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Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Gist of an African Boy

 Columnist

Another Look at Racism

I don’t know what you think or feel whenever you hear or say racism. Don’t you hear the tone of violence as you pronounce the word? Don’t you notice the voice penetrating my heart, and making me want to seek justice in any quick way available? But we must tarry a little, for I’d rather we pity such a soul in turmoil, and not venom for venom though it may be appropriate in some circumstances. Then who exactly is a racist?

A German man called Alex W. was sentenced to life imprisonment on November 11 for stabbing to death a pregnant Egyptian woman, Marwa al-Shebini, 32, in a Dresden courtroom. Before the killing, it was alleged that Alex had insulted her for wearing the Islamic headscarf. In the same month, Hungarian media reported that an African footballer with a popular club was brutally attacked by some disgruntled youths known as skinheads.
On July 2007, Mézöly Kálma, a Hungarian Football Federation official, was also quoted as saying, “I do not know why our football body allows Africans who just came down from the tree to play football in Hungary”. Although Mr. Kálma later apologised after intense condemnation by fellow Hungarians, the deed has been done.  

In June, Polish priest Tadeusz Rydzyk was reported to have said to a black missionary during a pilgrimage: "Look, he hasn't washed at all." Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski, according to Earth Times, is on record as having joked to colleagues that US President Barack Obama had a Polish connection because "his grandfather ate a Polish missionary." Mamadou Diouf, founder of the Africa Another Way Foundation, says nobody monitors the racial situation in Poland, where people use expressions like, "a hundred years behind the blacks," and shrug off similar comments as jokes.

Zaragoza football fans once displayed such warped mind when they hurled a torrent of racial abuse at Samuel Etoo, African born former Barcelona striker and formerly third best FIFA World Player of the year. England’s black players received the same treatment during a friendly soccer game against Spain in Madrid. The same tasteless incident also occurred in England where a Blackburn Rovers supporter was fined one thousand pounds and banned from football grounds for five years for racially abusing black player Dwight Yorke.

It appears some people still bend on exhibiting uncultured behaviour towards fellow beings; some are still ignorance of a wave of globalisation swirling around human race. Otherwise, why should the colour of one's skin matters so much for such mental torture in an era when EU (European Union) policy centred on Respect for one another! Players often wear the badge in their arms.

 So, the colour of my skin still matters in this age of globalisation? The EU Policy is probably the most comprehensive package in the world for anti-discrimination laws to protect people from being discriminated against on the grounds of racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, sex or sexual orientation. The pro-diversity laws were agreed by all EU countries in 2000 which invariably means that all 27 countries in the EU today are required to incorporate these rules into their national laws.

 The killing of pregnant Shebini; the behaviour of Spanish fans; the sarcasm of Polish priest and Polish Foreign Minister etc, definitely re-kindle the social and religious attitude that made slavery possible in those days. Their joyous anti-African sentiments echo and then transcend the value system that takes whiteness to be the human norm. Such anti-diversity infringement is against the axiom wisely coined by the EU "For Diversity…Against Discrimination."

 The history of racial prejudice is what could simply be described as offensive, tear jerking and sorrowful. In colonial America, thousands of African slaves served whites under what was then regarded as colour segregation. There was the Ku Klux Klan, a secret society of white southerners in the United States, who believes that the world will become over-populated with African-Americans, Hispanics, and Jews. It’s unbelievable that such thought still exists today. Example is the proclamation by the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, to wipe off Israel is antithesis of civilisation. Such intense hatred is least expected of a leader.

 There was also a notable history of slavery in Canada in 1700s when more than half of all Canadians were aboriginals. Anti-Semitism was pervasive in the late 19th and early 20th century when many Germans and Austrians accepted a form of racism towards Jewish people. There were race riots across the United Kingdom in 1919. Racial segregation known as apartheid existed in South Africa between 1948 and 1990. Even today there are many youths across the world calling themselves skinheads, who simply do not believe in diversity.

 However, racial discrimination seems to me a very sensitive and controversial issue. I am aware that some people treat others as inferior, or believe that they are inferior, because they belong to a particular race. Yet we need to be very careful in our efforts or in our haste to expose such a warped, perverted mind. We should also endeavour not to confuse collective and individual attitudes in this case. It’s highly necessary to distinguish racial or any form of discrimination from the ordinary bad mood. I shall expatiate on this shortly.  

