Kola Adesina, PhD, second black News Editor of West Africa Magazine, London, wrote this article 27 years ago. The prediction made therein by Adesina, now a foremost Scholar of Communication, is being exemplified by Donald Trump in America and other political leaders in Europe. Platforms Africa, after due approval of the author, reproduces the ‘prophesy,’ first published in 1993, here.
WELCOME TO THE FUTURE
The army of race hate founded by the likes of the Ku Klux Klan in America and mushroom groupings across Europe is yet to recover from the Nazi hangover. It is gathering recruits from the masses of unemployed youth and attention on the political scene in the West. Kola Adesina reports
BLACKMAN AKEEB KARIM is an international folk musician of over 20 years standing. In 1978 he won the first prize at the World Youth and Students Festival of Arts and Culture in Havana, Cuba. He is now a resident musician and performer in the UK. Four weeks ago, he secured a potentially lucrative contract with8 the WOMAD, the international music promotion group, to perform in America and Canada. Everything went well until it came to obtaining an entry permit to the US.
Officials at the American Embassy in London told the organizers that Akeeb Karim, being a holder of a Nigerian passport, will need at least three weeks to complete the formalities for obtaining an American visa.
The renowned musician lost the opportunity because the contract was signed a few days to start of the show and he was not in possession of a British passport which would have guaranteed him automatic entry to America.
Current Miss Ghana (UK), Linda Nana Boateng, also has a similar experience. Last year she won another beauty contest which had as one of its prizes, a visit to Italy. She forfeited the chance for a mere fact that’s she holds a Ghanian passport.
According to the latest clearance procedure at the Italian Embassy, a Ghanian resident in the UK who intends to visit Italy on a tourist visa will need to submit his application at least three weeks before the date of travel. He is also required to submit his most recent bank statement and a letter from his employer confirming his employment status.
On September 2, a Gambian carpentry apprentice, E.B Sonko was grilled by the British immigration officials at Gatwick Airport on his reasons for coming on a visit to Britain. He was asked a variety of questions including how his father, who is a cleaner, manages to pay is children’s school fees. Another Gambian, A.T Coker, suffered more embarrassing questions.
The immigration officials asked him if his family in the Gambia lives in a hut or a brick house and how many rooms were there; how many houses his family owns; who collects rent on the houses; whether his parents still live together or are separated and the full names and addresses of all members of his family.
Welcome to the future that awaits the African immigrants already settled here or visitors from the continent trying to enter Europe and America. A future full of verbal and violent racial attack. The fear of immigrants swamping European culture and eventual “browning” of the West by people of darker pigmentation and alien values is now finding more voice.
The army of racial hatred founded by the likes of the Ku Klux Klan in America and mushroom groupings of some Europeans who are yet to overcome the Nazi hangover now finds the masses of unemployed youth, ready recruits. There are even staggered but worrying catcalls now coming from the universities and mainstream politics rooting for action to prevent the disappearance of the Caucasian culture. It is one thing to contend with a cause being championed and laced with the exuberant anger of the unemployed youth and lager louts and quite another when academics, intellectuals, frontline politicians and opinion leaders join the chorus.
Eminent scholars, parliamentarians and the press in the West now use their agenda-setting powers to keep the issue at the center stage of discussion.
An Oxford historian, Mark Almond, recently drew attention to what he termed the refusal of many immigrants to mix their host culture and accept its values. “It is one thing to deal with immigrants, even with great masses of them, who see th8e new host society as admirable and the place of their future prosperity, as scores of millions of new arrivals over the last 200 years have viewed the United States; it is another to come to terms with newcomers who reject many of the basic tenets of the society into which they are entering.” He said.
Various shades of argument have been advanced along this line.
In an editorial in the Spectator in 1991, Charles Moore stated that people are angry about the possibility of Britain losing its identity: “Britain is basically English-speaking, Christian and white, and if one starts to think that it might become basically Urdu-speaking and Muslim and brown, one gets frightened and angry.”
Unemployment and rising rate of crime are other reasons given for the growing hostility towards foreigners. Jean-Marie Le Pen the fire-spitting, National Front leader thinks that the solution to unemployment in France is simple.
