Lessons From The Murder Of George Floyd


Anthony Akinola



When the Americans fought for, and unilaterally declared, their independence from Britain in 1776, a critical element was their assertion of the equality of all human beings created by God.. "We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness"...


It was indeed a great declaration and assertion of what God willed for all of us. However, the lack of sincerity in this declaration was evident in the fact that those who made it did so at a time when they kept fellow creations of God in degradation as slaves. Even when they eventually got their independence and wrote their constitution in 1787, these slaves were regarded as three-fifths of human beings for the purposes of taxation and representation. The fractionalisation of the slave, whose descendants are the African-Americans of today, was then considered to be a great compromise between the agricultural South, home to the slave owners, and the largely industrial North.


Then came a great President in the person of Abraham Lincoln who detested slavery and issued the Emancipation Proclamation of January 1, 1863. The official abolition of slavery did not end all the evils associated with it. The black person continued to be degraded and still regarded as a fraction of a human being in the thinking of those who assumed themselves to be white supremacists. What would appear to be a great breakthrough was made in 1964 when the Civil Rights Act was passed, thanks to the activism of great African-Americans like Martin Luther -King Jnr. and Malcolm X, among many others, and the empathy of great Presidents like John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson.


The Civil Rights Act ended segregation in public places and banned employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin. In spite of this lofty legislation, discrimination did not end in the psyche of racists who erroneously still believe that the pigmentation of their skin makes them superior to other human beings. African-Americans are still discriminated against, killed and maimed by those assigned by the state to protect lives and properties. A very recent example of brutality against the African-American was the murder of George Floyd by a white policeman. The spontaneous reaction of African-Americans and the global outrage this has generated will, hopefully, lead to better race relations in a nation which is still work in progress.


There are lessons for other nations, especially my country Nigeria, where even black on black brutality has continued to be perpetrated by law enforcement agencies. There have been reports of the police killing innocent Nigerians who refused to bribe them even with as little as 50 naira. A few years back., a naval  officer was arrested for shooting to death a motorcycle rider who had dented his car. One is yet to know what punishment was meted out to this officer. The typical attitude of the average Nigerian to the murder of a fellow citizen is rather casual. The type of outrage that followed the murder of George Floyd-not jungle justice-will drum it to all that life matters. No one has the right to take the life of another.


Those of us who reside in foreign nations have a duty to work for the stability of our home nations. We may be residents in America or Britain but this should not mean we can continue to support or encourage those who intend to destabilise our home nation. Every nation of the world is work in progress. Even mighty America, as we can now see, has a lot to do before it can call itself that great nation of God that every nation of the world should be.


Finally, the significance of leadership in the progress and peaceful co-existence of a nation cannot be over-exaggerated. The leader of a nation should be for all his or her citizens, including those who may not have voted for them in an election. Great nation builders know this and that is why they are great in history. The lack of experience of the current American President, Donald Trump, was quite evident  in his management and utterances in the aftermath of the protests that greeted the murder of George Floyd. Too bad that not just a few regards the President of a great nation as a racist-in the very year he is seeking reelection.