I got to the airport in Addis Ababa before midnight. I was told check-in would start by 1a.m. It is the second time I would be travelling with Egypt Air. First time was when I went to Amsterdam to take part in a NATO Field Exercise.
When the counter opened, I found the airline had no special lane for diplomats. If you were not booked in business class then you follow the queue of those who bought economy class tickets. So I joined the “masses” and trudged forward. It took forever to get to the front.
I handed my passport to the lady behind the check-in counter and she gave me two boarding passes in an envelope. Why envelope? I asked. She said I was booked in Business Class. Wow!
I cleared immigrations and went to the Lounge. The fried rice was too tempting to resist. I served myself a little portion and added chicken wings with orange juice. I knew if I attempted a little nap, I would miss my flight. So I left for the boarding gate and cleared screening. I was about dozing off when boarding was announced.
I picked my hand luggage and went to board the plane. I fastened my seat belt and covered my head with the hood of my pullover. I used the blanket provided to cover the rest of my body. I cannot come and catch pneumonia from the plane’s chilling A.C.
Before my head touched the seat’s head rest I was already asleep. I did not know when the plane left the parking bay and taxied to take off. An air hostess woke me up an hour before we landed in Cairo to ask if I wanted breakfast. I said yes. The sun was already up. The plane was descending. I saw stretch of sand as far as the eye could see. River Nile snaked happily to join the Mediterranean Sea.
Done with breakfast, we landed and I moved to Gate G3. Within an hour and a half we were airborne again. From Cairo to Algiers flying over the Mediterranean Sea. Looking down at the water I remembered thousands of African youths that have perished in that sea, trying to cross over to Europe.
Athens, Greece was to my right. Palermo, Italy was ahead. We had left Benghazi, Libya behind. Tunis, Tunisia was in front to my left. Here lies the graveyard of many African dreams. In this sea thousands have perished and continue to perish. They left their countries in search of greener pasture. Jobless and hopeless at home, they took their destinies in their hands. Children of a blessed continent pushed by hopelessness.
I call on you African leaders, you have to do much more for your people. Give them succour at home, create jobs for the youth. Provide enabling environment for enterprise to thrive. Create safety nets for the vulnerable. Cater for the weak.
You have been entrusted with power, use it for the benefit of your people. Do whatever it takes to prevent children of the continent from becoming food for fishes in the Mediterranean Sea.
Article by Remi Adeoye