A Heart-Breaking Letter from Mariam Touré to Tunisians

A Heart-Breaking Letter from Mariam Touré to Tunisians


Editor’s note: I’ve picked up this heart-breaking letter from a Tunisian French-speaking news portal and translated it to English. Racism in Tunisia, an Arab-majority country, is a rarely talked about topic. Mariam Touré, a brave Malian student in Tunisia opens up about it. 

My name is Mariam Touré, “Karaba” by close friends and most “Khaloucha”/“Guirda Guirda” most of the time. I’m, officially, a Malian (however, according to some of you, of an “African nationality”) who has been living in Tunisia, European country for some, for roughly three years now.

I have left my country few years ago with the idea of discovering Tunisia, a country that everyone called “African Paris”, “The Queen of All praises”, the country of rights, the place for liberty and tolerance. Yet, naïf is who puts the cart before the horse.

When the time of bafflement elapsed, I began to realize the other side of mirror which hid a very dark and bleak reality: A society infected by racism.

Infection is big word, you may say. But what better term do you want to me to use when every day is a living-nightmare, when every word bears insult, humiliation and torture, when the eyes gaze upon me in hate. Infect is an understatement.

You might tell me not to “to judge an entire country by the actions of a few” and I have responded and said “Certainly. However when one is being harassed in front bystanders who say nothing, when one gets insulted in front of people who stand still, when one is sexuality harassed in public transportation in front of people who’d laugh about it or simply ignore you, what do you want me to say? An apple, an orange, pear or grape. They’re all fruits to me.”

At first, I’ve blamed the ignorance, the narrow-minded mentality but further now I blame the intellectuals who are aware of this but do nothing to prevent it. I accuse the intellectuals who come to me and say “Don’t let your face down, confront them”. You know I would love to do that but I don’t my father to pay my hospital bills or my mother to die in grief.

What would you say tomorrow when I decide to leave and take the thousands of euros that save your economy from downing. What would you do if overnight my “African” brothers and sisters did the same to you when you turned your backs. What would you do if overnight the praise I once heard about you becoming warnings “Do not go there! They are not worth the trouble!”

Do not my words for an insult. I seek not to insult. If I decide to give you back the quart of words you’ e thrown in my face, 24 hours would have been sufficient.

Take my words as the cry of a lost sister who doesn’t understand why the color of her skin would be the object of derision of mockery.

Take my words as the rage of a sister who impatiently counts the days that separates her leaving and never looking back.

Take my words as the tears of a sister who realizes that they’ve successfully separated us. Stronger from war, they create an intellectual and social tumor: Racism, ignorance and the hate which divide us.

Take my words as those of anyone who, like me, sat foot on the soil of “Lafrikiya”, full of dreams and left it full of disappointments.

This opinion article appeared first on The Moroccan Times‘ sister media outlet in Tunisia The Tunis Times.

Mariam Touré
Mariam Touré