The Horror: mine and Congo


A coworker came to me today and showed me an article in Jan 2010 GQ (the Indian edition) entitled “The Horror” by Ed Caesar. He brought the magazine over to my desk because there was one section in particular he wanted me to read. It goes:

Her name was Masika, and she had made it her life’s work to care for femmes violées and their babies. She was a poor woman, and I asked her why she did it. Masika said she had been raped several times herself. Once, in 1994, she watched soldiers murder her husband, cut him into bits “like a butcher” and throw his limbs around the room. Then, she was asked to rearrange him, as if he were a puzzle, before she was told to lie on her dead husband while the soldiers took turns raping her. After that assault, they asked her if she was hungry, and forced her to eat her dead husband’s penis.

“The reason I help these women,” she said, “is because I know about the pain.”

After reading that, I could feel hatred for men well up inside me and in disgust I felt compelled to read the rest of the article. I advised my male coworkers not to be surprised if they felt the burn of my wrath filled eyes after reading the article, I told them to protect their vitals, I told them to consider themselves warmed. I said, “Know this, I won’t hate you my anger will be directed at your entire gender.” So I settled to read on how men continue to ruin women, to abduct young girls, how men loot and pillage, and how the root of evil is settled in their loins. But the bulk of the piece wasn’t so much about the rape of women as it is about the rape of a nation. It talks about the conflict in Congo and the state that the potentially fruitful country is conflicted with.

I’ll be honest, my knowledge of the turmoil in the continent of Africa is limited and I am ashamed that I’m not as updated on the suffering of fellow humans as I should be… and so in my limited basket of facts, as I was reading about the corruption, about the foreign aid, and about the war that the world turns away from, I found a shadow of my very own Nepal.

Nepal too suffers from war and chaos, Nepal too is corrupt to the blood and marrow, Nepal too continues to exploit her own people and Nepal too is finding it difficult to find a way out.

In a few comments I’ve had people complain that I complain (which is probably why I have a “she complains” category) but in truth, I don’t value complaints (mine or others) and if anything, I am often consumed by trying to come up with solutions (but if I can’t or unless I do, I write and think out loud on here)… anyways, point being, I won’t pretend I have a solution for Nepal and I couldn’t even fabricate a way out for Congo and in my despair, I am left feeling oddly optimistic.

My sister is wise in so many ways and lately she’s been bringing up how fortunate we are in Nepal. There are countries that fare far worse, (please don’t misunderstand that as me taking pleasure in the pain of others or as me saying “Thank goodness that happened to someone else and not me” because I do believe the next sad thing to a battle lost is a battle won,) and in light of the article and in light of not too far neighbors like Afghanistan, Nepal is still somehow limping on.

Although there is much sadness embedded in the lives of fellow Nepalis (Utsav recently brought a sad statistic to my attention ), the flip side is I can leave my house without fear of being raped – something the women of Congo aren’t privilege to, I can walk the streets looking somewhat fashionable – something the burkha clad women of Afghanistan can’t fathom, and I am free to work, to hang out with friends, to date, and professional and personally – I can write.

So then there, in a few words… without even having to put too much thought into it, though Nepal is far from paradise – we are comparatively still incredibly fortunate. Maybe for a change Nepal and all of her citizens should take a moment to count our blessings – it’s definitely not an answer, but it’s a change in perspective and there is some respite in that.

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4 comments
  1. Pingback: World Spinner

  2. poet said:

