From Dakar to Ceuta: Joseph’s Quest for a Better Life.

Although Morocco is an African country geographically, culturally and socially it differs greatly. Due being conquered by Muslims in early 8th century AD, like most of North Africa, it is predominantly inhabited by people of Arab descent, making it an Arab, Islamic nation. There is typically no kinship between Arab Africans and Black Africans, and in Morocco it is no different. In Morocco,like in many places in the world, those of a darker complexion are treated much worse than their fairer skinned counterparts.

I want to relay the experience of a man that I met from Senegal. We will call him Joseph for the sake of preserving his identity.

Joseph is a 26 year old man who currently resides in Tangier. Tangier was not his first destination in Morocco, but given the circumstances, it seems like it may be his last.

He came from Senegal because as an adult or as the man of the family, he had to find a means of providing for his family. He could no longer burden his aging mother, who still had his 4 younger sisters to care for. With this being said, in search of a better life and better opportunities, he left for Morocco as it was known for being a place for crossing. Those who sought better lives came to Morocco because Morocco was closer in route to Europe. Europe meant better opportunities for them. It, at least, provided them with better opportunities than those in their home countries.

With the intent of crossing, Joseph’s first stop in Morocco¬†was Casablanca. He stayed with a friend who was kind enough to provide him with housing. He had no plan when he left but was prepared to do anything necessary to survive, even if it meant begging on the streets. He was lucky enough to find work in a restaurant where he made just enough to care for himself. However, Joseph knew that Casablanca could not be the end for him. If he wanted to find a job and just work, he could have stayed at home but he had a responsibility to provide for his family. He knew that he would have a better chance at getting to Europe if he went to Tangier.

Once in Tangier, he found himself arranging with another group of immigrants attempting to jump the fences of Ceuta. Ceuta is a Spanish coastal exclave that shares a border with Morocco. Many immigrants try to jump the fences because success means being closer to an opportunity to stay in Europe. However, failure in jumping often means abuse at the hands of Moroccan police and, in some cases, repatriation to your home country.

With the group, Joseph hid in the forests near Ceuta awaiting nightfall and an opportunity to try and jump the fence of Ceuta. When nightfall came, they ran reached the fence but were caught by police. Once they were captured, they were detained and beaten brutally by the police. They were beaten to the point that they could no longer cry out in pain, as to cry out only caused them more pain. One man stood up, and told the police that if they were going to kill him then they should kill him right then and there, as he would rather die at that moment than to endure any more abuse.

They were kept without food and water but released the next day with no means of transportation back to Tangier. They were lucky enough to find a taxi leaving Ceuta that took them half way to Tangier. From there they took another taxi back to Tangier.

Joseph has tried to cross to Spain via the Strait of Gibraltar six times. All of those attempts were unsuccessful. Although some perished during each try, Joseph was lucky enough to escape with his life. He does not see himself trying to cross again. He has given up almost all hope of making it to Spain. He has seen with his own eyes how difficult and dangerous the quest to freedom, so to speak, is and says that he would rather keep his life and try to find a way for himself here in Tangier, than to die trying to make it to Spain.


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