Editorial — A bishop’s love for George Floyd

Marnie McAllister

Among the millions of people around the world who are lamenting the death of George Floyd is an African bishop who knew him personally.

Floyd died on May 25 after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes. Since then, protests have erupted across the country and world. Some are calling it an uprising for racial justice.

Catholic Bishop Frank Nubuasah of Gaborone, Botswana, has written him a farewell letter, where he speaks directly to Floyd.
Noting they met at a baseball game in Pittsburgh, he writes, of Floyd’s smile and kind nature.

“One of the things I cherish most about you was your very infectious smile. It was as if the coronavirus learnt from you how to infect people. 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,” he writes.

“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.”

Bishop Nubuasah goes on to recall the good times he spent with Floyd and his family — at barbecues and soccer games, and the disagreements over soccer and American football.

“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,” he writes.

At the bishop’s invitation, he writes, Floyd was planning to visit the “motherland and touch base with your roots.” He notes that maybe Floyd’s son Quincy can come in his place and then adds, “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.”

Bishop Nubuasah acknowledges, “Right now, I am angry because I am human and never thought humans can stoop so low (as the four officers charged in Floyd’s death). A huge welcome awaits you in the Father’s house.”

Before concluding his letter, Bishop Nubuasah adds something only a person of deep faith could write.

He says, “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.”

What faith he must have in George Floyd — that he was the type of person who can forgive so freely.

Our poverty is deeper in this world with the loss of a man who can love with such abandon.

The bishop’s farewell letter closes:
“You can now breathe eternally the breath of love. Rest in Peace!”

MARNIE McALLISTER
Editor

*Click here to read the full text of Bishop Frank’s letter.

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