Once you like the father, you will like the son, the reason I was very glad when I met both Andrew Tosh and Julian Marley in Antwerp. It all started during the summer holiday festivals in Antwerp, Belgium. I have missed many festivals and interviews because the festivals take place while on holidays in Africa. This time, luck was on my side, among other artists to perform was Andrew Tosh.
Victims of recent terrorists attack in Brussels’ airport.
“The world has enough for everyone’s need, but not enough for everyone’s greed.”- Mahatma Ghandi.
Why so much violence in the world? Why so much crime in the world? Why only one God but many religions? These are some of the questions I often ask myself.
The world is now becoming or has become the most dangerous place to live because of different people, religion, mentality and the bad policies of politicians.
The more disturbing factor is the depending on politicians to find solutions for our problems when they are human beings like us. The world should have been a better place without them because the common people are always caught up in the middle of fire they didn’t start.
Whatever wind of terrorism blowing across Europe and America in the past and present, are the germinating seeds planted years ago by so-called politicians. The called themselves Super – Power, but the meaning of super-power to them is to dominate, intimidate, oppressed the poor and the underprivileged, because they think they can.
Politicians have totally disappointed us, continuously putting our lives in danger. This is a time people shouldn’t depend on them because from time to time they have shown their inefficiency when common people were killed on 9/11 and in the recent attacks in Brussels.
In Antwerp all shopping centers and busy streets are now deserted, because of fear. At every junction or street stands an armed soldier or police. The question is: Why do they always wait when innocent blood is shed before you see them busy for nothing? Instead of depending on politicians, everyone should be his brother’s keeper.
H.E. Ambassador, Ibrahim Sorie, Head of the Mission of Sierra Leone to the EU, on the right, and José Manuel Barroso
Information from Chernor Ojuku Sesay, Press attaché Sierra Leone Embassy Belgium.
The Diplomatic staff at the Sierra Leone Embassy in Brussels, led by the head of the Chancery Mrs Florence Bangalie, embarked on a mission to locate the whereabouts of the evacuated Sierra Leoneans, following the bomb attacks at Brussels’ Airport.
The evacuated passengers, both outbound and inbound have been relocated to three different places in Antwerp, Vilvoorde and Leuven.
The Brussels Airline management provided buses for the stranded passengers to Frankfurt, Amsterdam, and Paris airports, where arrangements were made to fly them to different destinations.
The passengers were without luggage. In the confusion which ensued following the unexpected bomb explosion, many lost personal items, including laptops, ipads etc.
The embassy painstakingly assisted some the stranded Sierra Leoneans by providing travelling documents that will enable them to proceed further to Freetown.
Those without Schengen visas were not allowed to move out of the camps. They were requested to stay calm as they await escorts to either Germany, Holland or France to join other flights.
There were rumours that Sierra Leoneans were among the dead and injured. This is too early to be confirmed by the embassy and the Belgian rescue team hasn’t provided any concrete information yet.
This detailed information might be released before the end of the week. The embassy will keep you posted on any further development.
Sierra Leoneans around the world, including the Belgium branch of the APC party, are deeply saddened by this tragedy and wish to send their sympathy and condolences to the injured and families of those that lost their loved ones.
Racial discrimination, violence and crime, are some of the problems that have divided, caused havoc and brought unrest in our society today, yet many don’t learn from the painful experience, destruction and the mistakes they do.
No body wants to be called a racist. “The black man say it’s the white man, The white man say it’s the black man, Indians say it’s the coloureds, Coloureds say it’s everyone…….” Sings Lucky Dube, the great South African reggae legend.
In one of the shops in Antwerp, an African dog lover,went to buy a dog’s chain. After payment, as soon as he stepped outside, a white man entering the same shop, saw him with the chain. He asked the African if he is going to use the chain on his neck. What a provocation? I quickly stepped in to hold the angry African, when the scene nearly turned to bloodshed.
That is how life goes sometimes. The poor African is not looking for trouble but the devil is knocking on his door to give him one. The white man knows very well that such question could bring unexpected problems, yet he ignored and did what his heart wants. And if you called him a racist, he will tell you “I’m not.”
