Everyday I’ve spent in Mumbai, has been a reminder that most don’t consider races equally, they pass comments some audible, others stay mute, some gesticulate with racial intent, the target? Anyone dark enough, with a curly twist to their hair – Africans, most especially Nigerians.
At some point it’s saddening to think that in a city like Mumbai the order of the day still is classification, some even pride themselves with it. I had thought this would ease with time but we were still to face the same demon when it came down to a basic necessity such as housing.
It had been 2 weeks and we (Dilip and Myself) were still on the search for a residential apartment to work from efficiently in Mumbai, the present neighborhood had issues with bachelors so we decided to search further. Every building we turned up at had issues with Nigerians, no one cared to know if we were students or not, they just weren’t having it, some even seemed irritated by the site of me. But this very occurrence stood out ; we had almost given up hope and sought to try one last time, a brief word with the estate agent and he was on his way to meet us, on arrival, his expression changed, in my mind I knew it was over there and then, but didn’t let that stop me from offering a handshake and an introduction, he spoke to Dilip instead and not only decline me to assist mainly because I was a Nigerian but also warned him to steer clear of me as I’d be the detriment of him…I froze for a second because these were the only words the agent said in English, all along he spoke in Hindi. In my mind it hurt that I smiled and let him drive off without saying a word, I should have stood up for myself there and then…I should have given him a piece of my mind…but what would that have brought about? This is just how things work in Mumbai for Nigerians and I’ve learnt to keep mute, as anything else would get me in trouble, at that time, all the blame would be out on me – because I’m Nigerian.
I thought to myself “This fellow has no clue who I am, I could be if any character, same with the next person who’d come to him for an apartment” , we told him we were students, have all the required documents and own a partnership business we’re trying to get off the ground but all that didn’t matter, the skin color and the curly twist to my hair was enough to deem me unsuitable to live there.
I kept quiet and let him drive off because its of no use educating people with myopic mindsets anymore, after 4 years of trying to correct the impression I noticed it has no effect on Mumbai, this doesn’t mean that I support dubious business or scams some Nigerians carry out, No! But it’s absolutely racist to place such a tag on peoples, wouldn’t it have been better to only give houses to “foreigners” with valid documents?
What of Nigerian students coming here for the first time? Nigerian Families that move to Mumbai because of better job opportunities? And Nigerians like myself done with their degrees trying to better their lives and the lives of those around them with the resources freely available here? Or are we forgetting that Indians migrate more than Nigerians? We all fall into these categories going abroad, it’s not hard to Imagine what in talking about. since karma is getting what you give, I only pity innocent Indians looking to go abroad, those that will be faced with such treatment and can only hope they pull through. For us, Ignoring and Staying faithful have remained our strategy, and as we keep looking for an acceptable accommodation we can only hope that our Faith defines fate.