You might not know this but the British rule took our uncles and grandfathers from Kenya and other African countries to fight in Burma in the Second World War. Whey should we not unite with her now in the struggle for freedom? That night we as women did our bit to accompany her. We had invited the late Wangari Maathai to the vigil in Nairobi but she was in Australia and busy on a trip, serving the world. Now Aung San Suu Kyi is free. She is still working hard for democracy. This is a life we can never ignore and in focusing on it, we see so many others. Tonight, she is The Lady with the light.
And her win and the road to democracy for Burma should mean something for Kenya, Mali, Sudan, Somalia, Mauritania, Gabon, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Niger, Chad Zimbabwe and all countries on earth that are under oppression. She has much to offer to the world. Aung San Suu Kyi's name should ring in Syria, Palestine, Israel, the USA, South America, Iran and Iraq and in Afghanistan. Her triumph should matter in Tahrir Square, in Tunisia and all lands of the Arab Spring. It has to matter in Germany and elsewhere in Europe where the right wing is setting the pace against a world that believes in people. It needs matter in Scandinavia where even if long strides have been taken, still women need to be heard and felt more, where still the girl faces challenges in a different way. We should not look at Burma as a remote place where people have not understood for long. It matters to the world that Burma burns in people power tonight through the vote.
In his foreword to her book, Desmond Tutu of South Africa, writing at a time she had been set free did not hesitate to position her as he should have. "Aung San Suu Kyi is free. How wonderful - quite unbelievable. I tis so very like when Nelson Mandela walked out of prion on that February (11*) day of 1990, and strode with so much dignity into freedom. And the world was thrilled at the sight."Mandela was in prison for 27 years and Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest for 15 years. She is seasoned in deprivation and enriched in what one learns when their only companion is oppression.
"Aung San Suu Kyi cannot be silenced because she speaks the truth and because her words reflect basic Burmese and universal concepts!" Vaclav Havel in a foreword to her book, Freedom from Fear.
For most of us, Aung San Suu Kyi is only beginning her march to the presidency and Burma is making history.
I know the political path is tough. I have been there. What is important is to be steadfast in one's beliefs in spite of the difficulties particularly a woman has to endure on this path. I have heard Aung San saying in her campaigns that stones were thrown at her. Thus respond cowards when they see that the spirit of a person is able to burn deep into the peoples' consciousness. I have empathised with her when she said that her campaign venues were not being respected. I remembered a day I arrived at the last campaign venue and found my opponent a very well heeled old man had his vehicles all over the field and I could not hold my last rally in the village where I was born.
So I reflect on something beautiful. That Aung San Suu Skyi has not given up the struggle ever. And this inspite of so many difficulties. She acknowledges the role other people have played their part in the struggle for freedom in Burma. She knows that she is not the only one.
I read her old address in Rangoon in 1988. It is a speech to a mass rally at the Shwedagon Pagoda. It is moving to see how long she has stayed the course to this day of 31st of March 2012 when she is exhausted in her campaign and aware that manipulation could be used to make her lose. I do not want to think about that.
In that address so long ago, she is explaining that living away from home and being married to a foreigner did not take away her love for her land. ""It is true that I have lived abroad. It is true that I am married to a foreigner. These facts have never interefered and will never interfere with or lessen my love and devotion for my country by any measure or degree."
Her involvement in the movement for Burma's freedom was very political. But people everrywhere take long to believe in women. There is a proverb in my mother tongue about that and it makes me very impatient. But Aung San Suu Kyi is very patient. "Another thing that people are saying is that I know nothing about Burmese politics. The trouble is that I know too much. My family knows best how complicated and tricky Burmese politics can be and how much my father had to suffer on this account."
I am waiting to hear that Aung San Suu Kyi has won. That she is freer again! The faith of Aung San Suu Kyi and her film - The Lady must become more popular than just her person . No matter what, she is a winner! But in this regard, many lands in Afrika and elsewhere must only just begin. To search for democracy and to live it as if it mattered for our next breath because it does, and especially so for the women and youth!
"We must make democracy the popular creed. We must try to build up a free Burma in accordance with such a creed. If we should fail to do this, our people are bound to suffer. If democracy should fail the world cannot sit back and just look on, and therefore Burma would one day, like Japan and Germany, be despised. Democracy is the only ideology wich is consistent with freedom. It is also an ideology that promotes and strengthens peace. It is therefore the only ideology we should aim for."