The US, the main sponsor of color revolutions and wars around the world, found itself in its own “American spring” after the murder of African-American George Floyd, who was suffocated by a white policeman. As a result, race issues are still at the top of the political agenda four hundred years after the first slave ships arrived on the continent’s shores.
The Floyd case has caused a stir not only in the United States, but also in Africa. Protests against police brutality and in solidarity with global demonstrations calling for justice for George Floyd took place across the continent. Rallies were held in Kenya, Ghana and South Africa. Participants in the rallies repeatedly stressed that police brutality against Black people was also a feature of Africa itself: clashes with law enforcement officials during the lockdown also resulted in deaths.
UWI collected the opinions of African organizations, politicians, philosophers, activists, cultural figures who expressed their assessment of what is happening in the United States (and not only).
— kwametoontoom (@kwametoontoom) June 11, 2020
The African Union: rejection of the continuing discriminatory practices
The African Union has been unequivocal in criticizing what is happening.
The AU statement reads: “Recalling the historic Organization of Africa Unity (OAU) Resolution on Racial Discrimination in the United States of America made by African Heads of State and Government, at the OAU’s First Assembly Meeting held in Cairo, Egypt from 17 to 24 July 1964, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission firmly reaffirms and reiterates the African Union’s rejection of the continuing discriminatory practices against Black citizens of the United States of America.”
— Capital FM Kenya (@CapitalFMKenya) June 8, 2020
Come back to Africa
Counter protesters in the United States told the demonstrators to ‘go back to Africa’, which only added fuel to the fire.
However, some have suggested that idea of a return to Africa in a positive way – including Africans themselves, calling on their American brothers and sisters to leave the racist United States and return to restore the economy and order in their homeland.
I can’t stand this anymore ! The videos am seeing on the tm today is making me weak ..My dear brothers & sis born & living in America please come back to Africa …Here you are all Kings and Queens 2gether we can all build our heaven on earth here in Africa ☹️ #BlackLivesMatter https://t.co/WJ6QZ5y1VH
— Prof Immanuel Yaw (@immanuel_maze) May 29, 2020
How will it look like if all blacks in Europe and America pack their bags and come back to Africa their fathers land? instead of being killed like rats 🐀 together we can make Africa great again 💔🙏🏾#RIPGeorgeFloyd #Deception
— AMBE (@AmbeOfficial) May 27, 2020
At the state level, the most active message was given in Ghana, which has a state program to support returnees from the United States.
The Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Barbara Oteng-Gyasi has invited African Americans to re-settle in Ghana if they feel unwanted in the US.
Thousands of Africans and Black people from other countries have already visited Ghana as part of the Year of Return government program. This year the government launched the Beyond the Return initiative to help Africans from the diaspora settle in Ghana and invest in the economy.
“Ghana is your home. Africa is your home. We have our arms wide open ready to welcome you home”.
Letter from African leaders: ‘ubuntu’ and ‘nitté’ values
Professors, activists, musicians, artists living in or from Africa wrote a joint letter to protest against police killings. They are all different – from African patriots to liberals and “citizens of the world”, from politicians to singers, from professors to demonstrators – but they all expressed strict opposition to what happened in Minneapolis.
“A resilient Africa carried by our communities and a dynamic and enterprising civil society, animated by a generation of young people and women determined to lift the continent from the fatality of despair, and create a future of unity in freedom, dignity and abundance… But we will go beyond the recent history and look at the Africa we lost. Our history did not begin with the tragic period of slavery”.
“At this critical and fragile moment when humankind feels that it has reached a tragic impasse, it is our duty to help humanity build a better and more sustainable future for itself and for planet Earth, through the path of our founding values —’ubuntu’ and ‘nitté’ (our shared humanity), wisdom, equality, respect, solidarity, and brotherhood and sisterhood, so that our human family finally reconciles with itself in peace. ”
These include, for example, the politically active popular Malian singer Salif Keïta and the Senegalese singers Akon and Youssou Ndour. Malian singer Salif Keïta (who shares extremely anti-French views) has already given concerts in support of the Black people, both in New York and in Bamako.
New African front
After the killing of George Floyd, Guy Marius Sagna, coordinator of the National Coalition “No to EPAs” in Senegal, announced the forthcoming establishment of an African Front for a massive reaction.
According to him, George Floyd is a victim of a racist system.
“Because not only was George Floyd actually murdered, he was the victim of a racist system. I think that all African-Americans in the United States are in danger,” he said.
It is important to note that so many African presidents and prime ministers have not responded publicly to Floyd’s death. This caused resentment among many activists – they linked it to the fact that such politicians are associated with Western elites and are afraid to speak out, causing possible anger in Washington.
Disturbing silence of African leaders
Professor Abdoulaye Bathily condemned the disturbing silence of African leaders, who, however, once expressed solidarity with Charlie Hebdo in Paris.
Bathily also believes that “the conditions of democratic freedoms are such that very often, in many African countries, demonstrations are not possible, because there is also a fear of contagion of popular demonstrations”. But the real reason for the silence of African leaders is the fact that “many of these regimes seek the support of American and European powers”.
