Just two weeks ago, I saw the movie ‘Darfur Now’. The movie told the story of the oppression of the Sudanese people by their own government which culminated in the separation of the country into Sudan and South Sudan. It was nothing but a gory sight. There were soldiers on rampage all around the country: raping women, killing children, dropping grenades from the air, firing gunshots riding on horseback. These were absolute atrocities of the highest order and in the end; it was up to the men and women of Sudan to pick up arms and fight to protect their posterity, because there was no dignity left to fight for.
Over the course of several days, I pondered on the images I saw in the movie and the stories that I’ve heard all my life. I later stumbled on the story of Lucy Awuor, a six-year old orphan who lived in the Kibera slum of Kenya. At six years of age, this little girl was forced to exchange sex for food in order to survive. But she was merely one of nearly half a million lost in the slums of Kibera, denied education and a reasonable livelihood, resigned to suffering daily indignities just to stay alive.
Actually, I grew up in this mess. I’ve seen it with my eyes, I’ve read it in the news, and when I became a journalist, I realized that a story is not guaranteed to make the headlines, unless it is really bad news. What has happened to the world? When did we stop caring? Imagine the inhumanity of man against man and we all just seem to get along just fine. Who are those campaigning to bring an end to the unending bloodshed in Syria? Who are those campaigning for Africa’s dictatorial regimes to transit peacefully to democracy? Who are those campaigning for China and North Korea to listen to their citizens, and embrace universal human rights? Of course, our presidents and diplomats will always condemn global violence with the strongest of voices, but then what changes?
I’m speaking out on behalf of the millions of African children who have not better options than to urinate into and drink from the same streams. I’m speaking out on behalf of the millions of Sudanese refugee men who watched their wives and daughters raped before their very eyes. I’m speaking out on behalf of the many seven-year old kids who have been forced to picked up AK-47 rifles and join the free armies of Sierra Leone, Liberia and Congo just to stay alive. I’m speaking out on behalf of the several segregated and subjugated populations all across our world and I’m asking someone to look me in the eye and tell me that it’s okay.
Look me in the eye and tell me that I live in a world that cares for me, that protects my right to life, liberty and a pursuit of happiness; look me in the eye and explain to me why universal basic education is not a reality; look me in the eye and help me understand why millions of kids have to die of cholera and malaria every year because we cannot help them gain access to clean water. Look me in the eye and explain why it’s okay for a terrorist to walk into a church on Christmas day and open fire on innocent worshippers.
Who cares about the subjugated of Myanmar? Who cares about the hungry of Ethiopia? Who cares about the displaced in Somalia? Who is telling them that it’s a beautiful world out there and we are one? Who is speaking to the kid who has no pairs of shoes, while some people have seventy pairs of shoes and handbags in matching colors? Who is speaking to the kid who has no food to eat, while some throw away heaps of leftovers every night after dinner? Who is speaking to the kid whose family cannot afford a bath soap, while every single bathroom in America’s 142,000 hotels and motels changes bath soaps everyday?
I once heard someone say that the world is a mirror; whatever we do in this world will be reflected back to us. It is not sustainable for us to live in a world where 10% of the world consumes 90% of the world’s resources. We need to fight and fight hard for what is right. If the world is going to change, we all must play our parts. We need to educate ourselves about the challenges that confront our world and seek roles to play in changing our realities. All might be well in America or some other part of the world, but it won’t last long if all is not well across in the world.
I’ll be keeping hope alive that maybe some day, we all can sing in our various voice, languages and dialects, Louis Armstrong’s beautiful song “what a wonderful world”.