Philo Ikonya is a Kenyan writer who lives in Oslo. She graciously agreed to let me reprint a poem she wrote an posted on the Black Women in Europe™ Social Network, here on my blog:
It is the memory of the women who cannot leave Libya tonight that keeps me awake. I imagine the young ones leaving. I see older women, grandmothers saying ‘ We will stay here. Just go. Try to save yourselves. We will pray for you. We will be strong. Just go! God will look after us. We cannot all go, we are old.”
I imagine the children’s fear reflecting the fear in the eyes of the grown ups around them. I think of how they hid upon hearing machine guns and fire. I reflect on how young people and others felt during years of accepting little freedom. I meditate. It is these memories that steal sleep from my eyes tonight.
I think of the many pens that are paralysed with fear. I think of the jubilation of those who have acted with courage. I think of the colour of their hearts. I clap. I remember the young Mohammed Bouazizi who set himself on fire in Tunisia. I see the flames going down to his intestines and him thinking, this is the end. I wonder at life.
I think of the desert sands that have seen blood. The blood of blood and of worry. I think of the winds that howl in between. I repeat some phrases in grand speeches that never made sense. Facebook. How can you blame Facebook?
It was many years ago that we marvelled at Gadaffi’s tent as children. His life puzzled us. And not so many years back, we saw that freedom loving people of the west had returned to embracing him for oil?
I have heard many things. I believe I will still hear more. I never thought it would come to this. But how did we think things would end? I have seen girl body guards at work. I have seen militias dancing away and hotels in Nairobi sold off. I have seen politicians deliver illegal trophy, animal skins to Gadaffi, saying they represent their people. Owning animal skins or taking them by plane is illegal. Someone let this happen.
I keep wondering then, why people like Martin Luther King or Malcom X live not so long. Why their influence is never from a powerful podium for 50 years. I wonder what it takes for a man to hear and accept that one cannot allow their own nation to go on fire…if only one remembers that nobody should be in power for so long? That one must have institutions. We cannot live under palm trees, own so much property and have leisure and only look after our own sons. We cannot allow that others have to part their families get separated in Tripoli as you sit comfortably talking from a fortress! The whole world must stop and help Libyan people stick together.
I remember media that opined that Libya would not go the way of Tunisia or Egypt. That it would stay in peace. What could we say to them? They have been in analysis for years. Libya has been like neither of these. It had to be the worst.