Civil society pays tribute to George Floyd in Senegal

Demonstrators kneel on the ground in tribute to George Floyd, on the Dakar ledge, June 9, 2020.

On the Dakar ledge, facing the ocean that separates Africa from the United States, around fifty Senegalese people placed their knees on the ground for precisely 8 minutes and 46 seconds. The length of time George Floyd, the African American killed on May 25 by a white police officer in Minneapolis, United States, was kept on the ground before he succumbed. This demonstration was organized by a collective of associations at the time of the funeral of the victim, Tuesday, June 9. If the number of 50 people, the maximum authorized for a gathering at the time of Covid-19, limited the operation, the chosen location gave a particular depth at this time. “The Gorée-Almadies memorial means a lot to the black community”explains Modiene Ndiaye, a protester, referring to the many slaves who left for the United States from these coasts.

“Black people have been bullied for 400 years, we have to remember the slavery history of Gorée Island, opposite Dakar. It was Africa that formed the United States. And the death of George Floyd moves the knife in the wound “, recalls, hand to the ocean, Diago Ndiaye, the national president of the Peace and Security for Women network in the Cédéao area. In her traditional blue and yellow boubou, she came with her two daughters, young adults, including Rokaya, for whom “This is an opportunity to denounce the attacks against blacks in the United States and around the world, because it is a recurring problem.” The young woman, matching pink t-shirt and mask, continues: “We are in the XXIe century, we must stop racism and segregation! “

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For nearly two hours, personalities passed the megaphone to deliver speeches blown away by the sea wind. Around, some police officers had the task of monitoring the small masked assembly, respecting sanitary distances and displaying some “Black Lives” signs Matter ”. Former director of Amnesty International for West Africa, founder of the think tank Afrikajom Center and co-organizer of this mobilization, Alioune Tine was satisfied with the good behavior of the event.

The previous Saturday, already, a small, more spontaneous gathering had gathered around thirty individuals, including the actress and singer Aida Sock. But this time, more personalities have moved or signed the “Dakar declaration in tribute to George Floyd” published Monday. “Africa cannot remain passive or silent in the face of the suffering of its diaspora”, is it written at the bottom of this text which condemns “The racist violence suffered by the sixth region of Africa”. Among the signatories, rapper Didier Awadi rubs shoulders with activist Guy Marius Sagna or Professor Moussa Seydi, at the front to fight against the Covid-19 for three months.

Macky Sall’s silence

Very symbolically, representatives of the Muslim and Christian communities also came to protest together. “We support all of the bullied communities. In the Koran, the human being is honored without distinction of religion, race or culture “, says Cheikh Ahmed Tidiane Sy, president of the Unitary Framework of Islam in Senegal. The Museum of Black Civilizations, recently opened in Dakar, has also positioned itself strongly, condemning “This heinous act, the recurrence of which has become characteristic of the clash between the police and the black community in the United States.”

Still, the most mobilized, like Alioune Tine, regret the silence of President Macky Sall. “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 “”, he reproaches. Of course, the human rights activist is delighted that “Certain personalities from the private sector and even deputies and former ministers also passed by” ; but he cannot help regretting the absence of a strong message from the authorities, like that of Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo. The latter indeed declared in a tweet, the 1er June, that he was “Not possible in the XXIe century that the United States, this great bastion of democracy, continues to grapple with the problem of systemic racism. “

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In Senegal, the ruling coalition, Benno Bokk Yakaar, published a text condemning “The assassination of George Floyd and all other African-American victims who were recently shot at point-blank range or after deadly torture and unprecedented police violence”. In the eyes of Alioune Tine, this is insufficient. “Saying no to police violence and injustice is important in Africa, while human rights violations occur daily in the countries of the subregion. This concerns us very closely: our judicial institutions are weak and slavery continues to be present in certain countries such as Libya, Mauritania or Mali “, believes one who did not expect as many signatories of the declaration. It was to be presented this Wednesday at the US Embassy by a delegation. Its authors now want to launch an online petition to crystallize the mobilization.

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