LET’S talk about racism in Africa. An often touchy subject, given the melting pot of cultures on the continent, but discrimination is rife, with North African countries rated the most racist.
Some countries are very accepting and welcoming of people of different races, ethnicities, and nationalities. Others are less so, IOL’s Chad Williams reports.
According to a 2022 World Population Review report, Africans are fairly racist towards one another, and this racism is what is fuelling the growing conflict. The report shows that six African countries lead the continent in the racism ratings.
Racism is defined as prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism by an individual, community, or institution against a person or people on the basis of their membership of a particular racial or ethnic group, typically one that is a minority or marginalised.
The Tebu community, a black minority ethnic group who mainly live in southern Libya, as well as Chad, Sudan and Niger, have long been discriminated against and excluded from public life.
Before the 2011 revolution, many Tebu had their citizenship revoked by the regime of former president Muammar Gaddafi.
Inequality is fuelling racism in South Africa, says the South African Human Rights Commission. According to SAHRC chairperson Dr Bongani Majola, the gross inequality in the country often leads to racism and racial polarisation.
Nigeria, a country of over 208 million people, is made up of more than 250 ethnic groups. Its history is littered with ethnic rivalry and competition, says Tosin Olonisakin, a social psychologist at Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti. The country is not only divided along ethnic lines, the division also runs along religious lines, political party affiliations, regional groupings and statehood, he says.
According to the Arab Reform Initiative, after independence, Algeria’s ruling elite chose to suppress identity issues because they saw diversity as a source of division and a threat to their hold on power.
Sadly, black Algerians and discussions on anti-black sentiment remain absent from public debates.
In 2019, the UN’s expert on racism and human rights called on the kingdom to implement a comprehensive plan to satisfy its obligations to eliminate discrimination and achieve racial equality.
According to the Arab Reform Initiative, in the Moroccan context, anti-black racism is pronounced, widespread, and largely denied by non-blacks despite Morocco’s participation in the trans-Saharan slave trade for 13 centuries, and the socio-economic marginalisation of the country’s black minority until the present day.
According to a 2020 Voice of America report, Ethiopians living in Egypt said that racism was intensifying in the North African country.
Egypt has long been a refuge for African migrants, but racist harassment is reportedly on the rise.
According to local media, the streets of Cairo bring new dangers in the form of racist harassment and even violence in ways that other significant migrant communities in the country, such as Libyans and Syrians, do not face.
In Europe, people of African descent have been an integral part of the social fabric of EU countries for generations, says the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights.
Since 2000, the EU has enacted legislation to combat racial discrimination and racist crime, and diverse policy efforts have sought to address racism at EU level.
Nonetheless, across the EU, people of African descent continue to face widespread and entrenched prejudice and exclusion.