by Hana Shams Ahmed
[This article was published on the Jun 28, 2012 issue of the New Age]
One of the sayings in our country is Ubuntu — the essence of being human. Ubuntu speaks particularly about the fact that you can’t exist as a human being in isolation. It speaks about our inter-connectedness. You can’t be human all by yourself, and when you have this quality ‘Ubuntu’ — you are known for your generosity. We think of ourselves far too frequently as just individuals, separated from one another, whereas you are connected and what you do affects the whole world. When you do well, it spreads out; it is for the whole of humanity.
Bishop Desmond Tutu (2008)
OUR xenophobia is reflected in the words we use — ‘malus’ to talk about Indians or Hindus, ‘mauras’ to talk about Urdu-speaking communities in Bangladesh, ‘chinkus’ to talk about indigenous communities, ‘phiringee’ to talk about Christians, and so on. Anyone who is slightly different from us needs a name that is derogatory and we put all our venom and spite into the name and spit it out. And this spite does not stop with national, religious or ethnic identities. We also pick on our other favourite targets — the gender minorities. The hijras have many names, effeminate men are referred to as ‘half ladies’, homosexual men don’t need names because they can just be beaten up in public, and then there are the women, who have many different names, we can pick and choose from the various terms to harass them on the streets, abuse them inside the homes or publicly humiliate and torture them and justify it using the convenient term ‘fatwa’. Let’s face it, we are a pretty intolerant society. If you don’t fit into the majoritarian formula you better watch out! Read the rest of this entry »