There is nothing more difficult than writing in the troubled areas of
EAST AFRICA. Moreover, when you are 23 years old, a refugee, a victim
of war, have lost relatives, parents and brothers in political
problems, tribal upheavals are greatly enhanced.
Alone surviving in middle of hatred and madness, far from your home, a
writer is vulnerable to obstacles never even imagined by those who
have the peace and tranquility of a homeland without chaos and war.
Since the inception of war in my country, the Democratic Republic of
Congo, I have been shuffled from one neighbouring country to the next
and, most importantly, Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda are at loggerheads with
my native land.
You can imagine, then, how difficult it is for an artist, a writer, or
a journalist to freely and creatively ply his craft.
I am not being nationalistic, but I know what I am talking about,
especially when I, myself, have been affected from near or from far by
that madness, inhumanity, and cynicism of this African thirst for war
in my region: the Great Lakes (East Africa).
When a writer has witnessed such cruelties as the burial of a live
woman alive, rapes, massacres of babies in hospitals, he is forced by
his conscience to reveal these atrocities in writing. By this he
shares with the world his memories of brutality that will haunt his
life in perpetuity. Therefore, I am compelled to write about all the
situations I experience in my society.
As a refugee in a land which is involved in external struggles, I
personally know many people who have perished in these struggles. But
I cannot always truly write concerning what is going on and certainly
I can not always freely write about it for reasons of security. I live
in cultural and intellectual embargo, a situation where no one can
publish your work, where you are used without being paid for your
work. Your manuscripts are stolen and another man’s name appears on a
published book, the contents of which are clearly your own.
Since the September 11th suicide attacks in the United States, many
leaders in the Third World, especially in Africa, have legitimated
their dubious actions and totalitarian tendencies by suppressing their
opponents under the guise of anti-terrorist laws. No one can write the
real truth, fearing laws that suppress freedom of speech. In my case
it is more dangerous because I have that identity “Refugee from a
hostile country.” According to the unofficial but real, a refugee is a
non-entity in society. He cannot have work, no rights, and most of the
time he is not even considered a human being. Every now and then
information surfaces about the sudden disappearance, or even
assassination of a refugee. The situation is confused; the United
Nations High Commission of Refugees (UNHCR) is unable to protect those
whose cares they are pledged to uphold. Even minimum security for
refugees is not seen. Many refugees have been killed while under the
protection of the UNHCR.
Now, imagine my own situation, no job, only writing over and over,
waiting and waiting for an opportunity that may never materialise,
sometimes without many meals, living the life of a beggar. Surely I am
poor and my situation is getting worse by the day. I live under
tensions, in a world where people do not care about the problems of
others. But I cannot keep quiet when with me and near me there is
misery, injustice, violence and daily increase of crime. All these
situations affect my very being, my emotions, my reason, and my
I have to write. I know however, I cannot live by my pen, which is my
deepest desire. I do, though, keep on writing and wait patiently for
the day when my star will reach its ascendancy.
All that I have shared with you gives me the strength to keep on
singing my song in poetic expression. For me, writing brings me to the
summit of satisfaction that I reach by my creativity, my words.
The inks of my pen some people fear and try to repress. I have to
spread truth, ideas of peace, reconciliation, understanding,
tolerance, justice and love among people. In my poverty my only tool
is the richness of language expressed in written form.
Sharing experiences and discussing with other writers our work, I take
on a renewed vigour, more objectivity in my struggle for peace, more
hope which reveals my ultimate victory.
I assure you in my weakness, my pen is powerful. I am in pain,
troubled by the uncertainties of my daily life, but I keep up my
courage. I will not let hopelessness overcome me.
I want to see the fruit of my works; the Bible said that the tree
which is not productive would be thrown into fire. Today, I am near a
certain fire (poverty), but I know, even if my rights as a human being
have been sidelined; the solution is not to give up because my
greatest mission in life is to continue writing.
It’s not that because I write I know all things, but because in
writing I can reduce ignorance and promote truth, justice and peace.
“Ars Longa; Vita Brevis”, life is brief but art is everlasting.