The Pride of an African Migrant
by Massocki Ma Massocki
The Pride of an African Migrant by Massocki Ma Massocki
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.
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
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
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
Barnes & Noble
‘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
WHERE TO PURCHASE BOOKS
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 will be published via Ingramspark and will be available and will be available at Ingramspark, Amazon, Kobo, Applebooks, etc…
Purchase books from the Pierced Rock Press publisher’s website: www.piercedrockpress.com
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 is available on Amazon in hardcover, paperback and formatted for Kindle ebooks:
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 is available for wholesale in bulk for organizations.
All book retailers, librarians and wholesalers will be able to order the book on Ingramspark at 55% discount with a return policy.
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.
A Deep Dive into The Pride of an African Migrant
A young man, Massocki Ma Massocki sets out from Cameroon, West Africa, to the paradise that awaits in Europe. But instead in the United Kingdom, he encounters racism, state violence, insecure jobs, and imprisonment in three different detention centres, destitution and begging on the streets, entrapment by drug dealers, and an arson attack.
He journeys from London, to Southend and Liverpool. He meets and tells the stories of other migrants. He meets Sarah Jane, a white Rasta woman who astonishes him by singing Burning Spear’s ’Slavery Days’. Sarah has her own problems but she is a lifeline to him.
At some point, Massocki encounters a new understanding of life, and this is at the core of the book. As well as Zen masters, Massocki also refers to and quotes among others Marcus Garvey, Mfumu Kimbangu, Sékou Touré, Patrice Lumumba, Frantz Fanon, historian Cheik Anta Diop, Ethiopian poet Lemn Cissay, the Cameroonian philosopher Ebénézer Njoh-Mouellé, and singers such as Bob Marley, Youssou N’Dour, and Fela Kuti.
Massocki documents his struggle for his own and other’s freedom and dignity: speeches about migration to students in Liverpool John Moore University, to his first class of meditation students, an open letter challenging Cameroonian dictator Paul Biya, his lone protests against the murder of Jimmy Mubenga by the UK Border Regime on a plane at Heathrow Airport, demanding freedom of speech inside Campsfield detention centre (for that he was ‘knocked down by 10 guards’), and
against his own deportation at Heathrow Airport (which provoked another violent reaction by guards).
The Pride of an African Migrant is subtitled ‘In Remembrance of Jimmy Mubenga, a Martyr of Globalization, Murdered by the UK Border Regime on a British Airways Flight to Angola ’. The book starts with a letter of condolence and consolation to Jimmy Mubenga’s family. The letter is titled ‘Our Hearts Are With You’.
There is a very productive tension between the teachings of Zen lightly touched on in this book, the calm of meditation, and the implication of the realization that for Africans the answer is not to chase a dream in Europe, but to stay and challenge and overturn the neo-colonialism of corrupt African leaders and Western financial institutions, military and governments.
There are some superb passages such as that comparing the spending on average of $7000 to get from Cameroon to the UK, with better results obtained from investing the same amount in an African
stock exchange, or like the young worker Aisya, staying in the country and with a fraction of that amount of money and building up a successful business.
Massocki writes: ‘The book’s goal is to inform Africans aspiring to migrate to the European Union or the US of the issues related to their plans so that they can be better prepared.’ But I believe its more serious and intended aim is spelled out in this passage:
‘My stay in the UK not only allowed me to demystify and destroy the
European myth; most importantly, it allowed me to understand that for
the young African, fighting for social justice should be imperative.
It is the only way to prevent the young African from dying in the
desert or drowning in the Mediterranean Sea, experiencing the same
humiliation and torture suffered by African migrants in Europe. Either
through protest movements for social change, we brave the dangerous
streets of our dictatorial and terrorist states, or as cowards, we
abdicate and accept death in the Mediterranean Sea or suffer the
humiliations and tortures reserved to African migrants in Europe.
Migration as a ‘revolt against misery’ is a theme developed from ‘The song of the traveler’s sung by Africans in Ceuta, Spain, who have crossed the Sahara. Such people are described as economic migrants. But as Massocki says:
‘The sea is dreadful, and for people to embark on such a journey,
there must be terror in the land. Yet, nobody acknowledges the
terror—at least the economic terror those ‘economic migrants’ are
running away from. African despots voluntarily keep systemic poverty
flowing in the land to control their citizens and stay in power.
