Thursday, March 02, 2006

African Students Live in a World of Fear in Russia

Kayode, a cousin of mine wanted to continue his medical training in the former USSR last year, but I discouraged him from going. After reading about the plight of Africans, particularly African students in some universities in the former communist enclave; I’m glad I did.

A BBC article, titled: Living with race hate in Russia describes the hardship faced by Africans in the country. From subtle racism to overt physical attack, many students in Russia live in a world of fear, intimidation and hopelessness.

To complicate things further, many of these students are miserably poor; “one in 10 Africans at RUDN [a university in Moscow] has to live on a daily budget of 15 roubles ($0.50, £0.30), the price of a loaf and two eggs or a single ticket on the Metro.”
"One thing democracy brought Russia was the freedom to insult and attack people and be sure of not being punished…even the murders are immediately treated as cases of hooliganism".--A professor at Moscow's Gubkin Oil and Gas University.
The old USSR used to be a big ally of many African states, and Africans in Russia were well respected during the cold war era. Apparently when communism collapsed, that “friendship” and “respect” died with it.
“After the USSR collapsed, Russia paid no grants to foreign students for five years. A fraction of the system was restored in 1997, and today the number of foreign students in Russia from outside the ex-USSR is barely half the 1991 figure. Some 1,000 African students from 43 states now study at RUDN, Moscow's purpose-built university for foreign students. Communism may have gone, but the quality of Russian education is apparently still high.--BCC
I wonder if this “education” is really worth all the stress?

Acknowledgement: Emeka Okafor for finding the BBC article.