The African Sisters of Indahemuka of Rwanda

By Zulumathabo Zulu © 2016

The great city of Ottawa in the Arctic country of Canada boasts the largest visible minority comprised by people of African-Caribbean descent in a ratio of 60% Carribeans and 40% Africans. Many Africans including the Francophones from West Africa make Ottawa their home. It is not easy to survive here given the fact that Ottawa is largely an Anglo-Saxon society that is WASP (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant) who subscribe to a Eurocentric way of doing and thinking.

This is the place where the author of this article was attacked by a group of White Canadians and was nearly killed in front of his apartment on Laurier Street in downtown Ottawa. This is the place where the Jamaican Vincent Gardener was shot in an apartment by a group of White gun men who turned out to be police in plain clothes. Gardener later died of his wounds and his killers were cleared of his death. The University of Ottawa decided to honour Vincent Gardener by establishing a scholarship in his name called Vincent Gardener Memorial Scholarship. You can read more about the scholarship here as follows:

Vincent gardener Memorial Scholarship Fund https://scholarships.uottawa.ca/p/a/7326/

This is what the University of Ottawa, Canada has to say about Vincent Gardener:

This fund was established by Mrs. Eunice Gardner, wife of the late Vincent Gardner and their son Garth Gardner. The creation of this fund is to acknowledge the support her family received from the Black community of Ottawa following the death of her husband. Vincent Gardner was shot by a police officer while visiting with friends in September of 1991; he died two months later. Vincent Gardner came to Canada in 1969 to join his wife Eunice. He was a peaceful and quiet man who worked hard and who liked to meet with friends to talk or “gossip up,” a traditional Jamaican gathering of friends. At the time of his death, he was working for the Hudson Bay Company. While the Gardner family will never forget this tragic event, the establishment of this scholarship will bring some comfort from the fact that it will help members of the Black community pursue a university education.

There is something noteworthy about this tragic case of Vincent Gardener. I worked for a company called PhotoCAD at the time which was an engineering company designing circuit boards for various computer systems. I remember seeing the story of Vincent Gardener in the Ottawa Sun newspaper. Some people who read the newspaper would rather read the back page about hockey than the story of Vincent Gardener. About a week or two later, there was another incident in which the Police shot dead a dog. This became front page news. Everywhere I went including inside the OC Transpo bus, everyone was talking about this tragic case saying how can police shoot the dog but no one shared the same sentiment about Vincent Gardener. It was then that I realized that the dog was more valued than a human being. The incident took place in the French province of Quebec in Gatineau. This kind of dichotomy was very painful for us in the great City of Ottawa.

Another African of Somalia Ahmed Ali Hashi was also killed by White racists in Ottawa. He was attacked and beaten to death. The attackers were a man and a woman. It is the white woman who did most damage with her stiletto heels on his body. Some Canadians were watching but no one offered help. The killers were arrested but like in the case of Vincent Gardener they were also cleared. My university Carleton University established a memorial scholarship in his honour called Ahmed Ali Hashi Human Rights Scholarship. You can learn more of this scholarship as follows:

Ahmed Ali Hashi Human Rights Scholarship http://www3.carleton.ca/calendars/grad/0809/awards/index.html

This is what Carleton University of Ottawa, Canada has to say about Ahmed Ali Hashi:

Ahmed Ali Hashi Human Rights Scholarship was established to commemorate Ahmed Ali Hashi, an educated, multilingual man with roots in Somalia, the United States and Canada, this fund is made possible by donations from concerned citizens from these three countries who want to promote social justice and the abolition of violence stemming from racial and religious divisions. Ahmed Ali Hashi was killed in a racist attack in Ottawa on March 17, 1999. This crime remains unpunished.The Ahmed Ali Hashi Human Rights scholarship is given annually to a graduate student in the Human Security and Global Governance cluster at The Norman Paterson School of International Affairs whose interests focus on human rights for minorities and immigrants in any part of the world. Application is not required. The recipient is selected each year by the Dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research on the recommendation of the Director of The Norman Paterson School of International Affairs.

These harsh and tragic events cannot and do not define us. We are bigger than than. Like the great desert flower Mponeng of the great Kalahari, we are not defined by adversity. We transcend adverse conditions. We have the ability to recover from setback. As documented in my book A Woman in the Bush life cannot stop; life must go on as is the case with the unconquerable Africans in the great city of Ottawa who remain connected to Mother Africa despite these kinds of harsh and tragic events. The Indahemuka is such a group of African performing artists who recharged our African spiritual batteries.  They performed for the South African High Commission in Ottawa and many other events in both Ottawa and Montreal in Canada.

In the video shown below, the Indahemuka were performing at the St Paul University of Ottawa, Canada. In this event, the Liberal Party of Canada hopeful candidate Sheela Copps was campaigning to become the Prime Minister of Canada. She was up against Paul Martin. It is Paul Martin who became the Prime Minister of Canada. My followers and readers please enjoy the following video and comment and follow this blog.

May our beautiful sisters and brothers in the great city of Ottawa stay strong knowing that our motherland Africa cares about you. I know it is not easy to survive in an Anglo-Saxon and WASP society. La lucha continua! No rendirse! Nunca jamas! Thokoza Makhosi.

 

The Indahemuka cultural group of Ottawa, Canada recorded by this author.

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