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Motherland stands with Black America’s fight against rampant police violence

By Jehron Muhammad | Last updated: Jun 18, 2020 - 1:46:33 PM

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George Floyd Memorial at R.L Douglas Cape Fear Conference B—The United American Free Will Baptist Denomination in Raeford, N.C. (Photo: MGN Online)

For the first time in a major way, on major TV networks, Africa’s voice was heard in terms of its solidarity with the global outcry against the brutal death of George Floyd in the custody of Minneapolis police. The moment came during his funeral service broadcast from Houston, Texas.

During the service, a pastor said the family was honored at receiving a solidarity message, resolution and visual tribute from Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo with his decision to permanently mount Mr. Floyd’s name at the Diaspora African Forum and the W.E.B. Du Bois Center in Accra.


Prior to the June 9 announcement, the Ghanaian President joined the outcry from millions from across the globe writing: “Black people the world over are shocked and distraught by the killing of an unarmed Black man George Floyd by a police officer in the United States of America.”

In addition, President Akufo-Addo said he hopes the “unfortunate, tragic death of George Floyd will inspire a lasting change in how America confronts head on the problems of hate and racism.”

On May 29, chairperson of the African Union Moussa Faki Mahamat issued a rather tame condemnation of the killing of Mr. Floyd, “rejecting the continuing discriminatory practices against Black citizens of the United States of America.” He urged “the authorities of the United States to intensify their efforts to ensure the total elimination of all forms of discrimination based on race or ethnic origin.”

Former Justice Leader at FEMNET, one of Africa’s largest women’s rights networks, Christal Simeoni was surprised at the “weakness” of the AU statement.

During interview with Africa Watch from her home in Nairobi, Kenya, Ms. Simeoni made “correlations” between police of former British colonies and the U.S.

“And there have been correlations drawn between former British colonies like India, like Kenya, like Zimbabwe, that have the brutality of the police in the same way that is meted out (in the U.S.)” said Ms. Simeoni, who recently started her own initiative, called “Nawi.”

“It is unapologetic. It is violent. It is state sanctioned. And most of the time it’s against the poorest of the poor,” she said.

Named after a member of African and world histories most fearless women warriors, the N’Nonmiton or Dahomey Amazons, who literally left European colonizers “shaking in their boots,” Ms. Simeoni’s new initiative focuses on “bringing together different African women (at a) deeper … level.”

And though Ms. Simeoni is based in Nairobi, she will work with different organizations and individuals on different “parts of the continent” and with “people in the Diaspora.”

Nawi will produce a series of podcasts that will help give voice to issues African women are discussing and how the wider community can engage them.

Joined during the phone interview by her mother, Murugi Simeoni, who co-owns a factory that makes promotional material, including canvas bags for large companies, Crystal Simeoni said, “now you have Africa’s response to the murder of George Floyd from two generations.”

“My perception is I didn’t think it was going to get (at) this point because so many times we have seen it (the murder of an unarmed Black man by U.S. police) happen and then it quiets down and life continues,” Murugi Simeoni said. She added, “But it looks like we have reached a turning point. And we are just hoping that this won’t be the same anymore. This time it will be different. There are so many cities that are involved, it can’t go back to what it was anymore. It can never be.”

Murugi Simeoni also offered the sentiment of many Africans who are saying like both daughter and mother said, that the African continent and its leaders should find a way to find common cause with “our brothers and sisters in America and interacting with them.”

In Kenya’s capital, according to the Associated Press, residents of one of Nairobi’s poorest areas held a peaceful protest over the police brutality and killings which have plagued their neighborhood in recent years. Juliet Wanjera, a member of the Mathare Social Justice Center, said the group organized the protest in solidarity with the global movement against police brutality sparked by the death of George Floyd.

In South Africa opposition party leader Julius Malema and his Economic Freedom Fighters Party held protest marches in Johannesburg, Pretoria and Cape Town over the death of George Floyd after a White police officer knelt on his neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds even as he pleaded that he couldn’t breathe.

Malema criticized the South African government, saying it had not done enough to stop brutality perpetrated by its police and army.

Leading a protest at the U.S. Embassy in the capital city, Pretoria, Malema was joined by the partner of Collins Khosa, a Black South African man who died after being assaulted by Black soldiers enforcing South Africa’s strict lockdown to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

African solidarity with Blacks in America has been given limited coverage in Western corporate controlled media. Most of the coverage has focused on Whites showing sympathy for Black Americans and the brutal history of police violence they have suffered.

Representation of how Africa reacted to George Floyd’s death and U.S. protests can be seen in a Center For Strategic & International Studies compilation of essays by African journalists, civil society and thought leaders.

The intro to the June 4 “Africa Reacts” series states: “We believe it is critical to flip the script by featuring African views on U.S. politics—informing a new conversation about the future of U.S.-African relations.”

An essay written by Kenyan Journalist Uduak Amimo says it all. He writes in part, “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.”

“There are numerous articles going around about how white people can advocate for Black lives. Beyond the condemnation of systemic racism and racial violence in the United States from African leaders, I would like to see a similar focus and thinking on how Africans on the continent can advocate for African Americans and other people of African descent in the diaspora and at home.”

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