SOAS itself is a colonial institution it is where the UK would train their people to learn and interact with ‘natives’ during and after its scramble for africa and to train commonwealth citizens to trade in other parts in the world the UK had their foot in. It was integral in training British administrators, colonial officials and spies for overseas postings across the British Empire. Perhaps moving forward we as Africans need to develop Institutions such as Cheikh Anta Diop university. Creating internationally acclaimed institutions where we will not be marginalised.
I love the project! I tell people that despite the fact that we go to a university that is lauded for its diversity and development work, I’ve never experienced more microagression and racial insensitivity than in SOAS. What makes it so frustrating is that because we study Africa in class, learn African languages and go to African countries for internships, students think that that is a free pass to say racially insensitive things.
For example, in my first year, there was a girl who thought it was funny to declare that I was ‘her slave’. I hate confrontation so I shrugged it off, pretended to ignore her jokes. She’d mimic my accent in a way that I found so annoying but again, because I didn’t want to be ‘that angry black girl’ I’d either laugh as if I found it funny or ignore her. I specifically remember one afternoon as everyone was coming back from the 10 minute break in the lecture she bounded up the steps in the lecture hall towards me holding a chocolate muffin. ‘You know, you resemble this muffin, you’re colour I mean’ she said in a loud voice that carried through the lecture hall. I wish I could go back to that day and give her a piece of my mind but what I did instead was ignore her and look straight ahead. I really did not want to be identified as the angry, bitter, black girl, but if any place could try your patience, it’s SOAS.