King Leopold II, hacked off the wrists of Congolese men for failing to bring the quantity of Ivory and rubber he wants per day. Despite this horrible crime, Belgium named streets and built statues to honor him.
BRUSSELS, April 29, 2014 – The scope of the media is rapidly changing, becoming significant part of our modern civilization. Articles we don’t often read are now surfacing in the media, in the name of democracy and freedom of speech, defining trait of how integrated our social interactions have become.
The Diplomatic Aspects Newspaper’s Editor, Magda Cristina Butucea, interviews Joel Savage, a brave freelance journalist and author, residing in Belgium.
Magda: How and when did you become a journalist?
Joel: If journalism could be hereditary, then I inherited it from my father. Justin Savage was one of the well known journalists serving Guinea Press, now Ghanaian Times, in Kwame Nkrumah’s era, the first president of Ghana. I started writing when in secondary. While many articles are rejected by the Ghanaian media, every article I submitted was successfully published. That encouraged me to go deeper into writing.
Patrice Lumumba, first elected president of Congo, after independence. He was assassinated by Belgium, after losing the colony of Congo.
Magda: What personal qualities do you have that you feel makes you a good journalist?
Joel: The truth is God’s friend, but a lot of journalists are not friend of the truth. I read many newspapers and immediately see that this story is incomplete or lacks elements of truth. You see the problem is, many think journalism is a sort of enjoyment, becoming famous and travel around all over the world, but that’s not journalism. It is a career of sincerity and honesty. That makes me different. I will not lie or write false account, because I would get a couple of Euros in my pocket. That’s filthy money and because of some of these reasons the newspaper and journalism are losing their credibility. Many newspapers are not selling.
Magda: How long have you been in Belgium and how do you cope as a journalist?
Joel: Once a Belgian asked me a similar question and I asked him the reason he asks me that. He said “I am a Belgian and I know how difficult to be a foreigner in a place like Antwerp.” He was one of the truthful Belgians I had ever met, the fact that integration is very poor in the city to the extent that careers are always switched to eat and live, without progress. Yet they think they are very smart indeed. They continue deceiving people that integration in Antwerp is very good, but the question which makes them admit the lie is “How can you tell me integration is good, when you (The Flemish) don’t want the Wallonia’s (Your neighbor) to live in your community? I know them very well and they know me. That’s the reason I don’t want to lose my respect for them.
Magda: Tell me something about your books.
Joel: I write with emotions, so every book I have written is based on true events. When you are a black journalist living in a foreign country and nobody seems to care about what you are doing, even though you have written a number of books, gives one a signal that “They hiding many things which they wouldn’t let you know. Again would not give you any help you need, to be successful but rather find every way to frustrate you to abandon whatever you are doing.” Such challenges make me happy that is the reason I published “Little Boygium-Wonderful Experience”. It’s about my life in Antwerp. You can see that the book is on line throughout America and on European book websites, but not anywhere in Belgium. These are the kind of people I am living with over thirteen years, yet getting stronger each and every day.
Magda: Tell me something about ‘Little Boygium-Wonderful Experience.’
Joel: When I came to Belgium what I realized first is, any time you challenge them when wrong; they quickly threaten you of calling the police. One day a group of Africans visited me over a particular hospital in Antwerp to investigate. The number of blacks who have lost their lives in that hospital is overwhelming. According to the African community, the circumstances leading to many of the deaths are suspicious; because they believe they deliberately kill them and remove body parts for the Belgians who desperately need them.
Any white journalist can be sent to investigate something, so I took the opportunity to investigate, the fact that Belgium has a very bad reputation by killing over ten million Africans in Congo during the colonial era. Moreover I witnessed a demonstration by a group of Albanians over the same accusation when some Albanians died mysteriously in that hospital. When I reached the hospital, I wasn’t welcomed when they knew the reason I came. Any assistance I needed was denied. It was obvious they were trying to hide something from me.
I published the story first in Africa, in a book called ‘An African in Antwerp’ and later transferred and updated the manuscript and published it in United States of America as ‘Little Boygium – Wonderful Experience”. That publication reached the office of a lady, who works at the City of Antwerp, and I became public enemy number one. She claims her husband is a journalist who wouldn’t publish such a stupid story. “Your husband is a Belgian and I am an African, crimes against Africans are never seen in any Belgium newspaper.” I gave her an answer and left. When the dead body of an African is found somewhere, without any investigation, the media quickly writes ‘drug related case,’ if I am killed then everyone would know the reason I was killed, because I don’t sell drugs for living.
Magda: Describe a big problem in your life and how you coped with it.
Joel: My life is characterized with many problems not one, yet I am a happy man, because what doesn’t kill a man makes him strong. I am happily married and have three handsome boys. The definition of life is in the dictionary, but I have my own definition, as a miner digging for gold, he has to excavate it deep and process it, which isn’t a simple task, before getting the precious metal. That is life, one labours before eating when you want to pass the right way. We have more time on earth to make ourselves happy and healthy, than allowing problems to overtake our lives.
Magda: If you get a chance what would you change in this world?
Joel: For a very long time Africa has suffered persecution, war, ethnic violence, diseases and slavery, yet we are stronger than ever and many wonder how we live on that continent without committing suicide. I wish Europeans would learn much from Africa, to stand stress and overcome hardships. “Stop laughing at the wrong side of your mouth, because you think Africans are stupid, Africans are never stupid.” I say this many times. The Europeans underdeveloped Africa to put us in this situation, but trials and tribulations have shaped our lives positively. There are many good things to learn about Africa, not only corruption and poverty, after all there is also corruption in Europe, but since they hate the word ‘corruption’ they choose ‘Misappropriate of funds.’
Magda: What is your experience in Belgium or Europe generally?
We live in a world of hypocrisy, whereby if an African journalist writes the truth, they call him a lunatic and when a white journalist writes lies, he is praised and awarded. That is my experience, but believe me all shall pass, as the world is rapidly changing. The painful part is before they start pursuing the truth, harm has already been done, and no remedy can save the world, as they are battling to save it from Global Warming.
Magda: Thank you for this interview.
I owe you thanks, for allowing me to write for Diplomatic Aspects Newspaper.
Interview by Magdalena Cristina Butucea, Editor of the Diplomatic Aspects Newspaper.