Popular British-Nigerian boxer, Anthony Joshua was baffled when he discovered what the EndSARS protest was all about. He disclosed that when the #EndSARS protest initially started, he thought it was against the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).
Upon clarification, the boxer had joined other celebrities to speak out against the now-defunct special anti-robbery squad (SARS) during the #EndSARS protest that rocked Nigeria in October.
According to news sources The PUNCH, Joshua said before the protest, he never knew anything about the disbanded unit and had never encountered them while in Nigeria.
He however revealed that it was his uncle that called his attention to the protest, saying he had to lend his voice to the call for police reform in the country.
“I never knew what SARS was during my time in Nigeria. I never encountered SARS, so, when the movement started happening, I thought SARS was maybe like a virus, I didn’t know SARS,” Joshua reportedly said.
“One day after training, my uncle called me and this was just before the issue of the Lekki toll gate. About five hours before it, he called me and told me about the situation on the ground. He told me the people of Nigeria loved me and wanted to hear my voice on it.
“I told him I didn’t know enough about it to talk about it and he said I should just lend my voice and bring awareness. So, I said if it’s what I can do for now, let me just lend my voice and bring my attention to it because I have a big platform.
“So, I just said it’s important to find a common ground because you can’t overthrow the government in a minute, but we need to find a common solution that will benefit the people.
“So, I thought it was important for me to send out a positive message and shortly after that, about four hours later, people had been murdered at the toll gate. So, I said this wasn’t only about finding a common ground, this had to stop. But I didn’t want to go back on my message, I had sent a message out and I had done a lot more research about the #EndSARS movement.”
Joshua said the #EndSARS protest prompted him to read and learn more about Nigeria, its history, ethnic groups, among others.
He noted that from what he learnt, he discovered that the country has a lot of potentials, and that Nigerians will thrive better under good leadership.
“I also started learning about colonial history, the structure of the political powers, the Hausa, the Yoruba, the Igbo. I learnt about the Biafra war, I learnt about Lady Lugard, I learnt about why Nigeria is called Nigeria – because of the River Niger and the area,” he said.
“So, I started doing a lot of research on the country and I found out that the country has so much potential. It is a country where people are thriving to be better and with the leaders, they need to put more into the people, and that is what the #EndSARS is about.
“It is not just about the police, it is about good government looking after the people, and that is what the people want and I am with the people. I am a man of the people, so I support what they say.
“And from that #EndSARS movement, it educated me what SARS was. It educated me about the issues in Nigeria, it gave me more. I felt proud to be a Nigerian because I learnt more about the country’s heritage after the #EndSARS movement.”
Nigerians are proud to see one of their own in the person of Anthony Joshua identifying with them during these trying times and hope that the purpose of these unanimous protest would bring about the required positive change that Nigerians crave for.
Gift Joseph Okpakorese