Cry for Me, Africa

Social Commentary

Cry for Me, Africa

Illustration: Akshita Monga


wo years ago, Aliyu landed at the Indira Gandhi International Airport from Abuja, Nigeria. Then 25, Aliyu was looking forward to working toward a master’s degree at Noida International University. He’d arrived in Delhi on the recommendation of his father’s friend, who’d sung praises of the Indian capital’s burgeoning education sector. Aliyu had presumed that he would get the same warm reception here that his compatriots extended to the many Indians in his home country.

Being here, however, has been a rude awakening for the youngster. He got used to being heckled and the daily abuses he received on Noida’s streets, but he had hoped his fellow students and teachers would be better. No such luck. While Aliyu has a few Indian friends in class, he can’t shake off the feeling that they view him as “the other”. “I try to keep calm because it’s not my country,” he told me, harrowed. “They treat us like dogs but we aren’t dogs. We are human beings like them. I will tell everyone I meet to never come here.”