A massacre in Lagos

October 23, 2020

Nigeria’s tireless and mobilized youth currently protesting Nigeria’s Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) exemplify a deep-rooted rejection of police states, police brutality and a government crippled by the elite’s manipulation of politics and economy. Nigeria’s youth currently demanding for the dismantling of state-sanctioned violence against the poor represents the wider narrative of African governments falling to the wills of corrupted capitalism as a result of the framing of the global market. The situation at hand in which exploitation runs rampant on the domestic level and even more sinisterly so on the international scale against African states is a direct consequence of European imperialism and a creation of an international trade system that thrives off of a colonial-esque vision of neoliberalism. 

When understanding the widely accepted notion of African states as failures which are characterized by inherent corruption, it is significant to dissect the overarching battle against poverty. Fourteen African states remain indebted to France simply for the fact that they were colonized by and demanded their freedom from it. The debt is essentially a colonial-era remnant dictating that African states owe France resources and wealth in return for them no longer colonizing those African countries. 

Colonial economic remnants of exploitation (and institutionalized racism on a global scale) remain just as powerful and just as popular in 2020 and contribute to the political power and economic might disparities that currently exist and transcend modern interpretations of the stance and status of the African continent. As we let European states continue to exploit African states through colonial agreements, contemporary neo-liberal policies that leave African nations starving themselves of autonomy and dealing with the long-term effects of the West’s rape of African resources, Africa’s elite has found its own way of killing the poor. 

Africa’s elite have essentially allowed local and domestic politics and economy to be characterized by colonial impressions of developing a system that exploits and criminalizes the poor in order to rob national treasuries of the public’s wealth. Nigeria exemplifies how the truth of the police is not to protect and serve the people, but always to protect property, wealth and the rich. The police exemplify the global phenomenon that has arised of the West’s glorification of capitalism as they continue to brutalize and kill the poor simply for being poor. Nigeria’s SARS has been documented to consistently abuse, murder and rape Nigeria’s youth and ensure a state of intimidation against those underprivileged, all supported by the state in its war against poverty and as an armhand of capitalism’s suppression of the poor. 

For weeks, Nigeria’s youth has mobilized in widespread protests against SARS, in which Nigeria’s police and military response was to enact crimes against humanity on Oct. 20, 2020. In enlisting several anti-protest policies such as curfews, shutting off lights and indiscriminately shooting into crowds, Nigeria has effectively sponsored state-sanctioned violence during a pandemic instead of redistributing wealth or disbanding the police. 

Control and authority over the poor, the masses, the underprivileged and the young has essentially been declared as more significant than a re-arranging of politics, economy and police to release 40 percent of its population from the societal constraints of simply being born poor. We all continue to live throughout a pandemic that has put a pause on our life and made clear the complaints that the poor have been screaming against capitalism for decades. It is integral that we see injustice in Nigeria as injustice in the United States, and reveal a truth about police as solely and forever a protector of property and an enemy of the poor. 

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