"Attacks on Africans No Different From Attacks On Dalits, Muslims, Women"
NEW DELHI: A young girl from Kenya was dragged out of her cab in Greater Noida, beaten and kicked by a group of racist Indians and is currently hospitalised. This incident took place a day after the mob attacks on Nigerian students that received widespread coverage, but little by way of condemnation by the ruling establishment.
The African nations have protested several times to the government about its disinterest in controlling racial crime, but apart from promises little has been done on the ground. Or so it seems as the mob attacks continue with impunity.
Aditi Pinto speaks of these attacks to a young South African NZO INKULULENKO. Exceprts from the interview:
Q.What are your feelings in the moment?
It pains me a lot whenever I see that an African’s life is on the line, as it is at every moment in this world. Capitalism which is Racism white supremacy has colonized the minds of the world, stereotyping Africans as drug dealers, as thugs, as things, as criminals, et cetera. Here we have Africans who are students in universities in this country, some are business people and have shops. Like many people from India go to enrol to universities in Africa, opening businesses and working in Africa.
However, it is so sad and appalling that when we are on the land of our Indian brothers and sisters that they become stereotypical and racist towards the African people who are staying here. This makes me realise, that it could be me attacked by this mob, because Africans are African, no matter if I am Nigerian or Ghanaian or Somalian.
Q.What is your response to the racist attacks in New Delhi?
In the last years I have seen xenophobic attacks in South Africa by local poor black South Africans on other Africans. As I hear about these attacks in Delhi, and remember the recent attacks in Bangalore, it is different, as I feel at risk. We must conscientize ourselves, not just demand that the state take action, but work on decolonizing our minds so that we can see each other as brothers and sisters.
Q. What is this consciousness?
A.We are living in a capitalist society, it is capitalism that is making us resent each other. I see that Indians do not just resent Africans, but they resent other Indians as well. There are so many attacks on Dalits, on Muslims, on women and Trans people in India all the time. In Africa, we are constantly attacking our fellow Africans, so there is a lot that we still have to learn. Colonialism has divided us.
We must remember that there are many Indians living, since many centuries in Africa. Many are in a relative position of power as owners of shops or business-men, with relation to black Africans, yet we see them as our brothers and sisters. Oftentimes, though, we find that Indians do not solidarize with the struggle of Africans in Africa, and prefer their dual citizenship.
Q.What is the Black Consciousness and how does it connect to Pan-Afrikanism?
A.Black consciousness as Biko would put it is an attitude of the mind, to speak to the mind of the black person in racially discriminating society that is excluding his worth and purpose of existence this world .
That being said, Black Consciousness is reflecting on what does it mean to be black in the world. It is so that blacks give pride to themselves, not feel inferior to the white man, and should know that the most powerful mind of the oppressor is our minds, the minds of the oppressed.
Therefore black people should see themselves as full human beings of no inferiority or superiority to any other races, it is restoring pride and confidence to the black man. It is the humanity that has been stripped off the black man.
Pan Afrikanism is a call to Africans to come together in fighting their oppression, that we have been oppressed for being black. It advocates self-determination of all Afrikans. That Afrikans in the diaspora and Afrikans from Cape to Cairo and Morocco to Madagascar should stand together, just as in moments such as these.
Q.What have you observed in the people of India?
A.In India, I have seen so many unemployed people, people living on the streets and amidst so many friendly people, there is also so much anger.
There is a lot of discrimination and negatives over here. If you’re black, you’re seen as inferior or not beautiful enough, and I see this is upheld by the caste system.
People here have been made to hate being black and hate any association with blackness. Even in the media, there is an exclusion of black Indians. You are not worthy of being a model, an actor or actress and so many more things if you’re black.
Colonialism both in Africa and India has left us with dents, has left us socially, economically and psychologically wounded. As Capitalism and Imperialism continue to steal from us and leaves us landless, as mendicants, jobless, hungry and angry, we begin to hate ourselves and other people.
An African living in India becomes a drug dealer, a victim of racism and violence, A Dalit woman raped and a Dalit man brutally murdered, a transwoman sexually discriminated and violated.
Is this a thriving India everyone wants to see, everyone is patriotic of? Africa and India have many better things to learn from each other for the benefits of these two world’s successes.
So racism, hate crimes, violence and stereotyping will do us no good.
Q.What do you think should be the steps to be taken in this case?
A.I think it does not end at making demands to the government, although of course the government must take legal action. However, also, progressive social movements and student movements, should do something to conscientize the people. Even the police when deployed by the government, cannot take positive action without consciousness. As pan-African leader Thomas Sankara said: “a soldier without ideology is a potential criminal.”
At the same time, I reiterate that these attacks on Africans in India are not separate or different from attacks on Dalits, Adivasis, Trans people, Women etc.
India like Africa has many things and mind-sets to exorcise itself of. And, we must remember that the demon is capitalism.
The anger that such a mob demonstrated in Delhi, is the anger seen throughout the world of working people within a system that is oppressing them. We must remember, then, that our anger should not be used against our own brothers and sisters.