How Africa Supported Black America During Rebellion Triggered By Murder of George Floyd

Isheka N. Harrison
Written by Isheka N. Harrison
Here are some ways Africa is supporting Black America during the current rebellion against systemic racism to magnify the truth that Black Lives Matter. In this Wednesday, June 3, 2020, file photo, a Maasai man jumps next to a new mural painted this week in the Kibera slum of Nairobi, Kenya, showing George Floyd with the Swahili word “Haki” or “Justice.” Floyd’s killing in the United States has raised awareness over police violence in South Africa and Kenya. (AP Photo/Brian Inganga, File)

Police officers’ heartless murder of George Floyd – an unarmed Black man in Minneapolis, Minnesota – sparked unprecedented protests across the globe. On the largest scale in history, people from every race, color, culture and creed have been on the frontlines, railing against racism and police brutality.

Those in The Motherland have shown up for their fellow members of the African Diaspora in ways that speak to their shared struggle. Here are some ways Africa is supporting Black America during the current rebellion against systemic racism to magnify the long-ignored truth that Black Lives Matter.

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) held protests in South Africa standing in solidarity with Black Lives Matter protestors in the U.S.

Protestors wore shirts with “I Can’t Breathe: George Floyd” emblazoned across them. Led by parliament member and EFF President Julius Malema, 39, EFF said they are “the only party genuinely confronting racism in South Africa.”

Having garnered a reputation as a firebrand leader, Malema is a self-described “revolutionary activist for radical change in Africa.” In addition to tweeting about the George Floyd protests, he has retweeted footage of worldwide protests and called for the abolition of racism to his 3 million followers on Twitter.

The signs used during the protests said things like, “It’s Time For Black Solidarity All Over The World,” “Black People Are not Slaves,” and “EFF in Solidarity with George Floyd.”

Ishmael Dube is an entrepreneur in South Africa who owns Afro Tours and Travel. He called Malema the “Nelson Mandela of our time pushing for Black empowerment,” adding Floyd’s murder revealed the perception of the U.S. as “The Land of the Free” was completely false.

“When we in South Africa heard that George Floyd was killed by a white police officer, we were devastated by this barbaric move. For so long we thought the USA managed to overcome racial inequality when [Barack] Obama became the first Black president,” Ishmael told Moguldom in an exclusive interview. “Floyd’s death made us realize that you are far from that. Many young Africans used to dream about coming to live and work in USA, but have since changed their minds because they think the same thing would happen to them.”

He added that Africans across the continent stood in solidarity with Black Americans because they were stolen from their homes to endure slavery, racism and centuries of oppression in America.

“Floyd’s death has triggered a wave of protests in Africa in solidarity with our Black brothers and sisters in USA. In Africa, we feel like it is about race, equality and class. Our former president Mandela once said no one is born hating another person because of the color of their skin. People are taught to hate and we believe the system of the USA has done this,” Ishmael continued. “By protesting in Africa, we want to undo this evil system and teach the new, upcoming generation that all human beings are equal and the same, despite skin difference. Africa is supporting the Black Lives Matter movement because we are the cradle of humankind and you were taken from your home, which is Africa, to work as slaves.”

The African Union made a statement condemning the murder of George Floyd.

Moussa Faki Mahamat, chairman of the African Union Commission, said he “firmly reaffirms and reiterates the African Union’s rejection of the continuing discriminatory practices against Black citizens of the United States of America.” He also urged “authorities in the United States of America to intensify their efforts to ensure the total elimination of all forms of discrimination based on race or ethnic origin.”

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Africans say U.S. racism undermines U.S. legitimacy

“Ironically, George Floyd died on Africa Day. While we were all celebrating, he was begging for his life,” wrote Angolan journalist Mayra de Lassalette. “My questions today: Can Africans still trust the United States and its institutions in leading the world? If yes, why, and until when? George Floyd died on a very important day for Africans, and as Africans, we believe in signs.”

