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Ramaphosa likens George Floyd to Steve Biko as alliance launches Black Friday

05 June 2020 - 21:16 By ZINGISA MVUMVU
ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa. File photo.
ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa. File photo.
Image: Gallo Images

ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa has compared the killing of American George Floyd to the killing of anti-apartheid hero Steve Biko.

Ramaphosa was officially launching the ANC-led alliance's antiracism campaign dubbed “Black Friday”.

The ANC, Cosatu and SACP have resolved to have a rolling antiracism awareness campaign every Friday with a call for those who identify with the cause to wear black.

Speaking at the virtual launch, Ramaphosa took a dig at white people who believed they were superior to blacks..

He said Biko, whom he quoted extensively in his address, just like Floyd who has triggered worldwide protests against racism, was also killed by white law enforcement officers.

“Steve Bantu Biko died in a prison cell as we known in 1977, a black man murdered by white policemen,” said Ramaphosa.

“And it is important that we remember this as the whole world unites against the death of George Floyd.

“His death and the death of so many others has not diminished our quest for a true humanity. They have not weakened our resolve, instead they have brought forth from within our collective being a relentless desire for justice, for peace, for understanding and for equality.”

Ramaphosa said racism has given rise to many other forms of discrimination which must be fought against with the same energy as racism.

Among these, he mentioned xenophobia, homophobia, tribalism and sexism.

The president said the world will be a better place the day all forms of discrimination have been defeated.

At the heart of discrimination was intolerance and failure to accept that as human beings we are the same, he said.

Said Ramaphosa: “One individual can be discriminated against based on their race, gender, ethnicity and multiplicity of factors and each of these factors does require redress.

“We must therefore continue to collaborate on global strategies to stamp out racism and xenophobia. Government must act against all forms of racism and intolerance.

“We must not be afraid to call out racists, xenophobes, homophobes and other bigots in our communities.”

Ramaphosa said the worldwide reaction to Floyd’s killing must be viewed as the “turning point” with regards to how the world tackles racism.

“We must stand firm against the daily acts of racism and micro-aggression directed at black men, black women and black children, in the workplace, in the streets and across society,” said Ramaphosa.

For South Africans, it was time to draw inspiration from the “bold declaration” by the Freedom Charter that “SA belongs to all who live in it, black and white”, Ramaphosa added.