With the death of George Floyd in 2020, countless people were enraged by 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 iconic. As a result, the Black Lives Matter (BLM) Movement rose “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 while enforcing COVID-19 restrictions. Additionally, a Kenyan trader was killed by the police since the latter accused the former of selling fake sanitisers. In response, inhabitants of a small town in western Kenya burned down a police station. In South Africa, a similar scenario occurred where at least 10 people died due to the police’s implementation of COVID-19 regulations.
Having the BLM Movement becoming relevant 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, a group of locals organized demonstrations in Nigeria, describing themselves as the “Black Lives Matter in Nigeria (BLMMN)”. The latter was found protesting in 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.
Consequently, people migrate to escape the worsening situation in the country. Migration brings about several other predicaments for the locals. For instance, there is no assurance regarding food, water, and shelter. Education is interrupted by the constant fleeing, and socio-economic problems such as sexual abuse, violence, and discrimination become pertinent. Indeed, climate change has devastating effects on human rights as one violation leads to another; it works as a domino effect.
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 on the continent. Africans are prone to discrimination wherever they go. Such a dilemma started with the colonizing powers as the latter imposed racism and xenophobia in educational and cultural systems.
Yet, despite 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 resorts to petty corruption simply to feed their families.”
In conclusion, fighting for Black people’s lives is pivotal because they are human beings with fundamental human rights. Therefore, let us not marginalize and leave them behind since UDHR Article 2 states that “Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms outlined in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or another opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or another 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