IOM The Gambia
My reason for migrating was to find greener pastures. I was unemployed in The Gambia and the prospects were very small at the time, so I thought of going to Europe to find better job opportunities there. I left in February 2014 to Libya. While in Tripoli, I was painting, earning enough money to provide for my living expenses and to accumulate some money to go further to Europe. However, this dream could not be realized, so I returned to The Gambia in March 2017.
My family members were unhappy that I returned. On the other hand, they were happy that I came back alive and healthy, bearing in mind that a lot of people die on this perilous journey. I was stigmatized by society, because when you return from these journeys, society looks at you as a failure. We struggled to prove that perception wrong. I joined groups like the Migrants as Messengers (MaM) programme. Being with fellow returnees makes me feel comfortable.
I used my reintegration assistance to start a cement shop in my neighborhood. The business went well and helped me in starting life afresh. Through this, I am able to use music to raise awareness and change people’s perceptions of migration. I have always been a musician. I started singing and performing in some shows even before I went abroad. When I returned, I took the career seriously due to the inspirations I had.
My first song is called ‘Travel Go to Backway’. The song is about the tough experiences my fellow migrants and I faced along the backway. The song was a hit and radio stations played it. My fans appreciate it the most and people react to it a lot in shows. Even my fellow MaM volunteers always request that I perform the song for them anytime we have events together. They love the song because they can relate to the things I am saying in the song.
I also did two songs on COVID-19, ‘Get Your Mask’ and ‘No To Stigma’. One is about promoting safety measures; the other one seeks to combat stigma.
The videos of both songs are out, and I feel very happy about that. I received good feedback from friends who said the songs are educative. That’s our mission. The coronavirus is a global problem, we all need come together and fight it. As a musician, this is my own way of contributing to the fight against the pandemic.
Watch the clip with the song created by three Migrants as Messengers volunteers in The Gambia here
Jacob’s reintegration assistance was supported by the European Union's Emergency Trust Fund for Africa through the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration.