Africans denied entry to the UK far more than others

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 18 July 2019:

With the UK set to leave Europe very soon, there have been several high level overtures from the British establishment, including  recent visit to South Africa by Prime Minister Theresa May, as well the visit to Ghana and Nigeria by His Royal Highness Prince Charles, in an attempt to remind Africans about the historical, cultural and political ties that bind Britain and Africa.

The British government will need all the friends it can find in Africa, to ensure that when it leaves Europe it can establish stronger economic and trade ties with the African continent, especially with its former British colonies.

But such ties must include the ability of people from both sides to enjoy reasonable and undiscrimantory freedom of movement, if a post Brexit UK-Africa relations is to flourish.

And, if a report published by the Financial Times on 16 July 2019, authored by Helen Warrell and David Pilling, is anything to go by, Africans will have great difficulty entering the UK post Brexit. This is the Financial Times Report:

African people are more than twice as likely to be refused UK visitor visas than applicants from any other part of the world, according to research that highlights potential discrimination in British government policy.

The study, published on Tuesday by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Africa, showed that 27 per cent of African visitor visa requests made in the two years to September 2018 were refused, compared with the overall refusal rate of 12 per cent. For both Middle Eastern and Asian applicants, the figure was 11 per cent, while for North Americans it was 4 per cent.

According to the report, this has resulted in many Africans “with entirely valid reasons for visiting the UK”, such as businesspeople, academics and performers, being unable or unwilling to travel due to the entry barriers.

Commenting on the report, Chi Onwurah, a Labour MP and chair of the group, said that at a time when the UK needed to be open for business, “the broken visas system is doing severe damage to UK-Africa relations across a variety of sectors”.

“As well as our relations, it damages our economy and society. It is embarrassing, patronising and insulting to African applicants and leaves the slogan of ‘Global Britain’ empty and meaningless,” she said.

The report also raised concerns about the Home Office’s use of a risk-assessment algorithm, first revealed last month by the Financial Times, which grades applications as green, amber or red according to their level of risk.

The chief inspector of borders told the APPG inquiry he was concerned that an overreliance on the algorithmic streaming tool “could mean that decisions were not being made on the merits of the individual case but on a set of generalised and detached indicators”.

While the Home Office has said it does not screen applications on racial grounds, human rights organisations such as Liberty have argued that indicators such as nationality are effectively proxies for race.

Iain Halliday, an immigration lawyer quoted in the research, said there appeared to be a presumption that African visitors “will abscond, and that proof of previous visits and return to the country of origin is often not given appropriate weight”.


The report criticised border staff for what it called “questionable and sometimes offensive reasons” for refusals. In one instance, an internationally renowned choreographer and two dancers from the Democratic Republic of Congo were refused visas to perform in a dance festival reflecting on their personal experience of the civil war.

UK entry clearance officers reportedly questioned why dancers from the UK could not fill these roles.

Nanjala Nyabola, a Kenyan academic and author, told the FT that she regarded the visa system as “inhumane and degrading”. Ms Nyabola, who studied in Britain at Birmingham and Oxford universities, said her family was unable to attend her graduation ceremonies because of visa difficulties.

“When I graduated from Birmingham in 2008 I had three months to leave the country,” she said. “When I left in 2011 after graduating from Oxford I had one week to leave. The space is shrinking really dramatically,” she said. She has interpreted this as a sign that the Home Office wanted to be seen as tough on immigrants, particularly those of colour.

The idea of a visa, she said, had morphed from the notion of promoting exchange of people and ideas to one of “shutting people out”, and raising money for the Home Office through high fees, which are paid regardless of whether the visa is granted or not.

Ms Nyabola said it had become increasingly hard to hold academic conferences on Africa in the UK because of the difficulty of obtaining visas for delegates. She said she knew of cases where half the delegates had been refused entry.

Responding to the report, the Home Office said the UK “welcomes all genuine visitors from Africa and wants its visa system to support our important and increasing business and trade ties with the continent”.

“Visa applications from African nationals are at their highest level since 2013 and decision makers do not discriminate on the basis of age, gender, religion or race,” a spokesman said. “We remain committed to getting visa decisions right the first time, every time.

”The department also said that more than 47,000 more visas were issued to African nationals in 2018 than in 2016, an increase of 14 per cent.

Source: Financial Times


  1. Mr. Abdul Thomas, thanks for the great work that you are doing. Truly, not weeding out the undesirables will lead to the eventual collapse of this forum. We can disagree with each other, which is natural and fine. However, breaking forum rules by hurling profanities at other forumites and disrespecting them in the process should have no place in a respected forum like The Sierra Leone Telegraph.

  2. Lawyers in Africa, have no voice,and bragging rights whatsoever.That’s the reason why they are always begging for visas,dashing like sprinters to the UK,and the States to become spiritless,subservient errand boys to real, practicing, Professional lawyers. I know,because my own eyes have seen them sweating,and carrying heavy loads,scrolls,and briefcases, while plodding behind their mean-spirited masters in the harsh,freezing winter cold abroad. Disgraceful! Losers!

