By Rautia Nakanyala
This week has been the hardest week in a very long time to be African; to be a foreigner; to be a woman and to be me. Life was showing us flames from the South to the West. As I write this, I have an urge to scream out loud or switch off my phone and disappear until the world feels warm again.
My fellow sisters/women, as a woman co-raising boys, I feel the urge to apologize on their behalf even though they’re innocent for the actions of their fellow males. I am wise enough to understand that, women apologizing on the behalf of our sons, brothers, uncles, fathers, husbands, boyfriend etc is one of the many reasons why we here today. However, I am truly sorry for every single woman that endured hell at the hands of a man.
Truth is, men feel very entitled, entitled to our bodies, to our lives. For so long we covered up their sins like they are God, not holding them accountable for their actions because we felt they were superior. We accepted their trash behaviour just because they’re men and that needs to come to an end. As a survivor of domestic abuse at the hands of my father, I understand the complexity of a man who feeds off inflicting pain and I understand the brokenness of the victim. If you’re reading this and you’ve been a victim, my heart has been bleeding for you. I wish I could hold you and never let you go: to protect you from the coming years of reliving the trauma, trying to numb the pain, losing your identity, not seeing your value and making excuses for them.
I don’t even want to start writing about the many nights you will lay in bed blaming yourself, but healing will come if you let it. Healing will find you when you accept the fact that you did nothing wrong not even by loving them or staying longer than you should have. But nothing will make senses for a while: hang on to the little light you have left. I hope you will also realize that your power was so great that it intimidated them, own it. Step into your greatness.
I don’t know when our hearts became so filled with so much hatred that we became completely ignorant. What I have come to realize is that the people who commit evil against humankind, from gender-based violence to xenophobia, they all have one thing in common. They have no fear, no fear for a stronger higher power/authority than them. So much of that is caused by our governments who let men get away with the most evil acts without stern consequences, and the parents that raised men thinking their kings and never holding them accountable for their actions. In the end as an adult, who you become is solely your responsibility.
Men need to learn to heal from their trauma, to learn self-control and learn conflict resolution. Violence is not and has never been a form of conflict resolution.
What happened in South Africa this week, plainly teaches our children that the only way for their voice to be heard is to use violence; to inflict pain ( parents, please listen to your kids when they speak, don’t wait for tantrums to listen – this is applicable the government as well); to listen to the cries of their people and act on their concerns before they start thinking the only way to be taken seriously is by becoming murderers.
I am a Namibian and I live in South Africa. Honestly, South Africans are one of the kindest people I met so I know they know better and can do better. The level of entitlement and disrespect shown is disgusting, Africa should be home for Africans. Everyone should feel welcomed in whichever country they go, but we need to learn to respect other people’s homes as well. What you won’t do in your home, you should never do in another’s home. It’s basics manners honestly. Till today I can never comprehend how a previously oppressed country can reach a point where they oppress the very same people that heard their cries when the rest of the world looked away. Men and women who are building their economy day in and day out and all they asked in return was a home for their family? How does innocent blood recover your economy or create employment for you or will you take over their shops and run it?
In the end, what stops you from running a business of your own or getting that degree? Opportunities come to those that seek it. Do you know the amount of courage and strength it takes to leave all you know behind and try to build something from scratch with no family or friends to help you build? Violence, in the end, will always be the easiest option for the weak who can’t stand to hear the truth.
I want to acknowledge the men and women who embraced their African brothers and sisters and shielded them in their homes during this awful time. You kept the true legacy of South Africa alive, UBUNTU FOR ALL. Now it’s time to rebuild and to heal!
I hear the cries of mothers crying in great agony for their daughters that were murdered. I can never imagine the amount of pain parents experience when their child is brought back home lifeless: killed by someone who doesn’t know your pain in raising their child. I hear the restless spirits of the young women’s lives that were taken away by boys in grown men’s bodies.
Our government and justice system have failed us. They have made our lives worthless in these men’s eyes the second they let men get away with abusing, raping and killing us. They refuse to hold them accountable for their actions.
What breaks my heart more is the ignorant sisters and brothers that are always quick to blame the victim and protect the rapist and murderers. Listen we’re all provoked almost every day of our lives, but the majority of us don’t act on it because we practice self-control, so stop with all the stupid reasoning.
Nothing can ever justify anyone inflicting pain on anyone.
My dear African sisters and brothers, the time has come where we need to stand together, to stand by the truth; to speak the truth, listen to the truth and accept the truth so we can build a better Africa in which women and children are safe and where we feel at home in our brother’s country. In my language, there’s a proverb that loosely translates, “Where there’s your brother is not far” and that is what we need to keep in mind as we go on rebuilding and healing years of trauma.
My sisters, if you haven’t sung yet about your abuse, I urge you to sing like a bird, so you can set yourself free. I believe you and I stand with you in solidarity.
We will feel safe again. We will rise, and we will be a force that they can’t destroy anymore.
In the end, I refuse to be shaken, to let fear creep into my soul and die while I am still breathing. I keep reminding myself to be still and know there’s an authority above all else. It will get better, we all get better because we know better. Light always wins in the end!