The Blacks Man’s Dilemma!

by Afolayan Adebiyi

This morning, I had strongly considered using the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter or #JusticeForGeorge as my headline, but on a second thought, when I weighed the dilemma Blackman faces all over the World, in Africa and even in Nigeria, most particularly, I then felt constrained to borrow this headline from that late journalist-cum writer, Chief Areoye Oyebola. Late Chief Oyebola had published a scholastic treatise, The Blackman’s Dilemma, detailing the struggles and hardships blacks go through, all over the World, in search of basic survival. The book was published in the early 70s. And here we are again, some five decades later, almost back to the same spot.

A week ago, it came so sudden. Just like a thunderbolt in summer, the Cyber space was suddenly, bombarded by a video clip of a Minneapolis, USA, Policeman, Derek Chauvin and two others kneeling on the neck of a black dude, later identified as George Floyd. The less than ten minutes video clip, reportedly done by a 17 year old girl, though almost looking innocuous at first glance, but on deeper view, send shock waves down the spines of most courageous of men. The image of the man later identified George Flyod, dying cry of ‘Sir, I can’t breathe’ evoke tears and rage, all over the World. More saddening was the figure of another Cop, hands in the pockets, watching with absolute amusement as George was being icily sent to the World beyond.

Derek Chauvin with his knee on George Floyd’s neck

Neither the mob rage currently sweeping through the streets of America, nor the outcome of the Minneapolis,  Police Command inquest into the murderous actions of Derek Chauvin and his gang, is of any interest to me. Not even the reported undignified brickbats between US President, Donald Trump and the Police Chief over the unfortunate incident. The President had been widely quoted to have called the Governors of States where the protests took place as ‘weak’. The Police Chief wasted no time in shutting him up. Today, the President had been reported to have deployed heavy security forces around the White.
The wild protesters were fast closing on him. At a time, he was in the white house bunker, hiding away but later claimed he was inspecting the bunker and complained Obama left it in disarray. What a load of rubbish!, Even so, no one could say with some certainty. But to me, all these are mere cosmetics. The deed has been done. And sadly, such saddening deed is being repeated by greater verve over and over, not only in the United States, the so-called bastion of freedom and democracy, land of the free? But practically all over the World against Blacks. The dilemma an average black man faces, wherever he turns to, whatever he does, how he does what he does, and how an average Whiteman recognize what a Blackman does is what is of paramount concern to me here.

Art work depicting George Floyd’s last words. “I can’t breathe”

