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Africa’s silence greatest misdoing in fight against racism

Africans are collectively unconscious of the phenomenology of racism and its foundation

In Summary

• Unfortunately, however, the topic of racism has historically been treated with an airy nonchalance in Africa.

• It is viewed as a foreign issue despite the fact that an estimated 1.55 million sub-Saharan African migrants lived in the US alone in 2017.

A mural of George Floyd in Kibra's Kamukunji grounds by Detail Seve on June 4, 2020.
A mural of George Floyd in Kibra's Kamukunji grounds by Detail Seve on June 4, 2020.
Image: MERCY MUMO

The murder of George Floyd, an African-American,  by a white Minneapolis police officer last month in the US, has sparked global protests against racism.

People have braced police brutality, harsh weather and – most saliently – the pandemic to send a clear message: Racism has no place in the world.

Unfortunately, however, the topic of racism has historically been treated with an airy nonchalance in Africa. It is viewed as a foreign issue despite the fact that an estimated 1.55 million sub-Saharan African migrants lived in the US alone in 2017.

According to Pew Research Center, 75 per cent, 74 per cent and 54 per cent of Ghanaians, Nigerians and Kenyans respectively, would migrate abroad if circumstances allowed. As of 2017, according to United Nations, more than 51 per cent of sub-Saharan Africa migrants living in the US were from Nigeria, Ethiopia, Ghana and Kenya. Additionally, between 2010 and 2017, the population of Somalian and Eritrean migrants living in Europe increased by 80,000 and 40, 000 people respectively.

Similarly, due to high unemployment rates, low wages and high fertility levels, more Africans are expected to migrate to Europe and America, where they’re likely to encounter racism. Clearly, Africa must swiftly put its act together. Our silence is the greatest misdoing in the fight against racism.

It’s not enough, therefore, for Africans living in Africa to sit back and watch from a safe remove as the rest of the world goes out of its way in denouncing racism and its merchants.

If a white man living in a white neighbourhood in Europe has the right conscience to speak out against racism, why should an African, who, because of his skin colour, is more likely to experience racism be slow to do so?

For some reason, Africans are collectively unconscious of the phenomenology of racism and its foundation, perhaps because of weak national consciousness.

Come to think of it, curfew enforcement has led to increase in extrajudicial killings with Independent Police Oversight Authority, putting the death toll at 15. But when families of the victims took to the street to demand justice, they were almost by themselves. Why? Because we lack national consciousness to rally behind common problems.

The writer is a journalism student at Multimedia University

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