“There are 300,000 unemployed people in France and an equal number of foreigners; send all the foreigners away and unemployment will disappear.” Similar views have been expressed by politicians of the right in other European countries.
But observers believe that in this regard, immigrants are being held responsible for the effects of the limitations of capitalism in providing enough jobs to ground or even to protect existing ones. They argue that Western leaders and their monetarist advisers will not be able to publicly admit the failure of capitalism but will find it more convenient to scapegoat immigrants.
Charles Osaro, a post-graduate student of Development Studies at the South bank University, London, said no one can rightly blame immigrants for the retrenchment of over 50,000 people in the banking and telecommunications industry in Britain in the last two years. “How many of the coal miners whose jobs are on the line are immigrants? He wonders.
Another economist predicted that as European and American companies strive to compete with the Asian tigers more jobs will be shed and any branches will be closed and the immigrants will be blamed. According to him, the tigers of Asia now have their claws in every industry, including the ones traditionally monopolized by Western companies; they produce cheaper and sell cheaper and have no political bias in choosing trading partners and no lobbyists in their assembly corridors.
“To match the pace of the Asians in these areas, Western countries will need to overhaul their entire business strategy ad conduct”, he observed. Crime rates are also soaring almost in line with the rate of unemployment.
According to a recent BBC survey, a crime is reported every three minutes in Britain; one third of the male population have a criminal record, and 29,000 rapes and other sexual offences were reported last year.
French and German crime rates are also rising and immigrants are getting stick for it. Neo-Nazi groups and the far-right parties are now clawing their way into politics and winning sits across Europe. Le Pen’s National Party currently has 10 elected members (MEPs); there are three from the far right in Germany; six from a similar grouping in Italy; all in the European Parliament in Strasbourg.
This Europe-wide trend is highlighted in a book to be published next month by the Institute of Race Relations.
According to analysis in the book: “In France the National Front gained 12.5 percent of the votes at the general election in March; in Belgium, the Vlaaams Blok (VB) won 12 seats in the chamber of representatives and five in the senate with 6.6 percent of the vote in the 1991 general election. The party stands for repatriation of all immigrants and amnesty for all Second World War collaborators.”
In Germany the far right Republikaner Party led by the former Waffen SS officer, Franz Schonhuber, is expected to win seats in the bundestag next autumn, if it can reach the five percent threshold vote. The MovimentoSociale Italiano-Destra Nationale won 34 seats in the national elections last year and for the first time since 1943, took control of nine small community councils.
The recent victory of the British national Party (BNP) in the local council by-election in London’s Tower Hamlets is further proof that the far right has started its journey towards Westminster. As the ranks of the unemployed swells, more people will begin to empathize publicly or privately with racist groups, the groups that are finding it difficult to live with the gradual improvement in the economic and social status of immigrants.
But the fact is that many of the immigrants of past early post-war years secured the best education and training possible for their children who are now doctors, engineers, lawyers and city yuppies. So, analysts are saying that instead of sticking to the dole and dreaming of a day when the British passport, regardless of merit and suitability, will secure a job, the rampaging unemployed youths should avail themselves of the variety of training and education opportunities that abound in the country.
Prime Minister John Major struck the right cord during the last electioneering campaign when he confronted a youth complaining about unemployment. “How many ‘O’ levels have you got?” asked the premier. The leather-clad youth with multi-coloured hair simply uttered some four letter words and malted into the crowd.
A few weeks ago a political party in Britain approached the UK Black Pages for the placement of n advertisement targeted at black immigrants in Britain. Part of the proposed advertisement is offering “a cash incentive of £100,000 to anyone who has worked 25 years or more in this country to return together with their family, to their country of origin.”
Some of the people who talked to his reporter about the ill-fated advertisement think that there is a likelihood that one of the major parties may be the sponsor. One solicitor wondered where a fringe arty would have found such a sum of money to pay for the space booked. Paul Boatenf, a Labour MP, said the advert in question is a dangerous and mischievous one which no responsible publication could or should publish. Wilberforce Limited, publishers of the directory, have since issued a press release stating their rejection of the advertisement and the huge fee associated with it. On this page are reproduced copies of the letter written to West Africa on the issue and the press release that followed.
Adesina, PhD, is the Head, Department of Communication, Crescent University, Abeokuta, Nigeria