Sunday, October 13, 2013

The inhumanity of impunity: Human rights belong to every race, like oxygen to life

The ogre strides continents goring out humanity. Have some drops of coffee fallen out of your cup and onto your newspaper? Wake up. Just that, the smell of the coffee is putrid. There is no aroma here...

Those who argue that just because the Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 was written in Europe the continent claims to always have upheld human rights and invented them are wrong. If they are Human rights, they make sense to everyone also in stories we tell in Afrika. 

The inhumanity of the ogre is a story we were told when stories were still told around a fire in the evening in my village. Stories were not only told. You sat.  You listened to them in order to tell them. You enjoyed, sang and told them again creatively. You could create your own and change them completely. Point. We could create our futures.

Stories told were sweet. You could chime in and sing. It was not a one way matter. Participation was important. Inclusivity. Stories were not sold in newspapers. 

I sat there. Heard about an ogre who changed in form. That night he was a handsome man who wanted to lead all girls to glory. I visualised this ogre. Cringed as he stepped out to dance and as he finally asked girls to escort him. And then ate them up. 

One escaped him as she hid high up in the rafts where wood was hanging to dry. Dark smoke covered her. I can create it afresh and even forget the original. See a politician luring you for votes. Creation. But suddenly King Solomon's Mines by Rider Haggard was dropped on my lap. Those old stories disappeared for a long time. The fire died down. I still blow in the embers. Did colonialism steal all creation from Afrika? But the human mind is still better than a computer. We saved some files. Free of charge. 

The story sank deep the idea that there is a big huge creature who is up to no good. One that could appear as a handsome young man at a dance. And then change into a monster when he escorted the girls home. Taking position of power. Power relations also between men and women. People have imperialist agendas.

Just like the Norwegian stories of trolls and specifically Huldra the attractive girl whose long hair could turn into a tail. The one who lured young men into a mountain and then showed her true colors after marrying them. Interesting gender dimensions there. In the cruel ogre in African stories I read- I dare not say all for Africa is full of an incredible variety of traditional stories like all other places- the inhuman ogre was male. 

You saw the secret mouth at the back of the head of the ogre. It opened only when he stepped higher and he swallowed helpless little things that are normally attracted by dirt. Flies. Eiish!

But flies and insects were not enough. In the inhumanity of the ogre! He is waiting for the birth of a baby by a lone woman in order to eat it up. Miraculously a bird, a dove is watching. Story of love in different dimensions. And off she flies to the smithy and sings to the man who is her husband and busy at work:

Oh man at the smithy
Work quickly now, work
Your wife is giving birth
and an ogre is helping her

Of course she is helpless, the ogre is just waiting to eat newborn human flesh. Today's human trafficker. Current dictators in Africa fit the role. Today's migrants getting thrown into the Mediterranean.  The impunity of inhumanity.

It shocks how we emphasize deaths in the Mediterranean all of a sudden when it has been going on for ages. Human parts have also been smuggled through the Sinai from Egypt. How that story died quickly. The asylum seekers who cross the Sahara or die there alone. Modern day slavery, total inhumanity. But the media is not always there. CNN tried. It is not there when without any boat capsizing people are tossed out of ships into the Mediterranean. 

And note that it is one of the smallest countries in the world and in Europe that is speaking. In unity of nations something is always lost? Thank you Prime Minister of Malta for saying it Mediterranean is becoming a grave, but sorry it has been so for long, they know but are silent. 

Ivincible Nubia by Philo Ikonya (Not yet published) a novel tells of bodies inside European high seas. At a time when Europe and America are already under the seas too. Only that in the graves there the people are alive and still speak. But honestly bodies washed off shores on resort islands of Europe long ago. We heard everything in Tribunal 12 in Stockholm 2012. Including how police brutally kill asylum seekers in the UK or people who have over stayed their unwelcome entry. Some of them like that girl, to see a mother she had not seen in years. She was killed. Ask Tribunal 12 for all data. 

Too much for my story here. In this story of migrants there are not even doves to send messages that a parent is choosing which child to let drown and which one to take home. What humanity is this? Did you see those caskets hanging in crane in numbers and numbered? And African elected presidents and leaders are sitting at home proclaiming how Africa is managing herself just fine. Visiting terror on voices of reason at home. I can tell you that story. Not so long time ago... I would begin.

And that Tribunal 12 meeting is not something vague.  Nurudin Farah was there. He told Europe that she is so ignorant. And he says it often. But he is invited back and nobody arrests him for speaking out. They may do whatever else but he is free. And Europe stood accused and judgment was passed that she was no longer the home of human rights. Who thinks that human rights are achieved once and for all and archived? It is a struggle every place I know including in homes.

But the world and its indifference: There is much to make you choke over your coffee as you read the newspapers as Juliette Binoche or Becca says in the reality check movie: A thousand times Goodnight produced Eirik Poppe and premiering this October 2013 in Oslo. Yes, Europe has stolen, is stealing in many ways from Africa and elsewhere. 

But today am mainly motivated to write by our own Afrika. We want to disown ourselves as humans and owners of human rights. As if we have not heard of how in Kenya, Mekatilili wa Menza for example knew her human rights and that of her nation at once. How not being able to write much, she showed people what the colonialist was coming to do in her Afrika using a mother hen who is snatched away with all her chicks as well. Can we spend some money in Afrika making our movies and recording our long defence of human rights defence? 

