Racism: Nigerian doctor says he was arrested simply for being black; harassment an attempt to hide Brazil’s health care problems

Nigeriano - Maranhão

Note from BW of Brazil: Brazil continues to show its true colors in terms of immigrants of African descent. In a June story, we brought you a story about the problems African immigrants were having with police, racism and documents. In August, we presented the “humanitarian emergency” being experienced by Haitian immigrants. In May 2012 there was the murder of Angolan student in São Paulo who had recently earned her degree in the country and in April of 2012, we brought a general story of African students who have had to face the cruel realities of Brazilian-styled racism. And let’s not forget the booing and the “they look like maids” “arriving on slave ships” comments about the Cuban doctors who arrived to address the doctor shortage in Brazil. This case is yet another report about the treatment of an African, a doctor no less, has received since arriving. Although this story remains an allegation at this point, as we have seen countless times here, the way Brazil treats its black people and it’s desire to “whiten” the country, would it be any surprise if this case was confirmed?

Prejudice in Maranhão: Nigerian doctor says his imprisonment was motivated by racism

by Camila Rocha, of Maranhão da Gente

Photo: Kinglsley Ify Umeilechukwu says he was arrested simply for being black and points out that the arrest besides having racist motivation served to hide the problems in health care and the lack of anti-rabies vaccine in hospitals

The doctor Kinglsley Ify Umeilechukwu, arrested on the afternoon of Saturday (23) in Bacuri (state of Maranhão, northeastern Brazil), accused of illegal practice, spoke with the news team of the Maranhão da Gente site explaining the issues surrounding his arrest, which took place last week and considered by the doctor an arbitrary attitude. He said he would sue the state for moral damage and harassment.

Bacuri, Maranhão in Brazil's northeast
Bacuri, Maranhão in Brazil’s northeast

Maranhão da Gente: Why did you come to Brazil and since when have you provided your services in our country?

Kinglsley: I’ve been in Brazil for almost six years. I graduated in Medicine and usually exercised my profession in my country when I received an invitation to come UFMA (Federal University of Maranhão) doing a specialization in orthopedics at the Dutra Hospital. To rectify my situation I revalidated pay in two states, Mato Grosso and Minas Gerais (western and southeastern Brazil respectively). In Mato Grosso I initiated a judicial action to have the validation recognized. In Minas Gerais, I was already approved and I start the complementary course now beginning in January 2014. There are many requirements, including in reference to the language and I already took the test in Belém (state of Pará, northern Brazil) and was approved.

Maranhão da Gente: Are there other fellow Nigerians working in Maranhão?

Kinglsley: If there are, I don’t know. I only know my brother-in-law, Patrick Emanuel, who already graduated over thirty years ago at UFMA and is working here in the state of Maranhão.

Maranhão da Gente: What really happened to you that led to you being arrested without proper investigation?

Kinglsley: They arrested me just because I’m black. Because they don’t accept or admit that blacks, like me, can practice medicine, have the opportunity to study, to work and to provide service to others. When I arrested they even me if I had or didn’t have documentation. My biggest angst is that they put me on television like a villain, a murderer. I asked to speak to the press, they put me in a room and impeded me from explaining what happened at the hospital. What they wanted was to mask the terrible working conditions of public health. They wanted to hide that a girl died because there was no vaccine in the clinic. And it’s all documented. I was not the physician in charge, I was there only accompanying Dr. Ubiratan, the true physician in charge. The big problem is the color of my skin, my brother in law, like me, also goes through embarrassments. All of this was orchestrated to harm me.

Maranhão da Gente: Do you want to sue the state for all this embarrassment?

Kinglsley:  Absolutely. I cannot remain silent about such stupidity. They left me exposed and did not give me the right to defense. I never passed myself off as a doctor, I am a doctor.  I’m not allowed to practice medicine here in Brazil because of a bureaucratic issue and I respect that, but I cannot take away the right to accompany a professional of the country in order learn, to enhance the professional practice.

Source: Jornal Pequeno

About Marques Travae 3747 Articles
Marques Travae. For more on the creator and editor of BLACK WOMEN OF BRAZIL, see the interview here.


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