From: Surprising Europe

Surprising Europe: Coming up

A series exploring the realities of life in Europe for African migrants.

Surprising Europe looks at life in Europe from an African perspective – stories of despair, inspiration, hope and creativity.

All the reporters are migrants themselves with first-hand experience of coming to Europe. The series shows the dark, the light and the downright strange sides to this serious issue.


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



Taking the Leap

How do African migrants pass border controls and dangerous seas?

The first episode looks at the risky business of getting into Europe – the dangerous illegal boat trips to Malta, the French border controls where stowaways can be detected with heartbeat detecting equipment and a bleak detention centre where captured illegal migrants spend months waiting for asylum – or a return trip home.

Ssuuna Golooba, a journalist from Uganda, gives a first-hand account of the experiences of an undocumented migrant’s early days in Europe, and Rapper Scorpio gives his vision on life in Europe as an African migrant.

Hopes and Dreams                                                                                                                August 8

Many Africans dream of a better life in Europe, but how many of them realise this dream?

The road to success is long and a lot of Africans have to deal with disappointments when they are looking for a job in Europe.

Steven from Ghana came to the Netherlands 26 years ago without papers. Now he owns a successful travel agency. His fellow countryman Michael is a seasonal worker in Spain who is feeling the consequences of the financial crisis. And two African students tell us about the price they pay for getting an education in Europe.

Making Ends Meet                                                                                                                August 15

How do you survive with or without papers?

African migrants in Europe have to deal with a lot of obstacles when they are trying to meet the high expectations of their families. The difficulties of life in Europe are not a message that people want to hear back in Africa.

Mobi and Emanuel, both educated as draftsmen back in Ghana, now barely make a living parking cars on the streets in Spain; Sylvia’s experiences as an illegal migrant plunged her into serious depression; and Papy from Senegal lives in Rome and sings about the hardships of life in Europe.

Under Pressure                                                                                                                     August 22

How far do you go to earn your money?

We look at the real pressures migrants face, often driving them to the dark underworld of drugs and prostitution. The responsibility to earn money and send it back home is a heavy burden for African migrants in Europe to carry.

Rose from Nigeria was forced to work as a prostitute in Italy; journalist Marie from Burkina Faso worked as a dancer in a nightclub for years; a Gambian in Barcelona feels he has no option but to sell drugs to support his family back home; and one village in Burkina Faso is financed by migrants working in Italy and sending money home.

Culture Shock                                                                                                                   September 5    

What is it like to live in Europe with an African identity?

As an African migrant you will have to find a way to deal with European culture. Sometimes, your own habits perfectly match local customs. But sometimes you are not accepted simply because you were not born in Europe.

Wonda Wendy, a French-Gabonese singer, believes Europeans can learn from Africans; Moussé from Senegal and his Dutch wife explain how black and white relationships work in Europe; and Aba Bantu explores instances of racist violence against Africans in Germany.

Running Out of Luck                                                                                                      September 12

How do you survive in Europe without papers?

Life as a migrant in Europe can be tough, and for those without papers, it becomes a real survival tour. Basic needs such as medical care and housing are hard to get, and in many European countries you can be locked up.

In a detention centre migrants waiting to be deported to their home countries share their moving stories; we join a doctor’s visit to a clinic where volunteers assist patients without documents; and Hip hop artist Sister Fa presents us to her Senegalese friends in Berlin, who deal in different ways with their chances of getting a residence permit.

Taking Action                                                                                                                 September 19

What to do when you are mistreated as an African immigrant in Europe?

Hip hop artist K-Nel reports on migrants all over Europe who fight for their rights and try to improve their situation; Sissoko from Mali is the spokesman for a protest movement in Paris that fights for the undocumented living in France for years and contributing to the French economy.

Wahabou from Senegal survived a devastating fire in his apartment and decides to do something about fire safety in Parisian buildings; and in Italy, Africans unite to improve housing conditions when they get evicted as a result of anti-immigration sentiments.

The Good Life                                                                                                                 September 26

Where will you be the happiest and most successful?

Hip hop artist K-Nel from Kenya came to Germany when he was 19. His motto is: “If you can make it in Africa, you can make it in Europe, and the other way around.” Living in Cologne, he has no plans to go back.

Marjorie from Uganda had to fight for seven years for the right to stay in the UK, but she made it and now she only waits to be reunited with her daughter; and Peter from Ghana will not leave Europe any time soon. He came to the former Yugoslavia to study medicine, became a doctor and the first African mayor in Slovenia.

Home Sweet Home                                                                                                              October 3

Is home the place where we were born, or where we find our loved ones?

Evariste from Burkina Faso worked as a fruit picker in Italy, but got fed up with the cold weather, discrimination and insecurity; singer Annie has a Liberian background, but was born in Italy. Her biggest wish is to visit the place where her parents were born in Liberia, and to contribute to the country;

Binata from Senegal is ashamed that she has to make money braiding hair on a Spanish beach, while she is a trained accountant; Ssuuna Golooba goes back to Uganda from Holland only to find that returning home can be as complex as leaving.