But my story...Of course the man at the smithy abandons his tools and runs home and saves his wife just in time. The gender that is always cast as the provider is redeemed there for he was not away wasting money or having fun but working. And he does get home. And so wonderful the message of Freedom of Expression there. It saves life. Freedom of movement. Rights: Food, security, choice all the basic freedoms and even second generation rights.

The tragedy of Africa today is that her information is spread mainly from European sources only. Not given home roots and it has them. So that it is possible to hear people telling human rights defenders they are puppets of Europe. Repeat the same argument. The missionary style.

In Afrika we have many languages that refer to humanity in their name for person. Utu, Ubuntu. And the other languages are also full of humane ways. We despise oppression like the oppression of the ogre. Someone needs to keep saying this love of humanity is ours not imported. We have our failures and they are gross but we look higher.

Journalist Philip Ochieng' whose column is a lifetime achievement in the Sunday Nation of Kenya. He needs to ask why we are so Eurocentric? We throw away our philosophies and Afrika of course has them, for rubbish. He has asked before and illustrated well what the place of Afrika is in the world. But a coffee cup and the other some things get dropped. Today I read the loss of the ownership of human rights in a sad light in Kenya. Are we doing enough?

Korea made sure all writers who visited her in the 78th PEN Congress saw and if possible took home with them a book in English titled: Overlooked Historical Records of the Three Korean Kingdoms by Samguk Yusa and translated by Kim Dal- Yong. That as many as possible went to see the roots of this nation and its struggle to become less corrupt and to instal integrity as their own value. And that was not enough. It was dramatised. 

Even being critical as we were. Many made the blunder of going to visit Nuclear Plants (Most people were unaware) but a nuclear company had supported the Congress. There was a cultural clash in reactions. But even in such cases, and us being hosted, the mantle of silence was not bearable. 

Right from among the group led by German PEN came heavy criticism and even walk outs. And many of us refused to go underground to see the real works even though we had some tea and goodies in the offices. We were first treated to a movie and that is when most of us realised where we were and German PEN led a walk out. The protest continued throughout that Congress. So the ogre and humanity. Well, has anyone really tamed the ogre of Nuclear power? Well, and the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for 2013 is: The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). 
"I am Malala" She said. And who are you in the world's struggles?

You bet if am around here still I will be waiting for that march and will carry my torch until the next year and relay it to my very favourite and beloved Malala. She fights another type of ogre and proves that human rights are innate. The world responded with great enthusiasm to a call for poems for Malala. Old and young from Brazil to Kenya, from Austria to Japan.
The right to education, freedom is human. I love how candidly this 16 year- old asks "What is all this talk about East and West? We are talking about human beings..." I unashamedly hear her story as a traditional African one. Sit and listen. Watch her slay ogres and own what is human. Watch her call for the slaying of impunity. Almost from the mouth of babes? Create futures with our pens and mouths. Nobody can do that for you from the past. Now is the time.

So Ochieng' whose name means born in the light of the sun, argues today that because Europe has an atrocious record of human rights abuse- indeed that is why the Declaration of Human Rights- 1948 was written, then Euro-America should not pose as "a global apostle of democracy" And of course he is right. But is Europe even doing that or are a few people who are outspoken in her as well not in grave danger? Did the killing of rapper Pavlos Fyssas in Greece for singing against racism not signal anything just the other day? 
Oslo. plaque letter to the stars for Jewish family.

But even in the past Euro-America was writing about rights as its own mea culpa about its own. Europe is still writing letters to the stars on the streets for all the Jews whose previous habitation they can locate. Digging into her own wounds. Of course Europe went on colonising and brutalising in many forms even after 1948 and he lists the countries where this took place. 

Europe had already brutalised Africa with borders and languages and introduced hatred of our own cultures, religions and so on. But even though this was done we cannot sit there saying you did, you did, you did? What are we doing ourselves for our own? Are we reading our own books or others? How come it is always the argument from the 'West' that seems to weigh more in writings and books but not when it comes to a court of justice. I am referring to the International Criminal Court. 

No. We must be the first ones in Afrika running to build this court. That is why 34 African countries in the majority signed the Rome Statute creating the ICC. We need it. We are in the majority but we are suddenly surprised that we have many cases over at the Hague? Majority signing was not for a purpose? All that stuff about racism we cannot begin to entertain for the ICC is then pro the suffering majorities the maimed and has refused to hold as gods those who are accused. Those not used to being held accountable. And we are not saying those summoned are guilty. We are saying follow due process. The truth in as far as we can try to reach it is as necessary as oxygen, so it justice. 

I know Ochieng' advises those required before the court to humbly submit, and tells the Uhuru Kenyatta so, but he argues a court that is the only recognized as the instrument for the protection of our human rights today in the world is like aid to Africa. He says "Like "aid", the Rome Statute is one method by which the Gnomes of Zurich apply sop to our wounds so as - by silencing Nassers and Nkrumahs- to legally maintain their Third World holdings- wealth looted through vilently in colonial times (sic) for colonial looting is the taproot of all the yawning economic gaps and political hurlyburlies responsible for all of Africa's human rights problems." 
Are we that paralysed? Can Europe keep the sun from shining in Afrika? What are we doing to break this yoke?

1 comment:

  1. hey nice post meh, I love your style of blogging here. this post reminds me of an equally interesting post that I read some time ago on Daniel Uyi's blog: First Time Conversation With An Attractive Girl .
    keep up the good work friend. I will be back to read more of your posts.