Anna van Densky OPINION Ancient Greek philospher said – Patna Rhei – everything flows. Stepping out of the confinement the Europeans found themselves in a different world, violently torn apart by phanthomes of the сolonial past.
Black Life Matters #BLM movement touched Brussels, de facto the European Union (EU) capital, by pogroms of the luxury stores, but not only. The degradation of public life into a bitter argument over the colonial past has occurred suddenly as a skeleton fallen out from the closet.
“People use politics not just to advance their interests but also to define their identity. We know who we are only when we know who we are not and often only when we know whom we are against” Samuel Hantington wrote in his famous “The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of the World Order”. Apparently a new episode of the clash is gaining momentum.
Unfortunately during this clash in Brussels the rule of law was completely buried in avalanche of emotions, detached from realities, and pursuing the fantômes of the past. The wave of the monuments vandalisation ended in a proposal for creation of the Belgium parliament commission for Truth & Reconciliation aiming at the appology for the colonial atrocities in Congo Free State in times of king Leopold II. “We, the Socialist party, believe that there should be an apology,” said group leader Meryame Kitir. However is the apology enough to build bridges between communities?
The statues of the public figures, causing the whirlwind of emotions, like the one of the Belgium king Leopold II in the first ranks, the one who owned Congo as his personal property, are perceived differently by Europeans and Africans within their retrospective cultures. If Belgiums mostly see in them the relics of the past, the Africans have much more lively and mysterious ways of relating to the sculptures as idols, materialising the idea, insuring its longevity.
For African ethnic religions, the idols are sacred tools to influence life through mysterious rituals, and even more, they are integral part of life, participating in their own invisible manner through emanation of energies. Originally they were named fétiche by Portuguese colonizers who introduced the word to set a clear difference between African idols and Christian saints, however this verbal distinction did not prevent Africans to look at the European sculptures though the prism of the own perceptions.
Another emblematic figure – Julius Ceasar was vandalised in Zottegem, Belgium, most probably in analogy with Christopher Columbus attacked in the U.S., because Caesar conquered the territory of present-day Belgium, and integrated it as a province into Roman Empire. Furthermore, it was Julius Caesar who gave the name of “Gallia Belgica“, leaving the description of the local tribes. However he also had diffiuclies there, facing a revolt just four years after the conquest.
Two thousand years later Belgica experiences the other type of migration, than Romans led by Ceasar – a total of 31,600 people have crossed into Europe illegally in 2020 so far, a drop of only 6% from the same period in 2019. Over 5,500 have reached Europe via the so-called ‘Central Mediterranean route‘, from North Africa to Europe, including 1,000 migrants in May.
Yet Libya continues to act as a magnet for migrants who come there in hope to make cross the sea and reach the European coasts, settling in one of the rich countries of the continent.
The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) estimates that in February 2020 there were at least 654,000 migrants gathered in Libya in view to cross the sea.
The top five nationalities were Nigerien 21%, Chadian 16%, Egyptian 15%, Sudanese 12%, and Nigerian 8%. Men constituted 89% of migrants, women 11%, and 7% were minors of which 24% were unaccompanied. On average the fee to reach Libya mounts up to $1,000.
Various projections indicate that mid-century African population will double reaching 2,5 billion threshold, while the Europeans will decline to 450 million. However if current trend of migration flows from Maghreb coast continue with the same frequency and intercity, from 150 to 200 million of Europe inhabitants will be from African descent.
In spite this impressive perspective of the “Africanisation of Europe” the politicians have no strategy of adaptation of European cultural environment to upcoming “African Age“. With the fast-growing African population in Europe, the request to abandon the Eurocentric concept of history was not totally unpredictable, on contrary, it was quite a logical outcome of the demographic trends. In these cirucumstances the vandalisation of the sculputres of the historic figures are emblematic, but not essential in adaptation demands of the newscomers.
The profound meaning of the transition from quantity to quality, which Hegel was highly likely the first to articulate, was one of several ways of explaining change and the mechanisms of social transformation. Unfortunatly so far both the European Union and national politics in the member-states have been ignoring the ongoing tectonic demographic transformation of the continent.
Hakuna-matata modus is over. Time to say patikana, and face and advantages and challenges of the imminent change.