“Abashed the devil stood and felt how awful goodness is and saw Virtue in her shape how lovely: and pined his loss”
John Milton, Paradise Lost
Did you know that on the 26th of February 1885, in Brussels, the Europeans powers gathered in a board room to “divide” the continent of Africa? France, England, Portugal, Spain, Belgium, Germany et al gathered at the Conference of Berlin to draw borders around the pieces of land they had claimed for themselves. And just like that “nations” in Africa were formed. So when in June 2014 a woman traveled across the porous “border” to neighboring Guinea, and then came back into Sierra Leone carrying the Ebola virus, it was hardly a surprise how easily the virus spread across countries.
A few weeks back I wrote of the slave trade, a huge blow to the continent. What followed however with colonialism ensured that the continent was effectively left paralyzed at a time when other civilizations grew in prowess at her expense.
The continent was pillaged, and continues to be. The saying “All roads lead out of Africa” is very true. The roads built by colonial powers were not made to connect people or towns but simply to carry the raw materials of cocoa, gold, ore, minerals out. Even today in Sierra Leone the best roads to villages are the ones that lead to the diamond mines.
I wrote the piece below over a decade ago, one very cold winter night, in the stillness of the early hours of the morning, my desk strewn with flash cards of formulas, and drawings of molecular structures when I was supposed to be studying for a Bio Chemistry midterm. Instead, haunted by a growing burden for a land far, far away, I closed my eyes and penned a story from her point of view. Please excuse the unabashed rawness and graphic nature of the writing. One tends to lose all restraint after the midnight hour, especially when studying Bio Chemistry. :)
It was not your fault, it really wasn’t. You did nothing wrong, and did not deserve what happened to you. Please don’t blame yourself because it really was not your fault. You were young, sweet, alluring, with a future lying ahead of you shining as bright as the new moon; treasures so deep and hidden you were not even aware of them.
They say iniquity starts in the eyes, takes root in the heart and then is birthed in action. That must have been what happened with your aggressor. Looking at you and gazing at your well-formed features must have sparked a flame, and that flame stoked the fires of supreme power, promising an antidote to impotence. It all happened so quickly; their strength no match for yours and you were completely caught unaware. Your virtue was stolen, ripped from you with disregard. You were left naked and scorned, stripped of all dignity and pride, your form dripping with the bright red hue, of your shame, soaking the brown earth beneath you.
As if that wasn’t enough the mutilation that followed left you crippled, unable to walk or even stand without the aid of others. You were sectioned, portioned and fought over like a piece of carcass being torn to pieces by vultures. Every jewel that had adorned you as a maiden was snatched away, your beauty degraded.
The ensuing pain of your violation ran so deep that generations that would later come from your womb carried a part of that pain. Your children wonder why they limp when they walk, and why their hearts are filled with so much pain, without realizing that their blood ties to you cause them to inevitably carry your history and pain.
Even nature was shocked by the incident it had witnessed. The sun shone even harder and scorched your wounds, sapping what was left of your strength and killing the shade and sustenance you had left. Then the rains came, heavy and torrential attempting to wash away your pain, but succeeding only in making you wallow deeper in it.
It has been a while now, but yet the pain has not gone away. Beneath the smile you bear you still carry the anger and shame that has caused decades of unrest, self-destruction and inner turmoil. You’re referred to as the problem child; the black sheep that always needs fixing. What hope remains?
But I have good news for you Beloved, lift up you eyes and look ahead, for the pain of your youth will be no more. You that were once called desolate will break forth with singing. The wilderness of your life will blossom. Arise Africa and shine; for this is your hour. Nations will come to your light, and Kings to the brightness of your dawn. Foreigners will rebuild your walls with the finest of jewels. No longer will violence be heard in your land; instead of your shame you will have a double portion, and great, oh SO GREAT will be your children’s peace.