AfricaforBlackLives, A collective of African artists campaigning against racist violence

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AfricaforBlackLives, A collective of African artists campaigning against racist violence

A collective of West African artists has taken over social networks to support the "Black Lives Matter" movement from the continent. Through the hashtag #AfricaforBlackLives, they seek to further mobilize African civil society.

Closed point, determined look, the Malian singer Fatoumata Diawara poses in front of a sign marked #AfricaforBlackLives. She posted this photo on June 8 on her Instagram account at the call of the collective of the same name. This collective launched in early June a campaign to gather online African support for the "Black Lives Matter" movement.

After the open letter from a hundred writers from the continent, it is the turn of cultural figures and mainly French-speaking influencers to relaunch anti-racist mobilization on social networks, the health crisis having severely limited participation in demonstrations.

“It is not just an American movement. We have seen it with mass demonstrations in Europe ”, explains to France 24 Antoine Tempé, Franco-American photographer based in Dakar and co-founder of the collective #AfricaforBlackLives. “We want to show that Africa is not silent. "

"At the time, no official voice was raised"

In Africa, the protest around the death of George Floyd and racist violence has manifested itself especially in English-speaking countries such as South Africa, Kenya and Ghana.

Antoine Tempé and Nathalie Vairac, actress of Guadeloupean and Indian origin, also based in Dakar, were surprised by the late reaction in West Africa.

"There was a desire to protest, but because of the coronavirus they were not authorized" points Antoine Tempé. "At the time, no official voice was raised to denounce the crime committed against George Floyd," adds Wise Bayano, a Senegalese "artivist" and representative of urban cultures. On June 3, #AfricaforBlackLives posted a first series of photos.

"There will never be enough small peace movements"

The proliferation of collectives (hashtag) on ​​social networks like #AfricaforBlackLives is not without evoking the strength of online happening in times of pandemic like #BlackOutTuesday. 28 million people around the world had posted a black square on Instagram after the death of Georges Floyd.

"We have taken note of the importance of networks," says photographer Antoine Tempé. The movement of African artists plays on a small scale, with less than a hundred publications on Instagram. Their approach runs the risk of drowning in the mass of virtual events. "We don't see a hashtag as another product," replies Nathalie Vairac. “Because there will never be enough small peace movements or small solidarities. "

The collective now wants to take over the streets and organize gatherings around graffiti and urban art, with a broader meaning.

"We want to create a union movement to show solidarity with every human being subjected to violence, starting with the brutality on our continent", we can read in a press release from the Senegalese collective.

“The George Floyd case was the last straw. He invites us to act against all violence and the violation of human rights throughout West Africa, ”concludes the co-founder of #AfricaforBlackLives.

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