By Brian Moyo
The recent video clip of a Nigerian student being beaten by a mob at a shopping mall in India shocked me beyond belief. Indeed, the manner of the attack – with all manner of weaponry, including rods, bricks, knives and something that looked like a kitchen sink being smashed on the helpless man on the ground, was sickening to say the least.
According to reports in India, the mob attack on the student named, Endurance Amalawa, and five other Nigerian students were prompted by the death of a local teenager due to a drug overdose. His parents apparently blame Nigerian students for giving him the drugs.
Whatever the circumstances of this case, mob justice is not the answer. And while India’s Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj should be commended for promising an “impartial” inquiry into attacks on Nigerian students living in Noida, near Delhi, a broader appraisal of the situation by African governments and India should commence immediately.
The African Union, as the voice of Africa, should take a lead on this matter and have a serious dialogue with India as well as consult African embassies in that country about strategies for protecting Africans in India against racial attacks.
A number of Nigerian students interviewed after Endurance was set upon by the mob, insisted that Africans are frequently abused in India and that racially motivated attacks are common, but underreported.
“The Indian government is in denial by saying that the attacks are not racial,” said one of the students.
Alkahba Solomon, a student in Noida, told the BBC that some Indian landlords are telling African students to vacate from their lodgings.
Considering that there was a spate of attacks on African nationals living in India in 2016, including one in which a Congolese man was beaten to death in Delhi, racial tensions between Indians and Africans in that country aren’t likely to die down unless and until authorities take firm action.
For my part I can’t imagine a British citizen being beaten up like that in India or anywhere else in Asia for that matter. I strongly suspect that the race card, subconsciously or otherwise, may be an underlying factor in the mindsets of the mob. As such, the emotive trigger that prompted the attack on Endurance has a lot to do with stereotypical forms of representation embedded in the mindsets of the mob.
For too long now Africans have been vilified all over the world and subjected to extreme forms of racial abuse. Nigeria and the rest of Africa should stand up to India and warn the government there, in no uncertain terms, that further attacks on Africans might mar diplomatic relations or worse still encourage ill feelings against diaspora Indians in Africa.
The fact of the matter is that millions of people now live, work or study in foreign countries. It is therefore incumbent upon host nations to ensure that citizens of other countries are treated with respect and fairness.
Lest India has forgetten, Africa is home to millions of their kith and kin, most of whom were born there after their ancestors were shipped to the continent through indentured labour programmes by colonial powers.
There are at least three million people of Indian origin in east Africa, while South Africa is home to 1.3 million people of Indian descent, with Durban accounting for the highest concentration of Indians overseas.
Needless to say, Indians who have made Africa their home enjoy a higher standard of life on that continent, than the average African.
Prominent families such as the Guptas in South Africa who have accumulated vast fortunes, are an example of how well Indians have done in Africa. Throughout decades of Indians in Africa making vast fortunes, the only time that they were racially abused was when former president of Uganda Idi Amin confiscated their businesses and properties in the 1970’s.
Africans are probably the most accommodating people when it comes to welcoming foreigners and accepting them as fellow human beings.
Surely it isn’t asking for much for other races to be equally tolerant of our people when for whatever reason, they have settled in foreign countries or are there temporarily as students?