Racism in the Dutch Media

Posted by By at 12 December, at 07 : 20 AM Print

(from my archive. First published in The African Journal in 1999)

 

[Note: I revisit this article this year (2018) because, tragically, racism still remain part of the Dutch fabric. If anything, it has intensified. In the past, most Dutch Racists remained in their closet, that is no longer the case; they have come out very openly and very boldly. In the last Black Activists were ignored, today they are confronted, threatened, bullied and harassed. It is no longer safe to try to confront Racism in the Netherlands.

Sadder still, the so-called White Liberals who pretended to be allies of the Black people have all folded up. They don’t even make the pretense anymore that they care!]

 

Dutch media practitioners are really to be pitied. Like dinosaurs caught in a time warp, these fellows are holding tenaciously to the discredited ideas of White Supremacy. Like beaten generals that refused to accept the reality of their defeat, the Dutch media practitioners are still fighting; obstinately holding the last patch. These fellows are still in deep-denial; they’re refusing the reality that stares them starkly in the face. Listen, fellows, the time has passed you by. It is time you wake up and smell the coffee, as the saying goes.

In the 1950s and the 60s, it could still be fashionable and acceptable to think of black people as never-do-well miscreants incapable of thinking any thought beyond sex, food, and crime.

But this is 1999, guys. In a few days, a new millennium will dawn on us. When is the Dutch media going to realize this? When are they going to realize that many black people are leading crime-free, successful lives? When are they going to accept that some of us are here to stay and can no longer be wished away?

How else do we explain their refusal to accept that Holland, however they hate it, has become a truly multi-national, multi-racial and multi-ethnic country? At my last count, there are seven channels in the Dutch television system. Not a single one of them has deemed it fit to have a single program – comedy, drama or anything, to cater to the non-White audience. Are we to believe that the non-white people of Holland are so bereft of talents that they cannot produce TV programmes? Are we to accept that black people are so singularly incompetent that none can serve as a correspondent?

Another problem is the inability of these fellows to develop racial-consciousness. Notions abandoned by societies like the British and the American decades ago are still the staple of the Dutch media. I am talking specifically about racial-stereotyping. Why is it that close to the end of the second millennium, the Dutch media cannot reconcile itself to the simple fact that not every black person in this country is walking the street with criminal intentions? Why is that in the year 1999, black people still get mentioned on Dutch television ONLY in connection with a crime?

I don’t have a problem with reporters doing their jobs reporting crimes and giving the identity of the criminals. What is lacking, especially on Dutch television, is the lack of objectivity. It is as though these fellows have never heard the word ‘Balance.’

If black people were shown, occasionally, doing their own things and living their ordinary lives, it’d not be so galling if they sometimes get mentioned in crime reporting. No, we are only photogenic when there are drugs and prostitution to report. Suddenly, the cameras are rolling, the interviewers, breathless, discovered our ghettoes and our rat-holes. Microphones are thrust into our faces to spew statistics that would confirm the prejudices of these ideologists masquerading as journalists.

A few years ago, it was Ghana, the West African state that was the favourite whipping boy of the Dutch media. Now, it seems, it is the turn of Nigeria – another West African state. A few months ago, acres of trees were fell, rivers of ink used by the Dutch paper to warn the ‘Good, decent, God-fearing,’ normal white Dutch folks about the evils of Nigerian swindlers. I hold no brief for any criminal – Nigerian or otherwise. But, come on guys, these so-called ‘victims’ are not as innocent as the Dutch media is portraying them. Their innocence stemmed ONLY from the white hue of their skin.

I have seen some of the barely literate letters these swindlers are sending out. I believe that one must not only be atrociously daft but must also be greedy beyond redemption to be had by these puerile swindles. It takes two to tango, so goes a saying. My belief is that it’d difficult to swindle an honest man. The fact of the matter is that these swindlers NEVER hide their criminal intentions. They write it boldly that they have stolen money from the Nigerian government are looking for foreign bank accounts to park their stolen money. When those who wish to reap where they did not sow got their comeuppance, we hear the shout, ‘Nigerian Swindlers have invaded Holland.’

