By Abdulai Jalloh, Founder & President of Borderline Pictures
The past few weeks have been mentally depressing and draining due to the recent killings of black men at the hands of law enforcement officers. What we have seen in Dallas is the manifestation of anger deeply rooted in the relationship between the police and African-American communities. But, killing police officers does not create a more positive environment or signal progress. It is not right and only truthful dialogue can engender a more positive and stronger relationship. The recognition of a broken system by people across the spectrum has led to the phenomenal slogan – #BlackLivesMatter and the development of the accompanying movement. As the conversation regarding discrimination, injustice and racism spread around the world I can’t help but notice the absence and silence of African leaders.
On my web talk show #TheAbdulaiJallohShow we largely focus on social issues and to me there isn’t a more pressing issue than that of the oppression of black people right now and that’s why we dedicated the whole segment of the show yesterday to that topic with a direct message to African leaders.
Throughout my travels around the United States I’ve never met an African – American man or woman who isn’t proud of their African heritage. With such pride comes the acknowledgement that Africa is their ancestral homeland. The history of the continent tells us of great civilizations and cultures with kings and queens, strong and striving communities with successful farmers, engineers, architects and merchants. There was a time, not too long ago, when black people around the world recognized their shared traits and cultures and actually tried to unify the black race for the greater good of humanity.
The fight to free African countries was seen by black activists around the world as the starting point to free black people everywhere. Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. traveled to Ghana for the inaugural celebration of that country’s independence and they stood with the people of South Africa during apartheid. They began a tradition of bringing much needed attention to the struggle of Africans and its correlation to the oppression of African Americans and the Civil Rights movement in the United States. They knew that the freedom of the black man depended on the freedom of his extended family in Africa from which emanated his cultural identity, history and language.
Now, less than four decades later, African leaders are completely silent to plight of black people and their silence is contributing to the suffering of the entire black race. Why are African leaders unable or unwilling to demonstrate empathy and solidarity to blacks here in America, Europe, Asia, Oceania as well as their own citizens and to support their fight against injustice and discrimination? Why are they silent as boatloads of migrants perish at sea attempting a lethal passage to Europe hoping to provide a safe and stable life for their families?
I know some of my colleagues consider this a domestic problem, confined to individual countries and societies. That is possible but in my mind the suffering and injustice are global. If this is truly a domestic problem, only, why then do they show solidarity in certain instance not others? For example solidarity from African leaders was quite visible after the last winter’s attacks in Paris. You can’t support the oppressor and not the oppressed.
Black people across all cultures and nations have something in common that is degradation, discrimination, oppression, racism and suffering. It is a global problem for black people, not confined solely to the USA and the silence of African leaders regarding this issue is a tremendous failure to the people who consider Africa an ancestral home.
As an African I’m ashamed and appalled by the silence of our leaders and urge them to show solidarity with Africa’s children everywhere. I know if you don’t do right for your own people you can’t speak for others. Therefore, maybe African leaders should sacrifice justice and good deed for the sake of our brothers and sisters who are oppressed everywhere. The silence of these leaders is deafening. That needs to change now!