Friday, November 20, 2009

Nubians want apology

Isn't it shocking how some people are treated just because of the colour of their skin. Is it insidious or unconscious? It happens everywhere.
"Nubians come from the southernmost region of present-day Egypt, where a culture later known as Nubian first arose around 3800 BC along the Nile and in northern Sudan. It was one of Africa's earliest black civilisations, complete with an independent kingdom.
Haifa Wehbe has the minority Nubian community in Egypt distraught over her latest children's album "Baby Haifa" and the community's activists have launched several lawsuits over the lyrics.
The Nubians took issue with a verse in the song Where is Daddy? in which Wehbe croons: "Where is my teddy bear and my Nubian monkey?"
The line, Nubian representatives say, infers that members of the black Egyptian minority are monkeys. In November, they slapped separate lawsuits on the singer, her record label and Wehbe's Egyptian song writer.
If the Nubian's are offended then it should be remedied. It is hard to imagine anyone not being offended by being called monkeys - you would be wouldn't you?
"It may not be intentional racism on the part of the song writer, but it is still highly racist and offensive," said Motez Isaaq, with the Committee for Nubian Issues.
Isaaq said that stereotypes of minorities are so entrenched that referring to them in popular culture media is frequently done unconsciously.
"We are one of the oldest civilisations on earth," said Isaaq. "Instead, our image is constantly perpetuated as the uneducated doorman or waiter."
Isaaq alleged that Nubians are discriminated against because of their darker skin, and stressed that the community still holds in painful memory the political oppression in the 1960s, when the Egyptian government forced tens of thousands of Nubians to leave their homes and resettle elsewhere in southern Egypt, to make way for the building of the High Dam, 685km south of Cairo.
These people have been treated poorly - imagine having to move everything because everything you know and love is about to be under 15 metres of water.
"Isaaq said the danger of her song is that it targets children."
"Kids can soak up the lyrics so quickly," he said. "They could start calling their Nubian classmates monkeys."
Isaaq's group has held protests against the song, he said, and is also suing Egypt's culture minister and the country's state censorship board for allowing Wehbe's latest album to be on the Egyptian market.
The Nubians want a formal apology and an end to airing the song in Egypt, Isaaq said, expressing also hope that the action would change the way other Egyptians treat their Nubian fellow countrymen.
And the final words are resounding
"Egyptians have to stop treating us as second class citizens," he said. "We are the original Egyptians and the country needs to remember it."
I hope the apology is soon and that the Nubian people get treated with more respect.

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