Sorry folks, but those of you stupid enough to want to remit unearned money from Nigeria get zero sympathy from me. Let us look at it this way. If I approach a Dutch person with a plan to swindle the British government, chances are great that he will call the police. But the same guy will not think twice about swindling the Nigerian government. After all, it is only a stupid African. It is only when the morons lose their money that the Dutch press gets hysterical. These myopic racial chauvinists never mention the Dutch firms that successfully duped the Nigerian government through over-invoicing!

When African dictators looted their national treasuries, they don’t keep their loot in the inflation-ridden economies of their lands. They always have willing partners in Western bankers. They are welcome with open arms and met at the airports with high protocols. The stolen monies are kept in European banks where it helps to boost the economies of Europe while furthering the impoverishment of Africa. Perhaps, there is some truth when the swindlers say that they are just repatriating some of their looted monies.

On the 14th of September, 1999, VARA had a feature in their ZEMBLA programme. It was on Nigerian criminals. The following day I called the producer, Toni Brahmans.

What, I wanted to know, is the purpose of the programme. If the intentions were to help some unfortunate victims of crime, the producers would have had my praise. However, these bigoted racial jingoists are only interested in parroting their preconceived racial-stereotypes and pandering to the basal instincts of their primitive racism. It didn’t take long to discover that the blinkered idiot that produced the programme was as ignorant as the knob on the door of her office. I doubt even if the obtuse, jaundiced ignoramus can point to Nigeria on a map even if her life depended on it.

Between puffs of nervous smoking, she said it was a good programme. I didn’t call to discuss the quality. I only wanted to know what purpose is being served by showing only negative things about a country and a people.

Thanks to cable television, we now know that both the French and the English televisions are giving regular attention to their erstwhile colonies. Even Belgian television is light years ahead of their Dutch counterparts when it comes to racial sensibilities. Black people are performing on British television regularly; and there is a black group or personality on French TV, at least once a day. Let’s contrast this with Holland. About the only time, black people are mentioned in the Dutch media is when it is in connection with crime or drug. I said to the cross-eyed idiot, “I was just wondering why you guys are so fixated on negative reporting about Nigeria, nay, Africa. How about some positive things about the country, also?”

Like what? Ms. Brahmans wanted to know.

Pathetic!

Where does one begin to educate this dim-witted moron?

Nigeria emerged from the traumas of military dictatorship in May of this year. That is not newsworthy for the Dutch media. Ms. Brahmas and her bigoted crew are not interested.

Nigeria has just commissioned a Gas-Liquefaction project, reputed to be the largest industrial plant in Continental Africa. The myopic Dutch media saw nothing newsworthy about it. Never mind that the project has heavy Dutch input. Ms. Brahmans was probably on holiday.

Nigeria will celebrate her 39th Independence Anniversary in a few days time – October 1st, to be precise. Naturally, the glaucomaed Dutch media will never see such an event. Ms. Brahmans will surely be hibernating.

There are hundreds of Nigerians honestly toiling in this country. The blinkered lenses of Ms. Brahmans and co. will never see us.

The KLM has about five flights to Nigeria every week, God forbid that Ms. Brahmans, restricted by her racism, to see anything in that.

Royal Dutch Shell is a big, VERY BIG, investor in Nigeria. They have got big offices at The Hague. Blinded by racial prejudices, Ms. Brahmans will never discover such SECRETS.

Where, indeed, does one begin to educate these racial champions masquerading as professional journalists?

I refused to buy into the argument propounded by Ms. Brahmans that the Dutch people are interested in reading and seeing only negative things about black people. I live among ordinary Dutch people and I read what they write in their papers, I’m yet to see or hear one Dutch person say that he or she is interested only in reading or watching calamities. Please, correct me if I’m wrong.

Perhaps the Dutch media would want the black people to continue to vibrate with gratitude for being allowed to stay in the paradisiacal Netherlands.