    One couldn’t help but to erupt with laughter.What a bunch of incompetent,worthless good for nothings,i said to myself. And you have the audacity to compare yourself with a Genius,and Political Maestro Siaka Probyn Stevens. Truly silly! African lawyers, in my view,need to be tied up, packed in bundles,and heaps,and thrown into trash, and garbage compactors,to rot,and waste away,out of our sight.

    Aficionados of the law in the African continent,especially in Sierra Leone,are as useless as a pen that ran out of ink,while in the process of signing a legally binding agreement.Now here’s a simple question: What are these dullards with fake,ridiculous Chinese brand wigs practicing in a lawless,criminal,corrupt society as ours,that is barely functioning,and supported only by crumbling, broken down,derelict judicial structures,and institutions? Truly laughable!

    And wait right there just a minute – Is it the anxieties that come with bribes received from the fragile hands of the poor that keeps them always oozing profusely with sweat,or perhaps the unbearable heat insides those mosquito infested courtrooms? Outright pathetic!

    Bragging rights are not for lawyers,who cannot tell the simple differences between,their useless knees, and their thoughtless elbows. Listen,the Legendary Stevens cannot be reduced, diminished,and tarnished,because there are many roaring, fearless Young lions,vigilantly watching,and guarding ferociously over his legacy.

    Well to be frank – I can’t knock,and reduce the hustle of the struggling poor masses trying to survive in rich Countries abroad; but as for Lawyers,no sympathies for them at all – they are a bunch of inconsiderate,unremorseful scumbags. Here’s the end – See, barefooted Lawyer – you can’t tell me nothing! Rising Sun Will Rise Again.

    • Saidu, your comment breaches our principle of respect for fellow forumite. You have been warned before, and I had hoped you would at least refrain from insulting others. I have no choice but to suspend you from the forum.

    • Wow…….is this commentator an African? He sounds like an angry Donald Trump. Let us respect ourselves, otherwise it is pointless calling white people racist. Self hate is not good. As a Nigerian, this is just my advice.

    • Historically, we have maintained harmony by displaying compassion and geniality, and by fostering connectedness when we get together. Anonymity and the lack of face-to-face interaction on social media platforms remove a crucial part of the equation of human sociality, which our — and that opens the door to more frequent, and severe, displays of aggression.

      Being an antagonizer, especially to those you don’t have to confront face-to-face, is easier now than it’s ever been. If there are no direct repercussions for it, that encourages the growth of aggression, incivility, and just plain meanness on social media platforms.

      Why can’t we all just have a descent plane objective conversations like humans. The capacity to observe how the world operates, to imagine how it might improve, and to turn that vision into reality (or at least make the attempt) is the hallmark of humanity.

      And therein lies the solution to the problem. We are equipped with the skill set both to quell aggression and to encourage cohesion.

      For countless millennia people have acted collectively to punish and shame aggressive antisocial actions such as bullying or abuse. On social media, where the troll is remote and anonymous, even the most objective comment may devolve into a shouting match.

      This forum, will lose more people if action (vet and moderate) is not taken to put to an end such unnecessary aggressive attack on others entitled to their opinions as we all do.

      Freedom of speech involves allowing others to speak freely, without getting abused for it.

      • Thank you J Mousa. I was hoping a simple warning would suffice, but it seems some people are determined to destroy the peace and harmony of the forum. I can assure you this will not be allowed. Everyone has a right to free speech but such freedoms come with responsibility not to molest, offend or impede others from enjoying that right. Thank you.

  3. We must stop this self-deprecating nonsense of referring to the Brits as our colonial masters. They were nothing but benevolent big bullies who took advantage of our hospitality and open-arms welcoming of strangers on our shores.

    They are no superior to us as fellow humans. Yes they have the comparative advantage of having excelled and benefited immensely from scientific and technological innovation and development that has made them cash rich. But does that make them better humans than us? You bet it doesn’t and we all know it.

    But of course when leaders such as old Stevens and Idi Amin with their colonial tom buffoonery mentality and attitude became the face of Africa, what do you expect from the Europeans in terms of their perception of post colonial Africans. Not much.

    Many among our generation and our children’s generation are standing up proud and tall in the world today, and I am confident that in time, we Africans will take our place on the world stage as equal partners on global development. We need to be more confident, take more pride in who we are and ditch the inferiority complex.

    The likes of Maada Bio and Ernest Bai Koroma will soon become extinct, having done the little they could given their limitations in terms of expertise and know-how, just as the likes of Stevens the old fool are now languishing in hell for the crimes committed against their fellow Africans.

    I am hopeful of our future. Refusing Africans visas to enter Europe must embolden us to aspire for greater heights. Let us not be disheartened. It should make us stronger and determined to make Africa a better place to live, play and work for all our people.

    Lastly, for those who want to pick a fight with me because of my views, I say this: As a seasoned lawyer, I know how to choose my battles very careful, most especially with my fellow Africans. I will not respond to you. Thank you.

