If Someone Slaps You: Racism from One African Person's Point of View

If Someone Slaps You: Racism from One African Person's Point of View

by Sybille Ngo Nyeck sybeck77@yahoo.fr

If someone slaps you --- Matt 5/39.

I just parted from a German friend who came from Germany for one-month visit to Cameroon. For a European, coming to Africa is quite exciting and for many, this is an occasion to see the reality of life here that is sometimes very different from what the media show.

Despite the fact that I really enjoy spending sometimes with my friend, I am sorry to say I wish he had not come. I wish my fellow countrymen were different. I wish we cameroonians have had something different to show -- more love to give, less hatred to share.

Yesterday, my German Friend went with another cameroonian friend of mine to do some shopping. As many foreigners he is very interested in African art. As my cameroonian friend reported to me, people in the market multiplied their prices by four just because they saw her with a white man. And they did for other whites who came there to shop. As a cameroonian she knows the prices and she almost quarreled with the merchants to protest against this shameful way of cheating.

So, when they came back home, my German friend expressed to me his disappointment and he put it in this way: "I'm surprised to be a victim of racism here in your country."

I am an African and proud to be. We African always cry out against racism.

"They hate us! They don't want us!" All this is true but have we even think about our own behavior? It doesn't matter who first hated whom? Why shall we continue to cry out for injustice when in our daily life, there is no proof that if black people were more powerful than whites, we would have done things differently? Before and after colonialism my own tribe practiced slavery because of some advantages given to us. The only existent markets were in my village, and men from my tribe used to take advantage from the 'strangers' travelling from long distances by setting traps on their way, by reducing them to be our slaves, by cutting their ears and castrating some men. When a chief died, men from my tribe use to bury some slaves alive for they believed their soul would continue to serve their earth-master even beyond the veil of death."

Thank God I have never been a slave, and I hope I shall end my days on earth without being one, not even a slave of my ego.

How do we call it when on THE BASIS OF COLOUR we suddenly change a price of an item on the market? Is it not RACISM ?

Somebody may say, "But this merchants just want to make profit because he thinks white people have more money." Even if this is true, it still makes no sense to me. Those who came to steal Africans from their motherland were also thinking in the same way. "Blacks have more strength, they are savage people only useful to plow our farms and carry our bags."

This may sound like an anodyne for those who, instead of solving problems, tend to always proceed by denying them. Always try to project the dark side onto others. This attempt is covered under statements like "Only white people are racists." "Only the heterosexuals are homophobic." Only frustrated women are feminists." As far as Racism is concerned, is it fair for us Native Africans to continue to keep our eyes closed on good things that have been done to us ? We shall and we must denounce injustices vehemently, but we must move forward by making some changes within ourselves first. I would like to look behind with Mandela eyes -- not to FORGET but to FORGIVE.

As I am writing on this delicate subject of racism I must recognize not without a shame that WE, BLACK AFRICANS ARE NOT BETTER THAN THEY. How can we pretend? I would surely feel very bad if as a native black African I had to pay more than the normal price to take a metro in Europe or in the US. Nowadays it's becoming more and more difficult to say something against people of color without being accused of racism. Say something against the church and you are called an anathema. If you touch the Jews they will see in you the reincarnation of Hitler. This is the Pride Age. We all fail to listen. We don't want to be criticized and we take as an excuse our weakness, our color, our gender.

I don't know what black Americans may feel by reading this. I must admit they are living a different situation of which I don't have a full understanding but what about us Black Native Africans? If we don't watch out and continue to behave as the eternal victims, we will surely be caught in our own pride. If black African Americans want some reparations due to the slavery trade, let us support them; but how can we native Africans, without shame make claims for the US, Portugee French, government to pay to Africa for their shameful actions? Were we not part of it, Africans, by selling our own brothers and sisters? Still nobody knows this part of the history? How can we expect others to repent, while we refuse to read own letter?

Some say, "The Jews are fighting for the world not to forget the holocaust so why should not we Africans?" Not a single normal person will agree to let what happened to the Jews under the Hitler happen again, but the way things are going now in the Middle-East is dividing the international opinion. One of the things the pro-Palestinians participants in the Durban conference which is still going on in South Africa want to make known to the world is that there is no permanent condition for any society.

It is a wrong way to try to fight injustice unless we are willing to heal the pain in both the oppressor and the oppressed. Finding the oppressor in the oppressed and vice versa is a better way to prevent the sufferers of yesterday to repeat the same scheme.

On the African continent, there is still some neocolonialism going on, especially in economics and political sphere, but how can we stop it unless we start thinking about finding our own solution to resolve our problems? How can we create a better world unless we learn to welcome our fellows -- be they our formers or present oppressors?

I would like to end up my saying with a quotation from Jesus: "If anyone slaps you on the RIGHT cheek, let him slap your LEFT cheek too." Jesus never advised us to be passive; rather he is talking about the way to OPPOSE the evil. As the right side is opposed the left side so shall we behave in opposition to demonic expectation.

We are not encouraged to present our cheek unless we are sure not to feel the pain twice. In other words, if we cannot hide from conflicts, we are able to respond in the different way. We can refuse to obey the pattern set by a sexist, racist, homophobic world. The principalities, dominions and powers of darkness may keep on knocking and kicking but it is our duty to keep the doors shut and refuse to let them in. If we do so, we progressively won't feel the pain any more because the positive cosmic powers within us will weaken the evil outside us that is already defeated inside.

With my sincere regards
Sybille N. Nyeck
The Cameroon sybeck77@yahoo.fr


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