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'We hope our film debunks ignorance about racism here'

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Sandrine Ndahiro

Sandrine Ndahiro

Student Cathy Osikoya

Student Cathy Osikoya

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Sandrine Ndahiro

Two African students studying at the University of Limerick are aiming to "amplify black voices in Ireland" with a documentary project that highlights racism in the country.

A total of 20 personal testimonies are showcased in the 'Unsilencing Black Voices' documentary, created by Contemporary African Literature PhD student Sandrine Ndahiro and fifth-year architecture student Cathy Osikoya, who are originally from Rwanda and Nigeria respectively.

After the death of George Floyd while being arrested by police in the US in May, the two women decided to raise awareness of racism in Ireland.

They issued a call on social media, inviting those interested in taking part in a documentary to send a voice note or a one-minute-long clip about their own experiences.

Memory

The creators themselves have experienced racism and Ms Osikoya recalls how her first memory of racism was while she was in secondary school.

"There were kids that would come up to me and call me a 'dirty monkey', 'You should go wash yourself', 'You smell'," she said.

In the documentary, a Mayo native who now lives in Limerick said she is tired of being praised about her ability to speak English.

"We as black people are tired, tired of being complimented on how well we speak English. Even though a lot of us have been here all our lives," she said.

Testimonies come from people living in Limerick, Mayo, Galway, Carlow and Kilkenny and are divided into five categories - primary, secondary, third-level, professional and daily life.

"The categories were created to show how some black individuals experience racism from as early as primary school, and this continues, it never stops as it seeps its way from generation to generation," said Ms Ndahiro. "There is an ignorance that racism happens in isolated moments, but our documentary would debunk this ignorance."

"We hope that by watching our documentary you stop and actively listen to the pain in the black individuals who are sharing their stories," she added.

The documentary will be available to view on YouTube from Friday, August 7.

Irish Independent