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24Nov

An Assignment Most Special

When you talk about the DRC, the first thing that comes to mind for me is the plight of the thousands of women caught up in a protracted war, with no end in sight. Don’t get this twisted, that’s not all there is to the Democratic Republic of Congo.  Without The DRC, you would have no mobile phone nor talk proudly of your new laptop among many other gadgets we use today…for the natural minerals/resources used in the production of your fancy ipod or my fancy phone comes from the DRC. It is sad to think that  a nation, the size of Western Europe continues to be in disarray, while we watch the future of her children squandered due to heinous crimes which my mind finds exceptionally hard to comprehend.

The challenges  faced by women in the DRC, especially in the hot spot regions where rape has become a way of life for the spineless assholes, who have forgotten that a woman is to be treasured and treated with dignity.  In my opinion, the international community has failed to keep its word of ‘Never Again,’ and their failure stinks. To think that a few months back, over 100 women were brutally raped  with a UN base nearby and action was not taken until a few days later makes me sick. Nevertheless, I am hopeful and I live in hope that one day, this plague known as rape will come to an end.

“Rape is used as a tactic of war to drive fear and to humiliate women and their communities,” says the Women’s sphere blog page. What we fail to understand is that women are so powerful, their stability ensures the stability of the household and when you take that out of the home and transplant into the wider community, you end up with a healthy society. In a society where the women are sick mentally, emotionally, spiritually and intellectually, we have a sick society and nation. Hence, the DRC is currently ill because its women are ill. The question is, who will help them to heal? Who will fight for their souls? This is an area and subject I have wanted to get my hands into for so long and really write about the issue as a journalist. I know I don’t have all the answers. I am fully aware that it may not even go far enough but if one person, just one person becomes more aware as a result of a piece I write or contribute to, that means more to me than sitting on my backside and complaining about the situation. It takes experience or at least some connection to another woman’s story who has been a victim to understand issues to do with child molestation, abuse or rape. If you have never been a victim, it is hard to understand why the memories that stay with you for life make you sick and you feel the need to wash your body even though you don’t smell.

So, when I got the task to write a Congo Special this week, something inside me leaped for joy. Don’t get me wrong, my joy was not because I am writing a story. It was because I am writing on a subject I really care about. I have done a piece on this issue before and I remember feeling so sick and sometimes tears rolled down my face. But it is not enough to get emotional and leave it there. One has to take action and so, I look forward to working this piece and giving it my all. My proposed interviewees are some of the most intelligent women I have come across through their work and I am honoured. My editor and I have also decided to include other voices and today, all I have done is send out emails to authors, activists and women from different fields, asking them to add their voice to the mix. I sincerely pray and hope we get good responses from all of them because we must stand up for each other and as African Women, we must stand with our sisters.

If anyone sums up what I am trying to say, Leymah Gbowee does…“We must ignite the spirit of Ubuntu – For I’m what I’m because of who we all are.”

And so, this is a journalism assignment most special because I am working on a story close to my heart. I pray I do it the justice it deserves.

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