If you’ve had any access to social media recently, you may have stumbled across #AfricaIsBleeding. The trending hashtag has found itself on multiple social media platforms, notably Instagram and Twitter, and has been used to shed light on several political and societal issues that have taken place in several African nations. #AfricaIsBleeding grew in popularity shortly after #EndSARS started trending on social media to shed light on the police brutality in Nigeria. The focus then expanded to issues in other African countries that have struggled to reach media coverage. Therefore, this article hopes to provide brief summaries on some of the key topics that have been trending on social media as well as some ways in which we could educate ourselves and spread awareness of the situations in these countries.
Nigeria – Police Brutality #EndSARS
As mentioned, the catalyst for #AfricaIsBleeding is #EndSARS which sheds light on police brutality in Nigeria. SARS refers to the Special Anti Robbery Squad which was a Nigerian police unit aimed at fighting violent crime. However, SARS remains highly controversial due to the police brutality and unjust activities that take place. For the past 5 years, the Nigerian government had promised reformation; however Amnesty reports suggest there has been no change to the human rights violations committed throughout the past 5 years. Recently, citizens have taken to the streets to protest peacefully against SARS, which resulted in a violent outbreak and the police shooting tear-gas and water cannons at protesters. However, on the 11th of October, The Inspector General of Police declared the disbandment of the unit and redeployed the officers to other units. Yet, citizens continue to protest for justice and compensation of SARS victims.
Cameroon – Violence in Cameroon’s English-speaking regions #AnglophoneCrisis
Cameroon is divided into two distinct regions, the French side and the British side (Francophone and Anglophone respectively), and within these regions exists two different systems – particularly, distinct legal systems. However, protests began in November 2016 due to the imposition of French laws within the Anglophone region of Cameroon and this has spiralled into the deprivation of human rights and the displacement of 60,000+ people. Furthermore, the protests have resulted in violent responses. On the 22nd of September, security forces brutally attacked peaceful protesters with tear gas and water cannons, resulting in hundreds of protestors being arrested and detained in detention cells with poor treatment.
Liberia – Rape National Emergency #EndRapeLiberia
In 2016, the UN reported that 803 rape cases had occurred in 2015 within Liberia’s population of 4.5 million and that amongst these cases, only 2% of the cases resulted in conviction. Yet, between June and August this year, there were 600 rape cases reported in Liberia, which is a 50% increase since before the pandemic had begun. Thus, in August, Liberians participated in a 3-day protest in Monrovia to shed light on this issue. By September, the rape crisis was declared as a national emergency and a national security task force was established to address the spike in rape cases, as a response to the thousands of Liberians that protested.
DRC – ‘The Silent Holocaust’ #CongoIsBleeding
Recently, there have been demonstrations within 4 cities of the Democratic Republic of Congo to demand justice for murders and rape cases that have been taking place in Eastern DRC. The UN has reported 1,300 deaths within the past 8 months, and that between 1993 and 2003 there were more than 600 incidents that have still not been prosecuted. These cases are described as part of the ‘silent holocaust’ that is allegedly occurring in the DRC, after a report was published in 2010 regarding 3 mass graves that were found in the North Kivu province in 2005. This ‘silent holocaust’ is associated with exploitation in the minerals industry – as 60% of the world’s cobalt is found within the DRC – and involves foreign armies and rebel groups as well as Congolese government forces.
Namibia – Gender based violence #ShutItAllDown
Currently youth in Namibia are pressuring the government to declare a state of emergency regarding violence against women, which includes femicide and sexual assault. Police reports have suggested that earlier this year, 200 cases of domestic violence were received monthly and that within the 18 months prior to June 2020, there were more than 1,600 rape cases. It is believed that the pandemic has only exacerbated the frequency of the rape cases that have been occurring.
Useful links to find out more
With so much that is being covered on social media, it can be difficult to keep track on ways we can help the cause. Therefore, below are some links you can visit with petitions that can be signed and other useful sources to help spread awareness. One of the best ways to help the cause is to educate and spread awareness, hence, I’d like to encourage everyone to share any posts you stumble upon on social media and to start conversations in order to raise awareness of the situations that have been occurring.