A South African in Japan tells how he was snubbed by a Nigerian after introducing himself with the Nigerian proverb: “South Africans are not my brothers. We share Jason Jetnarayan’s story, first published by IOL’.
Jason Jetnarayan, left when he arrived in Japan as a teacher
The African response to xenophobia in South Africa has spread as far as Japan. Durbanite and Manchester United fan Jason Jetnarayan, who works as an IT recruitment consultant after starting as an English teacher in the Land of the Rising Sun, discovered this when he went to a pub in Shibuya to follow the current match between his team and Leicester.
“The pub was very crowded and there were no seats available, but I looked around and discovered a black gentleman in a Manchester United jersey with open seats at his table.
“I approached him to tell him that my friend and I were also supporters of Manchester and asked permission to join him.
“He gave us his consent in an African accent. As a proud African myself, I was thrilled because Africans are rare here. So I ask him where he comes from. He said “Nigeria” and answered the question. I stretched out my hand and excitedly told him that I was South African. He didn’t believe me until I proved it to him and showed him my ID when I proudly punched my chest.
“But he didn’t seem to share the mood as it looked.
“He was visibly angry and made a statement that South Africans were not his brothers. I immediately realize that he was referring to the xenophobic attacks that have unfortunately taken place in SA in the last ten years and that only seem to be getting worse.”
Jetnarayan said he felt a sense of unease, which he called “a sinking feeling in my chest”.
“The pride I felt a moment earlier fell into shame.
“I, for example, have never had problems with immigrants in my country or other countries. I am in no way responsible for the xenophobic attacks in South Africa, but I apologized to the Lord when he got up to leave the bar after making the choice not to cooperate with a South African.
“We fail our brothers and sisters in Africa, we fail our women, we fail our children. We need to get better. We must fight for our people and speak out against atrocities on our land, otherwise, we are also part of the problem.
“Let us be the solution.”
In his fourth year in Japan, Jetnarayan spoke about his experiences as a foreigner there.
“The perception of SA by the Japanese people is very uneducated and seems ignorant.
“They find it difficult to understand how an Indian or a white person can come from Africa. And racism is not a prominent issue for them.
“They often do not know that they are racist. But I don’t understand them, they live in a very isolated society and are mostly exposed only to the local media, while the perception of SA by foreigners is influenced by films like District 9, Sport, celebrities like Trevor Noah, Apartheid or Mandela.” – IOL