AN AFRICAN IN ANTWERP, A resident's story

"I want the Belgian authorities to know that the media has failed to address crime that is perpetrated on foreigners. I will publish it" -Joel Savage.

The Belgium-based African journalist Joel Savage has published a pocket-size book, An African in Antwerp. It’s his true life experience and a personal encounter of how he lives in a city where one in three adults are known to vote for Extreme Right Party. 

It is also in Antwerp where Ouleymatou, the African nanny was gunned down with the toddler under her care in a broad daylight in a racist attack by Hans Van Themsche in May 2006. Joel Salvage’s pocket book is handy, small and easy to read. An hour of good reading.

An African in Antwerp explains in details, how immigrants are systematically abused and blackmailed by landlords, employers, and even friends. We’re under constant threat and Police do very little to help. 

It reminds me of number of mixed race couples I have known where African men are under constant pressure… “don’t do this or I will call the Police”And in Europe. The police come, every time they’re called because in the event that something really happens, they never want to be accused of negligence. And in any encounter with the police, the first thing they ask for are your Identification documents.

While Africans demand treatment with dignity in Europe, same is still tricky in Africa. And honestly, a collective good treatment in foreign lands will remain a tricky issue as long as human rights issues are not dealt with decisively in Africa. 

In my opinion, the continued racism in Europe, America, and Australia has direct roots in Africa and the day five nations like Nigeria, Egypt, South Africa, Kenya, and Congo will raise the dignity of its citizens to be at par with acceptable international level, the world will be forced to respect Africa.

So in Joel’s book, its very interesting to read how honesty and hard work has helped him thrive in a society which offers little to its black population. Belgium is a country traumatized by the loss of its colonial power in Congo. 

It was a painful divorce that the tiny European kingdom has not been able to cope up with. They like their selective memories of their past with the Congo, how they brought civilization to Africa. But not how King Leopold III annexed a country as big as the whole of Western Europe and one of the richest in the world, to his personal wealth portfolio.

The tyranny, killing, and raping of African women is not part of that good old past. Last year, the Belgian award film producer Georges Kamanayo, himself a product of a Belgian colonial man in Africa exclaimed that his picture and many other mixed children like him are missing in the beautiful family album. 

The family album that Belgium so proudly presents everywhere of a happy family.This year, the country is being prepared to remember The World Expo held in Brussels in 1958. But man, this is 2008 and Africa has long gained independence. Joel Savage’s book is available in African shops in Belgium.

The updated book is now published in America as 'Little Boygium-Wonderful experience.'