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Africans in Diaspora face economic hardship: Tragedies take a toll

Africans in Diaspora face economic hardship: Tragedies take a toll

On July 19, 2010, shockwave news of a horrible tragedy about a Sierra Leonean couple spread like wild bush fire during a severe Harmattan season, especially among the Sierra Leonean community in the United States. 52 year-old Godfrey Manley Spain, aka Lord Bongo a popular comedian, and member of  ‘The Professionals’ drama group back home, and his 46 year-old girl friend Claudia Johnson a nurse, have been living together for 17 years in Mesquite Dallas Texas. Police and coroner’s report confirmed that Godfrey killed his girl friend inflicting trauma on her by strangulation. He eventually committed suicide by hanging himself.   (Photo:  Roland Marke, author)

A domestic violence case was earlier filed against the accused resulting in a restraining order banning him from visiting or living in the same house with Claudia his heart-throb. Sparks of a love-hate triangle cannot be completely divorced as one of the root causes of the tragedy. Finally, Claudia made up her mind to terminate the toxic relationship by moving on with her life with someone else more compatible, who would eventually lead her to the altar. But her estranged partner thought otherwise.

Manley Spain who was unemployed was selfishly unwilling to accept his fate. Having lost his job and drowning in the dead sea of economic limbo and securing his own place of abode, were gigantic challenges he couldn’t grapple with headlong. For him ‘No one else will get her if I couldn’t.’ He would later settle down for the point of no return. His blurred thinking became the risk factor. People with like mind as his could be dangerous, and probably end up killing their victims, and that’s exactly what he did. It was a 911 call from a concerned compatriot, who had not seen the emotionally drained couple the whole day of Sunday July 19 that forced Police to break into the house, discovering the bodies of the estranged duo with blood spattered around the house of a bloody theater, where a fight took place leading onto their dramatic and violent deaths.

The mighty Dallas economy is sputtering, with the city at risk of economic crisis, Hamilton says. It’s losing its position as the region’s economic core, ranking closer to distressed Detroit and Philadelphia than its bustling South West peers. The current economic downturn and the scenario of a prolonged economic malaise are taking a devastating toll on many minority families. In a situation where there’s destitution and hopelessness, doom and gloom often win a free ride.

Godfrey and Claudia were nursing deep emotional wounds, probably chronically bleeding emotionally and psychologically too. Some think they were a sweet happy couple from a distance. But in reality their relationship had dangerously hit rock bottom. Verbal abuse reigned in an atmosphere of domestic violence fully taking center stage. They had two adorable children Godfrey Jr. 15 and 7 year-old Elizabeth. The well-mannered and disciplined kids were luckily away visiting family when the tragedy occurred.

The enigma of domestic violence that invariably results in tragedy is going viral, infecting the African community both at home and abroad. Just a few weeks ago, a Nigerian pharmacist battered his middle aged wife in cold blood with a baseball bat in Tampa, Florida. Part of their problem started over an argument dwelling on finance and the high cost of living in America. Also in rapid succession, a Ghanaian fatally stabbed his 28 year-old fiancée, in Boston, MA and then went on to dismember her dead body, in an attempt to destroy core evidence. Concerned Africans are nervously complaining that all is not well within the African community. Are Africans losing out on their community based cultural and spiritual values in pursuit of the American dream that is fast becoming a myth rather that a reality for many? Trying to cope with Western challenges and values on a daily basis could be uphill climbs for most African immigrants especially the new arrivals. Africans are a tenacious people who need to form a collective support group to help address these invasive cancers. Are we not entrusted to be our brother’s keeper? Connected, integrated and responsive to the needs of our brothers and sisters living in a global community? But charity begins at home. What is wrong with our African brothers, who claim to love and cherish their African sisters until death, without abandoning the African culture? This love-hate relationship must be arrested before it runs amok and insanely out of control. Tapping brain power is smarter than resorting to the use of brawn trying to assault physically indefensible women. The million dollar question on the front burner is: ‘You…and Me and me.. and you and me… and you have we all changed our lives yet’?  Time is ticking very fast as a time bomb. Taking action now is better that waiting when it gets too late.

Official Statement of The Professionals on Lord Bongo Johnson

July 21, 2010 (Washington, DC) – “The members of The Professionals are in utter disbelief and deeply saddened by the turn of events as it relates to our brother Godfrey Manley-Spaine (aka Lord Bongo).  The details of this tragedy in no way align with the childhood friend and brother that we knew for over twenty years.  Our thoughts and prayers are with the Haggerty and Anthony Families and the children.”

The Professionals, a drama group born in Freetown, Sierra Leone of which the deceased comedian was a respectable member, have established a Trust Fund for the children.  For more information on making donations to the trust fund and/or burial please contact Donald Nat-George (Dandogo) at (214) 606-1056 or by emailing him at dandogo@tx.rr.com or, contact Joseph Betts (Pa Bangura) at (240) 508-2820 or by emailing bettsjoseph@gmail.com

Roland Bankole Marke © 2010

Roland Bankole Marke is a Sierra Leonean poet, author of 3 books, and freelance writer, based in Jacksonville, Florida. His short stories and poetry have been anthologized. Visit his website on: www.Rolandmarke.com

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