To be honest, I first viewed the #EndSARS campaign, both online and offline as an exercise in futility.
As a mother to two young people, I fear harm befalling them at the hands of the police. This is because they are at the age that police brutality is focused at. As a mother to a son who wears dreads; I am particularly concerned about potential police brutality against him simply because of his huge hair!
I am usually apprehensive when he goes out to visit friends. In fact, I forbade him from walking even on our street with any friend. Why? They would be easy targets for any random police van. I forbade him from keeping the hair. But I soon realised his hair isn’t necessarily the reason why he would be easy picking for police. He, being a male and young, is just enough. Also, I forbade him from going out to visit anytime beyond 6pm, because under the cloak of darkness; he could easily be picked up by the police and we may never know what happened to him.
These are not just fears sprouting from my wild imaginations. These are fears based on stories of young Nigerians brutalized and killed every single day by the police meant to serve and protect!
There are just too many stories of innocent young Nigerians dying at the hands of SARS; or is it FSARS!
But here’s the thing. My anxiety isn’t limited to when the boy is home; it extends to when he is abroad as well!
There seems to be a concerted effort to exterminate young black boys all over the world. Don’t get me wrong. Our young girls are not excluded and their lives matter too. But you will agree with me that our boys are more in danger of being killed by the authorities than our girls. Indeed, young black boys/girls now seem like objects for target practice.
If you are young, black and male, they want you either dead or in jail!
So, I am a mother who has heard too many sad stories of young black boys being killed for nothing; other than the fact that they are young, they are black and they are boys! I want an end to these unnecessary killings of our youth and; like I said before, never imagined the Nigerian government would heed!
I followed the stories, shared, spoke about it. But, hey, I never fully expected much to change and even with this disbandment of SARS, what will change?
This wouldn’t be the first time they would disband SARS following an #EndSARS campaign, only to reconstitute them again!
The disbanded members of SARS will be redeployed into other arms of the forces and continue with their brutality. What happens to the innocent Nigerian youths they have killed?
There is no talk of charging them to court for their brutality; it’s simply business as usual, because even at the height of the protests; police were caught on camera brutalizing protesters!
This is disheartening but should we stop the youth from the #EndSAR protests because of these?
That is why I support and salute the youths still on the frontline! They are not taking the government’s words at face value. They have seen how the same government messed up previous generations of agitators. Therefore, they want concrete changes not lip service! They are organizing themselves; demanding real changes!
I have read naysayers online telling the youth their #EndSARS agitations will come to nothing. They are mostly from my generation, those in their late 40s to early 60s. I am ashamed to admit that we messed up; we messed up in terms of fighting and fighting to the end to ensure drastic measures are taken against police brutality. We fear a lot of things.
We are the ones Fela sang about in Sorrow, Tears and Blood;
‘‘My people self they fear too much
We fear for the thing we no see
We fear for the air around us
We fear to fight for freedom
We fear to fight for liberty
We fear to fight for justice
We fear to fight for happiness
We always get reason to fear:
We no wan die
We no wan wound
We no wan quench
We no wan go
I get one child…’’
We have become used to a government that pays lip-service to the agitations of its people. Thus, we have lost the will to keep fighting. This is no excuse to discourage the youth of today from demanding lasting change!
If you can’t make meaningful contributions to the #EndSARS issue, please back off. Leave the youths alone!
If we didn’t succeed, who says they can’t? The future of this country belongs to them. They are united, in the North, South, East and West of this nation. They are there in Canada, in London, in Europe protesting against SARS, fighting a common cause. The least we can do is support them; encourage them and stand behind them as they fight the maniacal system!
And so to the Nigerian youth fighting to #EndSARS, I salute!