By Bakary Ceesay
Activists in the Gambia will Monday converge outside the US Embassy in Banjul to protest against racism and killing of blacks by police officers in the US.
According to Madi Jobarteh, one of the organisers of the event, the protesters will meet outside the US Embassy situated on the busy Kairaba Avenue at 10:00 am during which they will take the knee like Colin Kaepernick to symbolize their mourning and condemnation of the acts of violence meted out to Blacks in the US by the police. They will then hand over a signed petition to the US Ambassador to the Gambia.
In a long post explaining why they are holding the protest in the Gambia, Mr Jobarteh said: “It was White People from Europe and America who got up on their own to come to Africa hundreds of years ago to forcefully kidnap our ancestors and then carry them into slavery in the Americas against their will. Kunta Kinteh never asked to be made a slave. The kings and people of Niumi never invited White People to visit their village to kidnap Kunta Kinteh. Rather slavery was the imagination and invention of White People and it was Europe and the United States that emerged successful from slavery. The people of Juffureh, Niumi, The Gambia and the entire Africa only lost and became weak socially, economically and politically because of slavery.
Kunta Kinteh and his descendants worked all their lives in the United States to build the country and its vast economy to what it is today, for free. Our Ancestor Kunta was never paid for his labour. Even when the US President Abraham Lincoln declared in 1863 that he had freed the slaves, the US Government until today has failed to pay back its Black citizens their fair share or uphold and protect their rights. Even the promise of forty acres and a mule that the US Government said it would give to each and every Black person since 1865 until today the US Government has failed to fulfill that promise.
Yet after 244 years of the US Declaration of Independence in which US Founding Fathers declared that all human beings are created equal and endowed with the inalienable rights to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, the fact remains that African Americans are not treated as such.
Look into the social, economic and political indicators in terms of access to power, leadership, resources, wealth, education, healthcare, housing and voice and you will find Black People are disproportionately lower than Whites. Why? Look into the prisons of the US and you will find Black People forming the overwhelming majority. Look into the number of people killed by police brutality and you will find more Blacks being unnecessarily killed than any other group of US citizens. Why?
Therefore, as Africans on the continent we are going to protest this unfair, unjust, illegal and oppressive treatment of our kith and kin in America. It is high time that each and every African in the continent of Africa makes the issue of America a personal and a national issue. Not just because African Americans are our blood kith and kin but also because we have millions of fellow continental Africans living in the United States. And they have not been spared as we have seen in the murder of Momodou Lamin Sisay few days ago as well as the murder of Amadou Diallo from Guinea in New York in 1999 just to mention a few.
Above all the struggle for independence for African countries was initiated and spearheaded by African Americans more than 100 years ago – well before Kwame Nkrumah, EF Small, Amilcar Cabral and Nelson Mandela and our Patriotic Leaders came onto the scene. African Americans have always been in the forefront and have died in the fight against colonialism and imperialism in Africa because they know that the destiny of Africa is intertwined with the destiny of the Black Man and Woman in America. Read your history to know.
If America touts itself as the beacon of democracy and champion of human rights in the world, then we expect the United States to practice what it preaches. We have even seen the United States Government wage wars and impose sanctions on several countries around the world in the name of defending human rights and democracy. Yet inside America itself that same Government continues to blatantly kill its own Black citizens with impunity. This is unacceptable.
We must therefore raise an international attention to what is happening in America just as America is raising international attention to human rights violations in other countries of the world. What is good for the goose is good for the gander. America cannot claim human rights for the rest of the world yet in its own backyard it is committing gross human rights violations. That is hypocrisy that must be confronted by the rest of the world, and Africans in particular must be in the lead against such hypocrisy because it is our people who are the victims.
Therefore, we are going to request a police permit to embark on a peaceful protest in front of the US Embassy on Kairaba Avenue to submit a petition to the US Ambassador. We want to demand that the US Government enforce its own Constitution, uphold its own Declaration of Independence of 1776 and implement all of its civil rights act to protect the lives and dignity of Black People.
We demand that the US Government investigates the murder of Momodou Lamin Sisay and George Floyd and Breonna Tayler and all victims of police brutality and hold all those officers responsible accountable. Above all, we demand the US Government to immediately put a complete end to institutionalized racism against African Americans in all spheres of life and society.
Stand up for your sons, daughters, brothers and sisters in the United States. We are one!”