Book Review: ‘Fourth Phase of Enslavement’
In his new book, 'Fourth Phase of Enslavement: Unveiling the plight of African immigrants in the West', the generalist, Emmanuel Sarpong Owusu-Ansah (aka Black Power) conscientizes and enlightens the world particularly Africans about the realities of life in Europe and other industrialized countries as an African immigrant, and provides a foundation for further informed engagement with Africans' mass migration to the developed world and its consequences.
He argues that 'one of the major elements that distinguish humans from animals especially mammals apart from the former's ability to think and reason, is their right to live their lives as free beings.' These in other words, are the key components that 'make humankind superior to any other form of creature existing on the surface of the earth'. Sadly however, Black Africans have constantly been subjected to 'terrible enslavement perpetrated initially by foreign powers and currently by their own leaders and the West combined; and their plight does not seem to end anytime soon'.
He maintains that the enslavement of Africans by the West commenced around the mid 15th century; a couple of decades after the arrival of the first Europeans on the shores of the continent many of whom claimed to be missionaries. By the close of the 20th century, the people of Africa had already endured at least three different eras and forms of enslavement, orchestrated mainly by Western Europe. Lamentably, the enslavement of Africans continues unabated as they come face to face with yet another form of this injustice, born out of incompetence on the part of leaders of the continent and neo-colonialism. This new form of slavery which he calls the 'fourth phase of enslavement … has put on a brightly coloured garment, delightful to the eyes of the African, and enticing him to get closer only to be trapped in a world of pain, depression, stress and almost unbearable discomfort.' He contends that this most contemporary form of enslavement 'relies heavily on mass migration to the industrialized world, and hence seemingly self-imposed.'
Drawing on volumes of relevant literature, media reports, personal experience and observation, eye witness accounts and other authentic sources, the first part of the book does not only establish the meanings of freedom and enslavement, but also touchingly reflects on the first three eras of the enslavement of Africans which he identifies as: the transatlantic slave trade era, the era of colonialism (colonial rule or imperialism), and the age of neo-colonialism referred to by Dr Kwame Nkrumah as 'the worst form of imperialism'. The issue of mass migration to the West and the possible causes of this “scourge” are also explored. It retraces the African migrants' perilous journeys to the industrialized world making very shocking and extraordinary revelations about the journey – revelations capable of turning the driest eye into a mighty waterfall. It vividly describes with tear-jerking examples the three main illegal means of migrating to western countries, namely: aircraft stow-away, ship stow-away, and the Sahara-Mediterranean journey. It draws attention to milliards of Africans who meet their untimely death in their desperate attempt to reach “Canaan” (the Whiteman's land). He does not spare pastors many of whom he claims serve as promoters of the emigration of Africans. He criticizes some materialistic pastors who quite ridiculously gladly offer to pray for the fulfilment of the dreams of someone planning to go to a place as dangerous as the Kosovo of old, Afghanistan, or Iraq.
The part two which is perhaps the most important and exciting aspect of the book describes and discusses the colossal tribulation and ordeal that many Black Africans go through in the western world. It touches on the difficulty in getting a job and treatment at the workplace, accommodation problems, access to health facilities, socio-cultural life of Black African immigrants, abuse from fellow Africans, racism and discrimination, and several other injustices. It however attempts to justify why many suffering immigrants are still in what he calls 'the Lion's Den' and are not returning home despite the hardship.
He proclaims that the dreadful belief among some Whites that Black Africans are semi-human, irrational, dregs of society, etc, are formed thanks to corrupt African leaders, as well as the western media who persistently portray only a very negative image of the African continent and its people. He supports his proposition with a number of factual examples including a narration of an extraordinary encounter with and the shocking confession of a Swiss lady who right from infancy had been deceived by the media and her family into believing that Black Africans are probably nothing more than evolving apes.
The prolific and indomitable writer, Owusu-Ansah, also identifies and critically analyses some of the possible causes of Africa's economic woes. The continent's economic misery according to him has been blamed by different people on different factors. For some, colonialism and/or neo-colonialism are the chief culprits; for others, all citizens of African nations are guilty (call it collective culpability); some people also maintain that no one has done anything wrong – the continent is just destined to remain in economic predicament – massa damnata; and there are those who believe that corrupt leaders are the cardinal offenders. He vehemently discredits the first theory; he questions the second proposition; he ferociously challenges the third school of thought; and holding them firmly by their tails, he identifies political leaders and people in positions of authority as the chief culprits.
He cautions that until a positive change is made and the broken African economy is mended, defeating the fourth phase of enslavement by controlling mass migration of Africans to the industrialized world will be a fruitless endeavour; and the colonial representation of the continent's sons and daughters as irrational, barbarians, and inferior, will continue to remain.
The book concludes that through the intensification of formal education; determination; the exhibition of the spirit of integrity, transparency and accountability; the employment of suitable economic and trading models; the demonstration of considerable respect for democratic governance and the principle of the rule of law; the avoidance of nepotism and ethnocentrism; and the preservation of indigenous culture while welcoming relevant external ones, African countries will achieve politico-socio-economic success. It expresses optimism that the chain of enslavement being suffered by Africans will be a thing of the past when the handsome ones do surface.
The author is noted for coining or constructing rich and thought provoking phrases in his written works, and this book is no exception. One never gets bored reading the works of authors like the invincible Black Power.
The xiv + 186 paged book, Fourth Phase of Enslavement (ISBN: 978-0-9568296-0-3) is available in a number of bookshops the world over. It could also be ordered online via Amazon, WHSmith, Ebay, Nielsen Books, and all major online bookshops.
Kennedy Opoku-Yeboah is a lecturer and the project director of the soon to be published work, TRAVEL AFRICA: DESTINATION GHANA. ([email protected])