Protect our African friends

Protect our African friends

By THE SUNDAY GUARDIAN | 2 April, 2017

Just as a single spot of ink can render an entire glass of milk inedible, a handful of hooligans can smear the name of a country in another continent. India and Africa have long had a symbiotic and very close relationship. This country was consistent in backing freedom movements across the African continent, whether these be in Algeria or in Kenya. At a time when Nelson Mandela was excoriated and jailed as a criminal on Robben Island in South Africa, it was India which stepped forward to assist the African National Congress and to ensure that it was given representation as an honoured member of the diplomatic colony of New Delhi. Certainly, there have been episodes where dictators in Africa behaved in a reprehensible manner towards those who had settled in their countries from India, the worst example being that of Idi Amin Daddah, the monster who destroyed so much of normal life in Uganda. However, his own people were by far the more numerous victims of the crazed strongman, who was finally removed from power, but who was enabled to escape accountability for his crimes as a consequence of the generosity shown by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia towards the former dictator. However, in the most developed economy in Africa, South Africa, the Indian community was active in the movement to free the country from control by racists, which is why they have since been given an honoured place in the post-Apartheid era. Over and over, India and Africa have been on the same page. However, little of such shared history and objectives has found its way into school textbooks in India, which are still obsessed with Europe, and in particular the United Kingdom. Had at least a few of those who roughed up our welcome and valued guests from Africa understood the extent of common history between Africa and India, they may have hesitated before resorting to violence against innocent individuals from a continent destined for greatness in the 21st century. 

It needs to be probed as to whether there was any outside motivation for the attacks on Africans in Greater Noida. Who are the ringleaders? What were their contacts? For these degenerates have given a diplomatic windfall to Pakistan and China, two countries that will be delighted to see a growing distance between India and Africa. Indeed, it would be fitting if the ISI were to award the ringleaders of the Greater Noida outrage some token of appreciation for the way in which they have harmed the interests of India by creating the misperception in Africa that the people of this country are hostile to Africans. The opposite is the case. There have been several marriages between Indians and Africans, and the overwhelming bulk of these are happy and permanent. Indians and Africans live together in communities across both sides of the Indian Ocean. Indeed, any contact with Africans would convince citizens of India of the warmth and friendliness of the people of that continent. Certainly there are episodes where loud music is played, annoying many in a neighbourhood. However, it is not only Africans who sometimes love loud music but Europeans and Indians as well. Instances when ultra-loud music gets played indoors are legion, and almost all such cases involve citizens of this country. As for narcotics, it is ridiculous to blame Africans for the growing incidence of drug abuse in several cities. Almost the entire industry is in the hands of people from India, and what is needed is a policy that segregates “soft” from “hard” drugs and focuses on the latter, the way several other countries have succeeded in doing. Other charges used to defend those guilty of assaulting Africans are equally absurd, in that they place the blame for certain evils exclusively at the door of those from a continent important to the future of India. Both Sushma Swaraj and Rajnath Singh need to work together to ensure security and safety for the African community in India. The actions of a few have shamed the nation, and these need to be punished in a manner such as would prevent a repetition of the ugly incidents in Greater Noida involving attacks on the African community. 

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