A popular Malaysian university is being called out by its students for having put up a racist poster earlier this year
Limkokwing University's poster shows its founder with the words 'King of Africa' above his head, standing next to a group of Sierra Leonean students.
In light of the recent #BlackLivesMatter protests, a petition was created on 7 June to call for the removal of the billboard. It has received over 1,800 signatures at the time of writing.
Several international students have been angry and hurt by the poster's insensitivity. However, they were unable to speak up for fear of losing their visas and having immigration issues.
The petition related the fear of speaking up to an incident that occurred last year when a Nigerian student, Thomas Orhions Ewansiha, passed away while under immigration custody.
He was detained for two weeks to facilitate verification of his documents and college records but had reportedly passed away due to a seizure in the detention centre.
The petition explains several reasons why the billboard was 'insensitive'
The first point states that it is "incredibly condescending as it portrays him [Lim Kok Wing] as a saviour", perpetuating that black people need saving and psychologically placing them in an inferior role.
"The use of a jungle animal and reference to 'king' perpetuates ideas of Africa as one big jungle and adds to the (wrongful) animalistic characterisation of the students."
The second point explains that the photo was edited to increase the number of black students surrounding him, "further painting him as a 'hero'" and portraying that black people lack individuality.
"The use of the photo of his students in Sierra Leone pressing up against him is a common photo used by the media to portray black people as 'savage' and 'animalistic'. This may not have been his intention; however, I implore you to consider the implications of using photos like this knowing the current climate of the world and its views on people of African descent," reads the petition.
"They have a beautiful history of grace, of power, of kings and queens and it is a shame that people do not use photos like that to advertise the culture and lineages that Africa truly has."
In a statement to SAYS, Limkokwing University apologised and explained that they do not condone discrimination against any race
"We would like to extend our sincerest apology for any misunderstanding caused [and] have taken down the billboard a few days ago," the university said to SAYS.
"African students have studied with us since 2001 and the University is extremely proud to have supported Nelson Mandela's campaign for independence from the apartheid regime in 1994.
"We definitely do not condone any discriminatory acts against any particular race as that will be totally against our mandate.
"We would like to clarify we are passionate and dedicated to promoting peace and inclusivity as well as cater to each of our students regardless of race, religion, and nationality.
"At Limkokwing University, we acknowledge, respect, embrace, and celebrate our differences. We care deeply and we stand together against racial discrimination."
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