At first sight, the title provokes and challenges our sense of distaste for the usual narrative of barbarism, savagery and inhumanity of bygone black Africa. A book like Mark Mazower’s Dark Continent may also provoke the defense of Africa’s past from revisionist writers who crafted from preconceived, prejudicial angle and not from balanced judgement of history of a different race of humanity. But Mazower is a master of deception. This liberal, engaging and moderate Jewish historian had other continent in view. His tome is not for the fainthearts.
In this book, Mazower disintered the darkest chapters in the history of Europe. His conclusion was the strident affirmation of a European continent that must be remembered as the real heart of darkness and not Africa. The bestiality of 19th century Europe is still cascading down into the 21st century as seen from the many aberrations around us. We are still festooned to a daily diet of perversion, injustice, barbarism, sadism and monstrous inhumanity that once blighted the continent into being tagged dark continent.
Europeans are still captive to their old demons. Consider this as a starter: In 2010, a child was sexually attacked every 20 minutes in the UK. The shockwave is this: In 2011, about 23,000 child sex offenders were reported to the police. Overall, there were 54,982 sex offences in 2011, including 23,097 against children. Most of the innocent children 14,819 were aged between 11 and 17, with a third aged between 10 and under, including 1,472 younger than six. Six times as many sexual offences were committed against girls 19,790 and boys 3,218.
Jon Brown, ex-head of NSPCC, the body that compiled the figures of the sexual abuse programme, said: “When you have a situation where more than 60 children are being sexually molested everyday, something is very wrong. Not only is something wrong with this scepter isle, but a perceptive observer can see a general falling apart and the slow motion collapse of traditional family values, old fashion morality and the imposition of dysfunctional celebrity culture.”
The Tory government of David Cameron is aghast at the disquieting erosion of tradition and culture called Britain’s stagnant, moral paralysis a broken society. The social strains of an increasingly sexualised atmosphere with all its perverted import from Hollywood have reconfigured Britain into a shallow and depthless heart of darkness. Consider again another conflictual situation. The lid on Britain’s hypocrisy on race and its affirmation of multiculturalism is always blown open by the racist shenanigans of its police force. The permanent tradition and culture of white police officers against black suspects either in the US and Europe had always been racially oppressive and offensive. This is another trait of a degenerate British heart of darkness. In London, a 21-year-old Mauro Demetrio from Beckton, East London alleged that he was called a nigger by PC Alex MacFarlane and told that “the problem with you is that you will always remain a nigger.” That kind of shaming feeling though subdued is widespread.
Echo of racial slur like this reminds me of the profound and brave effort of Lord Macpherson to slough off the endemic habit of racism within Metropolitan Police. He was the man who unmasked layer upon layer of deep rooted racism in the Met’s foundation. He branded the entire London Metropolitan Police Force institutional racist. In spite of years of radical rebranding, the Met Police is still embattled, loose, irresponsible, racist, hypocritical, arrogant and politically incorrect. Black British are not immune against their brutality, snooping, injustice, violence, abuse, stereotyping and death in custody.
17 years after Macpherson’s damning report, new figures emerged that reveal police forces in England and Wales still receive around 1,000 complaints of racism every year. Worse, only one officer among 120 officers has been dismissed since the Macpherson report into widespread racism in the Met. Mark Mazower’s Europe as the heart of darkness finds comforting compliance in the ranks of British police racism.
Now, have another disturbing peep into the heart of the Dark Continent. Giles Chichester, the Conservative MEP for South West England and Gibraltar, has written to his party leader and Prime Minister, David Cameron, to complain about the Government’s proposals to introduce civil marriage equality. Quote: “But the worst way in which you are attacking the traditional family is through your bizarre attempt to redefine marriage. Why you have chosen to push the Stonewall militant gay agenda is a mystery to me because same sex marriage was not in your manifesto and so far as I can tell from friends in the gay community, there is no majority within that minority in favour of trying to make same sex unions or partnerships the same as traditional marriage. Equal yes, same no.”
Even Wales is wedded to its own brand of darkness. In 2011, Liam Stacey of Pontypridd in South Wales was jailed for 56 days for his abusive and racist tweet on ex-Bolton Wanderer’s Fabrice Muamba’s near-death experience, but the sentencing gained no traction with me. I travel to South Wales regularly and stay often in Pontypool. The Welsh society is overtaken by racist putrescent from the young to the old. Many Welsh people are unashamedly politically incorrect in matter of racial sensitivity. From the dozy check out assistant in the local ASDA store to the overworked bus driver, there is a dense web of racial valences that have been very well part of the identity of Welsh people. Liam Stacey, the 21-year-old from Pontypridd, must have been brought up to see black people as punch bags for offensive remarks, racial slur, suspicion, physical assault and unreasonable hostility.
In South Wales, black people live on the fringe of society and had to cope with many social disabilities like poor housing, low paid jobs, poor skill, police suspicion, isolation and vulnerability. Britain’s marginalisation of black people and its perverse ambiguities toward its own minority is yet its rightful claim to being branded the Dark Continent – land of perpetual darkness. As the African continent continues to struggle to reverse centuries of unfair and colonial slur, Britain, nay Europe, is emerging as the Dark Continent.