The Salon II

Monday, March 27, 2006

Malian-Russian girl stabbed

There was a time that West Africans saw Russia - well the USSR - as the Godsent cheaper and friendlier alternative to the West, for higher education. In fact about 1/3 of the political class in Mali is Soviet-educated. They often talk about their experience in Russia as a positive experience, of higher learning, and social interaction. Some of them even have Russian conjoints. For a long time, one of the biggest Moscow University was named after Patrice Lumumba, the great Congolese leader... Things seem to have changed:
BBC NEWS | Europe | Mixed-race girl stabbed in Russia

"A nine-year-old girl of mixed Russian and Malian parentage has been seriously injured in a stabbing in St Petersburg.

Prosecutors said they were considering 'xenophobia' as the motive for the attack, in which nothing was stolen.

The attack in the hallway of a block of flats on Saturday evening is the latest assault in the city on foreigners and members of ethnic minorities."
One of my best friends is a Armenian-Russian girl, Lena, and she has been a model of sensitivity, respect and consideration for Black and other people. Maybe because of the Armenian thing, that may have made her subject to discrimination there. But many other "Slavic Russians" I know, do not appear to be racist. I therefore have a hard time understanding this new rise of racist xenophobia in Russia. What are the triggers? White supremacy? Fear for jobs, like here in the US, with Latinos? What is it makes these bigots tick?

I still wonder...


  • Xenophobia is often at its zenith during economic downturns and social upheaval. Outsiders (or perceived outsiders) became the easy scapegoat for all problems.

    Just look at Cote d'Ivoire today. Or the American South during the 60s.

    Resistance to change is strongest when change is most imminent.

    By Blogger Brian, at 8:07 AM  

  • Yes Ali, I think the explanation of this attack has to do with unemployment, poverty and alcohoism who are very common in today's Russia.
    And as Brian outlined, this is often the case when a country is economically struglling. This must also be the reason why racism is becoming so visible in Europe too.
    Sadly, this is true everywhere. I heard that in Zaïre too (or RDC as it is called now), the senegalese who usually hold shops are the first victims of discrimination and attacks when problems arise.

    By Anonymous Michoko, at 8:20 AM  

  • You are both right. You can not easily stop people from being bigoted, but you can definitely dissuade them from acting upon it. The repeat offenses in Russia - and to be fair, in the US and France too - on minorities, are never pursued with the full extent of law enforcement's abilities, thus giving many of these people the sense that they can act with likely impunity.

    And yes Michoko, at least in the 80's and 90's, in DRC, West Africans (or pejoratively, "Waras", coming from the Muslim saying for I swear to God, which is "Wallaye" - many Malians and Senegalese are Muslim) were sometimes victims of xenophobic anger. To the DRC's discharge, they were never killed, though. At the DRC's charge, most of the clashes were due to... Soccer Games!!!!! The rest tended to be based on the supposed swindling role of Malians in the precious minerals business. The other group that has been targeted in the DRC - with a bit more justified reasons - are the Lebanese and South-Asian business-people. Many of them built strong ties with the Mobutu regime, to obtain advantageous, and they tended to mistreat their indigenous workers...

    By Blogger TheMalau, at 8:47 AM  

  • Yes Ali, I also heard about the lebanese treating badly the zairean. And to answer your recent question on my blog, yes, I was married to a "mwana mboka" ... Madesu, pondu, kamundele and especially fumbwa (my favourite) have no secrets for me ;) By now, I must have eaten about 2 tons of kwanga :)
    By the way, I will post soon about congolese cuisine, your comments are expected ! :)

    By Anonymous Michoko, at 3:11 AM  

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