Volume Five, Issue 1

Black Lives Matter

Obinna Chilekezi

Just at the peak of the coronavirus pandemic a black man was killed by the USA police. The death of George Floyds and its manner, like that of a man dying on the cross with eyes upward, but saying to his killers, “I can’t breathe”. And he died, at the hands of those merciless policemen. The I can’t breathe rippled like the wave on the ocean, like radiation. The water and air carried across to all men of conscience, the I can’t breathe of a man being murdered.

This triggered global condemnation globally. It triggered demonstrations on majors, Blacks were united to march on the roads, and people risked their lives at the upsurge the Coronavirus pandemic with the message Black Lives Matter.

The essence of this write up in not just because of the above issue but rather to take make us reflect on an article written by Samuel Huntington of Harvard University who had in 1993 posited that Conflicts after the Cold War would be more be between civilizations and culture. He later added in later article that, If not civilization, then what? To which the pan African scholar, Ali Mazrui queried in responses: “Could be a case of stage three of racial conflicts in world history rather than clash of civilization?” The events of today has answered Mazrui’s question. It is racial conflict all the way.

There is no doubt saying it that the world is going back to its racial catastrophes. There is so much evidence in most of the so-called advanced countries to prove this axiom. Such evidences are abound in Europe, China, Russia and United States of America (more prominent under the presidency of Donald Trump and USA became the opposite of what it had pride itself to be).This unfortunate development shows that each time the world takes four steps forward it would definitely take three steps backward. What an irony! And the colour divide is becoming more virtual and real.

The USA’s example is more worrisome not only in the outside world but in the USA also. This could be seen by statement accredited to Michael Gerson, President George W. Bush’s Chief Speechwriter that “when the President of the United States plays with that fire or takes that beast out for a walk, it is not just another political even, not just a normal day in Campaign 2020. It is a cause for shame. It is the violation of Martyrs’ grave … And all of this being done by an ignorant narcissist reviving racist tropes for political gain, indifferent to the wreckage he is leaving, the wounds he is ripping open”. This is indeed very sad, and saddening.

The development can be more picturesque using the words of Ali Mazuri then in the year 2000 that:

“At a more practical level W. E. B. DuBois’s concept of the colour-line is now captured in the concept of an emerging global apartheid following the end of the Cold War. The big ideological divide in the whole world has ended. Is there a new racial realignment on the world stage-white at the top, the Confucian East Asian next (yellow), the Brown races of South Asian next, Latin America, the Arabs fourth and the Black last? Is really a clash of civilizations we are headed for? Or a third round of clash of the races? (The Conceptual fallacy.) Or is the difference in perception itself culturally determined.”

The question of race has been playing as predicted by Mazrui in the year 2000. This reared up its ugly head and forcefully too with the death of George Floyds. For a look at the demonstrations speaks volumes. The composition of the demonstrators globally shows that over 90% of them were Blacks. This shows that it was a case of us against them, so to say. This is compounded by the positions of the President of the strongest nation of the world, Donald Trump, through his utterances and sympathies to the Whites against the Blacks.

Are we to talk of some of the calls by some whites, although tiny voices, that the Blacks in USA should go back to Africa as if they the whites did not come from Europe? The whole thing is quite interesting and unbelievable!

One would have thought that the world has overgrown this kind of sentiments. But see where we are presently on racial matters. Not at all, as we are still slaves to old ideologies and bigotry.

This may be the reason that Mazrui had rightly observed “racism has increased in Western Europe and has emerged in Eastern and Central Europe. Affirmative action and other civil rights gains are under threat in the United States. The shadow of global apartheid hangs over the world system with a structure in the form of a racial pyramid –white-ruled countries at the top …” This statement was made twenty years ago and it is more valid today than when it was actually made.

This is what Black Lives Matter is all about, it is a slogan against race war, which could be silent and as deadly as the coronavirus. It is a slogan that is beyond the death o George Floyds or any individual brutally killed by the agents of racism. It is a call for a peaceful co-existence among the different races or rainbow of the earth.

In this way, let me finalise this piece quoting Mazrui, the man that saw all this, that:

“In the racial field there would be a long, drawn-out struggle to bring the Western conscience to the level when it can one day accept the principle of compensation for the awful damage to the Black people – a damage which is here and now, and not simply a page in history.”


Ali A Mazrui, “Africa in The Shadow of Classes of Civilizations – from the Cold War of Ideology to the Cold War of Race. Centre for Black and African Arts and Civilisation (Abuja), 22nd June 2000, pp.1-28

Samuel Huntington, “The Clashes of Civilisations”. Foreign Affairs (New York), 72(3), pp.23-49

“If not Civilisations, What? Paradigms of the Post-Cold War Period.” Foreign Affairs (New York), 72(5), November/December, 1993, pp. 186-194

Obinna Chilekezi: "I am a Nigerian poet whose works have appeared in journals and anthologies. I have published two books of poetry titled: Songs of a Stranger at the Smiling Coast and Calligramme and write here on his experience of as a young man growing up Mbaise in Imo State, Nigeria and listening and Dolly Parton’s music. Apart from writing I am an insurance practitioner and a visiting lecturer at the West African Insurance Institute The Gambia."

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