African Lives Don’t Matter to Their Leaders and Police

The death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis earlier this year sparked a global protest movement for racial justice in America. Under the banner of Black Lives Matter, protesters marched in New York, London, Cape Town, Berlin, and other cities around the world.

World leaders condemned the killing and called for racial justice in America. The African Union, through Commission Chair Moussa Faki, released a strongly worded statement. A forum of former African heads of state and government called on Africa to strongly protest Floyd’s killing and the treatment of blacks by police in America.

African writers under the grouping of African Authors Sans Frontieres released a statement in solidarity with George Floyd and other blacks killed by police in America. The angry statement condemned “the United States government’s continual terrorism towards African-Americans”.

And yet when last week Uganda police killed over 40 unarmed people who were protesting the arrest of presidential candidate Bobi Wine, there was hardly a whimper of protest from the international community.

No one marched in New York, Cape Town or Berlin holding aloft a Ugandan Lives Matter banner. African governments that had released statements condemning the killing of George Floyd kept a studious silence. The vocal forum of former African heads of state mysteriously lost its tongue. The African Union vented not a squeak of protest. The African Authors Sans Frontieres forgot to release a statement condemning the Ugandan government’s continual terrorism towards Ugandans.

Why was there such a loud silence at the loss of 40 lives at the hands of the Uganda police? Was this silence perhaps an anomaly? Not at all. When it comes to African lives, the world, including — ironically — Africans themselves, applies a different standard.

The number of Africans killed by police in Africa this year alone is unconscionable. Tens of Nigerians were killed by police enforcing a Covid-19 curfew. Later, more Nigerians would be gunned down during protests against a killer police squad.