Floyd Guy Marius Sagna also showed the problem of silence of African leaders. “It’s because they are in fact subject to imperialism. They are afraid of what Donald Trump, of what the United States could have as an answer if they ever manage to decide in these cases”.
Not many African officials made some anti-American gesture after the scandal – Zimbabwe, however, summoned the ambassador of the United States to the country over remarks by a senior US official accusing it (as “foreign adversaries” with China) of stirring anti-racism protests.
It’s dangerous to be Black in the US
Malawian historian, academic, literary critic, novelist, short-story writer and blogger Paul Tiyambe Zeleza said that being Black person in America is often dangerous. The historian stressed that for many years the situation in the US has not changed.
“The anguish remains the same. The rhetoric remains the same. The public and political polarisations remain the same. The despair and hopes for change remain the same”.
Racism is a virus
Cameroonian philosopher, historian and theorist of post-colonialism Achille Mbembe compared racism in the United States to a virus.
He said that these “accidents”, as in the case of Floyd, are always part of the structure, it is not a mistake.
“This is the structural dimension of the United States being.” The United States would not be the United States if one or more African Americans were not extrajudicially executed from time to time,” the professor said.
The philosopher presented the situation with racism in a biological way:
“A negrophage democracy is a ‘community of difference’ in which racism can, at any time, take on an eruptive and viral dimension. As we know, one of the properties of viruses is to infect bacterial species, to use them and destroy them in order to multiply. Anti-black racism works in the same way, through the predation of bodies, nerves and muscles. It phagocytises bodies and lives that are conceived as stocks of raw material that cannot be dispensed with, but which are spent, wasted and destroyed, often for no apparent reason…
In order to reverse the predation ratio characteristic of this ecosystem, we will have to educate the historical chain of responsibility and name this continuity. We will have to calculate the damage suffered, knowing that it is incalculable. We will have to demand reparation and restitution knowing that what has been lost is fundamentally irreparable. We will have to insist on the imprescriptibility of reparation and restitution, since their current consequences are undeniable. ”
No revolution in the house of the oppressor
The original point of view was presented by the famous pan-African figure Kemi Seba. According to him, the very movement #blacklivesmatter as an idea is fundamentally wrong, because it is based on “white” discourse. Moreover, in his opinion, it is impossible to fight for one’s own continent while being in a country-oppressor.
“1) Racism will never go away
2) The white progressives who are encouraging you in this dead-end anti-racist struggle are those who do not want you to be concerned about the real urgency of self-determination and separation from the colonist
3) No revolution is made by advocating integration into the house of the oppressor
4) Our grandparents fought for the decolonization of our countries, not for their grandchildren to be accepted as citizens in the country of their oppressors
5) You will never get justice by diluting black anger with white good feelings
6) We’ve gone from Black Power (Black self-determination) to Black Live Matter (“Hey whites, black lives matter”), ask yourself questions. ”
The American failed state
For Africans watching a revolt unfold in America, the scenes seem eerily familiar but embarrassing, said the Kenyan writer and journalist Rasna Warah. Suddenly, the whole situation has changed. America is described in the same way that many African countries are portrayed in the Western media; the USA is beginning to resemble a failed African state.
— Ice Cube (@icecube) June 10, 2020
“The facade of democracy that America has been showing to the world appears to be crumbling. As the Ugandan journalist Charles Onyango-Obbo half-jokingly suggested in a tweet, the Western media usually interviews Western experts every time there is a disaster or political turmoil in an African country; maybe now it is time for African experts to be interviewed by the same Western media on the consequences of state failure, democratic fragility and regime illegitimacy in the United States.”
This is an important moment for Africans who see America as a country of equal opportunity, Warah said. This image was completely destroyed with the arrival of Trump – however, the journalist notes, the situation with racism was not solved under Barack Obama. The #blacklivesmatter movement itself actually emerged under his administration.
Deep fissure in the doctrine of ‘American exceptionalism.’
Another collective statement appeared on the Internet – not from Africans, but addressed to Africans (signed by the famous philosopher Noam Homsky among others). The reaction talks about the failure of the United States with its ideology and the importance (including for Africa) of building a new, multipolar world.
“It is in these planetary conditions that protests have erupted across the United States. And yet, there is something exceptional about these protests — if only that they expose a deep fissure in the doctrine of ‘American exceptionalism.’ We cannot ignore the particular hypocrisy of the hegemon, which brags to the world of its ‘missions accomplished’ and freedoms granted while oppressing its black, brown, and native populations at home. And we should not overlook the opening these protests have created to break with this hegemonic power and advance toward a decolonized and multipolar world. “
The problem of racism is not how it is represented by Republicans and Democrats in the US (both parties are only part of the anti-human capitalist establishment defending their interests). They only artificially confront different groups of people, provoking interethnic discord. The problem of racism is deeply embedded in the very structure of neoliberalism.
As we have written in detail before, Africa now has a chance to break with its colonial past and try to implement its own projects in its homeland, becoming a strong and self-sufficient continent. That is the point of a multipolar world, and a possible solution to the ongoing problem of racism.