African Migrants (Novel)
Reviewed By: Susan Keefe
Susan Keefe reviews and promotes poetry, fiction and non-fiction, and is also author of the Toby's Tails series of children's books.
An unparalleled insight into Africa and its people.
The author of this interesting and thought-provoking book, Lang Fafa Dampa was born in the Gambia in 1965. In Paris, he earned a B.A. in English Language and Literature, and a Ph.D. in English Studies (Society and Culture). Whilst there he also taught Legal English (Law and Politics – UK/USA) and Economic English, for two years. In November 2009 he returned to Africa and he worked as a Senior Research and Programme Officer at the African Union office (the African Academy of Languages) in Bamako, Mali, from November 2009 to July 2015, and as Acting Executive Secretary from August 2015 to December 2018, and from then to now as Executive Secretary of the same institution.
In this book Lang Fafa Dampa, through his incredibly descriptive writing, relives the experiences of the main character/protagonist fleeing Africa, in search of a brighter future in Europe. He travelled through Dakar to Bamako, and then Niamey, crossing the cruel Sahara Desert into Libya, where he spent six months. Then along with thousands of others, he had to cross the Mediterranean, as a ‘boat migrant.’ Here he recounts shocking stories of the cruelty he observed being dealt out by the traffickers who treated the migrants terribly, with no regard for their lives, and no humanity. The horrific images of this voyage were etched into the author’s young mind, and will stay with him forever…
He managed to smuggle himself into France and lived in Metropolitan Paris, where he discovered a different world. Quickly he realised that both the African and white people lived in disdain of the ‘boat people,’ and he learned to stay very quiet about the fact that he had been one. However, this disdain caused him great pain, because he realised that they had no comprehension of the cruelty and suffering these people had to endure and had no concept of the desperate driving force which compels the youth of Africa to risk everything, (including their lives,) to better themselves in Europe.
In this new world, he found himself becoming a quiet observer of human nature, and through listening to conversations and witnessing events, he discovered a lot about the attitudes of the African immigrants he lived with, both to their wives, families, friends, their adopted countries and Africa. Countless times he found himself witness to the Alien combative Attitude Africans have, and asked himself, “Where is African civilisation? Where are Africans wisdom and bravery? Where is the great pre-colonial African civilisation that historians talk about?”
Well, the protagonist believes the answers lie in finding a way to establish the African people’s self-respect and confidence in themselves. He reflects that Africans are destructively jealous, to their detriment, and a brighter future can be achieved by future generations regenerating Africa and changing the current combatant attitude. He suggests they look for examples to other countries who work together in competing to achieve goals, not by fighting but uniting cohesively.
The passion the author feels for Africa and his people shine through in this book. He gives his readers, through the eyes of the protagonist, unparalleled insights into Africa, its people, and the struggles they face. Highly recommended!