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The Scramble for Europe: Young Africa on its way to the Old Continent

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The Scramble for Europe: Young Africa on its way to the Old Continent

Stephen Smith

ISBN: 978-1-509-53458-6 June 2019 Polity 200 Pages

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From the harrowing situation of migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean in rubber dinghies to the crisis on the US-Mexico border, mass migration is one of the most urgent issues facing our societies today. At the same time, viable solutions seem ever more remote, with the increasing polarization of public attitudes and political positions.

In this book, Stephen Smith focuses on ‘young Africa’ – 40 per cent of its population are under fifteen – anda dramatic demographic shift. Today, 510 million people live inside EU borders, and 1.25 billion people in Africa. In 2050, 450 million Europeans will face 2.5 billion Africans – five times their number. The demographics are implacable. The scramble for Europe will become as inexorable as the ‘scramble for Africa’ was at the end of the nineteenth century, when 275 million people lived north and only 100 million lived south of the Mediterranean. Then it was all about raw materials and national pride, now it is about young Africans seeking a better life on the Old Continent, the island of prosperity within their reach. If Africa’s migratory patterns follow the historic precedents set by other less developed parts of the world, in thirty years a quarter of Europe’s population will beAfro-Europeans. Addressingthe question of how Europe cancope with an influx of this magnitude, Smith argues for a path between the two extremes of today’s debate. He advocatesmigratory policies of ‘good neighbourhood’ equidistant from guilt-ridden self-denial and nativist egoism.

This sobering analysis of the migration challenges we now face will be essential reading for anyone concerned with the great social and political questions of our time.

  • Acknowledgements
  • Introduction: A View from the Top of the Population Pyramid
  • Africa: The Mexico of Europe
  • A ‘stress test’ between generations
  • Africa Has Not Yet Taken Off
  • The Kingdom of Lies
  • Chapter One: The Law of Large Numbers
  • Africa: The World’s Youth
  • Nigeria: Take it or Leave It
  • Lagos: Half Paradise, Half Slum
  • The Chinese Model
  • Demographic Governance
  • Chapter Two: The Island-Continent of Peter Pan
  • Empty Granaries, Coveted Land
  • The ‘Birth’ of Youth
  • Suicides in a blue frock coat
  • Brothers and Sisters in Faith
  • Democracy, a Barmecide feast
  • Chapter Three - Emerging Africa
  • Trade secrets
  • The ‘gatekeeper state’
  • ‘A Billion Good Reasons’
  • Identity as a repertoire
  • Musa Wo, the legendary ‘enfant terrible’
  • Chapter Four: A Cascade of Departures
  • The dilemma of development aid
  • The Draining of Lake Chad
  • To Live the ‘White Man’s Life’
  • The repertoire of rejection
  • Zooming in on the Mare nostrum
  • Chapter Five: Europe as Destination and Destiny
  • Don’t reckon without your host
  • Plugging a Leaky Dike with Sandbags of Euros
  • ‘Bowling Alone’
  • Smashing the actuarial tables
  • Beware of ‘transfers’
  • ‘A Rancour Sharpened by the Winter’
  • By Way of Conclusion: Some Plausible Scenarios for the Future
  • The Obsession with ‘Scenes and Types’
  • Go See the Other Side!
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
“The Scramble for Europe is a calm, measured book that aims to take the emotion out of the debate about immigration from Africa, while at the same time not avoiding the difficult issues by pretending that the situation is under control. It is an approach that runs against the grain of politics. Hence the enormous importance of this book at a time when Old Europe is trying to make allies on the young continent in the hope that these inescapable movements of people will remain an African affair.”
Le Monde

“A must-read for anyone who wants to understand today’s perilous migration flows.”
Midi Libre

“An indispensable book for understanding the key challenges of the coming decades.”
Le Point

‘Stephen Smith has written a remarkably dispassionate, factual and insightful analysis of the Europe-Africa predicament. He succeeds in stepping back from fearful, moralized narratives and short-term perspectives in order to grasp the bigger social, cultural and political implications of Africa’s demographic abundance and the vast migrations it undoubtedly entails. He poses questions that Europeans and Africans can no longer afford to ignore.’
Alex De Waal, Tufts University

"Provocative and well-researched"
Digital Insider