My brother…my sister,
Everyday, I am reminded of your distress and the trying times you are going through. I log on to my news sources and all I see is the debris that surrounds you, the fear, despair, anger, hopelessness and fatigue etched on your face. Each time I come across these images, I am reminded of the unfairness of our world. I am pushed to wonder what happened to humanity and the will to care for each and one another. I try to understand why we all turn a blind eye to your predicament and never really offer any help. We all just lean back and watch, sending our well-wishes and hoping that ‘the powers that be’ will come to your aid. Those powers must be very far away, for their arrival has been expected for years before my birth.
I watched as you struggled with war in Sierra Leone. My young mind could not assess the depth of the damage done to you, physically, mentally and on several other fronts. We watched as a small group of people after their selfish interest turned a once-beautiful country into a blood-stained land. Innocent lives were taken, families were broken down, women were raped, children were forced to be child soldiers…some pushed to kill their own relatives. The ‘lucky’ ones got away with either the ‘long sleeve’ or the ‘short sleeve’. I listened to stories from your brothers and sisters who had taken refuge in my home and I was gripped by fear. They showed me videos of the atrocities and I remember the nightmares that lasted for days… nightmare that were indeed reality to you. Even at that young age, all I prayed for was an end to your suffering, while wishing that my country never witnesses anything like what you have.
I watched you suffer in Rwanda, maimed and killed because of your ethnicity. Aren’t we the same ones who advocate for pride in our culture and acceptance of our heritage? What qualified us to decide which tribe was good and which was bad? What happened to loving our neighbours, despite our differences? All these values escaped as your very neighbours crept up behind you and sent you to the next world. Your daughters were raped too and then killed. The enemy wanted you wiped out, but you persevered. There was outrage around the world, but as usual, it was too late when help finally came. The lives lost can never be replaced. The psychological damage may be impossible to repair. Most frightening is the fact that trust may have been lost among people of the same nation, and one can only wonder when the madness will take over again. We pray it never does.
You were in The Congo and since the war broke out there, we have watched you lose an estimated 45,000 of your kinsfolk each month. You have gone through the deadliest war since World War II, and it’s sad that you still have to endure the brutality. A few days ago,the enemy struck again, with greater intensity. Our televisions were flooded with the gruesome images and around the world,faces turned grim, if only for a minute. Most people went back to their daily business and left you to fare on your own. Isn’t that what we have done for the many years of murder, maiming, rape, displacement and the breaking down of your family units? We watched as your country turned into the ‘rape capital’ of the world. Your war continues to kill, even after it has officially ended and yet you rarely make daily headline news. International donors push you to the bottom of their lists and the world watches as you bleed.
You scream in Syria , mourning the loss of your loved ones. Your wives, sisters and children are murdered daily and we all turn the other way. We see fathers carrying the corpses of their babies, clouded by grief and little hope for a better life. All you wanted was a change in the way things were done in your country, but it is easier for your leader to wipe you all out than give up his seat and leave, as is wished by his people. We watch you get attacked in Gaza, under the guise of war and ‘protection’ of the oppressor’s sovereignty. We look at the bigger picture but refuse to accept that it is not war. It is genocide, for you lack the means to defend yourselves. The great bodies who are supposed to guard the interests of all people in the world stand back and watch. Your oppressor is further encouraged by that which is considered to be the greatest country in the world. Freedom and bravery, the say? They may save it for themselves, but should never steal it away from those who have but very little of it.
Brother, sister, there is more where that came from. There are more places we can fish you out from. There is more pain and suffering than we can even imagine. In remaining optimistic, I would normally urge you to keep the faith and join us in hoping that help comes to you very soon. Reality knocks me hard and I realise that it is our responsibility to speak and act for you. Today, I can only use my voice, as is the case with many other people I know. Many of us wish we could do more, for those who already have those means have refused to put them at your disposal. We cry when you cry; we mourn with you when news of your losses reach us; we sign petitions and take part in protests to draw attention to your plight. Then we look back and ask if it shall ever be enough. When all else fails again, we do not allow ourselves to lose hope. We turn to The One, on bended knees and sand-dusted foreheads. We call unto him to shine his light on the eyes of the oppressor, so you may enjoy freedom again.
When all else fails, that is what we do. We pray!
P.S Dedicated to all people facing oppression at all degrees all over the world, while praying for the restoration of their dignity, the respect of their human rights and the assurance of peace for us all and for generations unborn.