How does Africa really feel about police brutality?
Or should I say Ghana? I don’t even know.
I remember the first time I saw a man being beaten up by police. I was about 13. My mother had dragged me from bed at 6:30 am to sweep our compound. Of course, I had my usual scowl on and I was muttering about how “not very dirty” the place was. I looked up to see this man walking slowing past our house, his hands in his pockets as he walked leisurely on the quiet street at such an early hour. It was clear to see he had nowhere specific to go and odder was the fact that he had no shoes on. He had on fairly clean clothes, he most certainly did not look like a homeless person or anything close... Anyway, i did not have to wait long to have answers to all of this. Within five minutes i saw two are policemen walk briskly toward the young man, who had at this stage taking a seat in the manicured grass of someone else house.
Suddenly the police were barking at this man to sit down. Poor innocent me finally realised what exactly was happening. After a few hard-hitting slaps in the face and the back of his head, amidst his weak plea for the beating to stop, a small crowd was gathering. From bits and pieces of information, i could gather, it seemed there had been a robbery in the dawn and the police were on the hot trail of the criminals and this “normal” looking gentleman could very likely be one of them.
What I remember most, were the slaps and beatings he received before he was taken away and how NO ONE missed a beat when that was happening. Everyone who gathered called for more slaps as punishment for a supposed crime no one had yet convicted him off. I am pretty sure any one of us has seen a scene like this at some point in Ghana at least.
Anyways fast forward to present day. Like me, many others around the world are watching with despair how police brutality against black America has escalated disturbingly just like it did before. Yes, everyone knows this isn’t something new. The only difference is that this time social media is allowing the affected a chance to tell real live accounts of inexplicable altercations between the police and black American citizens in different parts of America. Looking at my time feed on my Facebook and Twitter, watching the news shows how devastating the situation is.
My question is, Why isn’t Africa speaking up?West Africa? Southern Africa? Eastern and Northern Africa? There is a glaring disconnect; a questionable silence on our front and it seems no one wants to address it? Is this because we endorse police brutality? Is it because we have our own brand of justice when someone is dubbed suspicious or we have bribed our police in all forms possible that we simply CANNOT relate to how the unjustifiable death of ONE person, Trayvon Martin, Alton Sterling, Eric Garner or Michael Brown can compel a public outcry?; That one horrible action can start a social revolution, can ignite a common purpose in the people to pull a red card on such atrocities? Or perhaps we are waiting to hear it was a Kwaku this or an Elikem that before we show our displeasure?How can we show a disconnect ESPECIALLY when we know first hand how devastating police brutality is?
Or maybe? Just maybe, for once, we are showing how hypocritical we really are; that just maybe we have never been communal, we have never believed in African unity or the notion of oneness as a race? Yes, that's probably it. Because Noko Fio is always better than collective suffering, even if it is to eventual collective gain.
Or maybe these are the stories that force us to take a real good look at our own backyard and fix our mess. I won't refer to the scandal that exposed the rot in our legal system. A system that is controlled by how much money and power you yield. A system that grants freedom to a criminal and retains an innocent man for years without a change of even having a trial. Of course, power exists in many forms in these parts. Goats or tubers of yam, take your pick.
For me, this is very sad. It exposes our very nature. Individualistic and selfish. I have always admired how quickly western societies rally up for causes they believe in. And for this reason, governments quiver at public wrath. Although the system is terribly flawed, voices are heard, minds are waking to truths that aren’t hidden. And sometimes, just sometimes, real change happens. We cannot say the same in our parts of the world. We are so accustomed to the futility of pressing for change that we live a resigned life. Consequentially, to survive the day is all that matters.
Africa doesn't care enough about change or social justices or injustices. Africa is only just trying to survive, to stay afloat.
And that’s how we probably feel about POLICE BRUTALITY.
I'd really like to believe I am wrong.