‘From the Entrance Strains,’ Tales of Resistance and a Motion for Black Lives
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The hashtag #EndSARS first surfaced in 2017 as activists in Nigeria sought to abolish a federal police unit referred to as the Particular Anti-Theft Squad that residents mentioned had misused its energy. Referred to as SARS, demonstrators accused the unit of inflicting violence on residents.
In that 12 months, a motion to finish police brutality was born.
Saidu Tejan-Thomas was impressed by the protests in Nigeria, which proceed frequently. Because the host of the podcast Resistance, Mr. Tejan-Thomas talked to a number of Nigerian activists for an episode titled, “See You On The Street.”
I caught up with Mr. Tejan-Thomas to speak about his podcast, which describes itself as “tales from the entrance strains of the motion for Black lives, informed by the era combating for change,” and about his interviews with the Nigerian activists. Our dialog has been flippantly edited.
PL: What’s totally different in regards to the tales that “Resistance” is telling?
STT: It’s the non-public narratives that you just get from the activists and on a regular basis people who find themselves turning into activists. It’s the writing on the present. We spend plenty of time attempting to make the writing really feel intimate, correct and delightful to take heed to.
We actually attempt to make it really feel prefer it’s Black individuals speaking to Black individuals. Attempt to additionally make it really feel like we’re speaking about these tales in a means that’s exterior of the white gaze. This can be a present that’s aimed predominantly at Black and brown voices and Black and brown individuals and so we attempt to be sure that we’re talking in that means. That the present seems like any individual you already know or any individual I do know is making it.
PL: How did the “See You On The Street” episode come about?
STT: I came upon about #EndSARS on Twitter over a month in the past. A variety of my Nigerian and West African pals had been tweeting about it and so I began trying into it and a number of the issues that folks had been saying about SARS and their experiences with it sounded horrific. It’s the sort of violence that you just hear about in Africa however nothing ever will get achieved.
I felt like I acknowledged that as a result of I’m from Sierra Leone and lived by means of the Sierra Leone Civil Warfare once I was a child. I went by means of the federal government combating towards rebels, rebels combating towards their very own individuals and past that, I’ve seen cops in Sierra Leone who’re very aggressive and unashamed to solicit you for bribes.
So I began calling round and certainly one of my Nigerian pals related me together with his cousin, Joel, who lives in Lagos. I might simply hear the anger in his voice, however I might additionally hear the conviction that he was actually devoted and activated and wished to do one thing to finish this.
After which one other member of our workforce Wallace Mack Jr., a producer, is related to plenty of activists all over the world and he had a relationship with this girl Fey and he informed us in regards to the work that Fey had been doing with Secure Home in Nigeria to maintain queer Nigerians protected.
All that mechanically was very attention-grabbing to me as a result of we will speak about what’s happening in Nigeria — the police brutality, the corruption, the ugly issues that the cops have been accused of doing — however the factor I believe that’s in all probability getting drowned out in all that’s throughout the motion, and even throughout the nation. The queer of us are pushed off to the aspect and are combating towards being marginalized.
So when Mack introduced up that queer Nigerians had been additionally combating this struggle and attempting to be on the market within the entrance strains, it was actually stunning to me as a result of being queer wherever is sort of a well being danger. You’re risking rather a lot. However being queer in Nigeria, much more so.
To see that folks had been placing themselves on the road, and simply being outwardly brazenly queer, I felt like that was a narrative that we wanted to push to the forefront and to spotlight.
PL: It was actually chilling listening to Kokoma, a queer activist, speak about virtually dropping her life at an illustration and the way her mom was extra involved about her being queer and telling her that she couldn’t return house. Why was it essential so that you can spotlight these particular experiences?
STT: The present needs to be heavy and darkish because the issues that persons are combating towards are sometimes darkish and heavy, however these individuals’s lives are additionally stuffed with coloration, pleasure, love, humor and a lot extra.
With Kokoma, we felt we wanted any individual who had truly gone by means of the violence on each ends. The violence of being pushed away by your mom since you’re queer, but in addition the violence of the federal government. The one that everyone, plenty of the individuals within the nation, queer or not, skilled, such because the Lekki toll gate bloodbath.
PL: How has the Lekki toll gate taking pictures affected the motion now?
STT: From the few individuals I’ve talked to on the bottom in Nigeria, it feels prefer it was a significant second within the motion, in that earlier than the Lekki toll gate taking pictures there have been tons of protests within the streets. After the protests, the federal government clamped down, and to be sincere, I believe seeing that many individuals being shot at and other people dying is a giant deterrent for individuals to not wish to protest anymore.
Hundreds of individuals went by means of one thing traumatic collectively and I believe that has actually sure them in a means and given them, if not anything, a grim and stark understanding of the lengths their authorities is keen to go to cease them from protesting. I believe that’s one thing that can stick with them in all probability for a very long time.
PL: What do you hope individuals take away from the episode?
STT: That the motion for Black lives is a worldwide motion and it’s been occurring in a method or one other all around the world. Wherever there are Black individuals, there’s a struggle. I believe in Nigeria what we’re seeing is a very stunning swell of younger of us who’re attempting to find out the way forward for their nation and actually take that into their arms.
After all, there are all the time going to be people who find themselves combating and who’re organizing in these locations, equivalent to Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Haiti, however the numbers wherein Nigerians got here out I believe was actually stunning and I hope individuals take away that the struggle all over the world for Black Lives goes to proceed it doesn’t matter what.
PL: Will there be different episodes sooner or later?
STT: We positively wish to proceed to department out. We wish to take a worldwide view as a result of finally, the resistance actions we’re seeing across the nation are all interconnected at a time when issues like populism, actually conservative presidents and fascism is all the fashion all over the world. There must be a push again and a counter motion to that. I believe that what we’re seeing proper now’s precisely that — individuals standing up and combating again, those who we essentially didn’t anticipate would ever accomplish that.
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