Saturday, March 08, 2008

Africans in Singpore

Today’s Sunday Times offers an invaluable insight into the lives of Africans residing in Singapore. There are currently 3000 Africans in Singapore, with the majority residing in the Little India district.

Africans making their appearances in Singapore is a recent phenomenon. With the Nigerian scams making headlines here in recent years and the occasional brawls among the Africans in little India, there is a typical negative stereotype harboured by Singaporeans towards these Africans, in general. The Africans in Singapore come from the many different countries in Africa which include the wealthier South African and the poorer Ghana. There is also a myopic assumption by Singaporeans that all the Africans in Singapore belong to one particular country. This myopic assumption is understandable given the small landmass of Singapore which may render many of its citizens to think ‘small’ too in geography. Try asking a foreigner what is the weather of his country, and you will get a smile. For indeed other foreign land masses are much bigger than Singapore and hence there is a diverse range of climates from one part of the country to another part.

Africans coming to Singapore are often attracted by the promise of good job prospects here and to escape the chaotic civil war infighting in some of the African countries. A typical African has to save on average US $2000 to travel to Singapore. A number of these Africans were duped by bogus employment agents so much so that they have to resort to sleeping in the streets. Other Africans who were not so unfortunate set up businesses in Singapore. Example, one electronic trader could easily sell off a second-hand computer he picked up in a flea market in Little India for more than three times its value back at his home in Africa.

There have already been some brawls among the different tribes of Africans back in Africa. The presence of the diverse groups of Africans, all congregated in tiny spot of Little India hence inevitably lead to arguments and even brawls that one may occasionally witness in Little India. Hence Singaporeans should not assume Africans are belligerent people due to the occasional fights.

The report serves as an intelligent insight into the lives of Africans here in Singapore. Hopefully some Singaporeans do read it like me so as to view our African friends in Singapore with a different and better perspective.

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