You may have seen the hashtag #EndSARS circulating on social media in the past week. You may have also heard that on the 20th of October 2020, the Nigerian government gave orders to the military to shoot Nigerians protesting peacefully at Lekki toll gate in Lagos, after disabling CCTV and street lights in the area. The #LekkiMassacre is horrific to all but as a Nigerian, at home or in diaspora, it is acutely heartbreaking. 💔🇳🇬
The 2020 protests against SARS (Special Anti-Robbery Squad) started on the 8th of October by young Nigerians who are fighting for their right to live without the threat of harassment, extortion, unlawful arrests, rape and death at the hands of those who are meant to protect them. Despite SARS having undergone several reforms, overhauls, decentralisations and disbandments in the past 5 years, the unit have continued to abuse its power and operate with impunity.
In response to the protests in different cities across the country, on the 14th of October 2020 the Nigeria Inspector General of Police, Muhammed Adamu, announced that SARS would be disbanded and replaced by SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactical Team a.k.a. a rebranding of SARS 🙃 #NotRudeHonest). Recognising the announcement for what it was (fake news!), the protests in Nigeria continued and Nigerians in diaspora joined them, both online and physically in their respective cities; Nigerians everywhere are insisting on the complete abolition of SARS, an end to police corruption and brutality, and a systematic overhaul of governance that will improve the living conditions for its citizens. The Nigerian government has met these peaceful protests with excessive force and violence, which has led to the deaths of hundreds of Nigerian citizens.
Nigeria has been in need of fundamental and significant change for a long time and although I hope that 2020 is the year that we'll get it, my heart hurts for all those we have lost and are still likely to lose in this fight for change. To my Nigerians at home, your conduct has been exemplary; we see you, we are proud of you, we support you and we are grateful to you. To my Nigerians abroad, keep fighting to help our brothers and sisters on the ground via social media, vetted petitions, political connections and financial support. Together we can make a better Nigeria. 🇳🇬
African descendants are bleeding everywhere and we need to do whatever we can to stop it. I have been very vocal about the injustices against black people on my platforms and I have mentioned before that, due to the effects of colonialism, the answer isn't as simple as "Go back to the motherland." As black people, we are constantly fighting for our lives to be valued and respected, and knowing that our motherland isn't much safer is incredibly saddening.
Even though the works and blood of our ancestors in building the West has earned us the right to claim any of its countries as our own (facts, no printer!), I do believe that improving the living conditions in African countries and removing ourselves from the grips of the West (and now China 🙃) will give us more freedom and options when choosing whether to put up with the racist structures engrained in Western culture.