Maltreatment of Nigerians in China: Another side of the story?


Since the emergence of several videos purportedly showing Chinese authorities throwing Nigerians and other African nationals out of their homes, thereby forcing them to sleep on the streets of Guangzhou, in Guangdong Province of China, various social media platforms, incensed by the inhuman treatment of their fellow compatriots, have been actively trending on the matter.

Calls from many Nigerians have gone to the Nigerian government to not only find out the circumstances on what happened but also retaliate immediately. The AU too, has been on the matter just like other AU member states, including the Nigerian government.

In the face of all this, and the roiling social media babble, emerged a narrative portraying a trajectory that, while not justifying the absolutely reprehensible and abhorring callousness displayed in the videos, however offered some sardonic insight on the circumstances preceding the maltreatment.

Below is the narrative received by National Record via WhatsApp. By the time we got the message late yesterday, it had obviously been so recirculated that it became difficult to trace the original author. But due to its purported first person experience, we opted to publish it with slight editing on typographical errors. Received under the caption, “China Story: Another side: Someone from China sent this,” the story goes:

My brother, there’s nothing much that happened.  I don’t need to ask you what you heard because about 20 people have asked me about this. All my customers, my relatives, my friends have all asked me this question, so I know you want to ask me about chasing black people out of their homes and out of the hotels.

You know how our people behave. Once they hear stories, they add their own, mix it with yam, and add ugba (fermented locus bean in Idoma; a local seasoning, also called dadawa in Hausa, ogiri in Igbo or iru in Yoruba) to make it more beautiful. I just got home from work and just got out of the shower.  So about the video you watched, the story you heard happened in Guangzhou.

Before the borders were closed and flights were stopped from coming in, some of our people had come to buy goods.  The Chinese asked them to self-isolate. That took them to a hotel because they told all the hotels not to allow foreigners. The cops are the ones who will pick you up, check you out and put you up in a hotel. They will check you every morning; test your temperature to see if you have any symptoms. After 14 days, they release you so you can do your business.

But 3 to 4 days before the 14 days were over, they discovered that three of our people had the symptoms. Eventually, they found out that 2 (of the 3) people had malaria or typhoid or something, but one person had coronavirus. They wanted to treat the one that had it, but he refused and said they wanted to inject him with the virus and kill him. They told him they didn’t want to do that but just wanted to treat him like they also treated their people, but he refused.  Instead, he fought those medical workers, and I don’t know if they said he hit one of them in the eye or somewhere. But you know white people’s body, the person got a bruise or a black eye, and the locals got angry about that when they heard the story. Because of that, even the chairman of the Nigerian community in China got involved and begged the man to calm down and get treated. The Chinese said that after treating him, he would be deported and they agreed. 

Because of this, they started monitoring the blacks to check for symptoms. They went to places that black people ate. They found a Nigerian guy called Emma, who was married to a Chinese woman.  The woman cooks food and people had been eating there for weeks. They found out that the woman went to her village and came back with the virus. The woman didn’t self-isolate for 14 days but started cooking for people. They also found out that it was mostly black people who patronise the woman. So they shut down everywhere that had predominantly black people in Guangzhou.

All these things happened in Guangzhou, but people made it sound like it was happening in the whole of China. Anyway, they shut down everywhere the blacks eat in Guangzhou. They rationalised that if it was black people who patronised the woman, and she had been serving them for days, some black people would have contracted the virus from the woman. Because of that, they asked those people who had been in isolation to remain indoors until they sort out the issue with this woman and the people she came in contact with.

They got health workers to move from house to house to check people and run some tests. They do the tests, ask you to wait for 24 hours, and after 24 hours if you test negative, they give you a card to be able to go out. Now, that card is what you would use to go to the markets and different places. So these people were asked to stay indoors until the tests had been done for everybody so that they could figure out those who had it and those who didn’t have it, but they refused.

They said they had been isolated for 14 days, so why should they be asked to stay inside. They all defied the orders and went out. Now the law that was given to all the hotels was not to allow any foreigners in except for one hotel. That one hotel was also instructed not to let anybody out or in. But you know how our people behave; they all gathered, making noise and all went out together. When they wanted to go into the markets, they were asked to show their cards because the locals had been told to always ask for cards to know those who had been tested. So when they didn’t show their cards, they were not allowed into the markets, and when they got back to the hotel, the management refused to let them in because that was the instruction by the police. Then they started the story that Igbo people were being chased out of their apartments and hotels and asked to go home. That’s the story now. 

Nothing else happened but what I have just told you. People see the video and start screaming: “Look how they are throwing Igbo people and black people out.” But you were asked to stay indoors so that they can sort things out. They are trying to solve this problem so that the virus can be brought under control before they let people in. 

For those of us here, we were isolated, tested and issued our cards before we were able to move around. But people coming in want to move around without testing, and it’s not good for the people who are already in there. That’s what they were trying to sort out, but our people didn’t understand this, and it caused problems after they defied the instructions, saying they were not allowed to go inside. 

Then for those who left their homes, they would go to those homes, check to see if they were home, and if they weren’t, they locked up the house because everyone was asked to stay at home so that they can check you and test. So when they got there and you were not at home, where did you go to? Everyone was asked to stay at home, and when you defied, and they locked your home, then you come out and say you were thrown out of your home. 

When they asked us to stay indoors, I stayed in for a month and two weeks. I didn’t step out. Today no one has evicted me from my house, and no one has asked me not to come in. Even when I resumed my trading business, I did that for one month, and they called me again, gave me test kits that I had to use every day to check myself for 14 days. I did that and showed them the results. 

Follow the rules so things will be easy for you, but you think they’re trying to cheat you. Do you think it’s Buhari leading this country? So, if anybody is telling you anything, ignore them. Lots of (fake) news out there!


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