On December 25, 2016, the African student community in India took a bold step to break all odds by taking a step towards integration.
Media does not give impetus to such stories, which makes one wonder how much good it is for.
The Africans travel mostly to the developing countries and the developed ones, to improve their knowledge soundly, and to pursue education for the betterment of Africa’s tomorrow. This is mainly because of the impoverished state of her institutions in their nations, due to poor management.
I would say it’s the nature of ‘black’ people to seek adventure, travel, and learn from their kin around the world. This is why, it is claimed, that the gene of ‘black’ people is spread all across the world. They are believed to be the origin of human civilisation by some historians and scientists based on their discoveries and studies.
The maltreatment that most of these migrants from the great continent of Africa, especially students, face in host countries is troubling. But of the insatiable and innate adventurous streak, they choose to endure these hardships, believing it’s not going to last forever. They bear the harshness of their hosts and undergo changes to achieve their pursuit.
The Association of African Students in India And Asia (AASI) is a non-governmental, non-profitable body. Over 30 African countries and more than 3,500 student members are a member of this association. One of the duties of this body of student representatives and young African ambassadors is to ensure a smooth stay for students throughout India and Asia. They work with the heads of missions in guaranteeing the protection of students from exploitation as is the case in some parts of the subcontinent and continent.
AASI has never failed to protest instances of hosts victimising of students, particularly of African descent, through press releases or in media discuss and interviews.
Speaking in an interview with the NDTV, the then secretary and now president of the association Mr. Samuel Jack, a Nigerian, said: “We are one people and should coexist as humans because, at the end, we all need one another.” This statement was made when a Congolese national was murdered by Indian mob in the Vasant Kunj area of New Delhi in India.
On December 25, a day on which many people and students prefer to party and visit malls or just have fun, AASI executives visited Jan Kalyan Trust, a charitable home for the senior citizens and the elderly in Noida, Uttar Pradesh.
The team was led by Mr. Samuel Jack (President), Mr. Armand (Vice President), Mr. Mutumbo (Secretary General), Mr. Mohamammed Abdi (Special Adviser), and Mr. Presidoe Okuguni (Public Relations Coordinator), Mr. Ezeugo Nnamdi Lawrence, among others. It was in line with a tradition recently initiated by the previous President, Mr. Abdoulaye, a Chadian.
Student leaders from various African countries spent hours discussing and singing songs from Africa to the old people. The visit was made with the spirit of “Vasudhaiv Kutumbakam”, an Indian philosophy which translates into “the world is one family”. The students cut a cake with the residents of the home. What every student had in his/her heart was the spirit to treat everyone like family. After all, Christmas is all about love for humanity.
At the end of the event, there were smiles on the faces of the seniors in the home. Some were even nostalgic about their youthful days, while others appreciated the attempt and encouraged and blessed the students.
The question that arises is – why is the African community stereotyped? Why is it judged by the baldness, skin colour and looks? The way people treat others in such uncivil manner in a country that claims development is so shameful!
What is development? To me, there’s only one answer to this – the development of the mind. There are so many people who are learned but have failed to become modern and civilised. I’ll end my piece by quoting a good friend of mine, Malini, who says, “we are at the end of an era of civility and dignity!”