My take on racism from A NIGGER AT ETON by Fortune Alvan

Racism has being in existence for as long as man has ever lived. It could be defined as the hatred of one person by another or the belief that another person is less than human — because of skin colour, language, customs and place of birth or any factor that apparently reveals the basic nature of that person. Nigger at Eton is a book set in England in the 1960s. The author and main character, Dillibe Onyeama, narrates his experiences as a black man in a British public school. It was in Eton that Onyeama became aware of the derogatory use of the word ‘Nigger’.

He describes his first day at Eton College, the warm reception given to him by his housemates which was closely followed by a hurtful racial slur by some of the boys. He found himself in an environment where his skin colour was different from others and where he is not completely accepted. Despite people’s high praise of Eton College as a place to be, racial discrimination was the order of the day and his fellow Etonians did not hide the fact that his skin colour was a big challenge to them. Being black attracted great attention to him, and with that came many stereotypical beliefs like African immunity to pain and African intellectual weakness. On the other hand, he enjoyed some privileges.

After the first week, Onyeama began to feel less lonely as he prepared for the colour test, where the new boys had to memorise the geography of Eton and Windsor in details and the colours of the school’s caps and scarves.

The author explained the circumstances surrounding his move from Nigeria to England, his early days in Nigeria and his family background. He compared his experiences with Nigerians to that with the Englishman and disputed most of the stereotypical views held by Nigerians about the average Englishman. Dillibe also notes that the wealth gap in his school formed a basis of discrimination among the students. He mentioned various Etonians he found interesting, people he thought were friendly and his complicated relationship with his fellow Nigerian of the Yoruba tribe, Tokunbo Akinlola. The racial discrimination throughout his stay in Etonia affected him psychologically to a point that he became paranoid and felt people were watching him. He also had his gift of hypnotism misinterpreted as African occultism or vodoo.

Through Dillibe’s years in Eton, he experienced a lot of racial discrimination but he also gained an outstanding quality of education and moral, one that he would always be proud of.