Africa pays final tribute to George Floyd

Buried Tuesday June 9 in Houston, Texas, George Floyd has not finished talking about him. His death continues to cause shock waves around the world, and in Africa, several rallies have been held in recent days to pay tribute to him. In Senegal, they were not very numerous this Tuesday evening, Covid-19 obliges, but the symbol was there. Kneeling on the ground for 8 minutes 46 seconds in front of the Atlantic Ocean, the small committee from civil society has symbolically chosen the edges of the Atlantic and the Gorée-Almadies memorial which awaits its monument in memory of the victims of the slave trade. From the XVe century in the middle of the XIXe, thousands of African slaves passed through this tiny island located barely five kilometers from Dakar, before embarking on a terrible crossing to the Americas. “We came to kneel for the memory of George Floyd at the Gorée memorial site. “This symbolism is very strong because you are facing America,” said one of the organizers, Ibrahima Diagne. “Time continues to be very long for black people in America,” he added after a long moment of silence.

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Solidarity with African-Americans

What will remain in Africa of this worldwide movement of indignation which will have aroused the murder of George Floyd? Alioune Tine, former director of Amnesty International for West Africa, called for “a new lease of life to rebuild humanity”. “The cold-blooded murder of a black African-American citizen by a white Euramerican police officer, committed in broad daylight on a street in the capital of Minnesota, is a news item which tragically recalls the practices of lynching of a slave-holding past. and segregationist America condemned by history “, deplores the founder of the think tank Afrikajom Center and co-organizer of this mobilization. For the Senegalese activist, the act of the American police officer is a denial of dignity and humanity that was not only addressed to Floyd. “Everyone knows why Georges Floyd died under the criminal’s white knee. (…) He did it because, in the tragic past of slavery, people could take a negro with impunity, lynch him, kill him without justice. People were revolted by this image, of torture, inhuman treatment, degrading, “he said.

At the start of the week, Senegal had already distinguished itself in the vast protest movement against racism with the publication of the “Dakar declaration in homage to George Floyd” published on Monday. “Africa can not remain passive or silent in the face of the suffering of its diaspora” can be read in this text signed by as many artists as activists or even civil society actors. All condemn “the racist violence suffered by the sixth region of Africa”.

Words that echo those of the former Beninese head of state Nicéphore Soglo. In his capacity as vice-president of the Forum of the former heads of state and government of Africa, he urged, a few days after the tragedy, the African leaders to “demonstrate firmly” against this murder. “What level of cruelty must you reach in order for the world to finally wake up and show its indignation?” Who would dare thus, with open face, to treat in this way today a European, an Arab, an Israeli, an Indian, a Chinese, a Japanese, an Argentinian or a Chilean? Enough is enough ! “

While welcoming the “courageous” position of the President of the African Union (AU) Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, and that of the President of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo, the collective is surprised, for example, that the head of the State, Macky Sall, has still not spoken publicly on the death of George Floyd while he had not hesitated to go to Paris at the time of the attack against Charlie Hebdo, is surprised Alioune Tine. We were uncomfortable to see the whole world stand up to say no to injustice when almost no African head of state spoke out, unlike 2015 when they were all “Charlie” ”

Precisely, on the same day, the lines changed somewhat since the majority of President Macky Sall issued a message condemning the death of George Floyd. The coalition led by the formation of the head of state condemned “with the last energy the assassination of George Floyd and all the other African-American victims who died recently in bullets fired at point-blank range or after acts of lethal torture and unprecedented police violence ”.

The presidential majority calls in this declaration the Senegalese “to express in a peaceful manner and worthy of their solidarity to our Afro-descendant brothers and sisters”. It calls on African countries to coordinate through the African Union a “major” international action to condemn racist violence around the world. She said she would send a delegation to the American authorities in Dakar to “deliver a message of protest” and “urge them to take urgent measures and necessary reforms to protect their populations of African descendants”.

Such official expressions, and more generally public demonstrations, have remained rare on the continent despite the wave of protests sparked in the United States and around the world by the death of George Floyd.

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Hope for a turning point against racism

Nearby, in Ghana, the government organized a commemorative ceremony on Friday in honor of George Floyd with the aim of supporting all black people around the world and combating racism. This ceremony took place on the historic site of the W.E.B. Wood for Pan-African culture, under the aegis of the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture. “We would like to take this opportunity to draw attention to the injustice that our brothers and sisters continue to suffer around the world,” said Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Barbara Oteng-Gyasi.

The situation in the United States is so serious that it is not limited to African Americans, but also affects Africans, whether immigrants or ordinary tourists. “Racism in America remains a deadly pandemic, which our brothers and sisters in the United States have wanted to find a cure for over four hundred years,” she said. The Minister expressed her hope that the death of George Floyd but also that of Ahmaud Arbery, Breona Taylor and many other victims before them are not in vain, but that they lead to a real awareness of the feeling of belonging to the same community of destiny.

Several supporters of the radical left led by Fighters for Economic Freedom, EFF, gathered in South Africa on Monday in front of the U.S. Embassy in Pretoria to protest racism, police violence and President Trump . It is the largest mobilization in the country since the death of the 46-year-old African American. “Down with racism”, “down with imperialism”, “down with Donald Trump”, shouted in front of the demonstrators, led by Julius Malema.

The EFF supporters paid tribute to the victim by observing, one knee on the ground, 8 minutes and 46 seconds of silence, the time of the immobilization which led to his death. “There is enough police brutality on our black bodies,” said Malema to the crowd, flanked by the wife of a man recently killed by the South African army responsible for enforcing confinement against the Covid-19.

The political leader also strangled Donald Trump, described as a “white supremacist”, and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, accused of having eased confinement against the coronavirus to satisfy the “white economy” of the country. “We must no longer listen to the president,” he said. The movement spread to the Maghreb in different ways. In Tunisia, where sub-Saharan migrants are often targets of violence, around 200 people demanded justice and to be able to “breathe” in the face of racism on Friday in Tunis.

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