Students from African countries say racist slurs are common

“It is part of living in a place that is not your home,” said Tamarakaro Gomeromo, a Nigerian student living in the city, while describing the incident involving Delhi Law Minister Somnath Bharti, who was accused of conducting a midnight raid on an alleged drug and prostitution ring involving Ugandan nationals.

“I have been here since July 2011 and have found the people in Karnataka generally friendly. Of course, there are some stray instances of teasing and harassment, but the city is peaceful otherwise. There are a huge number of African students in Bangalore. There are some 200 Rwandan students in the city alone,” he said.

Though the third year computer engineering student at Jain University said living in the city has largely been a smooth affair, despite some teething issues, many others The Hindu spoke to had something to recall.

Innocent from Rwanda, a second year B.Com student here, said racist slurs are common. “We are called names sometimes. Travelling alone in buses is out of the question. Some people, mostly men, get angry just by looking at us,” he said.

Mr. Gomeromo also echoed this sentiment, saying that African students are often perceived to be “inferior,” compared to Caucasian students for instance. “The perception of Africans is really wrong in India. There are good and bad Africans, just like there are good and bad Indians. It is painful,” he said.

Another problem they face is of being charged more money wherever they go, Mr. Innocent added. “It is hard to find houses on rent. Even when we do, we have to pay more. They charge us more even in taxis and autos, they never use the meter,” he said.

Another African student, who did not want to be named, reported a problem specific to college students.

“Soon after confirming our admissions, they take custody of our passports. If there is a delay in paying the fees, they refuse to return it to us. Even when we ask for it if we are travelling back home during the holidays, they ask several questions. They finally hand it to us when we graduate. They even ask for the original residential permit and other school documents. What will we do if we get arrested for not having such important documents?” he said.

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