Dr Ngarikutuke Tjiriange
Some of us highly appreciate how the Chinese Government helped us during our protracted liberation struggle. The Chinese government trained our people in the military in China and in Tanzania and also supplied us with weapons during those difficult years. We shall always be thankful for that.
Now that we are independent, we have to remain together as good friends. I was however disturbed by the surprising revelation in the local newspapers that Chinese authorities had subjected an African student who are studying in China to racial discrimination. It is alleged that the authorities in Guangzhou apparently mistreated and abused Africans for reasons related to the Covid-19 virus.
We should all understand that the hidden racial discrimination will lead to unintended negative political consequences. If we discriminate against others there will be no excitement in looking at future processes of cooperation and friendship. Future cooperation and friendship is contained in present behaviour. It is imperative that countries be careful about getting caught discriminating because if citizens of various countries find themselves treated in a manner that discriminates, friendships between countries might just be perceived but not experienced.
Namibians went to China to study there based on the friendly relationship between our countries. However, we have Chinese nationals flocking to Namibia and living here opening businesses which can easily be operated by Namibians. We do not question them about how they obtained permanent residency simply to open small shops. Our laws are very clear about how foreign nationals must qualify for permits to work and live in our country. To the best of my knowledge, opening a small business is not a legally convincing requirement for a foreigner to obtain permanent residency in Namibia.
However, the number of Chinese nationals who have settled in Namibia is far more that the number of Namibians who are studying in China. Be that as it may, Chinese nationals in Namibia are not in any way subjected to mistreatment like our people who are studying in China are subjected to. In fact, the Corona Virus and other diseases such as SARS started in China, but we did not discriminate against Chinese people living in our country. We also did not subject the Chinese to forced evictions and arbitrary quarantine, mass Covid-19 tests and discriminate against them when they are roaming around our streets or entering our buildings. Some Chinese living in our country are known to be mistreating our people badly in our country. And they are not punished for that unbecoming behaviour.
Although this deadly disease started in China, we do not blame their people as being carriers of the disease which is killing so many people across the world. Why then should the Chinese humiliate Africans who happen to be in their country as if they are the ones who came from the epicentre of deadly diseases?
This can only be seen as racism and disrespect against Africans and this should not be tolerated. It is indeed annoying particularly when such insensitive treatment of Africans comes from people considered to be our friends. I hope it ends soon.
Many of us spent most of our lives fighting against racial discrimination and colonial rule of our motherland. Therefore, we cannot in any way condone or tolerate racial discrimination against our people no matter where they are.
We will not beg any person or any country to recognize our right to be treated with human dignity or to accept our skin colour as equal to their own. Our freedom from discrimination is our inalienable right and no one person or country can take that away or tamper with it. This truth stands unnegotiabl.
I surely took note of the swift response of the central Chinese leaders who took action to normalize the situation. I do hope that those who are guilty of this unbecoming behaviour will realise that their people are also in African countries such as Namibia and are treated with respect, therefore they should be sensitive when they are dealing with Africans and people of other countries.
I hope this will not be repeated and that we all can enjoy peace of mind.