On October 18, 2020, during the #EndSARS protests against police violence and state corruption in Nigeria’s capital Abuja, a photo was shared on social media that quickly drew nationwide attention. The image showed passionate protesters with their fists pumped in the air, mouths wide open singing songs and chanting slogans. Some were holding placards that read “Our Lives Matter.” What drew the attention of the public, however, was the woman right at the center of the image. With a small Nigerian flag in her left hand and missing her right leg, the woman who was later identified as Jane Obiene stood out because of the defiant spirit she embodied by joining the protest march on crutches.
‘Each generation must, out of relative obscurity, discover its mission, fulfill it, or betray it,’ wrote Frantz Fanon. It has been 60 years since Nigeria achieved its independence from Britain, yet these words reverberate both as anthem and creed in all corners of Nigeria today. In October 2020, thousands of Nigerian youth from across the country chose to take a stand against the extra-judicial killings committed by the Nigerian police branch known as SARS (Special Anti-Robbery Squad). Amidst a global pandemic and an economic recession, Nigerians stood firm in their resolve to fulfill the mission of their generation – ending police violence and corrupt governance, by any means necessary and, in many cases, at the cost of their own lives.
In a gory event widely described as Black Tuesday, Nigerians witness one of the most violent crackdown on protest since the Enugu Iva Valley Massacre in 1949. Like bloodthirsty Vamps, the army and police on October 20, descended on peaceful protesters with the kind of force and desperation only witnessed in movies and war. We lost our Brothers, Friends, Fathers, Mothers, Sons and Daughters to the uncontrollable bloodlust of a rapacious and highly vindictive ruling elites. Just like yesterday, we saw our friends lying helplessly on the floor, drowned in their own pool of blood. Armed only with flags and solidarity songs, our friends were shot without mercy and hunted like games for exercising there legitimate right to protest.