A travel advisory appeared in a Kenyan newspaper this week warning Africans visiting the United States to be aware of continued instability and civil unrest in places like Charlotte, North Carolina, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where protests have erupted in the last few months over police killings of black men.
The advisory was circulated widely on social media and reported by local media, but it isn’t a real warning from the African Union. Rather, it is the work of Kenyan political cartoonist Godfrey Mwampembwa, better known as Gado, and it is meant to be a spoof on the many travel warnings Western countries have placed on African countries. Tourism in Kenya has been hit hard by travel advisories maintained against coastal regions close to Somalia.
“It’s funny because many African countries go through those travel advisories—issued by mostly by Europe and US, all the time,” Gado told Quartz.
But there is perhaps some basis for warning Africans traveling to America. On Sept. 27, California police fatally shot Alfred Olango, an unarmed, 38-year-old Ugandan immigrant who came to the US as a child refugee. Olango, who was mentally ill, was shot after he pulled out a vape smoking device.
“Black Lives Matter has certainly shocked and caught the attention of many in Africa,” said Gado, who was attending the recent American Editorial Cartoonists Convention in Durham, North Carolina, when protests broke out about 150 miles away in Charlotte.
In some ways, Africans can identify with the frustration black Americans feel toward their police. Forced disappearances and extrajudicial killings by police in Kenya prompted local demonstrations in July. Kenyans are five times as likely to be killed by police than by an armed robber. So far this year, Kenyan police have killed 122 citizens, almost one every other day.
“I think most Africans relate to the Black Lives Matter movement, because they face police brutality all the time and have been fighting against it all along,” Gado said.
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