Through so-called international institutions and multinationals,
Western powers financially terrorize African nations, causing deaths
to millions of Africans.’
The Pride of an African Migrant is a powerful book. The more I go back to it, the more I see its potential to change minds, those of migrants those of people not forced to migrate. I think its publication is very significant.
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 neighborhood. 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 civilized 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 freelance journalist, writer and activist. He has written columns for newspapers around the world and articles for regional and international organizations.
He also gave talks and conferences in Africa, Asia and Europe on global issues and at different venues including Liverpool John More University in England, The National Association of Seadogs, popularly known as Pyrates Confraternity, a confraternity organization in Nigeria that is nominally University-based. The group was founded in 1952 to support human rights and social justice. Nobel Prize in Literature Laureate Wole Soyinka is among the seven founding members.
Pierced Rock Press website:
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 is available on Amazon:
Intimate Conversation with Massocki Ma Massocki
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 organisations. Massocki has also given talks and conferences in Africa, Asia and Europe on Pan-Africanism and global issues. Massocki was born in Cameroon, West Africa.
BPM: Please, share something our readers wouldn’t know about you.
I have always been fascinated by my birth. Thanks to the mystical intervention of my great grandfather Djami Som, I was born. Before my mother had me, she gave birth to two dead babies, so when I was conceived, she thought she would also lose me.
However, one morning, at around 3:00, when my mother was 3 three months pregnant with me, my great grandfather—who passed away 15 years before I was born—appeared to my mother and told her, “I came so that the baby you carry will live. I left medicine outside the house in a snail shell. At 6:00 a.m., you shall collect the medicine and place it under your bed during your whole pregnancy so that the child will live.” This is how I was born—a premature child.
BPM: If you had to describe yourself in three words, what would they be?
As we cannot see our own faces, we need a mirror to do so. Likewise, society is a reflection of ourselves. Some have described me as “lionheart” and “fearless lion”; and others, as “king.”
BPM: Is writing your full-time career? How much time do you spend writing?
Right now, writing is not my source of income. However, I was born to write. It is my destiny, and I cannot run away from it, just like how a fish cannot run away from water. Let me tell you a story.
When my father was in secondary school, Candide—a novel by Voltaire, a French philosopher—was part of his curriculum. Candide was also the main character in Voltaire’s novel. My father liked Candide so much that the first name he gave me was Candide. However, I decided to get rid of my first and middle names, which are European, to affirm my African identity. Moreover, Voltaire made racist remarks towards Africans.
BPM: Tell us about your first published book. What was the journey like?
So far, I have written 10 unpublished books, and The Pride of an African Migrant is the first to be published among them.
The Pride of an African Migrant’s first draft was written in 2010 while I was in England, and it is getting published 10 years later, in 2020. It is needless to say that the journey of getting this book published proved to be challenging.
Since 2010, I have received more than 5000 rejection letters from publishers. Most of those letters praised my writing skills, and yet I ended up with rejections.
Africa and its diaspora are at the center of all my works, considering that the publishing industry is overwhelmingly white at 89%, while black people are only 1% of the same industry. This also explains all those rejections. However, those rejection letters immensely helped in improving my manuscript’s quality. I want to take this opportunity to remind aspiring writers that the pyramids of Egypt were not built in a day or two. They should not be discouraged by publishers’ rejections because these are opportunities for improvement. Do not just look for publishers; find the right one. There is always one publisher who can’t wait to receive your manuscript.
BPM: Introduce us to your most recent work. Available on Nook and Kindle?
The Pride of an African Migrant, my most recent work, is a political memoir that tackles the realities of migrating to Europe. The book provides a lens to the panorama of African migrants’ lives in Europe, particularly African asylum seekers in the UK.
I traveled to England to pursue higher education. However, financial constraints hindered me from completing my studies, and I ended up as an irregular immigrant. In hopes of continuing my studies, I sought asylum in the UK, which was later denied to me. I eventually became a destitute asylum seeker, which gave me the chance to witness other asylum seekers’ lives—especially African asylum seekers. Their lives, I found, were characterized by homelessness, hunger, torture, imprisonment, assassinations, suicide and many more.
