The global unrest around the world continues with the ongoing pandemic and various political issues. So, when a video of a man being brutally beaten by one of the SARS officials surfaced on the internet on Oct. 4, it took social media by storm.
Slowly, many people started sharing their experience of police brutality and the countrywide human rights issue. After being informed about this, African Americans along with the African community at Indiana State University came together to speak on the topic.
On Oct. 22, Afro Infusion in collaboration with African Student Union conducted a vigil at the Dede Fountain to honor the people that died during the protest against the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) in Nigeria, the children that die every year in the cobalt and gold mines of Congo, and those that get trafficked in Ghana, Liberia, Congo, Nigeria and other various countries of Africa.
The vigil was conducted by Faith Ologun, the founder, and president of Afro Infusion, who used her powerful voice to educate everyone about the crime against human rights that are taking place in these countries under the supervision of its government and the law enforcement organizations. Ologun said, “Imagine, 6 million people have died since 1996. It is almost their entire population!”
“Silence is no longer an option. It was never an option!” she said, “The Black Lives Matter movement died down. I was so excited that there was a change coming, but as soon as it died down, nothing! It will happen over and over again, everyday somebody dies, people post it, it becomes a hashtag and they become a memory. I for one do not wanna become a memory”.
Ologun emphasized that the people who were appointed to protect the African community in Nigeria, Congo, Liberia, and different African nations are the same people killing them.
SARS was formed in 1992 to combat armed robbery and other serious crimes, before that anti-robbery was looked over by the Nigerian Police Force. According to Aljazeera reporter, Sada Malumfashi, Simeon Danladi Midenda was transferred to Lagos and talked with uniting the three existing anti-robbery squads operating in the former federal capital into one unit in a bid to break the stronghold of armed gangs. As the new sheriff, he equipped 15 officers and two station wagons and formed an amalgamated unit called Special Anti-Robbery Squad.
Since 2002, SARS has spread in all 36 states of the federation, but the news that has been coming out recently shows that this unit under Nigerian Police Force Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department has implicated dozens of human rights violations, extrajudicial execution, torture, arbitrary arrests, unlawful detention, and extortion. The protest against SARS has been ongoing since the beginning of October.
However, SARS in Nigeria wasn’t the only reason why diverse African students were peacefully protesting on campus. Democratic Republic of Congo, a country which exports 60% of the world’s cobalt, the metal used to manufacture batteries of our phones, laptops, and other electrical devices that we use, has been promoting genocide of children use to supply those chains to bigger countries.
According to Native Magazine, the country has nearly 40,000 children working under harsh labor for two dollars an hour in dangerous mines. While companies like Tesla are trying to avoid the use of cobalt for their reputation, other big companies like Apple, Samsung, Google, Dell, Microsoft, etc. still use cobalt from DRC.
Additionally, across Africa, rape, trafficking of women and children are also very popular. An Instagram post by La Connexion Afro Latina showed that in South Africa, Liberia, and Namibia rape against young women and children has increased by 50% during the pandemic. Over 1,000 cases of rape have been reported in the past 10 months and only a few of them are prosecuted. However, in countries like DRC, Nigeria, etc. convicts haven’t faced prosecution at all.
According to Borgen Magazine, the human trafficking industry in Africa estimates a total worth of $13.1 billion, out of which $8.9 billion comes from sexual exploitation. All of this, under the supervision of the governments of all African countries.
Among the students who attended the vigil was Monat Smith, corresponding secretary for Black Student Union who was saddened that not only Nigeria but so many other countries in Africa are dealing with so many hardships right now. “We here in America, we African Americans are definitely with you guys”, she said, “We are one and I hope that you guys see that. I don’t like the divide that is usually present within the African American and African cultures. We look alike and we walk the same lives, America looks at us the same so we need to come together on these issues”.