Triple tax for migrants

Ken Ndiaye, socio-anthropologist and entrepreneur, was the last speaker of the 8th Brussels Development Briefing. He rounded up the session with a personal perspective on migrants’ life in Belgium, arguing that they are burdened with a triple tax. He managed to bridge the gap between home and host country with his restaurant L’Horloge du Sud and his own label SAFSAP for Southern products from ecological agriculture and fair trade.

(video in French)

Mr. Ndiaye remembered to be careful when talking about “migrants as instruments for development”. Personally, he has often made the experience to be approached to support charity events for free, “because it is to help his people”. “But from what should I live, if I am never paid?”, he wondered. Mr. Ndiaye had the impression that these incidents reflect the general view people have of Diaspora or migrant communities.

However, migrants first have to fulfill their main and most important task, namely integrating in the new host country. When we are realistic, most of the migrants will not return, but get married, raise children, and settle permanently in the host country. In order to do so, there are numerous laws to know, and thousands of things to learn to manage daily life.

Mr. Ndiaye argued that migrants have to pay a triple tax:

  1. Being a new citizen of the host country, they have to pay the official taxes to the government, just like every other citizen.
  2. All migrants are faced with the expectations of family and friends from their home country to provide them with financial support.
  3. As a member of the Diaspora in the host country, a migrant is constantly faced with the expectation of his fellow citizens to be a “good migrant”, meaning do everything possible to raise money and awareness for the development of his country of origin. As a volunteer, needless to say.

Personally, he has found a way to consider himself as an active citizen furthering North-South relations, bridging the gap between his host country, Belgium, and his home country, Senegal. Since 11 years, he is running the restaurant L’Horloge du Sud in Brussels, which wants to promote products and culture from the South, especially from Africa. He also sells products made from the hibiscus flower, such as juice, jam or concentrated extract under his own label SAFSAP. These products come from the South, are grown organically and traded fairly.

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