Hear the children cry.

Posted on 2 January, 2009. Filed under: Africa | Tags: , , , , , |

So, while everybody is trying to convince Israel and Palestine to live in peace,  Africa  goes on being Africa, largely unnoticed, largely uncommented on.

On December 26, the day after Christmas, which for many of us means a lot more than Santa, presents and eggnog, a group of people were hacked to death at a church in the Congo. We don’t know how many, sources vary from 30, to 80, to 100, to 120, to 150. Apparently by a Ugandan rebel group who call themselves, wait for it, “The Lord’s Resistance Army”. I can only pray that they do not for a single moment mean the Lord as in Him, God. But then, given the general prevailing madness, who knows?

These people, mostly women and children (as usual) were hacked to death with machetes.

Hacked to death.

Hacked.

To death.

It doesn’t quite sink in, does it? We are so insulated, few of us have ever seen death up close and personal. And when we have, it’s usually in a peaceful, sterile setting. In a hospital. Sickness, old age, heart attack, cancer.  Not the kind of death that comes in vivid technicolour with smells, people urinating and defecating in fear. Shouting, screaming, howling, begging for mercy. Fear, hysteria, desperation, terror. Children, old people, men, women. Trying to get away, running, being blocked, herded like cattle towards certain death. Mothers clasping babies to their chests. Begging, for themselves, for their children. Children separated from parents, alone, terrified, calling, crying, not understanding how there can be something this horrible in the world. Not understanding how a mother or a father can’t protect them from this. No instantaneous death. Bleeding, an arm or a foot already hacked off. Scramble away. A kick, something broken. Another cut, more blood, more pain, more fear. How long till you wish, not for the salvation of life, but for the salvation of death?

Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum.
Benedicta tu in mulieribus,
et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Iesus.
Sancta Maria, Mater Dei,
ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc,
et in hora mortis nostrae.
Amen.

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Half the sky is falling.

Posted on 13 December, 2008. Filed under: Africa, Human Rights, The world | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Rape must be the oldest weapon used against women and girls. It is the ultimate violation, the ultimate assertion of power over another human being. It is an invasion, an assault, a humiliation, a violation. It trades on fear, loss of dignity, loss of power, loss of privacy, loss of self-determination, loss of self-ownership.The scars it leaves are internal and external, physical and emotional, and lasts forever. 

Ensler and Lewis wrote a heart-rendering account of the ongoing rape of women in the DRC.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/eve-ensler-and-stephen-lewis/the-never-ending-war_b_150668.html

In the multiple conflict zones of Africa, rape and female mutilation is rife. It precedes wars, escalates during times of conflict, and lingers for years into truces and peace treaties.

Rape and the mutilation of women are tools of terror to be found in any war, but nowhere do we see it as clearly as in Africa. There are probably multiple reasons for this:

  • The protracted nature of warfare in Africa: Most of the conflicts in Africa have a long history, brutal eruptions of horror interspersed by long simmering periods of unreported atrocities.
  • The seclusion of communities: Many villages have neither the means of transport nor the means of communication to report the brutal realities of war. No embedded journalists. No networks of bloggers.
  • The 2nd class citizenship of woman and girls: In Africa woman and girls are still second class citizens. They belong to their men, fathers, husbands, brothers, sons. They live to serve, to empower, to enable. 

It is time that the world should not only take notice, but act on this. We need countries, and the UN to pass legislation, or resolutions that will ban the trade in any resources from conflict zones that can in any way, directly or indirectly, fund continued warfare, insurgency and terrorism. This should also include a ban on trade with any groups or companies or individuals that cannot show proof of clear, acceptable and legitimate ownership. (Not ownership by corrupt governments, or bought from corrupt governments.) If we won’t buy from sweatshops, why are we buying from Rape and Pillage Inc? Any companies that are involved in this kind of trade should be named and shamed and charged.

But it is also time for the African Union to stand up and do something, rather than just talk about it.  The African Union, like the OAU before it, has become an old boys’ club that only talks. We are yet to see it demonstrate any resolve in a head-on confrontation of perpetrators of human rights abuses. The “quiet diplomacy” philosophy reigns, very admirably, but to what avail? Is it working, has anything changed? No? Well, then it is time for a more confrontational approach. The time for observers and peacekeepers are running out. What peace is there to keep when a country, no, entire regions of a continent, are at war with itself? When half the sky is falling?

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The best of times, the worst of times.

Posted on 7 November, 2008. Filed under: Africa, The world | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

So here I sit, completely self-satisfied, surveying my fiefdom with glee. After all, did I not, single-handedly, manage to steer the USA past the icy shores of Alaska into the warm seas of Hawaii? Did I not alert the voting masses to the pitfalls of voting for a ticket with a marginal grip on intellect? Did I not spotlight the flexible relationship with reality displayed by said ticket? Did I not caution against the potential international scorn that would be unleashed were the wrong candidates elected to the White House? It fills me with no small amount of pride to know that I managed to save not just the USA, but possibly the planet, from unimaginable catastrophe and mayhem. Disaster averted, the world can sleep peacefully tonight. So can I. Nothing to interrupt my moment of serenity. Just me, my thoughts, and a glass of Southern Comfort that’s less full than I think it should be.

Oh, and an imminent meltdown in the Congo.

And Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow who was stoned to death in Somalia adultery. The nature of her “adultery”?  She had been gang-raped by three men. When she went to the militia authorities to report the rape, and to seek protection, she was instead accused of adultery and stoned. Initially reported to have been 23 years old, Amnesty International has now revealed that Aisha was 13. None of the rapists have been arrested.

For now, I’ll refill my glass.

Tomorrow, I’ll try to save the world from itself again.

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    Welcome to my personal soundboard, where I can muse (you might call it ramble on) about things that interest, irritate, infuriate or impress me. In time, I hope this will lead me to understand the meaning of life, the universe, and me.

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