At the just concluded Flemish Journalist Association end of year’s press conference on December 5, 2015, in Antwerp, I witnessed something more shocking. Among all the Belgian journalists, were only two Africans. A white male came to the other African, a radio journalist and asked him if he knows what monkeys eat.
“I don’t know.” He answered. “Then follow me.” Said the Belgian journalist. The radio journalist followed him, without knowing whether it was a joke, game or racial discrimination.
To his utmost surpise, he was taken to table with a bowl of fruits, including banana. He just smiled and left the Belgian journalist standing by the table. Why should something like that happen among a group of journalists in the same association? This is an insult not intelligence.
Many times the black man is seen as a criminal in the society, because of the colour of his skin, but crime doesn’t know colour. Both black and white commit crime. If you hate someone bcause of his colour, please just leave him alone. Don’t try to stir racial violence, because when trouble erupts, it affects everyone including children, our business and the society.
The Mayor of Antwerp, Bart De Wever and the writer, Joel Savage. Photo:@Kouablan Dominique.
Not quite long in Belgium, but fifteen years in Antwerp is enough to write a narrative essay, whenever I meet this challenge at an examination hall. Even though Antwerp is a famous city, known for its rich diamond collection and flourishing seaport, in the early 2000’s, the city was very rough and unsafe for both tourists and citizens.
It was this period Leona Detiége, a Belgian politician and member of the Flemish social-democratic party, then mayor of Antwerp, did her best to tackle the problems destroying the reputation of the city of Antwerp, as a tourist attraction center.
She swung into action, focusing on the notorious places, such as De Conincksplein, a neighbourhood that harboured all criminal activities, including drug peddling, prostitution, bag snatching, pickpockets, pimps etc, and De Falconplein, another notorious neighbourhood, serving as a red light district for prostitutes, pimps, and drug couriers.
Her undertakings weren’t just a bluff, it did really paralyzed the prostitution industry. Many prostitutes were arrested and deported to their countries of origin and the pimp industry collapsed. The Antwerp police received a letter from a group calling themselves ‘The Nigerian Mafia,’ threatening and ready to fight the police to death, for taking their prostitutes off the streets.
Leona stationed a mobile police van at the center of Conincksplein 24 hours daily, and all the nefarious activities and crimes subsided. Apart from that Leona made it uneasy for landlords that stole money from tenants. It was a period, criminal-landlords was known as ‘huismelkers’ were making a lot of money from tenants. Like a farmer milking his cow, they steal the three months guarantee paid by tenants. Her actions worked and totally reduced this menace which had taken over Antwerp.
Unfortunately, all the hard efforts of Leona came to a fruitless end, when she left office and Patrick Janssens, a member of the SP.a, succeeded her, as the next mayor of Antwerp. Patrick Janssens probably thought the best way to serve Antwerp, is be friendly with everyone. It was his time drug peddling, which Leona had fought to subdue, increased significantly.
There was time, Moroccans in Antwerp, believe or thought the city is for them. They drive, stop on the street, talk to friends, with a long queue of traffic behind them. Who dares to talk? You will be surrounded and if the police are not around, you will be beaten mercilessly.
At Schijnpoort, a neighbourhood in Antwerp, a Belgium driving, stops and asks a Moroccan for help, as he couldn’t find a street he was looking for. As soon as his window came down, right in front of me, the Moroccan accumulated a thick saliva in his mouth and spits onto the face of the driver. He picks up a tissue paper, wipes the saliva from his face and drove away. My heart ached when I witnessed this scene.
Under the administration of Patrick Janssens, the situation in Antwerp grew from bad to worse. More drug trafficking at coffee shops run by foreigners. By the time he decides to take drastic action, it was too late. The people in Antwerp are fed up and really want a change.
I will always remember Patrick Janssens for saving the citizens of Antwerp from dog’s waste explosion. It was a period one always comes home with a dog’s waste because they are everywhere. He did well to impose a fine against dog owners that leave dogs’ waste in the city after excretion.
The coming in of Bart De Wever, the leader of N-VA party, as the mayor of Antwerp, took many by surprise. As a politician who has dreams including the creation of an independent state for the province of Antwerp, many don’t like him much, but that didn’t prevent him from winning the seat as mayor of Antwerp.