“I welcome the African Union statement on the murder of George Floyd. But to be honest, I think it’s too little and far too late,” Kenyan Journalist Uduak Amimo told the Center For Strategic & International Studies (CSIS). “His death is the latest in a long line of killings of Black men, women, and children, killings that have drawn no official response from the continent over the years, despite a commitment to ending discrimination based on race, ethnicity, and origin. That principle has been rarely invoked against the United States until now. As a continent, we have failed our African American brothers and sisters, offering next to nothing in the way of meaningful solidarity to ensure their dignity. This is our shame. This is our problem. We owe our Black brothers and sisters an apology for centuries of neglect.”

“It’s time for racists to unlearn the idea of segregation because of the color of our skin, it is really tearing us apar,” said Nigerian researcher Idris Mohammed. “The United States is supposed to be the freest country in the world because of its long history of promoting democracy. Unfortunately, George Floyd’s death demonstrates just how little the United States cares about Black lives at home and abroad.”

African human rights groups, embassies, issued rare statements of concern

U.S. embassies in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo issued rare statements of concern over Floyd’s murder, according to Voa News.

George Floyd represents all of us, said Carine Kaneza Nantulya, the advocacy director of Human Rights Watch in Africa.

“This is the eternal struggle of any member of a minority community,” Nantulya said. “It’s going to touch anyone who has had previous experiences of abuse and oppression, be it because of one’s race or religious background, or sexual identity, you name it. And at the same time, it touches me in a way that it is bringing up issues that could be very, very easily forgotten as well. And I guess the struggle, and I think a challenge for every institution like the African Union, for leaders around the world, for organizations like ours, is to find the tools to forge ahead, to move to move ahead and to address some of some of the deeply seated social economic issues that are the trigger factors for this.” 

Ghana’s government honored George Floyd

Across the continent, Africans in various countries continued to rally with the U.S. over Floyd’s murder. Washington Post Global Opinions journalist Karen Attiah tweeted that Floyd’s family had received support from Ghana’s President Nana Akufo Addo. Floyd’s name will be added to the Sankofa forum in the W.E.B. Dubois Center in Accra, she said.

Danielle Paquette, West Africa bureau chief for The Washington Post, tweeted footage from a ceremony in Floyd’s honor. She followed it up by tweeting footage in which Senegalese students in Dakar said, “We stand for the noble cause of justice and dignity.”

Zimbabweans condemned the U.S. for human rights violations

Under the mantra, “The Voice Of The People is The Voice Of God,” the Zanu PF Patriots fight to improve the lives of Zimbabweans. National spokesperson Cde Patrick Chinamasa strongly condemned Floyd’s murder. 

A Sudanese refugee spoke out about Floyd’s murder, saying it could have been her

Sarah Tut, a South Sudanese refugee who’s lived in Saskatoon for more than 10 years, said she “felt sick” when she saw the footage of Floyd’s murder.

“When you see something like that happen to a person that looks like you, all you think about is it could happen to me, it could happen to my kid, it could happen to my husband, it could happen to my brother,” she told CTV News.

She added it was a plight Black people faced all over the world.

“Not everybody is treated equal in Canada … It happens every day. I live in Saskatoon. I experience it all the time,” Tut said. “Indigenous people of this land are experiencing the same thing black people experience every day. They experience racism. Missing and murdered Indigenous women is a big thing in Canadian society.” 

54 African countries called for an urgent meeting about police brutality with the UN Human Rights Council

The ACLU said the call came after they, “together with the families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Philando Castile, and Michael Brown, supported by over 650 groups including @USHRN, urged convening of a special UN session into US police killings and suppression of protests.”

Africans reached out to Black American friends to explain about racism in U.S.

Kechi Okpala is the CEO and principal of Kech This, Inc. As a Nigerian American who lives both in the U.S. and Africa, she said many friends are calling her from her father’s native homeland asking her to clarify things about racism in the U.S. after Floyd’s murder.

“With Nigeria being a Black-run nation, it’s difficult to understand the concept of systematic racism,” Okpala said. “I had people asking me, why is this happening. They didn’t understand. I tried to explain because it is very important to learn the history and relationship of Africa and the Americas to understand the fight for civil rights is one and the same.”