The Nigerian international was thoughtful in voicing his opinion about his time in the sub-continent...
Ranti Martins, striker for United Sports Club and prolific hitman since his arrival to the I-League, circa 2004, has vividly described to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), his stay so far in India.
The interview follows the recent spate of violence that has engulfed Goa following the stabbing of a Nigerian national. The Goan government has since begun allegedly begun a drive to evict not just Nigerian but also nationals of other African nations, students and workers, who had overstayed their Visa. This in turn, came after protests by the small community.
Having spent the best part of his career in Goa with Dempo SC, Ranti was well placed to comment on the situation. He was critical about the way Indians treated foreigners in general.
“As a football player and a family guy I came to Goa when I was so young and it was a nice place for me. But racism happens a lot of the time, it’s something that I don’t think we will be able to stop, as it happens all over the world. At one point I felt like to going back to Nigeria. When you don’t understand the language, Indians see you as a different race. The way they look at you, it’s really troubling.
“On the field, when things are not going well for your team, supporters talk badly and start shouting and ranting that they are not happy. As a foreigner, they keep shouting your name. They say, ‘This African man has to go back.’ Then when I score two or three goals, they keep quiet. As a football player you have to face this,” elucidated the Nigerian forward.
Questioned on how, with regards to him, Nigerians were treated by Indians, Martins explained, “If Indians are used to international people it becomes easier, if not it’s going to be difficult. They know we are from a different kind of culture, not white or Indian. The way they see things is different; it’s just a matter of the skin colour and they look down on darker skin. We should be able to see people as human, we Africans are not aliens.”
Asked his views on the recent events in Goa, Ranti replied, “It’s really something touching when I hear about Nigerians being killed. It’s bad news for Nigerians and even for people who are from outside India who come to stay in Goa.”
“It was a surprise to me because before I came to India we lived in a community in Lagos where we cherished outsiders and learnt different things from them. We cherish whenever we see someone new. Indian, Spanish, Brazilian, we love to learn from them and see what they have in them. It’s something that was different when I came to India. I’m enjoying it, I’m enjoying my football, but it’s not an easy situation as a Nigerian,” was his earnest reply after being asked if he felt surprised at the level of racism in India.
Quizzed on the solution to the problems of racism he’d put forth,Martins expounded, “It’s something that India has to deal with, dealing with other cultures and people and personalities and trying to learn. I would still say that Indians are good people, but for them to experience different cultures is a little bit difficult and I believe it’s something they have to adjust to. It’s up to the government to make sure it educates Indians not to discriminate.”
Ranti concluded by saying it was easier for him as he is well respected by the Indian community as being a role model and a good footballer.
“With my personality they see me as a role model for their kids in Indian community, so I get the return of being loved by the people. India loves stars, I’m happy to be a star here.”
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