Although the world was struck by the Covid-19 Pandemic, other issues were also brought to the forefront in 2020. Here are the hashtags from Africa that caught the globe’s attention this year.
#ENDSars: Just as the country celebrated its diamond jubilee, police brutality protests started on October 7 in Nigeria calling for the disbanding of the infamous police unit, the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), which had long been accused of extortion, torture, and extra-judicial killings.
#CongoIsBleeding: Exploitation in the mines of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) received attention in October to highlight child slavery, deadly conflicts, and corruption spawned by the quest to feed mega-companies with minerals.
#ShutItAllDown: This was a wave of ongoing gender-based violence protests across Namibia aimed at stopping the spread of rape and the killing of women. According to CNN, the protests were in response to news of another attack, in turn, those protestors threatened to leave everything at a standstill for four days earlier in October.
#ZimbabweanLivesMatter: A predominantly online demonstration to address the human rights abuses in Zimbabwe in August. According to The Guardian, the hashtag was ‘fashioned’ after the Black Lives Matter global protests staged since the killing of George Floyd by a US police officer in May. Furthermore, the incarceration of journalist Hopewell Chin’ono and the Booker Prize long-listed author Tsitsi Dangarembga has angered more people across Africa.
#RapeNationalEmergancy: On September 11, Liberian President George Weah declared rape a national emergency in the country. According to Al Jazeera, Weah introduced measures in place to address the increase in violence against women. Measures include a special prosecutor for rape in the country, as well as the set-up of a national sex offender registry and the establishment of a “national security task force” on sexual and gender-based violence.
#ChildTrafficking: This has been highlighted as a severe problem on cocoa farms in Ghana and Ivory Coast. According to a US study, the prevalence of
children doing hazardous work, including using sharp tools, has also gone up in the world’s top two cocoa producers, reported Al Jazeera in October.
#Guinea: Guinea’s president, Alpha Condé, has won a “controversial third term” with 59.49% of the vote, the National Independent Electoral Commission declared on October 24. According to the Guardian, his victory came at the same time as widespread protests “violently suppressed by security forces”.
#AnglophoneCrisis: Since October 2016, Cameroon’s Anglophone minority have been protesting due to sectoral grievances that morphed into political demands. On October 24 this year, the United Nations reported that eight children were killed and dozens wounded by a group of armed men at the Mother Francisca International Bilingual Academy Kumba in the southwest region of Cameroon. Although the southwest region is one of two Anglophone regions, it was not clear if the attack was linked to a continuing struggle between government forces and armed groups in the English-speaking west seeking to form a breakaway state.
#PrayForEthiopia: CNN reported on November 7 that a military conflict, which has raised fears of civil war, broke out due to Tigray’s Peoples Liberation Front’s (TPLF) unilateral decision to elect a regional administration against Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s wishes. “Our operation aims to end the impunity that has prevailed for far too long and hold accountable individuals and groups under the laws of the land,” Abiy said on Twitter. According to the Herald Malaysia, this resulted in heavy casualties and thousands of civilians fleeing the region.
#StopGBV: During the lockdown, gender-based violence and femicide in South Africa has become a second pandemic for the country. According to the Commission of Gender Equality, South Africa is ranked amongst the highest in Africa for domestic violence. At the end of July, Police Minister Bheki Cele released crime stats showing that sexual crimes in the country increased by 1.7%, with 53,293 cases reported. This is 873 cases more than in 2019.