This year’s edition of the University of Southern California’s Africa Business Summit was prominent for one thin: No Africans in attendance. All had been refused entry Visas. Many African countries suffer high rates of US Visa refusals with Ghana, reportedly, leading at 62%. Not denying that there are many desperate people trying to escape African shores, this couldn’t have been the case with each and everyone of the proposed delegates for the USC’s summit, so a 100% refusal must somehow account for an arbitrariness of 38%, if Ghana’s refusal rate is used as a benchmark. The refused delegates were still lucky; worse could have been if refused at the airports of entry.
The USA Visa is not free, as at my last successful attempt, it cost me circa NGN65,000 each, for me and 5 other members of my family, about US$145 per person today. When Visas are refused, of course, the loss goes beyond the monetary into the unquantifiable costs of bitter disappointment and lost time. That loss is even more aggravated when entry is denied on arrival at the US airport of entry. Then, you’d have to add the costs in thousands of US$ lost to return tickets.
Every country has a right to pick and chose who is allowed to visit their country, but please let them do that at the point of application, except for fraudulent or criminal infractions, and save poor travellers from the unnecessary anguish of arbitrariness and over-zealous homeland security or other agents at the airports. This is even more critical in this Trumpian, xenophobic, quartet of years when, apparently, bigotry is being paraded as patriotism and every closet bigot is taking umbrage under desPOTUS’ executive orders to exercise their odiousness in targeted refusals at the slightest of excuses.
If Santa were African, he’d be at risk of being denied entry to the USA come Christmas.