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Sunday, December 9, 2007

Cruelty Beyond Measure, Part I

One of my favorite past-times since 1989 has been to keep track of information I read about in the media on numerous subjects of interest. I have three files of boxes of research material and literally thousands of newspaper and magazine clips that represent 18 years of work. I now keep track of my subjects of interest electronically by downloading articles from online news sources. However, there is one file that I continue to keep track of manually – my file titled The Destruction of Africa.

In 1995 it occurred to me that Africa was imploding and no one was raising an eyebrow. In fact, if a picture is worth a thousand words, the Spanish artist Salvador Dali captured the human suffering of the dark-continent in his piece, Montre Molle au Moment de sa Premiere Explosion. This painting shows the African continent as an exploding clock, obviously suggesting that time is running out for the charter members of the human race. If someone asked me to describe Dali’s artwork and my clippings in five words or less, I would simply call them The Detonation of Africa.

There is one emotional response that you may experience when reading an article on the ravishes of AIDS in Africa, or the consequences of famine in the sub-Saharan region, or the merciless crusade that the Sudanese warlords are imposing on the most misery-plagued section of East Africa. However, there is a potpourri of distinct emotions that you will be conscious of when plowing through a collage of destruction similar to what I have built over the last 12 years – it is appalling. In fact, unless swift humanitarian aid helps pull Africa from the verge of the grave, I believe that by the turn of the next century, the current occupants of the continent will take their place in the annals of history as victims of the greatest human tragedy ever witnessed – the annihilation of roughly one billion people! This is in addition to the tens of millions who have been killed or had their lives severely disrupted over the last millennium through the slave trade, colonialism, religious repression and the confiscation of Africa’s natural resources by outside forces.

Historians have attempted to quantify the litter of human suffering brought about by depraved men throughout the course of civilization. We have endless volumes on the Wars of the 20th Century, the Holocaust, the scramble to pilfer the gold and other precious minerals of Southern Africa, the slave trade, the extermination of the Native Americans, the Inquisition and the Crusades to name a few. However, too often the human face of agony is lost in the statistics of war, pillage and torture, and perhaps no face has endured more misery than the black female. It would be a challenge to find any segment of the human population that has been persecuted with more rapidity than black women: She’s helplessly watched sons, husbands and fathers leave for war and never return; she witnessed the breakup of the family during the slave trade; she’s experienced the denial of rights in her own society; and most horrible of all, she’s had to bear the torment of rape and all manner of sexual violence.

With the exception of genocide, there may be no greater evil that can be perpetrated on a society than the systematic rape of a nation of women and girls, which often accompanies genocide. Notwithstanding the Western World’s fascination with gender equality, and on one hand rightfully so, there is no physical equality between men and women. This is one line of demarcation where God separated the sexes – men have the physical ability to defend and protect themselves, their families and their countries that women simply do not have. Consequently, during periods of national upheaval, due to civil insurrection or invasion from other countries, women become the prey of wicked, sexually corrupt men. This often results in entire villages of women and girls being raped, sometimes by as many as a half dozen men, and then murdered! And sadly this type of savagery is still present in our world today.

The Washington Post recently published an op-ed column by Michael Gerson on the genocide that is currently taking place in the Congo. He chronicles the story of a 24 year old rape victim named Lucianne who recounts the horror of being kidnapped, brutally gang-raped and how she narrowly escaped murder. But that was just the beginning of a life that is now filled with abandonment, mistrust and fear. After escaping an arranged marriage by her captors, she returned to her family farm only to discover that her husband had forsaken her and the farm was being occupied by others. While 20 something women in the United States are making strides to secure a career, Lucianne must now live like a vagabond, moving from field to field with the child that she gave birth to as a result of the repeated rapes.

She ends her interview with Gerson by begging him for help for the civil war torn Congo. Gerson conceded that he had no words of comfort for her or them. And after recovering from a moment of anguish myself, all I can do is add one more article to my file.

1 comment:

Dawn Wolf said...

David, this is a riveting commentary. It obviously took a lot of years to arrive at these conclusions. But, it was worth the time...- Gregory