Surprising Europe
Ssuuna Golooba
'Job is everything in Europe, job is the house, job is the food, so if you don't have a job, you are a dead person.'
Last Modified: 07 Aug 2011 14:25

Staring at pictures of other Ugandans grinning in front of large houses with new cars parked outside, Ssuuna Golooba, a Ugandan photo-journalist, grew up with the image of an idyllic European life for African immigrants. Seeing pictures of other people who looked like him making their fortunes in Europe finally led Golooba to the Netherlands.

However, soon after arriving, Golooba would come to realise that those were pictures of other people's houses with other people's cars parked outside - they belonged to the Europeans, while the Africans, like Golooba, toiled as the people cleaning those houses and washing those cars.

Leaving behind his family, including his six-year-old daughter, Golooba finally headed out to chase the promise of a better future in Europe.

But rather than the large house he had seen in countless pictures, Golooba found himself living in a cellar. Without the proper documentation, Golooba had to turn to cleaning houses for his meagre income.

Golooba wanted to return to Africa soon after arriving, but the debt he had incurred in order to get to the western European nation along with his responsibilities as the eldest son of the family kept him, like the countless other Africans whose pictures Golooba had grown up with, from telling his family the truth and returning to Uganda.

A 2005 fire at Schiphol Airport, in which 11 undocumented people died, was Golooba's breaking point. Realising that he could have easily been one of those 11 people in detention at the airport, he returned to Uganda to warn other Africans about the hardships and discrimination that would take the place of the European dream they had all heard stories and seen pictures of.

 

Surprising Europe can be seen each week at the following times GMT: Monday: 2230; Tuesday: 0930; Wednesday: 0330; Thursday: 1630.

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Source:
Al Jazeera
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