I wrote the book in remembrance of Jimmy Mubenga, an African asylum seeker in the UK who was tortured and killed at London Heathrow Airport after resisting his deportation. Hence, the book is subtitled “In Remembrance of Jimmy Mubenga, a Martyr of Globalisation, Murdered by the UK Border Regime on a British Airways Flight to Angola.”
After peacefully protesting against Mubenga’s murder, I was arrested and detained naked in a cold cell. After some time, even the place I was staying at was set on fire, ready to kill me.
BPM: Give us some insight into why you wrote this book now?
I wrote The Pride of an African Migrant to outline the barbaric acts of torture that African asylum seekers are subjected to in the UK. The book aims to inform Africans aspiring to migrate to the European Union or the US about the issues related to their plans so that they can be better prepared.
BPM: Did you learn anything personal about yourself from writing your book?
As I have said, the book outlines barbaric acts of torture that African asylum seekers are subjected to in the UK. While describing the torture, I experienced different emotions and sentiments: anger, hatred, sadness and compassion. I had to learn to balance and control these emotions to make sure that they do not influence my work.
BPM: Do you feel lonely being a writer during the creative process?
I am a nonfiction writer; hence, I am inspired by our society’s reality always in front of us. As an engaged writer and activist in a world characterized by injustices, the sad reality—my inspiration—makes the creative process easy. Our society’s ills don’t allow me to experience this phenomenon of intellectual void called “writer’s block.”
There are two worlds: the magical world where the writer experiences relativity during the creative process and our daily lives where the writer is sometimes a stranger.
BPM: Do you use a computer or write out the story by hand?
I am comfortable typing on a computer because I can edit the work more easily.
BPM: Share one specific point in your book that resonated with your journey.
In the book, I described my life as an immigrant in the UK. Today, I am still an immigrant, but in the Philippines.
BPM: What were the key challenges you faced when writing this book?
Given that The Pride of an African Migrant is a political memoir, the key challenge for me was to recall exactly every little detail of events as well as what I was told.
BPM: Can you share some stories about people you met while researching this book?
I interviewed some African asylum seekers who were victims of grave acts of torture in the UK, and I narrate in the book their shocking and unbelievable stories. Here below is the story of one of the interviewee, Beatrice, an African asylum seeker in the UK.
Beatrice told me that despite her extended stay in the UK, she still had not been granted asylum. She also described her fear of going back to her home country. According to Beatrice, the British immigration officers arrested her and placed her in a detention centre where she stayed for months and months. Similar to Dominick, Beatrice also refused her deportation. Her refusal earned her a savage and merciless beating from the British immigration officers. The encounter left her disfigured, and while she was still unconscious, was sent back to Cameroon.
When Beatrice arrived at the Douala International Airport in Cameroon, she was still unconscious after the more than eight-hour flight. Just imagine how savagely she was beaten. At the airport in Douala, they denied Beatrice’s entry for two reasons: she was still unconscious, and Cameroonian officers discovered that the British immigration officers faked a Cameroonian passport to have her deported. Moreover, the British immigration officers allegedly attempted to bribe the Cameroonian airport authorities, telling them that Beatrice sabotaged the president of Cameroon to the British authorities as well, even revealing her asylum case and thus putting her life at higher risk.
By revealing Beatrice’s asylum application, the British immigration officers breached the confidentiality of asylum applications. To their dismay, all their efforts still failed. Beatrice was taken back to the UK. She was destitute: nowhere to stay and no food to eat. When Beatrice finished telling me her story, I found myself in tears. I actually had to say to her that I had heard enough and did not want to hear more.
BPM: What books or authors have most influenced your own writing?
The books that highly influenced my writing are De la Médiocrité à l’excellence by Cameroonian philosopher Ébénézer Njoh Mouelle, Le Panafricanisme: de la Crise à la renaissance by Cameroonian professor Michel Kounou, and The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels.
BPM: What was your favorite part and your least favorite part of the publishing journey?
My least favorite part of the publishing process was to get the book reviewed. The most pleasant part was to get my book reviewed by the University of Birmingham in England, the University of Pretoria, and UK-based nongovernmental organisations.
BPM: Do you have anything special for readers that you’ll focus on this year?
This year, I will be focusing on marketing and publicity. So, I advise interested readers to subscribe to email lists on my official website massockimamassocki.com and get the latest updates such as book release information, news, events, excerpts, giveaways, tours, deals and more from me.
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