How Comics Contribute to Brain Drain

The brains leave the city with their luggage. (Used clipping mask)

Brain drain, or the emigration of highly trained or qualified people from a particular country to another, is not a new phenomenon. Usually, when a country wants to develop its economy and its general living standards at a rapid rate, especially when that country does not have the required workforce to pull that off, they resort to bringing in qualified people from other countries to come and do the necessary work.

This has proven quite fruitful for many countries, especially western countries like the United States of America and Canada, who have taken advantage of this to grow their countries. This phenomenon has provided jobs and better opportunities for people from different parts of the world. At the same time however, brain drain causes countries, industries, and organizations to lose a core portion of valuable individuals. The term is often used to describe the departure of certain professionals, including groups of doctors, health care workers, scientists, engineers, or financial professionals. When these people leave, the places they leave are harmed in two main ways; Expertise is lost with each emigrant, diminishing the supply of that profession, and the (country’s) economy is harmed because each professional represents surplus spending units. Notable countries which have suffered the highest amounts of brain drain include India, Mexico, Cuba, Pakistan, South Africa and Nigeria. Most of these countries are developing countries and so it is understandable that these people usually leave because they are looking for better opportunities and a better life for themselves and their loved ones. This, however, does not take away the adverse effects of brain drain on these countries.

The causes of brain drain are numerous, however, it is almost never imagined that something like comics and comic books can be a promoter of this phenomenon. So, the obvious question one will ask here is: how do comics contribute to brain drain? Let’s see how below.

Brain drain comics and African comics on the zebra comics blog

Comics are powerful storytelling tools which leverage the combination of image and text to tell memorable stories. It should be no news by now that images are very powerful when it comes to the transmission of information. Whatever we see, we do not forget. But it does not end there; we also build impressions in our minds on whatever we see. If it is attractive, it will surely leave a positive impression and vice versa. Images are powerful, and through them, we can get powerful information on people and places in ways which other communication mediums cannot provide. At the same time, comics contain stories which are usually communicated through narration and dialogue. Stories are as powerful as images because they can inspire people to think differently, making them super important even in politics and commercial success. When images and stories are merged together, therefore, they produce comics which are very effective in communicating information about a place and changing mindsets about happenings and movements. It is at this level that comics contribute to brain drain. When readers consume their favorite comics, they usually come face to face with places, people and situations that they are not usually familiar with. When a Cameroonian kid reads a Batman comic, or a Spiderman comic and sees the school system, the skyscrapers, the organized police and the job possibilities that the characters in these comics have, they will naturally want to experience these things firsthand. They therefore begin to dream about these places and these things which they do not have in their own contexts. And so, when the opportunity shows up, they emigrate without a second thought.

It should however be noted that reading comics does not feature among the main causes of brain drain. Low salaries and inefficient working conditions, political instability and Search for further quality education still remain the key factors for this movement. Comics therefore play a more subtle role in this whole affair. Before making the decision to emigrate, people need to be sure that wherever they are going is a better place for them. Comics can therefore amplify the attractiveness of certain countries and push many people to move, confident that what they have seen in the comics are not very far from what is obtained in reality since every story is inspired by what the author sees in his or her immediate environment.

Mancraft African comics on the zebra comics blog

So, what does this mean for African comics creators and the African continent as a whole? This simply means that African creatives should create more comics which valorizes the continent by painting a picture which is not false, but one which puts forth aspects of the continent that many will admire. Poverty, sickness, crime and joblessness are present in Africa, but these same things are present in the most developed nations. African comics should therefore show a continent which has skyscrapers, technology, commerce and a warm culture. When Africans read comics like these, their perception of their continent will inevitably change and they will be less likely to succumb to the wave of brain drain.

In a nutshell, brain drain, like everything else, has its pros and cons. While it provides better opportunities to emigrants, it also deprives countries of the economic potential which these emigrants bring. To help stabilize this phenomenon, therefore, comics can be used to change the perceptions that people have of a particular place and thereby ensuring that they stay and develop their countries of origin.

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