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‘From the Front Lines,’ Stories of Resistance and a Movement 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 known as the Particular Anti-Theft Squad that residents stated 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 regularly. 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, instructed by the technology preventing for change,” and about his interviews with the Nigerian activists. Our dialog has been calmly edited.

PL: What’s totally different concerning the tales that “Resistance” is telling?

STT: It’s the private 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 loads 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 approach that’s outdoors 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 guarantee that we’re talking in that approach. That the present seems like someone you recognize or someone I do know is making it.

PL: How did the “See You On The Street” episode come about?

STT: I discovered about #EndSARS on Twitter over a month in the past. Lots of my Nigerian and West African mates have been tweeting about it and so I began wanting into it and among the issues that folks have been saying about SARS and their experiences with it sounded horrific. It’s the form of violence that you just hear about in Africa however nothing ever will get accomplished.

I felt like I acknowledged that as a result of I’m from Sierra Leone and lived by the Sierra Leone Civil Battle once I was a child. I went by the federal government preventing in opposition to rebels, rebels preventing in opposition to 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 one among my Nigerian mates related me along with his cousin, Joel, who lives in Lagos. I may simply hear the anger in his voice, however I may additionally hear the conviction that he was actually devoted and activated and needed to do one thing to finish this.

After which one other member of our workforce Wallace Mack Jr., a producer, is related to loads of activists world wide and he had a relationship with this lady Fey and he instructed us concerning the work that Fey had been doing with Safe House in Nigeria to maintain queer Nigerians protected.

All that robotically was very fascinating to me as a result of we will discuss 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 feel that’s most likely getting drowned out in all that’s inside the motion, and even inside the nation. The queer people are pushed off to the aspect and are preventing in opposition to being marginalized.

So when Mack introduced up that queer Nigerians have been additionally preventing this battle and attempting to be on the market within the entrance strains, it was actually stunning to me as a result of being queer anyplace is sort of a well being danger. You’re risking so much. However being queer in Nigeria, much more so.

To see that folks have been placing themselves on the road, and simply being outwardly brazenly queer, I felt like that was a narrative that we would have liked to push to the forefront and to spotlight.

PL: It was actually chilling listening to Kokoma, a queer activist, discuss nearly dropping her life at an indication and the way her mom was extra involved about her being queer and telling her that she couldn’t return dwelling. Why was it vital so that you can spotlight these particular experiences?

STT: The present needs to be heavy and darkish because the issues that persons are preventing in opposition to are sometimes darkish and heavy, however these individuals’s lives are additionally stuffed with shade, pleasure, love, humor and a lot extra.

With Kokoma, we felt we would have liked someone who had really gone by 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, loads of the individuals within the nation, queer or not, skilled, such because the Lekki toll gate bloodbath.

PL: How has the Lekki toll gate shooting affected the motion now?

STT: From the few individuals I’ve talked to on the bottom in Nigeria, it feels prefer it was a serious 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 trustworthy, I feel seeing that many individuals being shot at and other people dying is a giant deterrent for individuals to not need to protest anymore.

1000’s of individuals went by one thing traumatic collectively and I feel that has actually sure them in a approach and given them, if not anything, a grim and stark understanding of the lengths their authorities is prepared to go to cease them from protesting. I feel that’s one thing that can stick with them most likely 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 world motion and it’s been taking place in a method or one other all around the world. Wherever there are Black individuals, there’s a battle. I feel in Nigeria what we’re seeing is a extremely stunning swell of younger people who’re attempting to find out the way forward for their nation and actually take that into their fingers.

After all, there are all the time going to be people who find themselves preventing and who’re organizing in these locations, corresponding to Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Haiti, however the numbers by which Nigerians got here out I feel was actually stunning and I hope individuals take away that the battle world wide for Black Lives goes to proceed it doesn’t matter what.

PL: Will there be different episodes sooner or later?

STT: We undoubtedly need to proceed to department out. We need to take a world 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 craze world wide. There must be a push again and a counter motion to that. I feel that what we’re seeing proper now’s precisely that — individuals standing up and preventing again, people who we essentially didn’t count on would ever achieve this.

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