Ugandan musician-turned-politician Bobi Wine decided to take action when news broke that Africans in China have been left homeless after being evicted due to fears that they could spread the coronavirus.
Images and videos of Africans sleeping on the streets of Guangzhou, China, have flooded the internet in the last week.
Wine, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, has partnered with U.S. businessman Neil Nelson, co-founder of media firm Atlanta Black Star, to airlift affected Africans from China “to a country in Africa that is willing to receive them,” and African Americans to the U.S.
Wine and Nelson announced their plans in a joint statement on April 13.
“The two leaders are currently working together to facilitate a humanitarian mission to airlift those Africans and African-Americans who are affected by these attacks to a country in Africa that is willing to receive them,” read the press release. “We are also prepared to evacuate them to the United States for those holding U.S. citizenship or permanent resident status.”
The statement urged the Chinese government and other global leaders to take immediate action to protect Africans abroad. “We call upon leaders from across the global African community including political leaders, social activists, artists, and other leaders to join in this effort,” Wine said in the joint statement.
Nigeria, through its embassy in Beijing, has also said it is prepared to evacuate its citizens from China, Ghana Web reported.
“The move comes after harrowing reports of African foreign nationals in the Southern Chinese city of Guangzhou, being evicted from their homes, denied services at local businesses, and blamed for igniting a second wave of coronavirus in the country,” Okay Africa reported.
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African activists say this mistreatment highlights the widespread racism and xenophobia that Black people face in China.
Nicknamed “Little Africa,” Guangzhou has the highest population of Africans in China, mostly from Nigeria, Ghana, Uganda, and Kenya.
The Guangdong provincial government has said it attached “great importance to some African countries’ concerns and is working promptly to improve” its way of operating.
Wine released a song and music video in March to raise awareness of the coronavirus after Uganda reported 14 confirmed cases.
“It is signature Bobi Wine,” NPR reported — “an Afrobeat backdrop with a reggae touch.”
In the song, Wine sings, “It’s a global pandemic we can never take for granted.”
Repeatedly arrested and jailed in Uganda, Wine continues to speak out against the Museveni regime. He won a seat on the Ugandan parliament in 2017, running as an independent. His scheduled performances in Uganda were canceled in 2018, and some of his songs that are critical of the government have been banned in the past, CNN reported.