AdvocacyEconomy and Development

Africans and the stench of racism

‘Here on the slopes of hills, facing the dusk and cannon of time close to the gardens of broken shadows,  we do what prisoners do: we cultivate hope.’

Those are the words of the famous Palestinian poets,  Mahmoud Darwish written years ago. And they aptly capture the horrible pictures of racism and activities of despotic tyrants even today.  That poem was among the poems chanted during the  ‘Arab Spring. ‘ 

Those words are again, echoing in the US following the gruesome murder of George Floyd and the rage it triggered around the world.

Although the protesters in most US cities are not chanting any previously written poems like those of Tahir Square in Egypt,  Morocco, Syria Saudi Arabia or Yemen,their goal remain the same. 

While the protesters in the US are yearning for equality, justice and an egalitarian society as a panacea for peace, those in the Arab world yearn for the fresh air of democratic governance and justice. This suggests that racism is not only an epidemic but also despotic! The former openly kneels on people’s necks until they can’t breathe anymore on the bases of race, while the latter parade itself as a demigod who rules with a iron fist.

Anyone who knows the subjugation of blacks to extreme racism in the United States, many parts of Europe, Asia and the Arab world would understand the protesters beyond the placards they are carrying!

The White House was built by black slaves. But, today, the blight of racism is makes it impossible for the blacks who had laboured for the country for over four hundred years without pay to rise to the zenith of the their dreams.

The idea that brown skin people are superior to the dark skin people is the mother of all pandemics as more than 45 million Africans were lost to slavery and colonialism. Yet, for centuries, none of the so-called pharmaceutical companies across the globe has been able to come up with a vaccine that will cure this malady once and for all. But, it seems the blood of George Floyd is about to do it!

Each time I watch these protesters on TV,  I see the graphic words of Dr Martin Luther Jr. floating on the streets of America, telling Americans and the rest of Western World in an emphatic voice to accept a simple but hard truth: the lives of blacks, not just in America, but the world over, matter.

Given the momentum the peaceful protest is taking, the high tower of racism may tumble to make way for the candle of love, peace and development to shine brightly for ever.

But let us not kid ourselves, the roots of racism is buried far deep into the crust of human kind. Unbelievably, some Africans in Africa, would also look at you in the face and tell you that they are not Africans. It is so common among Somalis, Some Ethiopians and those from Arab speaking African countries like Egypt, Morocco, Djibouti and Libya. Even the Chinese people who are hawking on the streets of many African countries will treat you with huge disdain just because nature made you with a beautiful ebony black skin!. Therefore, the ongoing protests in the US are not just for the rights of African-Americans, but for equality for the Global African Ethnic Race.

Some of our leaders in African are also aiding and abetting the stench of racism as they always look outside the continent instead of inward to develop it.

I remember walking into a shop in Addis Ababa in 2019 trying to buy a pair of shoes. And the shop keeper tried to show me shoes from Italy, Turkey and so on. But I insisted that I needed shoes made in Ethiopia, Kenya, or Nigeria. She laughed and said: ‘ I don’t have.’

The perception of most Africans in Africa about themselves is that nothing good will ever come out from their continent.  As such, they are tirelessly looking for products and services from outside the continent! What acceptance of defeat!!

It is also a pity to note that most African youths in the universities and even high schools today don’t want to hear about Africa. They have been brainwashed to think that nothing good would ever come from this great continent! That notion must be urgently reversed so that we can rewrite our own stories. In the words of famous black American motivational speaker, Less Brown, ” imagination is a preview of what is to come, in it lies the solution to our challenges a continent.”

We must change the way we think about ourselves and remake our world. We must set our own agenda and run with it.

About author
Umar Osabo teaches English as Second Language (ESL) and English as Foreign Language (EFL) courses at the University of Hargeisa, Somaliland, East Africa
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