In a bid to improve the atmosphere for Africans studying in various educational institutes of Noida and Greater Noida, the district administration has decided to host an Indo-African cultural festival in May.
The idea behind organising the festival is to generate cultural awareness among people from African countries and local residents. The administration has initiated talks with the African Union to host the festival in Greater Noida, said a senior officer.
The decision to take steps to improve relationships comes after the recent race riots targeting Africans in Greater Noida that were triggered by the death of a 17-year-old boy Manish Khari, allegedly due to a drug overdose. Residents of NSG society, where Khari lived, had accused the Nigerians residing in the building of drugging the boy. African students had been injured by locals in various attacks in the days that followed.
The proposed Indo-African cultural festival to be held to improve race relations is to be a day-long conclave where local residents, embassy officials and institutional heads would be invited. Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that work at the international level will also mark their presence.
During the festival, students will participate in various cultural programmes and discussions on creating a friendly environment for foreign nationals will also take place, according to the district administration.
NP Singh, district magistrate, Gautam Budh Nagar, said, “This festival will ensure security among people from African countries and other nations. We hope that people will come to know more about other countries. Everyone has a story to tell. People will share their experiences, be they good or bad, and it will bring people closer.”
Adding that problems arise due to communication gap and can be resolved amicably through dialogue, he said, “Our priority is to ensure that foreign nationals do not live in fear of any security threat. We want to build an atmosphere where they feel as secure outside their educational institutes as they do inside them,” Singh added.
The administration, in collaboration with the district police, is also likely to hold a marathon from LG Chowk to Pari Chowk by the end of April. The marathon is to be open for all and the police is working to ensure safety and security during the event.
Meanwhile, two teams, each headed by a sub-divisional magistrate (SDM), will hold meetings between foreigners and residents’ welfare association members from Saturday. They have identified 11 pockets in the city where students from various countries live.
According to officials, this too will ensure good relations between Africans residing in Greater Noida and local residents.