Botswana’s Bishop Nubuasah mourns George Floyd, a friend

Botswana’s Diocese of Gaborone Bishop, Frank Nubuasah has written a “farewell letter” to George Perry Floyd Jr., whom he met in the 1990s. George, who was unarmed, died May 25 after being pinned to the ground by a Minneapolis police officer during an arrest. His death triggered protests and riots in the United States. Below is Bishop Frank Nubuasah’s letter.

Dear Mr. George Floyd,

I have no idea what time it is in your part of God’s kingdom. But I do remember vividly our first meeting. It was at a baseball game. You came wearing blue jeans, T-shirt, a cap on, holding a huge paper cup filled with Coke in one hand and a bag of popcorn in the other. We were seated; you then joined us. That was in Pittsburgh many years ago. You were still a youngster, barely 20, on a trip. We got to chatting and become friends.

Under the circumstances this will be my last communication with you in this “land of the living” that rejected your right to live. How can I forget you George? I know, you always reminded me that you are not African but African-American. Both backgrounds were important for you and you did not want to lose any. You were standing solidly with both feet in two traditions. Between these feet of yours was a lot of water called the Atlantic Ocean. You never got to cross it!

Your heart was very big and accommodated people. It was always, okay with you to reach out to one more person. Yes, you would run a mile for anyone. Run you did for me on a number of occasions, but that is a story I will tell some other time.

My heart is heavy as I sit in my prayer corner to write you this missive knowing well that others will read it but you will not. We humans through a representative of ours made sure that your eyes were closed and would not open again. That is however not true, your eyes will remain forever seeing the fire you started at death. The revolution that your sacrificial death inspired and the new movements and alliances against racism, classism and discrimination are growing. You lit a fire that is burning for peace and change. So, my friend, when you hear the chant, “yes, we can” know that we are doing it in your name and for you. Gone, but very much here! On the mother continent we would call you, the living dead.

I recall the vacation I spent with you and your folks. Quincy was a baby boy at the time. It was a good escape from my books. What great BBQ’s we enjoyed in the summer evenings. I thought we in Southern Africa eat a lot of meat, but boy, you love your rare stake with blood on it.

You will remember that my preference was well done. You took me to watch a real football game not the American version but real football, the gentle game. Oh, yes, you were bored to the bone. You wanted your version of the game. I remember trying to educate you that the world governing body is called FIFA and not FISA when you refer to football as soccer. All that is water that has gone down under bridge near the three rivers stadium where we first met.

At my invitation, you were planning to visit the motherland and touch base with your roots. I had suggested that you attend the Pan African cultural festival known as PANAFEST in Ghana and then come over to beautiful Botswana to visit with me. I was going to take you see wildlife in their natural habitat, not a zoo. You were to visit a cattle post and a Masimo (ploughing field) and enjoy our coveted delicacy of pounded meat, Seswaa. I guess you are not coming in the flesh, so my plans would have to be put on ice.

With global warming, maybe the ice would melt and I can revisit the plans. Who knows Quincy might make it to see the stunning beauty of a lady that puts me on her laps day and night to feed and nourish me. She caresses me and supports me. This beautiful lady Botswana is home to great men and women. How can you miss this visit we had planned so long ago? My heart is aching badly. My writing you this letter is a therapeutic coping mechanism I learnt years ago when we met in Pittsburgh. Your life was cut short, my friend.

You set another record by dying in the public view not in an accident. The event was captured on tape for posterity. Do you realize that you are a great man? Oh, how I love cell phones! No one can escape a crime with impunity because documentary evidence will circulate on social media. The criminal justice system might fail you but the popular opinion will know the truth.

The latest poll says two thirds of your country people are supporting the revolution you started at death. Now that you have seen the “janitors of Shadowland’ (Job 38; 17) you have answered your call even if prematurely. I guess the folks in heaven were expecting you. Farewell my younger brother from another mother in America. We shall meet again.

Right now, I am angry because I am human and never thought humans can stoop so low. A huge welcome awaits you in the Father’s house and I hope Coke and popcorn will be there too. You just have one more task to perform. It is to prepare to welcome the notorious four who killed you into heaven when their time does come and show ‘em round the jolly place we call heaven. She said “when they go low, we go high.” (Michelle Obama) I will miss you George. You can now breathe eternally the breath of love. Rest in Peace!

Bishop Frank Nubuasah SVD
Gaborone Botswana

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