 I suppose the concept of racism should be strictly treated as individual malaise even though I’d never understand why someone thinks or feels superior to another – on racial ego. Isn’t it logical to judge people because of their character rather than the colour of their skin? Geographically, I am an African. Does this give me any disposition as to regard myself better than my European counterparts on racial fallacy? Or vice-versa! It makes sense to some people though.

 Now, what could make someone you definitely know is a racist denies being a racist? Does this mean a racist is conscious that such behaviour is anti-social and unintelligible, but incorrigible? So a racist feels the heat and knows the absurdity in hating purely on racial term? Again, who is then a racist?

Is it the elderly lady whom you met at a supermarket, and who stared at you, then squeezed her face when your eyes met hers? Could it be your personal body odour she detested and not you as a person? Perhaps she would have reacted in the same manner to Kate or Lászlo, who belongs to her race. If the assumption is right, wouldn’t it be unfair then to label the woman a racist?

 Or a white clerk at the post office who in a rude manner, asked a black customer to shut up his mouth while singing on the queue. Could it be that this clerk was simply being impolite or was just having a bad day? Maybe she could have used insulting language to people of her race in the same circumstance. What of that young lady who hurriedly departed her seat as soon as you sat beside her in the library? Perhaps her departure was only a coincidence. Maybe she had wanted to vacate the seat before your arrival.

 Hum, what should we call a club owner who refused entry to dark skin people just because the police were looking for three dark skin persons the previous night? I wonder if this club owner would have refused entry to all white people had the police were looking for three white men. What of Online TV editor, Tamás Polgár, who once stirred controversy in Hungary by declaring publicly that he simply hated interracial marriage? Although I would never understand this line of thought but does the TV editor in question not have the right to express his thought?

 How about a couple – my neighbours – who frowned at me for being in the same lift? Maybe this couple had planned to smooch inside the lift and the presence of a third person – dark or white skin – would definitely disturb them. What    sense does it make had I jumped into conclusion portraying them as racists? I have heard an African brother calling a white woman a racist simply because she refused his advances. This is why we must be cautious in dealing with racism.

 The point I am making is simple. A white person neither would think of my neighbours as racists nor the young woman in situations I have mentioned. This is because your own race can never accuse you of being a racist. And that seems to be the hidden puzzle.

By the way, a racist – if indeed a racist – seems to have a legal advantage over the victim. Although Emmanuel Obikwu and Zaina Ukwaju got £65,475 and £30,000 respectively for unfair dismissal and racial discrimination, many cases of racism are being dismissed for lack of evidence or substance. In March 2002, a British white teenager, Robert Stewart, killed his cellmate, Zahid Mubarek, an Asian. Despite the fact that staff had intercepted a racist letter from Stewart before killing Zalid, prison authority still considered Stewart only dangerous and not racist.

 Yet, X calling Z a racist does not necessarily mean Z is a racist in the actual sense. X of course might be suffering from a preconceived opinion. I mean the notion that he or she is actually a victim of racism no matter what. Now let us assume a dark skin man or woman actually did something wrong and was rebuked by a white person, I would rather we talk about the wrong doing instead of treating the issue under the false pretence of racism. The danger that lies behind such pretence could backfire on those who are being discriminated against: the actual victim of racism.

 Well, anyone who had encountered racism in its ugly form would probably agree with me that it is a kind of force that paralyses the thinking faculty – of the victim. It boils the mind to the point of paroxysm pushing one to take the offensive. It resembles a situation whereby you feel your life is in total danger of a sworn enemy. Unless one has strong mind, and thus regards a racist as absolute dimwit, one is bound to commit atrocity.

 It doesn’t matter whether such action is justifiable or not. The venom from a racist mouth or gesture is like a tingle in the body in which you experienced a pang of sadness due to his use of directness, poetic hatred penetration that compels response. The worst kind of racism is probably the one you encountered from the law enforcement departments or officers. Take for example, you are being attacked by some disgruntle elements who are whites. The police arrived at the scene, did nothing to help. Just imagine the trauma.

 Or a situation when you had an accident – though not life threatening – and a Samaritan called both the ambulance and the police. On arriving at the scene, the police told the ambulance not to take you to the hospital. Or a situation when you had a brawl with your white neighbours and you sustained bloody injury, yet it was you that was handcuffed and taken to the police station. Not to mention a situation when the police officers made grim jokes about your race.

