‘Ill-treatment of Africans stems from their depiction in Bollywood movies’

It has been almost four months since 44-year-old Chad national Wandoh Timothy, a Bangalore resident, was brutally assaulted by two persons when he was en route to pick up his daughter from school. But, neither have his physical wounds healed nor his emotional hurt been assuaged.

“I am still waiting for the police to take action against the culprits. They said they would call me, but I have not been called so far. The police said they had arrested two persons, but released them soon after. My broken rib still hurts. I am arranging for funds needed for further medical treatment that I plan to undergo in Kerala,” Mr. Wandoh said.

A resident of Kalyan Nagar in Bangalore and an IT professional, Mr. Wandoh was attacked by a group of men on July 9 when he asked a motorcycle rider to give way. The motorcycle riders were reportedly joined by passersby in attacking Mr. Wandoh, who has lived in India for the last six years after marrying Beula, a Keralite.

The police say a case was registered and two persons involved in the assault were arrested, but they subsequently managed to secure bail. The case is now in court and the trial is yet to begin, a police official said.

Mr. Wandoh said persons from African countries in Bangalore face all types of discrimination and problems. The authorities unnecessarily harass people from African countries by refusing to extend their visas, forcing them to return to their native countries and return after getting fresh visas. “It is easy to get fresh visas from Indian embassies in African countries, but the travel means a lot of money,” he said.

He said Africans in Bangalore, who are in touch with him, claim to have issues with landlords either refusing them accommodation or demanding higher rent, and college authorities harassing them. The issue relating to Africans in Bangalore is under focus in the context of the souring of ties between India and Nigeria, following unsavoury events in the wake of the murder of Nigerian national Obado Uzoma Simeon in Goa.

Coordinator for Association of African Students in India Mbaya Guy Davis regretted the turn of events in Goa and expressed concerns that persons of African origin were being increasingly targeted in India.

He attributed the discrimination against Africans in India to “misperception”, which he said was fuelled by the portrayal of Africans in poor light in Indian movies. “I have seen Bollywood movies in which Africans are shown as thieves who are stealing and fighting with people,” he said.

Though most Indians treated Africans well, Mr. Davis said it was only the “uneducated and illiterate” who ill-treated Africans.

However, Zenawi Haile, an Ethiopian national studying at National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) in Bangalore, said he had not encountered any major problems during the last three months he had been in Bangalore. “Except for the language barrier, we have not faced any issues here so far. We find the locals sociable,” he said before adding that they, on their part, were also respecting the local culture.

Mr. Zenawi is an employee of the Ethiopian Textile Development Corporation. He was sent by his country’s government to study fashion technology here.

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