The month of February is traditionally known as Black History Month – whose origins stem from a proposal by Black educators, and the Black United Students at Kent State University, in the United States of America (US), in February 1969.
This was meant to honour triumphs and struggles of African Americans throughout US history – being a people that endured immense untold slavery, subjugation, segregation over centuries.
The Black History Month was supposed for African Americans to “seize the opportunity to honour the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history”.
This is truly a noble cause, which needs global support and appreciation.
However, over the course of time, whenever I have heard such terms as “Black History Month”, or “Black Lives Matter” – I could never help wondering where a Black person as myself (who is not an African American, but on continental Africa) could identify with such a cause, and whether such “Black causes” should not also be inclusive of ALL Blacks?
Indeed, these causes were originally purely intended for African Americans, and possibly other Black people in the diaspora – nonetheless, as the world becomes ever more closer, into a so-called “global village”, should the term “Black” not naturally be inclusive of those of continental Africa, who not only constituent the vast majority of Black people, but also suffer unspeakable oppression and poverty?
Can we not expand the scope of “Black rights” beyond the boundaries of racism and elitism – but, touch those Black people who are brutalized, repressed, and impoverished by their own fellow Black leaders?
Let us remember that, when we talk of “Black people”, the first thing that comes into most people’s minds are the Blacks of Africa, whose population surpasses the 1.3 billion mark, as compared to 41.99 million African Americans.
As such, the globe now needs to transcend the commonly accepted characterization of what constitutes “Black Lives Matter” or “Black rights”.
Even in Africa, we have equally borne the brunt of racism, through centuries of colonialism – and, fully understand the struggles against this scourge – however, our political independence never brought with it our freedom, but instead, has only worsened our already dire and sorrowful plight.
Although, I was quite young to fully grasp the pain and suffering of racism and colonialism – but, my own experiences as a child whose family moved to a previously “White suburb” immediately after Zimbabwe attained independence from Britain in 1980, and attending a “White school”, exposed me at a very tender age to the cruelty of some people, who could not accept people as myself, and found us utterly repulsive.
Even our neighbor always savagely beat up his young children whenever he found them playing with me – and, I would clearly hear, through the wild enraged screaming, his describing us as monkeys and baboons.
Needless to say, he, and others of his ilk, soon packed up and left our small town of Redcliff and Zimbabwe – either for then apartheid South Africa, United Kingdom (UK), or Australia – and, we were left with those we established honest, mutual, and beautiful friendships and relationships.
Be that as it may, our problems and struggles as Black people definitely did not disappear with the migration of those racists – but in fact, actually worsened at the hands of our own kith and kin, who were now in power.
For the past four decades – based on my own experiences, and testimonies from our parents who were adults during colonial Rhodesia – we have suffered and endured more unimaginable savagery, barbarity, and evil under our own Black leaders than Whites.
Honestly, if forced to make a choice between the racism I encountered after our move to a then predominantly “White” Redcliff, and the brutal cold-hearteded oppression and impoverishment of today (under my fellow Black leaders) – I would reluctantly and painfully opt for the former.
Sadly and most tragically, I would rather be called a monkey or baboon – whilst, having clean safe drinking water in our homes, reliable electricity supply, well paying jobs, access to affordable good schools for our children, and health care facilities that actually function – than be called “free”, yet everyday is a battle for the most basic of needs, under a regime that can kill you merely for speaking out.
Besides, for me to even complain of being called a monkey, means my life had already been in a more privileged place, since my parents could afford to live in such a place, and send me to such schools.
Yet, who was to speak for those who had no one to call them such despicable and disgusting names – but, never could afford food to eat, a roof over their heads, or clothes on their backs?
Therefore, if such causes as “Black Lives Matter”, and “Black rights” are to be relevant in today’s world – it would be disingenuous to ignore the miserable and tragic plight of 1.3 billion Blacks – whose story is not that much different from mine.
“Black Lives Matter” also needs to speak for the Black people who have been callously thrown into the dark abyss of poverty by a Black leadership that has chosen the nefarious path of looting national resources and self-aggrandizement, at the expense of their citizens.
We can point to any nation in Africa – whose populations are always in the global news headlines for their starvation, or lack of human rights, or at the mercy of ruthless wars, or military coups – their Black leaders, on the other hand, would be headlining opulent feasts, stashing their ill-gotten wealth offshore and in Swiss bank accounts, whilst shopping at Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Gucci, and Dior.
Unsurprisingly, most of these heartless and barbaric leaders even have the temerity to proclaim themselves champions of Black rights, and Pan-African crusaders – hiding their villainous and tyrannical reign of terror under the guise of fighting neo-colonialism, racism, and Western imperialism.
Show me a Black leader who is suffering and standing with his people – and, I will admit that, at least there is one!
What could possibly demand more attention by the “Black Lives Matter” theme than that?
© Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, and social commentator. Please feel free to contact him on WhatsApp/Call: +263715667700 / +263782283975, or Calls Only: +263788897936 / +263733399640, or email: email@example.com