Rabat – A group of sub-Saharan students took the street over the weekend to protest at the cold blooded murder of a Zimbabwean student in Sidi Amar, Annaba, a town in north eastern Algeria.
Prosper Nduzso, a 22-year old senior electronics student at the town’s university, was stabbed by a group of three Algerian men.
A friend of Nduzso’s, who was with the murdered student in his final hours, later told the group of the mourning and protesting sub-Saharan students that the incident occurred as he and Nduzso walked to the market to get “vegetables and chicken” for dinner.
As the university restaurant was closed, the two friends decided to go out to the nearest market and get provisions to cook for themselves, the friend explained.
Fighting back his tears, the emotional and heartbroken friend told the group of protesters that three Algerian men attacked them on their way to the market. While he battled with and punched one of the attackers in self-defense, the two others assaulted Nduzso, stabbing him in the chest and leg.
Racism and indifference
“I noticed that there was lot of blood coming from his leg. Then I took him and put him inside the road. I was stopping cars but they were just passing us. They saw that the road was covered in blood but they never stopped,” he said. He stressed the total indifference that greeted his efforts to get help to transport his injured friend to the nearest hospital.
It was only moments later that two Malian students, who were also going to the market and saw the incident, ran to inform the police. However, the police took a long time to come to the scene, and by the time they arrived, Prosper had already lost a lot of blood and was barely conscious. The police then called an ambulance, which also took a long time to arrive, according to the friend.
At the hospital, instead of an emergency treatment to stop the bleeding and attend to Nduzso’s serious injuries, “they just banded him and put him inside the room.” He later died telling his friend that he wanted to speak to his father.
In a letter that has gone viral on Facebook, the same friend recounts the whole incident in a more vigorous and emotion-filled language.
The tone of the letter is visceral and condemnatory, decrying racism and xenophobia in Algeria. “Please tell my parents that I had come to claim a diploma, but I will return in a coffin,” read part of the post.
Algeria is no stranger to racist scandals
The racist murder of Nduzso comes against the backdrop of a global outcry against racism and black shaming in Algeria.
In early January, Khadidja Benhamou, a dark skinned Algerian from Adrar, in Southern Algeria, won the North African country’s beauty contest. On social media, however, the young woman was bullied and insulted by hordes of Algerians who said she was “not beautiful” and did not deserve to represent Algerian women.
For the people who bullied the 2019 Miss Algeria online, her darker skin and differently shaped nose is no representative of “Algerian beauty,” which they associated with lighter skin and a more Eastern—or Arab— looking body complexion.
Most recently, footage circulated of Ria Mohammed Bin Shanat, a barber in the Algerian city of Oran, ridiculing and racially abusing a black “child refugee” in his barbershop.
The video showed the barber playing with the child’ head and making racist jokes about his color. Amused, Algerian customers at the shop joined Bin Shanat in laughing at the child’s body color and hair.
Apart from Libya, where, according to the latest UN report, “migrant and refugee men, women and children at the mercy of countless predators who view them as commodities to be exploited and extorted for maximum financial gain,” Algeria is widely considered as North Africa’s most unwelcoming place for sub-Saharan migrants.
Organizations including UN HCR and the International Organization for Migration have repeatedly called out Algerian authorities on their “racist,” “discriminatory,” and “inhumane” treatment of migrants and refugees.
There have been reports of migrants being rounded up to be abandoned in the mercy of unsustainable temperatures and extremist militias in the Sahara desert at the land border between Algeria and Niger.
Compared with Morocco, Algeria offers more work opportunities for migrants, a group of Guinean migrants recently told Morocco World News. They added, however, that Morocco is far safer for sub-Saharans when it comes to security and racial abuses by the general population. They said they went through “hell” in Algeria.
“Work is abundant there. We could work there, but at the expense of our lives and security,” one of them noted, speaking of Algeria.