On the evening of April 26, a silent procession took place at Black Star Square in Accra, Ghana, as a sign of solidarity with Africans who have been marginalized and abused in China during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to raising awareness for the mistreatment of Black people in China, it sought to urge a formal apology from Beijing to all Africans and Black people worldwide.
The action was organized as a peaceful demonstration by the Freedom Movement, an initiative to build a unified African Continent and bridge the divide between Africa and the Western world.
“As a concerned global citizen, I was deeply disturbed by the treatment I saw of black people in China being evicted from their homes, forced into quarantine and even being denied admittance to restaurants, hotels and other businesses,” says Freedom Jacob Caesar, a Ghanaian industrialist, developer and philanthropist, and founder of the Freedom Movement. “I was also surprised that even despite the close relationship between China and most African countries, there hasn’t been any public denouncement or apology from the authorities. I felt the need to use my voice to let the world know that Covid-19 simply cannot be used as an excuse to dehumanize or deny the civil rights of black people in China or any other nation.”
Participants in the demonstration maintained social distancing and wore facemasks inscribed with the words “Freedom of Speech.” Their placards carried such statements as “Africa is a Beacon of Hope” and “Africa is separated by culture but united by colours.”
Police and other security personnel were on hand to ensure that the demonstration remained peaceful.
“Although, African diplomats in China have expressed concerns to officials there, this maltreatment is an issue for every black person in the world. Any one of us from the continent or the Diaspora – whether it be Jamaica, America, France, or Nigeria – living in or traveling to China might suffer these same abuses.
If we simply remain silent, this treatment and disrespect will continue and even become more widespread in China and other countries,” Caesar says. “Black people are not animals as we have been depicted in museums and galleries in China and these actions are unacceptable considering the eminent value that Africa and our resources play in global economies and supply chains.”
Popularly called ‘Freedom,’ Caesar operates an international real estate development company that is based in Ghana, and has hosted international celebrities at his hospitality ventures, including British supermodel-businesswoman Naomi Campbell, British actor Idris Elba, U.S. television host and comedian Conan O’Brien, and Chinese billionaire-entrepreneur Jack Ma. He recently distributed food and other supplies to vulnerable communities and the less privileged in Accra after the government of Ghana ordered a lockdown is an effort to contain the spread of the corona virus that triggered the current global pandemic.
Ghana has gained a reputation as a model of democracy in Africa and freedom of speech is a fundamental principle supported in its democracy, Caesar insists, adding that it is important for young Africans and young Black people worldwide to understand the power of their collective voices to effect peaceful change.
“I will continue to use my voice and platform to change perceptions of Africa, build unity and forge deeper connections between Africa, the West and the East,” he states. “I believe that this virus does not know gender, race, religion, age, or color, and this could be a sign telling the world that we are all equal and need to come together as one world and one universal people to overcome the crisis and restore humanity together.”