Such primitive attitude should be regarded as a mental sickness. What grasp of logic could anyone present for hating fellow beings on race card? It simply doesn't make sense and if it doesn't make sense let's throw it away. Again, we shouldn’t treat this sensitive issue collectively. I think it’s wrong to say that Hungarians or Germans or Polish are racists. We should endeavour not to lump people together in this matter. Even though ethnic origin, according to Euronews, accounts for 61% of job discrimination in the EU ahead of age, sex and disability, I passionately believe racism is an individual thing.
           
Upon all, the question right now in my mind is whether there could possibly be a positive discrimination? The other time I went to the town hall to validate my address which I needed urgently, the officer in charge realising my difficulty in filling the paper (Still having some difficulties with Hungarian), went the extra mile to help me. In short, the process that should take ten days only took two hours. Do I need to say anything further? That single rattling event almost erased previous unpleasant experiences with “racism”. It was like kissing joy as it flew by.

And finally, next time you encounter racism, just pity such a sick mind rather than show anger. For me, that seems to be the efficient way to teach her civility. And always remember that no one can actually make you feel inferior without your consent. I trust we would all embrace the wisdom behind "For Diversity…Against Discrimination." Yes, diversity is the only avenue for us to understand one another better. It’s probably our last hope.


 The Second Slavery Ship


The boat came ashore. It was a huge boat, and enough to contain billion people. The lettering still reads SSS. My brother, sister and I struggled to embark, thinking Success Story Ship. I still do not know how we misinterpreted the inscription on that scorching day. But I remember that many people had struggled to board that big boat. I still remember how certain parents abused and flogged their unwilling kids. They must enter the Success Story Ship. They must go learn the white man magic – to enslave their peers and, or the unfortunate ones. 
  
It was like yesterday. I remember a man and a woman wearing white uniform. They are not as white as the uniform, but everyone called them white. It was not until I managed to enter unto the ship that I took a closer look. The woman is closer to red, while the man is more of pink. I was confused. My English and History teacher always referred to people of this kind as white. They have taught me that people of my kind are black, and that white is the opposite of black. I took a second look at my sister. She is not black. I have seen a very hard, heavy, dark-coloured wood before. My sister is ebony.   

It was the woman who smiled at me. My stomach rumbled and fear came unto me. It was as if she knew my thought. At this point I wanted to tell her that her colour was red and not white, but I dismissed the thought, for she might refuse to ship me to their land. If that had happened, my father would have killed me. My father would have rebuked me saying, “Curiosity kills the cat”. I had seen how much respect my father have for these people. As a kid, I grew up knowing that people like this woman are superior. Like my forefathers, my own father worships white man.  

I did not smile back. I was just occupied with the reasons behind my teachers calling her white, and why they insist I am the opposite of her; why my father holds her in high esteem; why my father had said he would kill me if I couldn’t make it to the white woman land. It pained me that I have to listen to my father’s voice. “White man is superior.”    

The woman came nearer. She flashed another smile. It was radiant but my quick glance detected something suspicious. Her uniform even attracted me more than herself. I did not look up even when she tapped me on my shoulder.  

"Young man," she said. "What's on your mind?"
My heart leapt. "Nothing," I lied.  
I must have disappointed my father, for he had told me several times never to show my emotion, especially to the "white man"                                                                                                                                        "You must have been thinking about the journey…"  
For the first time I looked at her penetrating eyes. It was like that of my grandmother's dark cat. And so she began:  

"This is SSS. We have brought it for a purpose. It is a long time project, and it's all over this continent. We know that you're intelligent people. We know that given the chance you people would become world power. But that would be over the white man's dead body. Your continent shall remain a dumping ground quite a while. And I am not talking about half a century. Much longer! This is how it has been planned. Forget about debt cancellation, poverty eradication in Africa, AIDS for Africa. These are all slavery slogans. And we know it. 

"The only way out for you people is to reject white man's system. As long as you follow him, be sure you will never beat him in his own game. You have to develop your own unique line of thought – quite different from ours. Some deep thinkers among you have proposed this line of thought but are being rebuked as lunatics. Anyway, we won’t let you discover yourselves. We would confuse you the more because it is a do or die affair…Your only hope is revolution but we would prevent that at all cost.
 