  4. This is so true; I’ve been praying for this to happen for years. Let’s stop fighting and love one another and make our continent a place where we never want to leave.

  5. Everybody is talking about the COLONIAL MASTERS but, no one is talking about the COLONIAL SLAVES. Is that right? A MASTER always has his SLAVE. DISCUSS/ARGUE.

  6. Its very unfortunate that British home office contracts private firms to process visas on behalf of the government; and they end up making grave mistakes in visa issuance. I was denied a family holiday visa to London and changed to victoria falls which I think I enjoyed very much.

    We have everything in Africa, why do we have to keep complaining. Lets make Africa a better and safe place for us and ignore marginalisation of the west.

  7. Yes I think the African doesn’t know anything. They Always have different thinking. Of course they are not beggars. Really I think the Europeans are the cause of the problems of Africa. If we have colonialists and they declared to be our masters, they shouldn’t betrayed us. There are coloured people everywhere.

  8. Mr Conteh, Very candid response. Unfortunately, not just the UK, but basically most countries. And actually, there are number of African countries treating others in similar ways, in some cases, worse. No form of vexing will change this, but our actions. The desire ‘to rise’ within Africa. Also, will not entirely blame the desperate brothers and sisters leaving. Hunger makes you do a lot of things.

    Interestingly, not only African countries were colonies by the Brits. Some others have done really well for themselves. Not sure why, we are still blaming the ‘colonial master’ for our self inflicted shortfalls, when we had our Freedom some 60 years ago.

    However, there are some valid points on the unfair treatment, and we have not made it easy for the rest of the world either. This article was on 3 relatively large news outlets in the UK on Wednesday. The Rising Sun Should Burn Within.

  9. It seems to me Africans are as mentally inept,and unbalanced,as their Colonial Masters. True. Both of these people – the Old,tired,wrinkled British master,and his aging,toothless African servant are desperately in need of urgent professional psychiatric help. Over a Century ago,the wicked, unsmiling,mean-spirited British,plundered,robbed,and ransacked the African continent,without showing any empathy,and remorse whatsoever.

    Bandits, Pirates,and robbers,that’s who they were. They were adventurers,explorers,and scruffy looking ruffians,who strongly believed the world was theirs – from Sea to shining Shore. And sadly,their sickening impulses,of practicing,and enforcing beliefs of superiority over others,coupled with their self centred, egotistical attitudes,transformed them into heartless Monsters,and Boogymen,that kidnapped,and captured suckling infants,and their mothers,chained,humiliated and sold them for pennies,wretched,and naked into Slavery.

    Yep,they came like Tornadoes to our shores,wrecking havoc,no visas,and entry permits required,committed the worst crimes against Humanity the beautiful earth has ever seen,and quietly,and discreetly went away. Consider this,during those dark days of persecution,torture,and slavery,while the British slept on soft pillows,and warm blankets,kneaded with wool,we used rocks and stones as cushions,and the dusty earth as our beds,yet still they connived,tricked,and mercilessly robbed us, of all that rightfully belonged to us.

    Ask yourself – Who are these criminals,that have now become experts in decency,morality,and immigration law. Overnight,they have devised all kinds,and types of laws,decrees,rules,and principles just to prevent the same people that they once exploited,brutalized,traumatized,and discriminated against from being able to enter into their icy cold,Country. Have they forgotten our skin was dark,and black,years ago, when they robbed us of streams,and rivers overflowing with diamonds,and priceless pearls? So why is it a problem now?

    Seems to me the Slave masters still believe in holding on to,and practicing their old,boring, prejudicial,and stereotypical attitudes. But again, there’s another troubling side to this issue also,that clearly demonstrates the complete immaturity,and childishness of the African people. African leaders have sold the credibility,and integrity of the continent to the West for scraps,and handouts. They are like beggars,running around with begging bowls in their hands. Why would anyone respect,and not frown upon a shameless, thoughtless beggar?

    No one respects us,plain and simple. Our people also,are guilty of making matters worse; They travel to the UK as visitors,and overstay their visas,ending up becoming economic migrants,unwilling to return home ever again. Well,If many of them overstay,and refuse to return,why should the British keep on letting more people in? I mean lets be fair, although the British need to compensate us for past injustices,taking advantage of their generosity is outright discourteous.

    Africans need to invest their time,effort,and monies into our continent,and quit running to the doorsteps of their Colonial masters,every moment that passes by,in search of security,prosperity,and repose. The British proudly display their prejudices,like the garments they wear,and Africans have been notoriously known also, to moan,and roam naked,and stripped of all values of dignity, decency,pride, and self worth. Someone find these people a Clinical Psychiatrist, and have them thoroughly examined, and evaluated. Rising Sun Will Rise Again

  10. Rejecting visa applications from Africans is not limited to the United Kingdom. Visa applications for all European countries, Canada and the United States by Africans have a high rejection rate.

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