I offer no apologies for living in Holland. I felt neither joy nor gratitude for living in this country. Thousands of Dutch people are living colonial lives in my country. Most of them command salaries and emoluments big enough to dwarf the GNP of many small countries. Their needs are catered for by a legion of domestic servants. No one is accusing them of ‘swarming’ Nigeria.

Thousands of Dutch people are migrating yearly to look for better opportunities in other countries; they are simply obeying the natural law of survival. The only difference is that while these Dutch and European emigrants are termed ‘discoverer,’ ‘explorers,’ ‘missionaries,’ ‘consultants’ and ‘aid-workers,’ African immigrants are referred to only in zoological and scatological terms. We are called ‘parasites,’ economic migrants,’ ‘illegals,’ ‘asylum-seekers.’ Even the sign at the foreign police office in Amsterdam refers to us as ‘aliens,’ as though we do not belong in this world.

‘You reap what you sow,’ enjoins the Bible. Over the centuries, The Dutch were following their European brethren in going around the world sowing discord, hatred, violence, devastation, death, and destruction. Africa was carved up at a conference in Berlin. When European empire-builders were stealing whole countries, the rightful owners of those lands didn’t enjoy it one bit. Now we the children of the dispossessed are coming to the Netherlands, the Dutch media is making obstreperous noises. They didn’t like it. That is comprehensible. The bad shoe is on the European foot, and it’s pinching hard, exactly the way it pinched the Africans who had their lands brazenly stolen. Europeans are just going to get used to it, the way they forced our fathers to get used to their piracy, subjugation and colonial oppression.

The time of the boomerang has arrived. As Paul Satre said, Europe, in the past made history, now it is being made on it.

When our labor was required to build the industries of Europe, no passport was required of us. No visa was given. The Dutch didn’t call us illegal immigrants, or aliens, to be harassed by racial-hatred mongers spotting reporters’ tags. When they needed our manpower in their plantations, they didn’t refer to us as ‘economic-refugees.’ When Africans were needed as canon-fodder in the war against Nazism, we were not accused of ‘invasion’. Now that we are here to partake in the fruit of our labor, we became the focus of racist demonology.

“I and I pick the cabbage I and I plant the corn Didn’t my people before me Slave for this country? And now you look me with a scorn … Build your penitentiary We build your school You brainwash our education To make us the fools Hate your reward for our love Telling us about your God above … (Bob Marley).

For centuries Africans have played the role of hewers of woods and drawers of water to feed Europe. Throughout the centuries, Europeans have treated the continent of Africa like just another plantation to be exploited without giving something back in return. As a Yoruba proverb puts it: ‘If you pushed goat to the wall, it will bite back.’

It never ceases to amaze me how Europeans could think that by exchanging a piece of cloth they call flag, all the crimes they committed in the colonies are remitted.

“Colonialism and imperialism have not paid their score when they withdraw their flags and their police forces from our territories. For centuries the capitalists have behaved in the underdeveloped world like nothing more than war criminals. Deportations, massacres, forced labor, and slavery have been the main methods used by capitalism to increase its wealth, its gold or diamond reserves, and to establish its power.” (Frantz Fanon, ‘The Wretched of The Earth.’ Grove Press, Inc. New York. p. 101).

I am old enough to remember that when Nigeria was enjoying an oil-boom, thousands of Dutch people came to partake in the good times. I personally know a few of them who were housed in five-star hotels, all expenses paid, for upward of five years. Nigerians were welcome guests in this country in those happy times. Now that our fortunes have nose-dived, we are treated like scum.

I refuse to be treated like a scum.

About the Author  

Femi Akomolafe is a passionate Pan-Africanist. A columnist for the Accra-based Daily Dispatch newspaper and ModernGhana, and Correspondent for the New African magazine, Femi lives in both Europe and Africa and writes regularly on Africa-related issues for various newspapers and magazines.

Femi was the producer of the FOCUS ON AFRICANS TV Interview programme for the MultiTV Station.

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