"This ship is a metaphor of our message. We had thought we would use force to recruit young men and women but see, you all aboard voluntarily. I am sure that the brightest among you are on this ship, meaning the future of your continent is in our palm. My colleagues and I were actually dumbfounded to see many of you being caned by your parents for a place on this ship. But young man, there's a possibility to turn this journey into another SSS (Success Story Ship). However, you must be ready to do more than just follow...follow like your so-called leaders.

"We are actually making a research about the thinking faculty of leaders in Africa . We are curious about their instinct to kill the best to grow. For example, we would like to know why any reasonable government would allow its future to be easily taken away as it is happening on this very ship. We really want to know why they must kneel before the White House in order to feel important. In fact we want to know whether leaders in Africa do think or not. When are they going to realise that we don’t respect beggar, but your leaders are professional beggars; we don’t respect moron, but your leaders are close to being morons…"

Two things had struck me about this woman: her candid double-talk and her ability to read my mind. A gift I would later know as the science of mental life. My grandmother had been good at it, too. I remember people always troop to our house in order to benefit from her wise counsel. Her prediction was always accurate. And then one day, the same people stoned her to death. “You’re a witch,” they shouted.

The woman's harangue was the vehicle by which I rode to my own thought. As we continued the voyage in which I have already lost many of my brothers and sisters (some swept away by water, some died of hunger, some committed suicide, some executed), I began to torture myself. Why did they murder my grandmother for being an oracle who was benevolent to her society? Who killed Fela Anikulapo-Kuti? What killed Bob Marley? What prevents African intellectuals like Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka, Ali Mazrui etc, from living permanently in their continent? Why do African rulers siphon money and, or prefer to die in the white woman land? Is it because they have – at one time or another – aboard the Second Slavery Ship?


Africa: 50 years of Independence

It is fifty years that most African States freed themselves from colonial exploiters who had sojourned to the then “Dark Continent” in a selfish attempt to introduce “light” to the region. Ironically, African rulers are doing – if not worse – exactly what these colonialists did to Africa in those dark days. It sickens.

Although a few African States like Ghana got independence before 1960, the year witnessed freedom en-sweep much of Africa. Nigeria and Somalia broke from British ascendancy. Fourteen nations (Cameroon, Togo, Mali, Senegal, Madagascar, Benin, Niger, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Chad, Central African Republic, Mauritanian, Republic of the Congo, and Gabon,) ended French control, while the Belgian Congo became Zaire.

Liberia and Ethiopia meanwhile are the only two countries in Africa without roots in the European Scramble for Africa. Thus Liberia was the first African country to get its independence from freed American slaves on July 26 1847; and Ethiopia remains the only African country never colonized.

Whilst some got their independence on a platter of gold, some did by fighting for political freedom from unwanted strangers who had forcefully occupied their territories. These strangers who had found a fertile land in African nations refused to leave.

By the time they were bundled out, they had caused chaos that forever would impede the development of African States. Though an innate ambition, it was a master plan by the colonialists. The happening in the African region today is no doubt the result of a vow to destabilize the people by those strangers who had planned to conquer them forever. What seems to be the most painful is the collaboration of African rulers to further keep the continent in darkness.

The ghost of that brutal vision still taunts most of the African States today. It continues to re-appear in form of poverty, war, tribalism, religious intolerance and underdevelopment. It is disheartening to observe that majority of organizations claiming to be NGO (Non Governmental Organization) around the world today use Africa's poverty situation to solicit funds anyhow. 

Consequently, it has become fashionable to create a blog and put the pictures of African children crying or looking dejected and, or bare-naked in an effort to make money rather than actually helping the needy. Why is Africa being subjected to a symbol of sorrow? And why is it difficult for African rulers to checkmate these NGO's innate intention to portray Africa as a hopeless continent? Hum, you may be surprised that some African governments may be collaborating with these NGO's as long as their palms are being rubbed.    

These visionless rulers – military or civilian – are in the habit of enslaving their people in form of IMF loan and other knavery acts. They are in the habit of siphoning the state wealth to foreign countries like Switzerland, England, America, and France. These African rulers lavish money anyhow, especially on unnecessary things. If they go abroad, they go with scores of delegation on tax payers' money. They buy expensive mansions in foreign lands. They buy for their family and concubines worthless but exorbitant materials.

