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We are not drug dealers, we deserve love: African students in Chandigarh share their experiences

The students’ meet was attended by high commissioner of United Republic of Tanzania to India, Baraka H Luvanda, as the chief guest, and education liaison officer to India, Yahya A Mhata, as the guest of honour.

punjab Updated: May 20, 2018 11:14 IST
Ifrah Mufti
Ifrah Mufti
Hindustan Times, Mohali
drug dealers,African students,African students in Chandigarh
African students during a meet at Gian Jyoti Institute of Management Technology in Mohali on Thursday. (Keshav Singh/HT)

The first question people ask us at public places is if we are Nigerians or supply drugs, and it feels like a direct insult, said Bakari Chuma, an African student at Gyandeep Jyoti Institute of Management and Technology.

Chuma was among the 70-odd students attending an African students’ meet at the institute on Friday who shared their life experiences and accounts of discrimination at times.

“There are over 100 African students across the tricity. We came here as Chandigarh has been the best in terms of academics as compared to Bengaluru or Delhi. We have never experienced any sort of discrimination within the institute but when we go to the markets and airport, people look at us suspiciously as many Africans involved in drug dealing have brought a bad name to all those who have moved from Africa to do good with their lives,” said Chuma, who had been living in Chandigarh for the past six years and is pursuing MBA from the institute these days.

Irene, another African student pursuing MBA, echoed a similar opinion, “Discrimination is not new to me. I have seen people making fun of my dress, hairstyle, looks and eating habits. Yes, we belong to a different country, but people should show some love to us. We have made friends with local students here too and they care about us a lot.”

Maryam Sunday, pursuing BBA, said, “We have become used to people’s comments and jokes. I wonder why some Indians judge people by their appearances. We also have a heart. We come here to study for our own betterment, but not many understand this.”

“I know many Africans have spoiled their image by getting involved in drug peddling, but what is our fault?” questioned the Tanzanian native, adding that finding a rented accommodation in Chandigarh was an uphill task for her and her friends.

As per another BBA student Wesley, there are bad people and there are good people everywhere.

“We ignore all those comments that people throw towards us. It ultimately falls upon the people to decide whether the have to move on with the good or the bad,”he said.

The students’ meet was attended by high commissioner of United Republic of Tanzania to India, Baraka H Luvanda, as the chief guest, and education liaison officer to India, Yahya A Mhata, as the guest of honour. Luvanda motivated the students to become self-capable for future opportunities and asked them to join the African students association in India.

First Published: May 19, 2018 10:14 IST