In blatant disregard for the lives of fellow African people, Nigerian police are attacking protesters, but we are heartened at the bravery and determination of people in the massive protests against police killing and brutality and the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS). The movement in support of the uprising in Nigeria is growing worldwide.
We are two women’s groups: All African Women’s Group, a self-help group of women who escaped rape and other violence, poverty and environmental devastation to take refuge in the UK; and Women of Colour GWS which draws out the overwork, lack of justice and devaluation of the lives women and girls of color and campaigns for recognition and payment for unpaid caring work including survival and justice work in families and communities globally.
We are part of the global movement for Black Lives which is energizing everyone and demanding justice. Some of our members are from in Nigeria and have families back home, their safety never leaves our minds. We see our fellow women on the demonstrations and send them strength to continue and keep safe.
We hear from our loved ones about the killings and that young people are being profiled and arrested based on their hair style and clothes — their possessions taken by police claiming they are thieves. Yet it is SARS that is well-known for being thieves, kidnappers and killers. Mothers have lost sons to police killings and women have suffered rape by SARS. We remember Tina Ezekwe, the 16-year-old shot by Lagos police, and many other lives lost. The Nigerian government has allowed SARS to brutalise and kill with impunity.
Women are key in spearheading protests as well as organizing the food, water, security, publicity, medical and legal aid to make those protests possible. As one woman said: “Simply, we are able to get things done.”
People across sectors are coming out in Nigeria — youths, mothers, disabled and older people; farmers and people from the countryside. People are calling for rights and resources to live. News has been translated into at least seven African languages and there have been support protests and vigils in Egypt, Ghana, Canada, South Africa, Australia, the UK and the US.
The brutality and corruption are part of an unbroken line from colonial times and the slave trade when the continent was carved up for the profit of elites in the West and fueled the growth of capitalism and the establishment of the power of western governments over us all. Britain is not innocent! The Prime Minister at the time said European powers were “drawing lines upon maps where no white man’s feet have ever trod; giving away mountains and rivers and lakes to each other.” Shell and other companies have looted and polluted the Niger Delta, poisoning the land and water so that no food can be grown and they have been complicit in murder, rape and torture, including the death of Ken Saro-Wiwa.
Along with UK Nigerian diaspora, we add our voices to protesters demands: release all those arrested, justice and compensation for those killed by police, an independent investigation into police misconduct; resignation of President Buhari and his government.
We demand that the British government/parliament condemn the killings. Former Prime Minister Theresa May was recently wining and dining with Nigeria’s President Buhari trying to cut a trade deal. Human lives must come before business and profit.
As a man on a recent demo said: “We have to reform the whole country . . . we have to end the system of extraction in Africa, our resources belong to us, we have to find new ways to organize ourselves.”
People are rising up! From Nigeria, Haiti, Thailand, Bolivia, Palestine, the US against Trump – All our movements must come together!
Write to Kate Osamor MP. Ask that she raise. The issue with the government. firstname.lastname@example.org
All African Women’s Group: email@example.com Twitter: @AfricanGR
Women of Colour GWS: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @woc_gws