In preparation for the Nigeria's golden independent jubilee in October 1st, President Jonathan Goodluck had budgeted N16.4 billion for celebrations, reports say. He then slashed it to N9.5 billion following public criticism. Ghana was also reported to have spent up to 20 million US dollars for her own golden independent jubilee. This is just to cite two examples.  

No wonder that Africa remains underdeveloped after the so-called independence. Or, can a nation be considered development or developing when in fact, citizens cannot enjoy basic amenities like health care, education, good roads, constant electricity, and adequate water? Of course a few African countries are making progress in some respect; many remain stagnant and may remain so for another 50 years if care is not taken.

In fact, major publications have done an expose on how African dictators are agents of American notorious CIA and other similar organizations in the west. According to several reports, America is in the habit of recruiting dictators who can advance its course. England and France until recent have been a haven for African political thieves.   

There have been arguments in some quarters as well. Right thinking minds have been trying to understand the reason behind Asian countries’ rapid development and African countries’ continuous underdevelopment. Well, the perspective and the readiness of benevolent leadership may play an important role in the difference between the two continents. 

It is not a good sign for the region, despite its abundance natural resources to willingly allow most of its best to emigrate to the west. The brain drain that has swept across Africa is a blow for development. For example, African scholarship students in the west refused to return to their respective countries after study.

The decision and wisdom of these brilliant African students to stay put in their host countries in the west after their study says a lot about Africa. Instead of bracing the storm by coming up with ideas that can uplift the spirit of progress in their respective countries, these students are satisfied being second or third class citizens. It is a pit.

In the last decade, the west in another attempt to enslave Africa, introduced a system whereby African highly skilled men and women are lured from the continent. They are now contributing to the development of their host nations while their countries of birth wallow in abject underdevelopment.

Is there even the need to celebrate? Well, it depends on whom you ask. But certainly, the masses who are bearing the consequences of bad policies would definitely tell you that there's nothing to celebrate. Meanwhile the pertinent question is this: What will become of Africa in the next 50 years? Your guess is as good as mine.

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Editor's Mail

Love the article on Gaddafi
We must rise above tribalism & divide & rule of the colonialist who stole & looted our treasure & planted their puppets to lord it over us..they alone can decide on whosoever is performing & the one that is corrupt..but the most corrupt nations are the western countries that plunder the resources of other nations & make them poorer & aid the rulers to steal & keep such ill gotten wealth in their country..yemen,syria etc have killed more than gadhafi but its not A̷̷̴ good investment for the west(this is laughable)because oil is not in these countries..when obasanjo annihilated the odi people in rivers state, they looked away because its in their favour & interest..one day! Samosa Iyoha

Hello from
Johannesburg
I was amazed to find a website for Africans in Hungary.
Looks like you have quite a community there. Here in SA we have some three million Zimbabweans living in exile and not much sign of going home ... but in Hungary??? Hope to meet you on one of my trips to Europe; was in Steirmark Austria near the Hungarian border earlier this month. Every good wish for 2011. Geoff in Jo'burg

I'm impressed by
ANH work but...
Interesting interview...
I think from what have been said, the Nigerian embassy here seem to be more concern about its nationals than we are for ourselves. Our complete disregard for the laws of Hungary isn't going to help Nigeria's image or going to promote what the Embassy is trying to showcase. So if the journalists could zoom-in more focus on Nigerians living, working and studying here in Hungary than scrutinizing the embassy and its every move, i think it would be of tremendous help to the embassy serving its nationals better and create more awareness about where we live . Taking the issues of illicit drugs and forged documents as typical examples.. there are so many cases of Nigerians been involved. But i am yet to read of it in e.news. So i think if only you and your journalists could write more about it and follow up on the stories i think it will make our nationals more aware of what to expect. I wouldn't say i am not impressed with your work but you need to be more of a two way street rather than a one way street . Keep up the good work... Sylvia

My comment to the interview with his excellency Mr. Adedotun Adenrele Adepoju CDA a.i--

He is an intelligent man. He spoke well on the issues! Thanks to Mr Hakeem Babalola for the interview it contains some expedient information.. B.Ayo Adams click to read editor's mail
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