28 July 2013

Nigeria: Home-Grown Racists


The message is very loud and clear, from home and abroad, if you are black stay home. Home is not just your country, the one that gave you a passport, it should be that place where you can trace four generations of ancestry.

It may not be written, but anything outside of that is 'wandering' and that is a sin, forget that the laws may not say so. Since the great partition of Africa, the white man has returned to his own home, happy that they have raised a generation of people who will always find them even if they were in igloos in the arctic. And boy, were they right? The black race is perpetually in transit and hitting international headlines for the wrong reasons.

When a football story catches my attention, that is serious and lately football has been catching my attention, and if you like, my ease too. Last week, Kevin Constant, an AC Milan player walked out of the field after suffering racial slurs from fans in a friendly match.

He is not the first, in fact, in January this year, his namesake and team mate, Kevin-Prince Boateng did a similar thing. Constant was born in France but of Guinean origin. Kevin-Prince has Ghanaian roots. They have lived and played in what is considered the most famous sports in the world. I suppose they are good at what they do, but according to European colour inspectors, they are black and when you are black, what racists see is not your ability but the colour of your skin.

Cecile Kyenge is Congolese by birth, but she has called Italy home for 30 years after qualifying as an ophthalmologist. She should be prescribing the thickest lenses for someone. A beautiful and intelligent black woman is a combination too explosive for any racist and to boot, she was appointed the first black minister in Italy's history. She is Integration minister. But recently when she hit international headlines, it was not for the global entente charity work she does and still do, it was because a fellow MP remarked that whenever he sees her, he is reminded of an orangutan. See why he needs the thickest set of lenses ever manufactured?

He later apologized, but the joke was one him actually. In the liberal West, it is no longer news that men (and women) have abandoned nature and now dig animals. So, I hope Lady Kyenge sends Calderoli back to the jungle to learn from his real ancestors.

The walls of racial prejudice are the most mutant. As you strive to demolish one, a legion is rising in its place. Only one group of people are disqualified from complaining - Africans. Politrics has turned our continent into a theatre of racial war. The Luo against the Kalenjin, the Asante against the Fante, the Zulu against the Venda - the race is on who to crown the worst of all.

For the Naija everything is okay until we start talking politrics, then the parabolic antlers deploy. We've all heard about it, the concept of - my kinsman is always right. Last week, the sanitation inspectors in Raji Fashola's State of Lagos went to work. It would not be the first time, but perhaps they hit the wrong targets. They bundled about 70 persons they thought overstayed their visa to Lagos and were more generous than the Brits who have just added a neophyte to Mama Charlie's band. They dumped the 'illegal aliens' somewhere after Onitsha and all hell broke lose.

But it was not the first time it would happen if memory serves me right. The deportation bus has stopped in Ebute Metta, picked a cargo of aliens from another part of the country and dumped them wherever it deemed right - without as much scruples. And before then, the 2nd Orji had deported non-indigenes to Anambra without much fuss. In Abuja, since Nasir el-Rufai exhumed the Masterplan, deportation of illegal aliens has continued. Under Malam Mungu, it is called race against prostitutes who happen to be any girl caught in their own definition of indecent dressing.

It was not Shehu Shagari alone that deported people. Governors who swore to defend the constitution turn round to do the exact opposite. Until recently, 'aliens' of all kinds pay different fees in Niger schools though their parents pay taxes directly to the Niger state government. It happens in many other states too remotely distant from the caravan of news.

It even happens in the ruining party. Chief Edwin Clark, media-crowned Ijaw leader recently endorsed the eventual rubber stamp of Rotimi Amaechi from the party of desperate people. Somebody told me last week that home grown racism is the reason why Mama Charlie's grandson was not given a meaningful African name. The other day, a black man was arrested in Montreal for driving his own car. The policeman believed he was answering 'a white name'. The big question is who do we deal with first - the home grown racist or the foreign one? Suggestions welcome!

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