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Making ripples
Bev Reeler
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.

They switched 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.'

Nkathazo from Lupane
he had been in to Amani 'many times'
for 'many times he was beaten or tortured'

We returned 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 intimidation
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 lit
a moment of silence
for victims of torture across the planet

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