President of the Association of African Students explains how he lives in Estonia: a number of issues are alarming

Daniel Ita is a student at Tallinn University of Technology and concurrently president of the Estonian African Students’ Association. This is what the young man talks about life in Estonia, the Black lives matter movement and his plans for the future.

Why did you decide to move here? Did you take your family with you?

I am here for further training. Although Estonia may not be the most famous country, it has made a name for itself as a technology hub, which attracted me a lot. With experience in the public sector and data management, I became interested in a course in technology management and digital transformation. I would not say that I finally moved here, because my family and many of my assets are still at home. However, the family is very important for me, so my wife and I will soon decide to have her move with me. However, relocation will require proper planning and consideration of many factors.

Do you and your compatriots feel comfortable and safe here in Estonia?

Part of the Association’s mission is to help Africans integrate well into Estonian culture during their stay here. Most of us have always felt comfortable, so some even moved to Estonia with their families. However, recent events and some political proposals have alarmed many. In fact, many of us have had to stop the process of family reunification, while some of us who have settled well are now leaving. The uncertainty of the motives behind such political statements is indeed a matter of serious community concern.

How do you assess the Black lives matter movement? Have you participated?

Now it sometimes seems that the understanding of the value of all people without exception, as well as the understanding that judging other people by skin color is archaic, has already spread among most members of society. Now the world should already know that all people, regardless of race, color, religion, gender, etc., are the same. We all bleed the same way, so what does skin color matter? And just like Martin Luther King Jr., I dream that no person will be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.

I fully agree with the call for an end to this age-old backwardness. Despite the fact that at that time I was with my family in my country, I participated in one way or another. I must say that I was very impressed by the protest action here in Estonia. But I would like to see such problems in the past. We should have already overcome this.

Have you ever experienced signs of intolerance in Estonia? How favorable is the situation here compared to other countries?

In my personal experience, Estonians are wonderful people and you hardly miss your home country here. In general, a hospitable atmosphere reigns in Estonia. However, there have been cases when some of my compatriots at one time or another faced abuse. In fact, a recent publication in one of the local media outlets unfairly put African students in a bad light. Now our lawyers are working on the case, I shouldn’t say a lot about it, but the publication was made on October 13, 2020, and the footage from the cameras went viral. At this point, we as a community felt like a target for attacks. We will seek a solution to this issue, because the video is still online.

More recently, three days ago, another unpleasant incident occurred. One of us was returning from work and three men began to chase him. When he got off the bus somewhere in Mustamäe, they attacked him and sprayed him with a chemical in his eyes. The case was immediately reported to the police, they arrived with an ambulance to provide first aid to the victim.

However, we thank the Estonian government for creating and maintaining a safe and secure environment.

What are your plans for the future? Do you plan to stay here for a long time? And are you learning the language?

I am in my final year of a master’s program, after which I hope to get a good job that matches my interests and experience. If I get one in Estonia, I will gladly stay here and maybe my family will join me. Ma räägin eesti keelt natuke and yes, I’m learning a language now




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