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Melbourne Journal: A Wrestling Team in Australia Fights to Prove It’s Not an ‘African Gang’

Music is a daily part of life for the Sudanese, whether it is during a blessing ceremony or declaring victory in a wrestling match.

“It’s bragging rights,” said Kuol Kuol, a 23-year-old member of the Melbourne Lion team, explaining the tradition of winners earning the right to compose songs.

“If you lose, you just got to go away and get better,” he said. “Win next time, then you can make up your own song.”

The members of the team all come from South Sudan, the world’s youngest country, and are ethnically Dinka.

Since the ministers’ comments about “African gangs,” the men said they had dealt with increased racial profiling and offensive slurs.

Mr. Mading, the wrestler who works at a library, said a teacher told him he would not have a career in academics and would find work only as a basketball player or model. “To me, that was a mockery,” said Mr. Mading, who is pursuing a degree.

Sitting on the grass between matches on a Wednesday afternoon in January, Mr. Kuol, who moved from South Australia to Victoria in 2017, said even going to the supermarket had become fraught.

“It made it hard,” Mr. Kuol said of the ministers’ remarks.

“You get bad looks from people on the road,” Mr. Kuol added. “I have a supermarket near my house. When I go inside, I feel like there’s so much attention on me.”

Asked if he considered himself Australian, and if he considered the country his home, Mr. Mading hesitated.

“I love to call it a home, but it’s not really quite,” he said. “We want to embrace Australia, but we keep getting rejected. I call myself a Sudanese in Australia, not a Sudanese-Australian.”

Mr. Mading said a white woman on a train once shouted racial slurs at him.

“This lady called herself a ‘real Aussie’ She kept saying: ‘This is my country! You don’t belong here!’ ” he said. “I keep asking myself: What’s a real Aussie?”

Source: NYT > World

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