When autocrats have total control of a nation: when fear and the dread of dungeons force dissidents to crawl like coward crabs into holes of hopelessness: when journalists stare lies in the face, and report that all is well, truth will always bear fruits to the fearless few who “will” use their pens as conquering weapons. Their pens will pry, prod, poke and push pieces of paper through impenetrable walls to produce stories–most times written on paper dyed red with blood and despair of persons who dared to speak truth to power. Many perished for crimes as simple as looking different from the judge/jury/executioner. Those stories are our only clues sometimes, as to what really transpires behind autocratic and tyrannical fences.
History books and graveyards are decorated with names of fearless fighters—those that fought the demons of injustice, racial prejudice, oppression, subjugation, hypocrisy, rape, and organized fear. It bothers me to observe similarities to pre-Apartheid systems and pre-Nazi conditions cloaked and disguised in such a way that awful situations can slip under the radar of respectable institutions, built to ensure that such past atrocities did not happen again.
Can you imaging the shock millions felt when a British reporter did not even question the veracity of Idi Amin’s assertions that under his 8-year killing machine, people were free to express themselves publicly? It is alleged that after Amin took over the leadership of Uganda, he pulled all military commanders who did not support his coup before a firing squad, and saved their heads by freezing them. Those frozen heads were displayed every so often, to remind all and sundry what would happen if anyone dared to oppose him. That same Idi Amin was quoted in one of Britain’s most respectable newspapers thusly: “In communist countries you are not free to talk: there is one spy for every three persons.” In Uganda under his rule “Not so here.” I wonder why the interviewing journalist did not inquire about the fate of the former fighters, entombed in his freezer– forever frozen in fright.
Writers rarely question the spiritual and or moral ramifications of our injustice to American Indians–even to this day. As I write this, remnant seed of Indian warriors continue battling for the rights of oil reserves found under their reservations. How can we pretend that we set the standards for Democracy, when we do not offer requests for official pardon or forgiveness from unjust wars, unjust confiscations, unjust financial and institutional rape and plunder at the altar of peace- at the United Nations? Since one neighbour’s search for justice is inter-connected with those of the world’s family of nations, whether we believe it or not: we are our brothers’ keepers. Time does not absolve us from ancestral and/or generational curses: forgiveness, restitution and repentance do grant us such.
I want to take this opportunity to reach out to younger writers to show them that in many instances, when forces were completely overwhelming, pens had neutralized mighty swords. I want to use this article to encourage the reading population to seek out works from writers (many now dead) who paid the ultimate sacrifice for snippets of truth.
I have been to so many lectures where inadvertently, someone asks “What was the citizenry doing during the Holocaust? Where were the God-fearing people during the First Crusade? What did decent people do when Idi Amin Dada spewed flames of hatred on all nouns that dared to disagree with him? Where are the works of the silent moralists during Saddam’s time? Some reference the Civil Rights Movement as a watershed moment in America’s history, when so many people refused to be bystanders in the parade of injustice. They used their pens as arrows and their bodies as human shields. Request personal prophecy They broke the back of the beast of racial prejudice—temporarily.
However, may I remind my fellow writers that native Indians have not yet eaten fruits form our First Amendment. I would also remind them that seed of Inca peoples are hungry while their borrowed gold continues to plaster the steeples of Europe’s largest and richest churches. I have yet to see an article in any mainstream media addressing our continued attempts to bar Native Americans from negotiating directly with oil companies for the rights to drill oil on the lands that they and their ancestors have inhabited for centuries. Today we use different types of pens—not to write about the atrocities of Native Americans, but to surround them like cattle. Now that there is “Oil in them thar hills” we are using laws to attempt to “write them off.”
Even though writing was outlawed then, God’s prophets documented segments of the Atlantic Slave Trade in advance. Some gave prophetic images, (Daniel 2:34-35) and others recorded clear texts: Psalm 44:11-14, Deuteronomy 28:20-68. Even eyewitnesses’ accounts survived: “To Shoot Hard Labour—The Life and Times of Samuel Smith, an Antiguan Workingman 1877-1982.” Samuel “Pappy Sammy” Smith was a buggy driver to the governor of the twin islands of Antigua and Barbuda in the latter part of the 19th century. He asked his grandsons to record his chronicles without changing even one word, and they complied with his request.