It was around 11am when Rachel Mhandagani,27, received a call from the German Embassy in Dar es Salaam to go and pick her visa. She screamed with excitement because going to Europe has always been her dream, and this time around it had come true. Just like most young Africans getting visa to enter Europe is not easy,
some have to apply more than once given the stringent procedure involved.
Rachel had met all the requirements after she had got admission to Leibniz University in Hannover. Rachel left for Germany to commence her studies and according to her; the first year in Germany was like a paradise. “Life was good, everything was new to me and I really enjoyed the exposure, I planned to settle there after my studies,” says Rachael. As agreed, during her stay all her bills were paid by her mother as she got acclimatized.
After two years she assured her mother that she had gained enough exposure to enable her do some part-time work in Germany and therefore able to pay some of her bills.
However, one year after she completed her degree her priorities had changed and she couldn’t afford an extra year in her found paradise, she wanted to come back home as soon as possible.
“Life became tough, I could hardly save, I worked too much and spent all my income paying bills, it was too much,” says Rachel.
Rachel would soon head home where she has since got a job and trying to settle down.
Rachel’s case is not an isolated one as there are many Tanzanians and Africans who waste time in Europe and America after their studies.
This is mainly because of the lure of western lifestyle which to many who were born in impoverished neighbourhoods think is a privilege, the reality sinks in when they get there making no progress at all.
A report by Association of African Universities, 77 per cent of all African students who study abroad go to Europe while 18 per cent of all foreign students in Europe are from Africa.
It also says out of about 144 million students who enrolled in institutions of higher education, about 3 million of them migrated from the Africa sub-region to Europe.
And according to a new study carried out by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) students from sub-Saharan Africa seeking higher education are the most mobile in the world, with one out of 16 studying abroad.
The report continues saying that for sub-Saharan Africa, for example, the top destination is Western Europe. Students mainly go to France (21 per cent), the United Kingdom (12 per cent), Germany (six per cent) and Portugal (5 per cent).
Tanzanian students mostly head to the US, UK and Australia with Malaysia and India becoming one of the latest additions.
However, unlike in the past, recently many people who to go study in abroad prefer coming back home soon after their studies. The mentality of leaving Africa for good is finally being shed.
Alex Mshana, 29, lived in the United Kingdom for three years. He went to the UK after completing his O’ levels at Makongo Secondary school in 2001. His main aim was to study and live there for at least 10 years. He got a job after one month and enrolled at a business school in Manchester.
“At first, everything went well and I enjoyed the income of 400pounds per week but after sometime I realised that my life would be static because I was saving very little,” says Alex.
According to Alex, from the 400 pounds that he earned in a week, he spent 260 pounds on bills which included rent, water, gas and tax.
“After three years I had to rethink whether I wanted to keep living in Europe or come back home, I knew that after sometime I would have to make a tough decision,” Alex says.
It was shocking when he informed his family and friends that he had decided to come back home, in fact, he had even applied to study his first degree at home, he had had enough.
He used the little money he saved to settle down and after three months he joined Tumaini University for his first degree.
Today he is a civil servant who leads a relatively comfortable lifestyle; thanks to the good income and low costs of living.
Living in Europe can be challenging, apart from the praise that one gets at home that he is living in Europe, life is not to be very easy.
Only few Africans get serious jobs that pay well abroad, on the contrary they end up doing small jobs that enable them to get some money to sustain their living there.
Jobs such as waiting in restaurants and bars are some of the works that African students do abroad and to some this hinders their status.
“I used to work for six hours a day and still I had to attend classes, I could sleep for a very few hours, life was always hectic, you cannot even afford to take a leave,” says Suzan Mauki, who lived in the US for four years.
Though most complain of the income abroad it has also been noted that most of Tanzanians abroad lead an extravagant lifestyle while abroad, some quite beyond their means.
The result is that not many can save to enable them establish themselves after their years in Europe are over, only to come back and find their counterparts whom they left home prospering.
With failure lingering over them, some have ended up getting married to old white men and women as their only assurance to continue living abroad.
The fear to come home and start afresh is just unimaginable
Mr. Mark Mujumba, an economist in Dar es Salaam says that it is time that youth in Tanzania realised that good life can be achieved anywhere as long as one works hard.
“Though we are regarded as a poor country still Tanzania has a lot of opportunities to offer its people, it is ridiculous for one to spend his productive years in Europe or America doing casual jobs,” says Mujumba.
According to him working at home, gives one the opportunity to save even with the little income which can help one invest in a small business something which rarely happens in Europe.
Lukas Magambo agrees with this. The 35-year-old accountant with a Loans Firm in Dar es Salaam experienced this by himself when he came back home after living in Holland for five years studying and working.
“When I came back I realised that all my colleagues that I left here had already prosper in life, they had good jobs, cars and families, some had already started constructing their own houses as for me I just came with few euro to start life at home.
However, those who have lived in Europe confess that getting money there is very hard, and the more you earn the more you pay.
Zeyla Mahmoud, 30, has lived in Tanzania for all her life, she works at a commercial bank in Arusha. According to her going to Europe or America is good only for studying purpose but otherwise living here isn’t a good option.
“Going to live in Europe is an old fashion especially when one has nothing special doing there, as a young person I prefer staying here,” says Zeyla