The Pride of an African Migrant: In Remembrance of Jimmy Mubenga, a Martyr of Globalisation, Murdered by the UK Border Regime on a British Airways Flight to Angola by Massocki Ma Massocki
Why was this book written and what is the mission behind this project?
The Pride of an African Migrant outlines barbaric acts of torture to which African asylum seekers are being subjected to in the United Kingdom.
The book was written in remembrance of Jimmy Mubenga, an African asylum seeker who was tortured and killed by the UK border regime at London Heathrow Airport on a British Airways flight to Angola on October 12, 2010, after resisting his deportation.
Having peacefully protested against the killing of Mubenga, a fellow asylum seeker, Massocki Ma Massocki, the author, was arrested and detained naked in a cold cell. After some time, even the place he was staying at was set on fire, ready to kill him.
Despite this, each year, the terrifying Mediterranean Sea and the dreadful Sahara desert claim the lives of at least 5,000 African migrants en route to Europe. And those who have conquered the sea and the desert still have to survive, in the land of Europe, the barbarism and inhumanity of immigration officers.
The Pride of an African Migrant aims to fight xenophobia and promote harmonious coexistence between all living beings, in particular, between migrants and Europeans, and heighten people’s compassion and wisdom, which are imperative for world peace. The book’s goal is also to make Africans aspiring to migrate to the European Union or the US be more informed of the issues related to their plans so that they can be better prepared.
The Pride of an African Migrant is a frank expository conversation for today and of all time. It is a book that every immigration player should read—from potential migrants to diplomatic staff, immigration officials, foreign policy advisors… every person with a migrant family member or neighbour.
‘Where is the human in migration? In an age of immigration as political posturing and propaganda, Massocki presents a collage of dreams, journeys, tears, wills… even death. This book is an intimate retelling of lives and stories that strips migrants of convenient agenda-driven labels, baring them stark to the reader. With blood running in their veins, vulnerable to fear, driven by ambition—the emotive human is at the centre of Massocki’s latest work.
The Pride of an African Migrant is a frank expository conversation for today and of all time. It is a book that every immigration player should read—from potential migrants to diplomatic staff, immigration officials, foreign policy advisors… every person with a migrant family member or neighbour.’ —Pierced Rock Press
PRAISE FOR ‘THE PRIDE OF AN AFRICAN MIGRANT’
‘Mixing politics and philosophy with the personal, Massocki recounts his troubling yet powerful tale of migration from Africa to Europe. His memoir weaves in a rich and unusual variety of voices: from individuals he met along his journey, to those of presidents, philosophers, musicians and academics. The result is a provocative, political memoir that seeks to inform people of the realities of migrating to Europe: a call on Africans to embrace their pride and dignity.’
—Dr Melanie Griffiths, University of Birmingham, England, UK
‘This is a contemporary mental, physical, and political odyssey. I have not come across such a graphic and personal account of a migrant’s extensive experience of former Prime Minister Theresa May’s “hostile environment” in all its finery. It is a powerful book. The more I go back to it, the more I see its potential to change minds—those of migrants and even those of people not forced to migrate. I think its publication is very significant.’
—Bill MacKeith, founder–member of Campaign to Close Campsfield and End All Immigration Detention (also involved with the Bail Observation Project (BOP), National Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigns (NCADC) / Right to Remain, Migreurop, Barbed Wire Britain, and Detention Forum)
‘Where else but in the telling of stories of oppression and injustices will one be able to grasp the rawness of avoidable human suffering? No other writer but Massocki Ma Massocki can bring us, in the most gripping way, a story so real that we feel our hairs stand on their ends. We see the gaping horror of what asylum seekers from Africa faced in the UK. Through this book, Massocki is calling for our compassion, asking us to collectively stand up to this scourge of violations to human rights. Massocki believes that we can overcome anything through collective, worldwide efforts in advocating for our rights to dignity.’
—Dr Toyin Ajao, African Leadership Centre and University of Pretoria
EXCERPT OF CHAPTER 2: FROM CAMEROON TO ENGLAND
On October 25, 2007, I received the go signal for my visa application. The news brought not only an overwhelming joy to the whole family but anticipation and feverish excitement as well. My father pooled all his savings, borrowed money from friends and had us eat plain rice almost every day just to save enough money for my journey. Because we all shared the vision of England as paradise, the entire family sacrificed.
My father’s social standing automatically went up in the neighbourhood. He was accorded a lot of respect for having a child go to England and his ability to afford it. The night before I left Cameroon, our family and friends gathered at a farewell party my father had organised.
