Beyond Violence 

Dzaleka series: Imagine

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***Warning: Graphic language***

Just imagine yourself in such a situation!
Imagine yourself between the hammer and the anvil
Swimming in mud and dust; feet to the doors of the abyss.
Imagine one day, a bomb falls on your palace
And creates a bloodbath all around;
Imagine that one day your playground turns into a cemetery;
Where the local bar becomes a site of desolation and tears.
Imagine the soft music that caressed your soul disappears
And instead, you hear the noise of boots and the crackle of Kalashnikovs.
Will you accept to stay and die or choose to flee to stay alive?

Imagine one morning, armed executioners arrive at your door,
Hitting you soundly without sparing your mother, your father and your whole family.
Imagine that under threat of death
You are forced to have sex with your own mother;
That with your eyes you see an ugly duckling deflower your sister of nine years old
Caressing her with a bayonet.
Imagine one day that you see people without a heart assaulting a woman who is nine months pregnant
Will you accept to stay there to see the same people go unpunished and inherit the throne?
Or will you go somewhere else be rid of the trauma to come back with a new spirit?
Imagine one day you're a victim of tribal conflicts and one morning your whole family is burned alive;
Imagine that due to religious belief or because of political affiliations, people are guillotined and beheaded.
Will you accept to wait your turn or run to save your life?

Imagine one day because of your opinions, because of a poem or a song denouncing inequality and misdeeds of a corrupt regime;
And in the end, the government pursues you for your disruptions
Running the risk of disappearing into the wild without leaving a trace
Or being imprisoned and then being released with poison in your body.
Will you stubbornly accept this and wait for death or will you flee until the regime changes to return home with to a country worthy of pride?

Imagine a sudden situation arises and steals all your wealth to make you a little beggar.

If it happened to others, it can happen to you too.

Those who mourn today laughed like you yesterday!
Those who beg today were rich like you yesterday!
Those who die of hunger today threw food in the trash like you yesterday!
Those who sleep outside today had a comfortable home like you yesterday!
But from the summit where they were, the lightning of the human wickedness reached them and buried them in the margins of society!

Just imagine yourself in such a situation!

“Imagine” is part of the Dzaleka series which features poems written by Menes la Plume and other poets and writers from Dzaleka Refugee Camp.

Menes la Plume & the Dzaleka Cultural Association
Menes la Plume (Trésor Nzengu) is a Congolese songwriter and poet originally from Lubumbashi. Trésor had to flee the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in 2008 and he has been residing in Dzaleka Refugee Camp in Malawi ever since. Dzaleka Refugee Camp was set up in 1994 by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to provide shelter for the many refugees fleeing the conflicts in Burundi, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. As of July 2014, the camp hosts approximately 19.000 refugees and asylum-seekers, mainly from these three countries, and to a lesser extent Somalia, Ethiopia and Eritrea.

Trésor explains that Dzaleka Cultural Association’s vision is “to make Dzaleka and its surrounding villages a better place to live, with people living in peace, harmony and collaboration, understanding and proud of what they have as values. It’s the DCA’s mission to take concerted action of socio-cultural development, to contribute to the psychological rehabilitation of people who have been affected by the various conflicts through engagement with the arts and cultural events.” One of its many aims is to educate the population about peaceful cooperation within and between communities.

On July 28th, blogger and deputy editor Suzanne van Hooff visited Dzaleka Refugee Camp together with Trésor, meeting many of the artists aligned with the DCA.

Written by Menes la Plume and published on 21-August-2014

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