An encounter with racism

Racism is real. Ask me, I saw it in action yesterday.

I was in a matatu, heading somewhere, and I was seated next to the driver with a friend.

As the driver was driving, he encountered two middle-aged Indian men, kalasingas, as we call them, riding on motorbikes at the speed of like 5 kilometres per hour, chatting, and hence, blocking the road on that lane that we were on.

The driver went ballistic. It was ugly. He started insulting the men, the men insulted him back. It was some seriously foul insults that I can’t repeat, back and forth. Soon they were threatening to fight each other and the driver almost got out of the vehicle to actualize the threats. By now there was traffic starting to build up and curious onlookers and drivers were slowing down to watch the drama. Some of the other matatu passengers jumped into the drama and started yelling and insulting the men: “Rudini nchi yenu!” (“Go back to your country!”,) and other similar sentiments were yelled out to the men.

I have to say, I was shocked (and also a little envious of the two men, who had the fortitude and the guts to keep going despite being outnumbered) that Kenyans feel so strongly about foreigners, particularly Indians. I have heard so much negativity directed towards them: that they feel superior to Kenyans because we are black and they are, well, whatever colour they are; that they treat their employees like slaves; that they treat black people as lesser beings because they believe that we are from a lower caste than they are.

There is so much animosity towards foreigners in this country. I remember arguing with a friend of mine that some of these so-called foreigners are actually Kenyan citizens since they were born here, but she would have none of it.

What’s my stand on this issue? I hate racism, black-on-white, white-on-black, Indian-on-black, black-on-Indian, Somali-on-nywele ngumu (or “hard hair”, as some refer to Kenyans)…it’s all the same. It’s all discrimination.

I don’t deny that some of the claims are true, that some races discriminate against us. I just do not think that two wrongs make a right. I am not justifying the wrong. I just think we need to be above it. It hurts the other person just as much as it hurts us when we discriminate against them; so essentially, we are just playing the same game.

Also, racism is one of those mass-punishment things, you know, like if in high school, the teacher found a few people making noise in class and punished the whole class for noise-making, including the innocents? It was so unfair! Racism is the same to me; we punish everyone in that group for a number of people’s mistakes: totally unfair.

That’s my take. What’s yours?

You might also like:

  • Recent Posts

  • Recent Comments

  • Popular Tags