Yes, I absolutely agree with Jacob Frey, Mayor of Minneapolis who cried out agonizingly ‘being black in US should not be a death sentence…’, but at the same time, an extra-judicial killing as this always certainly end with such beautiful rhetoric. Anyone conversant with the case of Eric Garner, an unnamed black man who died in New York Police custody in 2014. He too was held in a chokehold by an Officer. At the time, Garner’s repeated plea of ‘I can’t breathe’, recorded by a cellphone, has since then become a rally cry at demonstrations against Police misconduct around the Country.
President Donald Trump’s insensitive response to the plain murder of George Floyd is not surprising. One only need to recall his current tug with Dr. Adewumi Adesina of the AFDB. Trump too had administratively and psychologically knelt on the Nigerian born flamboyant banker’s neck for quite sometimes now. He is relying on mere allegation to asphyxiate the man out of the African Development Bank (AFDB). All pleas by African leaders, including Nigeria’s former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo had fell into deaf ears. The cry of ‘I can’t breathe’ is meaningless.
Adesina is already gasping for breath. He needs water. He lacks oxygen. Yet the Super Cop of the US, Donald Trump, would not oblige him. Almost in the same manner Derek Chauvin denied George Floyd of basic source of life, till he could breathe no more. Let no one deceived himself here. Blacks are thoroughly manacled all over the World; even, in our own Continent of Africa. The violence being visited on blacks in American is the physical manifestation of the oubliette Blacks are holed up in. Back home in Africa, we visit far worse violence on ourselves in other forms, emotional and systemic. Picking Nigeria and Ghana as examples here. Here are two countries with great potentials in the fifties. Progressively developing with sound leaders and policies. Today, the two countries are good candidates for failed State. Not only in political governance, but largely by the desertion of Spirit of humanity among the citizenry.
Humanity have since left the Blackman. Funnily, most Nigerians expectedly joined the rage against Derek excessive action against George. I doubt if this is not misplaced. Because the same day George was knelt to death, a promising young maiden, Vera Uwaila Omozuwa, 22 year-old, an 100-level Microbiology student of the University of Benin was gang-raped and a can of fire extinguisher cylinder smashed on her head inside a Pentecostal Church in Benin, Edo State. She had stayed inside the Church reading in preparation for the resumption of academic studies, post COVID-19 induced schools’ closure. The poor girl could not live to tell her ordeal, so like George Floyd, she made a hasten departure to the World beyond. Does it make any difference? A gang of white Cop jack knelt George to death; a gang of Black ruffians raped and murdered Vera. They both paid the supreme price while humanity was in took a flight.
Several others may have died too, but gone largely unreported. This happens almost on daily basis. If it is not the physical extermination, it could come in another way. It could be emotional, psychological or even systemically mental. In Nigeria, most ironically, the North has masterfully, perfected the art of killing the South tactfully without shedding a blood. Many Southern leaders, with all the intelligence and exposure to Western education, are already deluded mentally by this. And some, still may unfortunately, not yet come to term with this. But, deep observation reveal it is an old conservative North’s strategy.
The North will go to any length, including kneeling down on the South’s neck, till it suffocates due to lack of oxygen, to hang to political power. The many cries of ‘Sir, I can’t breathe’ by the Southerners meant nothing, always fell into the deaf ears, and so could not move them. And at any point, like the Cop wandering around obstinately, with his hands in his pockets, watching Derek kneel jack George to death, there are always many Northern leaders, particularly in the Security Services, Judiciary, electoral body and other critical State apparatus, watching the South die slowly, but steadily.
That same last week, a former Governor of Kaduna State, the political heartbeat of the North, Col. Umar Dangiwa (retrd) wrote an open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari, a fellow Fulani from same core North, taken a hard look at ‘his skewed appointments’ which he claimed are capable of obliterating any other good deeds of infrastructural building and that. Some Southern fellows swiftly bought into the bait. Pity enough. Umar is only playing to the gallery. This is a well-trodden line of the Northern conservative strategy of obtaining and retaining power at all costs.
The 2023 Presidential Election is fast approaching, hence they need to demonize President Buhari, a fellow Fulani from the core conservative North. Umar Dangiwa, a well-known Military President, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida’s acolyte, is only positioning himself politically. From now, we the Nation shall witness more darts aimed at the President from among his people. It is nothing but a political strategy to hang on to power by the region. I do not see a worst racism than this. Yet Nigerians are joining the rest of the free World to should #BlackLivesMatter all over the place.
The Whites supremacists in the United States may be after the Blacks for several reasons, politics may not be related. But in African, Blacks are after Blacks for basically asinine reasons of power and wealth. Miss. Vera Omozuwa is not the only case, but just one out of several thousands of unreported brutal rape and murder of our young maidens, that go on in our society.
The Blackman, generally, did not start facing this dilemma yesterday. And neither do the Nigerian species of the Blackman. Our fore fathers sold some of our most able and vibrant young men and women into slavery in return for what, if I may ask?
A mere tokens and infants’ toys! Practically all the historical artifacts that represented out cultural Soul, history, our ancient civilization have developed wings from Ile Ife, Benin and Oyo and found their way to the Colonial masters’ museums in the United Kingdom and some even were reportedly seen in France. If we can sell off our history, our souls, what else can we not do to ourselves?
The other day, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) did an appalling expose on Nigeria’s leaders since Independence. According to the reports, no less than 5 trillion USD have been stolen from Nigeria by her leaders since 1960. What brutal rape and murder can be worse than this? I do not see the country ‘breathing’ carrying this wound. Direct meaning of this is that many of the past leaders are far richer than the country, yet they refuse to listen to the cry of the country who want to breathe. Like George, like Vera, when would the country not suffer cardiac arrest? Sadly, this rape continues unabated.
Till date, at all levels, the country is faced down, against a concrete wall, with several Dereks kneeling on her. And all her cry of ‘Sir, I can’t breathe’ are ignored. Neither is her cry of ‘I need water’ responded to. Water is life, Derek and his gang denied George, so also the rapists are denying Nigeria. Justice for George, yes, justice for Vera, yes. Sure all lives indeed are important; but justice for Nigeria, justice for all the Blacks all over the World will mark the return of humanity to mankind.
It is only when humanity returns to us that the Blackman will breathe. The day Blacks allow the Spirit of humanity to rule him. The day Blackman no longer see everything through his self-prism, but through the common goal, Blackman, wherever he is shall breathe. That is when he will not need to cry to a Derek anymore to allow him breathe. He will then breathe freely.

Afolayan Adebiyi writes from Lagos, Nigeria

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Images: Courtesy of Google and freepik

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