I finally flew to London two days later. However, I had nowhere to stay and no money to rent a place. All of my father’s savings were depleted for my visa, leaving nothing much for anything else. Despite all these, however, we stayed steadfast in our dreams of making it big in London, as other people do—or so we thought.
At that time, finding a place to stay was not a priority. The only thing that mattered was to enter England; everything would eventually fall into place. Rent was a luxury we simply could neither afford nor even dare to think about. Nevertheless, my father did manage to provide me with GBP 270 as travel money.
Knowing I had limited money, I thought of how I would cope with my accommodations. There was my friend Bertrand, with whom I attended the same high school back in Cameroon. He had come to London a year before me to pursue his studies. Two days before my departure, I called and briefed him on my trip to London. I told him that I did not have a place to stay. Without any other friend or even acquaintance in Queensland, he was my only hope. Luckily, he agreed to help me out.
On October 28, I arrived at Gatwick Airport, and Bertrand was there to welcome me. As we walked out of the arrival lounge, I told Bertrand that the weather was cold. He smiled and replied that it was still Autumn; winter has not even started yet.
He continued to tell me the bad news that he could not give me a place to stay after all because he was already sharing his room with another student. However, Bertrand managed to put me in contact with somebody who could take me in for the night at least. The morning after, I had to attend my first day at the college to register. That very same day, I received a call from a family member’s contact who offered me a place to stay for two months.
I visited beautiful places such as the London Eye, Buckingham Palace, Tower Bridge, Oxford Circus and Trafalgar Square as well as fancy restaurants and boutiques and so on. London felt like a fantasy land—an amusement park of sorts. Buildings were towering in the distance, flashy cars passing by and beautiful people in every corner. Indeed, London looked like paradise on Earth. The things I saw reinforced my preconceived assumption that everyone in England is happy, and assured me that I would be satisfied as well. I, however, did not see parts of London like Brixton, Peckham and Hackney—best likened to black ghetto communities. I did not see the harsh realities that were the lives of some African migrants. I was deluded and wholly separated from reality in the same way British people are deluded in their visions of Africa.
Lions, monkeys, jungles and people making fire with stones make up the classic African imagery recognised worldwide. But many Africans have never even seen a lion. Africans supposedly live in caves like the primordial man, and tree branches like monkeys. On top of that, the English media’s coverage of Africa and its people are often negative, revolving around issues such as civil war, genocide, famine, poverty and AIDS. While these are indeed major concerns of the continent, they coexist with a plethora of positive news and events that, interestingly, are never reported by Western media.
The intense negative media—being the most consistent contact most Europeans have with Africa—creates assumptions that determine how Africans are perceived in other foreign shores. This explains why many white women claim that all Africans suffer from AIDS because they eat monkeys, which, for them, are the source of AIDS. At that moment, it dawned on me: just like in Africa, education is also a luxury in the United Kingdom.
Another main distinction of the United Kingdom compared to Africa is the freedom exercised by its British political actors. For me, this was suggestive of a civilised government. From the British parliamentary sessions I would often watch on the BBC, I was astonished at how such acts of insubordination can be tolerated—without the deadly consequences as normalised in Africa.
When members of the parliament called Gordon Brown, then British Prime Minister, a liar and continued to boo and interrupt him without any hesitation, I was caught in disbelief! In the coming months, having known the indescribable acts of torture committed against asylum seekers in the United Kingdom, I would append a downward review to that first naive impression.
The illusion of a civilised government would not only vanish from my mind; it would also awaken me to the reality that British parliament members are just political clowns performing in the circus that is the British parliament and government. It acts as a mere iroko tree shielding an amazon of gross brutality, barbarism and inhumanity…
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Massocki Ma Massocki is a columnist, activist and Pan-Africanist. He has written columns for newspapers around the world as well as articles for regional and international organizations.
Massocki has also given talks and conferences in Africa, Asia and Europe on Pan-Africanism and global issues.
Pierced Rock Press website:
Goodreads: Massocki Ma Massocki
Facebook Page: Massocki Ma Massocki
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ABOUT PIERCED ROCK PRESS
Pierced Rock Press is a publishing house of Pierced Rock, a conglomeration of numerous companies involved in art and mass media enterprise newly created and headquartered in Cameroon, West Africa.
Pierced Rock Press was established in response to the marginalization of black voices in the publishing industry overwhelmingly white at 89 percent while black only make one percent of the same industry according to a recent survey.
Pierced Rock Press website: http://www.piercedrockpress.com
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