SACBC Bishop’s Letter to Friend George Floyd
In an emotional “farewell letter”, a bishop from Botswana recalled meeting and befriending George Floyd and his family while in the United States.
Bishop Frank Nubuasah of Gaborone said he met Mr Floyd—who died on May 25 while being pinned to the ground by Minneapolis police officers—in the 1990s at a baseball game in the Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh, while Mr Floyd was on a trip to the city in Pennsylvania.
The Ghana-born bishop said that Floyd was “barely 20” when they met, which places the time at around 1993/94, about four years before the Divine Word Missionary was appointed head of the Botswanan vicariate of Francistown.
Bishop Nubuasah declined to comment on his letter.
“I am unable to talk about my pain at this time. It’s still too raw. I hope you will understand,” he wrote in an e-mail to The Southern Cross.
In his letter, which addresses Mr Floyd directly, the bishop recalled: “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 got to chatting and become friends.”
Bishop Nubuasah said he cherished Mr Floyd’s “very infectious smile”.
“It was as if the coronavirus learnt from you how to infect people,” the bishop joked.
“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.”
Noting that his letter would be “my last communication with you in this ‘land of the living’ that rejected your right to live”, Bishop Nubuasah asked: “How can I forget you, George?”
“Your distinctive features are a large nose and thick lips; very African traits. 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,” the 70-year-old bishop wrote.
“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,” the bishop noted.
But, he added, “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,” Bishop Nubuasah wrote.
“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’.”
Speaking of his own reaction to the killing of Mr Floyd, the bishop wrote: “Right now, I am angry because I am human and never thought humans can stoop so low” as the officers who have been charged in connection with Mr Floyd’s death.”
But the bishop also remembered happy memories he had of his friendship with the Floyds.
“I recall the vacation I spent with you and your folks. Quincy [younger Floyd brother] was a baby boy at the time,” he wrote.
“What great BBQs we enjoyed in the summer evenings. I thought we in Southern Africa eat a lot of meat, but, boy, you love your rare steak with blood on it,” Bishop Nubuasah wrote, echoing a culinary theme highlighted at Mr Floyd’s memorial service in Minneapolis last Thursday.
The bishop also recalled attending a football game with Mr Floyd—”a real football game not the American version”.
“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 [the] bridge near the Three Rivers Stadium, where we first met,” Bishop Nubuasah said.
He noted that Mr Floyd had plans to visit Africa. “I had suggested that you attend the Pan African cultural festival…in Ghana, and then come over to beautiful Botswana to visit with me. I was going to take you to see wildlife in their natural habitat, not a zoo. You were to visit a cattle post and a masimo (plowing field), and enjoy our coveted delicacy of pounded meat, seswaa.”
In the Father’s house, the bishop told Mr Floyd in his letter, “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”.
He concluded: “I will miss you George. You can now breathe eternally the breath of love. Rest in Peace!”
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