Friday, 23 May 2014


 BLACK   SOCIAL  HISTORY                                            What’s happening to Nigerian

Nigerians in Malaysia are angry.   They feel the society, the uniformed officials and even some schools have turned against them.  They believe that the innocent ones among them are being treated as criminals and the alleged criminals are being given extra-judicial treatment.  Nigerians raised that ire a notch when at the end of last month, some Malaysian officials clobbered a Nigerian to death for (alleged) indecent exposure.  Since then, many articles have been written, letters forwarded and press statements released.  Malaysians too have written.  The letter below was written by Dr.  David I. Efevwerhan of Universiti Utara Malaysia in response to a column written by a Malaysian journalist.  I’m sharing it with you because I feel the letter captures the current mood of Nigerians in Malaysia.
Dear Philip Golingai,
My attention was drawn to an article (Living next door to vice) in The Star online, which was written by you. Ordinarily, I do not bother to respond to anti-African, nay anti-black sentiments in Malaysia as I have developed a thick skin to such. I prefer to refer to an “anti-black sentiment” as against “anti-African” because the xenophobia and racial hatred is actually directed at blacks. White-skinned Africans do not face the palpable rejection and humiliation encountered by their black-skinned brothers daily in Malaysia. You were kind enough to refer to “foreigners” instead of “black Africans” or even “Nigerians” in your write-up. Presently, Nigerians are the most hated of the black race in Malaysia. They are selectively harassed both in the privacy of their homes and in public gatherings by Malaysian Police and Immigration Officers. In such selective raids, the arrests are indiscriminate as holders of valid passports and visas are equally arrested. On such occasions, press men are part of the official team, and they freely photograph both innocent and “guilty”, in handcuffs; and make very sensational news headlines with such photographs in their media. The general image painted of Nigerians in the Malaysian press, be it electronic or print, is that of drug-traffickers, swindlers and perhaps, rapists. Responsible Nigerians and Africans who are legitimately schooling or contributing to the economy of Malaysia never hit news headlines.
I decided to write you because I want you to have a balanced perspective of Africans in general and Nigerians in particular; and use your privileged position to educate the Malaysian society about global trends. The world is now a global village and no nation or continent can be an island unto itself any more. Africans generally, are a hospitable people. If you ask Asians living in any African country, they will attest to this. The African man or woman would rather protect a foreigner than one of his or her kind. So, they expect similar acceptance and hospitality when they venture out of their continent. But here in Malaysia, a local must be protected at all costs against an African, no matter who is right or wrong. If a black African enters a restaurant, there will be all kinds of derogatory and racists comments from locals. If a black African enters a shop, or room, the Malaysian occupant will quiver and tremble - similar to how one reacts when a dreaded mad man certainly bursts into one’s living room. If a black African is on a seat in a bus or train, no local will sit on that row. The local will prefer to remain standing. If the black African takes a seat next to a local, there is every probability that the latter will excuse him or herself from that seat. If the local chooses to remain on the seat, it will be with visible indignation at the bravado of an orang hitam, who dared to sit near him or her. If a black African is walking on the road, it is common to see locals coming on the opposite direction, clutching their nostrils. Perhaps, the black African smells. What puzzles me is that we have Indians of the black race here in Malaysia. They are not treated the same way. There must be something very wrong with the black African then. At this juncture, let me hasten to say that not all Malaysians are guilty of the above racial prejudices. On individual levels, Malaysians are kind, warm and hospitable, once they become accustomed to you. But the majority at the societal level are anti-black and this does not stop with illiterate Malaysians. It cuts even across the professorial cadre.
Let me address the most recent race-induced hatred perpetrated by RELA officials on a Nigerian, Onochie Martins Nwankwo. He is dead and no one can hear his own version of the story. But assuming without conceding that the version given by the RELA men and carried in the press is correct, the alleged offence would at best amount to sexual gratification; not even an attempted rape. The story was told that the deceased kissed the female cleaner and flashed his manhood at her. There was no evidence that he attempted to seize her and pin her down in order to have sex with her. The facts therefore, if believed, can only establish perhaps indecent assault of a female or obscene behaviour. I am not sure this or the offence of rape, is punishable with death anywhere on earth. Even if punishable with death, the offender still has to be found guilty and accordingly sentenced. Upon complaint to the RELA officials, according to the story, they tried to accost the deceased, who resisted them. It is unbelievable that seven trained RELA officials could not restrain one “offender” by locking the gates of the condominium, even binding him hand and foot and calling the police. They decided to bludgeon him to death. Thereafter, they called the police to come and take the corpse away. Mr. Philip, how does that sound to your ears? I have gone this length to intimate you with what black Africans go through from time to time here in Malaysia. There is every probability that the case will die naturally and the RELA officials set free after this time out. I am sure, if the offender were a Malaysian or a white-skinned foreigner, this high-handedness wouldn’t have been employed.
I came to Malaysia some three years ago and I’m on my way out. The experience has been bitter-sweet. Malaysia is a very tolerant society. Despite the fact that Islam is the official religion, Christians, Buddhists and Hindus are allowed to worship freely, without molestation. The only time some Muslims burnt down a church in Kuala Lumpur over the use of the name, “Allah”, the culprits were prosecuted and handed jail terms - something I cannot even boast of in my country with a secular constitution. I give it to the Malaysians. There are other good memories about Malaysia but the anti-black racial prejudice needs to be addressed. While we have some bad eggs among the blacks just like we have them among locals, there shouldn’t be a blanket hatred and humiliation of black Africans. Of course, I was robbed of RM2,000 around Puduraya by Malaysian locals in 2010. That has not made me to hate every Malaysian. In most cases, the criminals among the blacks do have their Malaysian collaborators. Black Africans and other foreigners contribute to the economy of Malaysia in terms of school fees, living and other expenses. This is a form of foreign earning which Malaysia needs badly. If the current race hate is unchecked, very soon the surviving victims of Malaysian hatred will pass the news around and discourage others from coming to Malaysia either for schooling or working. This will not augur well for the economy of this country. I hope I have not bored you with my lengthy write up. Warm regards and a hopeful warmer relationship between locals and their black guests.