Mojúbàolú Olúfúnké Okome, Brooklyn College, CUNY, New York:

        I found this posting disturbing because it ought to have been contextualized.  Since this is hardly a new matter, and one on which I wrote in a December 2003 editorial of the Journal: "Ìrìnkèrindò: a Journal of African Migration" I decided to share the relevant excerpt with you.

        "To return to Britain, observing the economy in motion brings to one's mind time and again, the phrase, "the empire strikes back". The service economy is chock full of one example after the other of Indians in Sari, Pakistani in Salwar Kameez, Nigerians, Ghanaians, Gambians, Irish, Kenyans, South Africans, Zimbabweans, Ugandans, . . . brain drain representatives of the far flung British empire come to the metropole to make good since opportunities for this are more restricted on the home front. The more visible work at the cash registers, undertake sanitation, work as newsagents, tour guides, and take any number of council jobs on the lower levels. Of course, one cannot forget the West Indians. Another level of visibility is presented by the very few who have risen to the top of the political and economic pile. This situation drives home the relevance of Grosfoguel's, Takougang's, and Baptiste's papers, which discuss various elements of transnational migration of people from Africa and various parts of its far-flung Diaspora.

        There are also striking differences between this issue and the last. The largest immigrants' rights march in history just ended in New York City in October 2003. This was a phenomenon that brought together an array of immigrant rights and human rights groups as well as immigrant activists in a struggle for more liberal immigration laws>[1] and equal rights for immigrants.>[2]

In a post-September 11 America, the advocacy for better respect for immigrant rights and action to defend and enhance the rights of immigrants are more necessary than ever, particularly given the economic downturn that has in the usual manner, created enough economic pain to cause the upsurge of ethnocentrism and xenophobia. In the wake of September 11, 2001, Europe continues to shore up its anti-immigrant fortress, using all the resources at the disposal of the EU to collaboratively devise strategies to combat what is believed to be a law and order problem of foiling wily human traffickers.>[3] Neither the US nor Europe is undertaking a new effort. Instead, the anti-immigrant measures have only taken on additional intensity due to the perception that immigrants are the enemy among whom lurk potential terrorists from various points in the "axis of evil".>[4]

        London was also the site of a British National Gallery display of Nigerian artist, Sokari Douglas Camp's short-listed entry for a work of art to occupy the empty fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square, London.>[5]

Douglas Camp's entry is titled "No-o-war-r No-o-war-r." The artist describes this steel sculpture as "a celebratory piece that captures Londoners' diversity and energy. ">[6]

Sokari Douglas Camp's selection is an honor for the artist, and a much needed boost for Nigerian and African immigrants in Great Britain. In London yet again, the "Torso in the Thames" case of a boy whose decapitated body, posthumously named Adam by the Scotland Yard detectives investigating the case, was found near the Tower Bridge in the Thames river continued through the summer, fall, and winter of 2003.>[7]

The case was designated as involving "voodoo", "black magic," human sacrifice, human trafficking, ritual murder, a white South African pathologist conducted a second autopsy, declaring that this was a "muti killing" of the South African variety, at least one South African traditional healer was consulted in South Africa, an appeal was made to Nelson Mandela, who for the detectives is "the voice of all Africa," to publicize the case. He reportedly obliged and proclaimed that "if any family 'even in the remotest village of our continent' is missing a boy of this age, they should contact the London police.">[8]

        This case was investigated in Britain, Germany, Ireland, and Nigeria. Ms. Joyce Osaghiede, a Nigerian woman from Benin City who was deported from Britain "as a bogus asylum seeker" was believed to "hold the key to the murder of the boy." Ms. Osaghiede at her asylum interview, claimed to be fleeing from her estranged husband, Sam Onojhighovie, who was convicted of people-trafficking and fraud, and sentenced in absentia to seven years in prison in Germany. He was found in Dublin where he was reported to be "currently in prison . . . . awaiting extradition to Germany.>[9]

The news stories reported a tragedy. The headless and limbless torso of a boy of between four and seven is a tragedy of immense proportions. However, in finding the perpetrators of the crime, the language used to describe the possible suspects and the nature of the crime remind one of earlier times when Europeans boldly declared that Africa is the "dark continent." I like the Guardian. Its report of this event however, was classic "dark continent" Africa. The title of one of this paper's report is: "Thames Torso Boy was Sacrificed." The blurb that followed was: "Police suspect the victim was a West African child slave, after forensic evidence points to a ritual killing." The story goes on to say that Detectives are now working on the horrifying theory that he was bought as a child slave in West Africa and smuggled to Britain solely to be killed. Experts on African religion consulted by Scotland Yard believe Adam may have been sacrificed to one of the 400 'Orisha' or ancestor gods of the Yoruba people, Nigeria's largest ethnic group. Oshun, a Yoruba river goddess is associated with orange, the colour of the shorts, which were placed on Adam's body 24 hours after he was killed as a bizarre addition to the ritual. The body was then stored for a further 24 hours before being offered to the Thames. The cultural clues fit neatly with the forensics as the Yoruba are found in Benin, Togo and Ghana as well as in Nigeria. Thousands of Yoruba slaves were also taken to the Caribbean, where elements of their religion formed the basis of voodoo rituals.>[10]

The report then gives a blow-by-blow account of how the sacrifice was done, and informed readers of the alert by law enforcement agencies "that African ritual killings have been imported to Europe." Readers are informed that there was even an international conference at The Hague "to discuss the phenomenon." One cannot help but wonder though, why this theoretical reconstruction was presented as the "real deal," instead of the reports veering on the side of accuracy and presenting just the bare facts, which at the time, was that no one knew exactly what had happened.

        This story ended with two quotes, one by Dr. Hendrik Scholtz at the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa who said in response to the question, "Could it happen again?" "If another one happens then it is likely to be a different group of people involved. The ones who killed Adam are already satisfied with what they have done." According to the report, "Temi Olusanya, the Nigerian vice chair of the African Caribbean Development Association said that Adam's murder had deeply shocked the West African community." The quote by Olusanya as reported by the Guardian is the following: "This is a crime that cannot be tolerated in African religions. Murder is murder and we should work together to find the people who did this ">[11]

After reporting a lot of theories and suppositions as fact, the article seems to redeem itself by quoting a Nigerian who states that the crime is intolerable. However, it presents the South African professor as the expert and seems to insinuate that this is the person whose testimony should be trusted, although we are never told what kind of expertise Dr. Schultz has. On the other hand, Temi Olusanya is just a vice chairperson of a development association, and the quote seems to be presented as less reliable because we also do not know what kind of expertise Olusanya has. My point here is that as the result of the tragic murder of a little boy, all the hoary demons of traditional "black continent" analysis in Europe are deployed to show that there are "barbaric" strangers in Europe who have brought in these "voodoo" and "black magic" and "witch-doctoring" practices. Ethnocentrism, xenophobia and nativism are combined and the reporting, whether it's by the Guardian, the BBC, or any other newspaper, or media outlet, totally loses any sense of objectivity".

See:  Mojúbàolú Olúfúnké Okome & Bertrade Ngo-Ngijol Banoum,  "Dimensions of African Migration to the United States: Labor, Brain Drain, Identity Formation and Naturalization" in "Ìrìnkèrindò: a Journal of African Migration" December 2003, Issue 2.