By: Macy Janine Pamaranglas – Art in Tanzania Intern
With the death of George Floyd in 2020, countless number of people were enraged with the cause of his demise. White police officer, Derek Chauvin, kneeled on his neck while Floyd was screaming for his life. Thus, the phrase “I can’t breathe” became an iconic one. As a result, the Black Lives Matter (BLM) Movement rose into existence “to bring justice, healing, and freedom to Black people across the globe”. The BLM Movement was of great importance, and it motivated people in Africa to shed light on the police brutalities that occurred in their own countries.
In Kenya, the police killed 22 individuals in the midst of enforcing COVID-19 restrictions. Additionally, a Kenyan trader was killed by the police since the latter accused the former of selling fake sanitizers. In response, inhabitants of a small town in western Kenya burned down a police station. Whereas, in South Africa, a similar scenario took place where at least 10 people died due to the police’s implementation of COVID-19 regulations.
Having the BLM Movement becoming relevant and pertinent in today’s time, people from the African continent finally have the opportunity to publicize their frustrations about the violent incidents executed by police forces. For instance, in Nigeria, a group of locals organized demonstrations, and they described themselves as the, “Black Lives Matter in Nigeria (BLMMN)”. The latter was found protesting in the Abuja and Lagos where the Embassy of the United States and the Consulate of the United States are located respectively. BLMMN was particularly vocal about bringing justice not only for George Floyd, but they were also calling justice for several other black people who were victims of police brutality. These victims include the following: Alex Ogbu, a journalist who was killed by the police as he was reporting the Shiite Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN)’s protest; Tina Ezekwe, a 16-year old high school student who was shot by the police; as well as Vera Uwaila and Barakat Bello who fell victims of sexual violence and femicide.
Furthermore, protests and resistance to systemic racism were not just in the form of demonstrating in the streets. A literary community, composed of African writers, “signed a statement demanding that American legal institutions address police violence”. Additionally, the African Union Commission criticized the malicious crimes conducted by the police. It is essential to understand that the issue of racism means a lot to Africans in the continent. Africans are prone to discrimination wherever they go. Such dilemma all started with the colonizing powers as the latter imposed racism and xenophobia in educational and cultural systems.
Yet, in spite of the motivation to revolutionize against such a tyrannical system, eliminating police brutality remains farfetched because the police are the product of “institutional underdevelopment”. Police are “often poorly trained and paid; many resort to petty corruption simply to feed their families.”
In conclusion, fighting for the lives of the Black people is pivotal for they are human being with fundamental human rights. Let us not marginalize and leave them behind since UDHR Article 2 states that “Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.”
Black lives matter – views from Africa – ROAPE. Review of African Political Economy. (2020, June 18). Retrieved November 30, 2022, from https://roape.net/2020/06/18/black-lives-matter-views-from-africa/
Campbell, J. (2020, July 8). Black lives matter protests in Africa Shine a light on local police brutality. Council on Foreign Relations. Retrieved November 30, 2022, from https://www.cfr.org/blog/black-lives-matter-protests-africa-shine-light-local-police-brutality
Kagumire, R. (2020, June 29). Black lives matter resonates with Africans pushing for decolonisation. Global Reporting Centre. Retrieved November 30, 2022, from https://globalreportingcentre.org/ideas/black-lives-matter-resonates-with-africans/
United Nations. (n.d.). Universal declaration of human rights. United Nations. Retrieved November 30, 2022, from https://www.un.org/en/about-us/universal-declaration-of-human-rights