The man knows that coming into office as a mayor is not all that is important but one’s achievement. De Wever is destined to carve his name as one of the best or probably the best mayor in the political history of Belgium. Since he assumed office, De Wever has done a lot within the shortest period many past mayors couldn’t achieve.
In regard to security and safety, Antwerp is now a safe city any time of the day, including night. Conincksplein, which used to be a dangerous place in Antwerp, is now a safe community for citizens.
The newly completed library adds glamour to the beauty of the area. Antwerp also remains clean since the administration introduced fine for litterers. Alcohol forbidden zones are now in force within the city.
Despite all his achievements, many still don’t agree with him. Some say he is a good man or bad man, others think he is wicked, but whatever name they call him, there is no doubt that Bart De Wever is the best mayor Antwerp has ever got or probably the best in the political history of Belgium.
It’s an exciting time for the Vlaamse Journalisten Veregniging, as the association holds its end of year press conference on Saturday, December 5, 2015, at the District House, the main official building of the mayor of Antwerp, Mr. Bart De Wever.
The association, which continue to grow, remain always adaptable, motivated and responsive, end of year’s press conference coincided with the celebration of the association’s golden jubilee.
At 12.00 pm, the chairman of the Flemish Journalists Association, Mr. Walter Van Den Branden, welcome all the members of the association into the office. After a quick refreshment, Bart De Wever was received by the chairman.
After giving his speech, he gave the platform to the mayor. Like always he shows his experience as a powerful and motivational speaker. He sheds light on his work as a politician, that many are displeased which caused a little laughter.
Like every formidable association, the Flemish Journalists Association, in the past fifty years, works and maintains close relationship with its members, in the fields of freelancing, media entrepreneurs, cartoonists, newspapers and radio journalists.
The Flemish Journalists Association, also maintains close contacts with local authorities, engages in training and carry out essential qualities needed to journalists to maintain successful careers.
From the mayor’s office, further activities of the association and dinner, took place at the Hotel Ramadan in Antwerp. I have attended many end of year press conferences of the Flemish Journalists Association, but this year’s occasion was exceptional.
After dinner, some of the members retired to bed in the hotel and others left home with free parcels distributed by the association’s secretary Hilde Van Gool.
In Europe and America, an innocent black man likely becomes a suspect because of the colour of his skin. At the premises of the industrial cleaning company, are workers from various countries, including Africans. For almost three months, the company we were working for, takes us to another industrial company in the district of Antwerp, called FABRICOM, to work there.
Fabricom is a construction company occupying a very large terrace. The company installs and maintains electricity installations, video surveillance, heating etc. Like the officials, the industrial workers also used containers as offices, toilets and dining hall.
The work at Fabricom was very heavy, thus; among hardworking operational staff, we do eight hours per day and most of the time, I drive a forklift. At 12 P.M, we have our lunch break. It was launch time we detected that some of the workers’ launch box had gone missing.
To work very hard and to find out that your lunch box is missing or stolen, is an issue too tough to handle. This didn’t happen once or twice but daily. Action speaks louder than words. Being Africans among white workers, all eyes were on us as the suspect, even though we weren’t accused of any theft.
At the dining hall, the atmosphere becomes tense, when on the fifth day of the week, one of the workers finds his food stolen again. This time, the management decides to do something about it. They secretly started their investigations, creating undetected hideout aiming to catch the person responsible for this theft red-handed.
The following week, about a quarter to noonday, a mysterious man emerged into the quiet dining hall, looking for a meal to steal. After tasting a number of meals, he finds a delicious one and he took it. As he tries to walk out he was intercepted.
Shockingly, out of over hundreds of workers at the company, the mysterious thief appeared to be one of our colleagues from Portugal. He was interrogated but the company didn’t call the police. Instead, they informed the boss of our company of what has happened.
Fabricom wouldn’t like to see the thief at the company’s premises again, so the company I was serving sent the Portuguese to another place to work. Sometimes it’s very hard to be judged wrongly because of the colour of your skin, but that shouldn’t prevent us to build a good relationship, with our neighbours, colleagues and our bosses.