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June 27, 2003
Like a wave of irresistible energy
singing and toy-toying
a group of largely Zimbabwean refugees
marked human rights day
by walking the streets of Pretoria
under the flags of Amnesty International
leaving a ripple
along the pavements
where for a small time
the passers by focussed on a different reality
In the centre
of the group
I was enveloped by the haunting rising and falling sounds
of songs from home
moving from one theme to another
moving through each cell in my body.
from Matabele to Shona,
a new rhythm
calling on their ancestors
those who had gone before,
who carried the wisdom and the power of the nation
to protect them from their own government.
Along the way
back I heard their stories:
Sifelani who had fled Zimbabwe 8 day before -
his rural home had been torched
and he was being sought by Zanu PF
He came from Lukosi - a place where I collect seeds
we found we had common friends in the area
I knew his rural school
'ah - you are truly my family'
'but in a few months we will meet there again.'
he had been in to Amani 'many times'
for 'many times he was beaten or tortured'
to IDASA and closing speeches were given
The last was Charles
a young musician from home
He stood before us all and honoured us with his testimony
of torture - of beating
of being stripped and humiliated
How hard it
was to witness
How much harder to tell
He sobbed uncontrollably when he had finished
A candle was
a moment of silence
for victims of torture across the planet
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