I celebrate my Indian ancestry because India was born in me !
The above-captioned statement is an adaptation of the words of the late Ghana President Kwame Nkrumah. Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Dr. Keith Rowley, repeated the axiom at the September meeting of CARICOM and African States, by saying: “I am not African because I was born in Africa, but because Africa was born in me.”
The Indian Diaspora should be inspired by Blacks’ affirmation of their race, ancestry and consciousness, and strive to emulate it. Dr. Rowley’s public statement of his pride in his race and roots met with no public outcry. We should all have the freedom to do so without criticism from others. He is a leader of a country with a large Indian-origin population. They did not rise up to call him racist or call for an apology.
Yet Indian leaders in Trinidad, Guyana and Suriname cannot speak in like terms without being attacked and called racist. They are afraid to publicly express their pride in themselves and their ancestry.
Africans in the Diaspora are very proactive in fighting for equality and attacking racism by others against themselves, as they rightly should. Yet, they take umbrage when others speak out against racism. Open your mouth about it and you are immediately called racist. I call this type of aggression: “bullyism.”
All races stood with the Black Lives Movement (BLM) to protest the injustices against Blacks, myself included as a person of Indian descent. Justice and equality do not come in varying shades, nor is it partial. It is time Black leaders speak up for other races when they are attacked by individuals, institutions and governments.
The world condemned apartheid in South Africa. White American leaders also stood up for justice and freedom for Blacks and marched with them and Martin Luther King. Indians in Uganda were expelled, and recently there was racial violence against Indians in South Africa. Did Black leaders speak out against this? No. Instead, they embraced South African President Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa at the CARICOM/Africa meeting in September.
Imagine if the Indo-Presidents of Suriname and Guyana held a summit with India, and both leaders publicly affirmed their pride in their race and their ancestral homeland. What would be the reaction? Imagine President Chandrikapersad “Chan” Santokhi and President Mohamed Irfaan Ali echoing Rowley by saying: “I am not Indian because I was born in India, but because India was born in me.” There would surely be an outcry of racism? Where is the sense of fairness? Are there two sets of rules for judgement? Wouldn’t this be hypocrisy?
All peoples everywhere should publicly take pride in their race, culture and ancestral land if they so choose. Indians came from a great ancient civilisation and culture. They should be given the freedom to celebrate that. They must not be afraid to say so publicly because of the threat of criticism from others who boldly embrace their own heritage. Dr. Rowley, thank you for your bold statement. Your affirmation and pride in your African race and ancestry mean we can all do the same, hopefully without any outcry.
In celebration of my ancestry, I have created a repository to store information about Indo- Caribbean history and culture. Please visit us at INDO CARIBBEAN INTERNATIONAL on Facebook.
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