    after the read i did ask myself the question what could make humans do such horrendous repugnant act .. i think the answer might lie in the butcher part and also us being only human or man as you have said ..does a butcher ever feels anything while he( i am using he ) when killing animals , cutting them to pieces and we eating them ….most probably not ….but here the case is of human ….all our life we have been taught that killing is not bad if it was done for good ( society is our teacher) ….so the man was killed ….we all know it was for bad reasons …..but lets take a stand of the man who killed …most probable he was brainwashed(deranged) well from many reasons drugs , words , greed ..so he thought he was right in killing that man ….because of us being human or man , the only person that matters to us is us that is i or mine …..the cutting part it did not affect him infact it gave him pleasure i think (there is sadistic nature in man too ..we do tend to pleasure ourselves on others pain somehow )…the part that it did not affect him and gave him pleasure was the reason he did it …. i could talk about the rape but i would only look worst ……
    i found the fault ..it is because of human ..if we were animal we could have never done that or we could never think of doing that literally …. ok one may point out at the good of the world well there is good too in this world and much of it too but it is just that oh look enemy blow them and blows them up to smithers yay we won , not much wrong in that is there …but a deranged most probable he was deranged man does something like that woah (not to you most probably you are pacifist but many us human man ) ….with so many wrongs in this world,,, well in terms of democracy …the wrongs have become the right ….
    my talk seems pointless but my point was …find the source(cause) for the problem and you would have the solution(have/know effect) ….

    p.s Without God, Everything Is Permitted (The Brothers Karamazov)

  3. the first part is sad, but also disgusting. what kind of people can think of shit like that? there are cases of (Acholi) children who were used in the Northern Ugandan “Lord’s Resistance Army” who claim to have violent headache if they don’t see blood … children as young as four or five have been kidnapped and trained to kill … with guns, machettes and so on … i’m at a shock as to what mankind can inflict onto mankind.

    on a side note, it also makes me think we need a common enemy – like if aliens came then all of humanity would have to align and be friends. but that’s a weird thought on my part.

  4. Pranaya said:

    Have you ever read Conrad’s Heart of Darkness? Or seen the film Apocalypse Now? The enigmatic words in Heart of Darkness (which Apocalypse Now is based on) are: “The horror, the horror.” Much ink has been spilled over what exactly this horror is, is it colonialism, imperialism, white men, who? I think I know, the horror is us. All of us, not just men, not just white men, US, as a human race.

    Places like the Congo and most of Africa is screwed up the way it is because of colonialism. Have you ever read about the European Scramble for Africa? In the late 19th century, Europe decided to invade all of Africa and divide it among themselves, they massacred millions, enslaved millions more and devastated the country beyond all repair. Ethiopia and Liberia are the only two countries in Africa that don’t owe their existence to the European Scramble. Every other country was carved up, divided and distributed among France, Belgium, Germany, America, Britian. So in the case of Africa, it is the white man who is to blame. It is colonialism that is to blame. And if you keep tracing it back, you’ll realize, like I have, that the European Enlightenment is to blame.

    But what about our part of the world? We’ve fucked ourselves without any outside help. We Nepalis are so proud of never having been invaded, but so what? We didn’t other people to do it for us, we enslaved ourselves. From Dalits to Tharus to Kamaiyas to Muslims to Madhesis, do we really think that Nepal is an ideal place, that we’re all equal? What happened during the ten years of civil war? It was Nepali against Nepali and there was rape, torture, murder, looting, child soldiers, bomb blasts, mutilation, acid attacks, electroshocking, waterboarding, disappearances, mass graves, everything that happens in Africa, happened during the civil war. But we who live in Kathmandu, we were never affected by any of this. It was only when I left Kathmandu, really travelled around and talked to people that I understood the extent of the ‘horror.’ We don’t need to goto Africa, the horror is everywhere.

    What to do? Beyond moral outrage like yours, what else can we express? We’re all shocked and appalled when we hear of incidents like these. But why? Its not like its something new. What about Guantanamo? What about Abu Ghraib? Darfur? Rwanda? Over and over again, its always there. Murder and rape. And each time, we’re shocked. Well, I’m not anymore. That doesn’t mean I’m don’t care. But we need to think! Although I think there is violence in everyone, brutality and a capability to cause pain to others, in EVERYONE, both men and women. This is not a gender thing, to relegate all responsibility to the MEN would be stupid and foolish. Just look at Queens Elizabeths and Victoria and Margaret Thatcher and Sarah Palin and Condoleeza Rice. The gender disbalance has given men more power to enact these atrocities but that should not be what’s being debated here. It is the human capacity for evil.

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