"Go back to the jungle, you banana-hungry monkey, " said this ugly racist. That was in 2003, first time ever to be a victim of racial abuse.
There were bunch of guys around but none intervened. I tried to politely ask my abuser to leave me alone but he just wouldn’t have it. Finally, from nowhere materialised a flamboyantly-looking chap. He went straight to the racist and told him, “One more stupid word and I’m calling the cops,” and it worked. My tormentor left.
Then the good Samaritan approached me and offered some words of consolation.
He then said “I’m gay, and perhaps like most of you African guys, you would wish I were not talking to you right now!”
Before I could think of an appropriate thing to say to the guy who had just rescued me from racial abuse, he continued, ” See, to that racist idiot, your only sin is the colour of your skin. Guess what, I have more than often been through what you just went through, only that in my case is tons of abuses from bigots…my only sin being gay. The stupid guy abused you because of your race, I get abused because of my sexuality. But discrimination is inexcusably evil, be it against a Black person or a gay man or woman…”
Since that day my views towards gay people completely changed. I learned to accept diversity.
This story is appropriately relevant to what has been happening on Twitter in past couple of days. An innocent girl was found dead a day or so after she was viciously bullied on the micro-blogging site. Her death has prompted calls from ‘voices of reason’ to stand up against bullies, with #SayNoToCyberbullies appearing in most of the tweets.
However, some characters well known for their subtweets, profanities and outright bullying have unsuccessfully been trying to undermine the effort to address the dangers of cyberbullying and other forms of bullying. That should come as no surprise because even when a thief is caught red-handed with stuff they stole, “I didn’t do it” is usually a common line of defence. So no wonder these chaps who find pleasure in harassing innocent tweeps would vehemently defend bullying.
However, as my example above clearly shows how my views on gay people were unexpectedly made to change due to the experience I had, our pals who think bullying is just cool might eventually come to realise they were wrong once they or their loved ones become victims of bullying.
While I wouldn’t wish anyone befell any bully’s prey, these pro-bullying guys will only see sense in what we are currently doing (taking a stance against bullying) once they come across what the bullied people are going through.
Bullying is legally, morally and actually wrong. And a wrong thing is just like that, wrong. Falling in love with a bad deed doesn’t turn it into a good one.
One last thing, I tend to think most of Twitter’s bully boys and girls are just craving for attention. Having nothing important in their sad lives pushes them to nursing grudge against any ‘successful’ person on Twitter. These poor souls are in fact confused admirers of same people they bully.
As my good friend Maria Sarungi Tsehai (shout-out to this an extraordinary woman of substance, everybody!) urged, people have to now take a stand against the bullies and never again suffer in silence. In our unity against such an evil deed, we surely will persevere, and the bullies will continue to remain the losers.
Kindly take a vow and say it loudly enough is enough, no more bullying!