi Arabia has erected barriers against its neighbours - Iraq and Yemen. Tunisia is also building walls against migrants from other parts of Africa. Hungary is building barriers near its border with Croatia. In North America there is the Mexico- United States border which splits communities in half. Thus walls are springing up in every corner of the earth.  

Walls are aimed at stopping the flow of movement of humanity. But the world has become a fluid society.  Yet people are moving for economic reasons. They are also moving because of wars and conflicts in many trouble spots. People are also moving because of drought and environmental degradation. To stem the tide of migration therefore it is better to solve economic imbalance and crises caused by wars and conflicts in Africa and the Middle East. It is better to build the economies of Africa and check high population growth in the continent.

 It is clear that no matter the height nor the depth of the walls, this will not deter people from seeking refuge wherever they hope to find a better life. Whether from Afghanistan, Iraq, Sudan, Yemen, Syria or Libya, people have dreams of a better life for themselves and their children. Neither the seas nor mountains will deter them from fulfilling their dreams. Even the possibility of death will not deter them. There is every indication of a trend towards a borderless world, just as you have in virtual reality. Since everybody wants a better life the world must adapt to the changing times. This is the time to seize the momentum.

 

Kola King is a Nigerian writer and journalist. He worked for several years as a reporter, correspondent and editor in some national newspapers in Nigeria. His writings have appeared in Kalahari Review, The Missing Slate Journal and Litro Magazine. His works are also forthcoming from Mosaic Literary Magazine and Synesthesia Literary Journal.

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 Image: Davidduke.com


Hope for 2016 - A World Without Walls

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