In the United States, the movement is on, the protesters are on the streets and on social media demanding conversations on racism and police brutality that are long overdue. The killing of black men by police officers the last few days have reopened wounds that had not healed and black people from all over the world including Africa have lent their voices in solidarity with their black brothers and sister in the United States.
But even as the black continent joins supports black lives matter online, she is confronted with a serious challenge once she logs of Twitter and Facebook. Black people on the African continent are reminded that black lives in Africa don’t matter as much as they should.. Whether it was the apocalyptic slave trade, haemorrhaging colonialism or self governance, black lives in Africa haven’t really mattered for a long time and we need that to change.
Black lives in Africa don’t matter because our leaders don’t think they do. We’re all pawns in the hands of the political elite, a means to an end. Election after election Africans are deliberately lied to by national leaders. We are sold a dream of a better life only to realise that we cant even go to sleep. We don’t even ask for much, a good education, a decent job, healthcare and security. For a number of African states, the governments don’t even have enough to meet those requests, but still steal what they will from the people. In countries where there is a lot, it’s all concentrated in the hands of a few and none of who are usually in a sharing mood.
Black lives in Africa don’t matter because our schools can’t seem to figure out how to educate us. Obafemi Awolowo University, used to be one of the best universities in Africa, it still manages to be one of the best Universities in Nigeria but it has been on strike for months now, because no one seems to agree on who should be the next Vice-Chancellor. Across the rest of the continent, if the absence of funds are not destroying the schools, staff unions are. Those that have, are now forced to pay millions to send their kids to private universities or across the Atlantic just to get a basic education. Inspite of all these, Africa has somehow managed to produce a number of world class minds that help us save face from this continental embarrassment.
Black lives in Africa don’t matter because we can’t seem to get proper health care. People are slaughtered like mosquitos that took a quick sniff of insecticides in our hospitals. In our streets, it’s an abattoir. Our medical staff are on strike and when they aren’t on strike they are unequipped, underfunded, underpaid and understandably really pissed off. But how can the common man get quality health care within Africa when the leaders use their taxes to go for checkups elsewhere?
African countries seldom go to war with each other, but there’s hardly an African country that has not had either a civil war or a large scale internal insurgency within the last 60 years. Whether it’s the Biafran war, Rwandan genocide, apartheid, Liberian civil wars or Sudanese civil war Africans always find new ways to allow the political elite fights their battles for them.
As the civil war in South Sudan erupts like a volcano that has been longing for expression, and insurgency and terrorism threaten to ravage Nigeria, Kenya and North Africa, we must not become numb and where we have, we must revive our conscience.
Black lives need to matter in this continent once again and we need to do it ourselves. More problems are coming and we need to get our act in order. We need to have the difficult conversations so we can learn the lessons of history. Africans need to be able to know how to disagree, to learn that each African, has a right to live whether they are from our tribe or not, whether they are West African or East African, francophone, luxophone or Anglophone.
We need to grow up and demand more from our leaders and our institutions. We must no longer reward incompetence with prolonged tenures in office and we must not over-adulate either. The time for sit tight leaders is long gone, we shouldn’t watch our nations go through it and we shouldn’t allow our neighbours go through it either. We must put back the ‘proud’ in ‘black and proud’ because no matter where in the world your are, Black Lives Matter.