Reflections

#JE SUIS … AFRIQUE (2)

By Maarifa Kidoge, Congo:

The story of a Congolese boy

In Africa, parents tend to name their kids according to the circumstances in which the kids were born. You shouldn't be surprised if you encounter someone whose name is Yesterday. If you ask why, don't be shocked to hear that the reason is because something happened the day before (s)he was born.

If I had been born after that day, I would have named myself “Only-By-Grace”. As I look back to that day, I don't understand how I managed to sleep, wake up and see another day with no bruise! Well, I had a small bruise but it was nothing compared to what I saw. That day was simply amazing and strange at the same time; words cannot describe everything I experienced.

It was 30th October 1996. I still remember the day as vividly as I can remember yesterday. It was a beautiful day in terms of weather and thanks to God, the weather never did disappoint. Something else did though: WAR! Out of nowhere, it just erupted like a volcano would, the only difference being that volcanoes do warn you at least.

I was in my mama's kitchen with her; I can't remember where all my siblings were but suddenly, I saw one of my papa's cousins walk in. He seemed to be in a rush and out of breath.

Gather a few belongings, a sack of rice and beans. Put them at the back of the Puma…” he shouted. My papa also came rushing in and gave some serious instructions to my big cousin who was a very good car driver. My sisters had to go with him to a certain arranged location that I didn't know of.

Something was wrong. I looked into my mama's eyes and she seemed worried; very worried. She picked up my baby brother, who had only spent a little over a year in the world by then. As soon as I heard the gun shots from afar, I figured out what was going on and man! I literally sprinted to my mama in fear.

We left the house with all the doors open so that if we ever came back to it, nothing would be broken. 'They' could take everything 'they' wanted but I guess my papa was wise enough to leave the gates open. We had to leave Milou behind as well. He was a great companion to my big brother but we simply didn't have enough space for him in the car. I am sure if dogs could speak, Milou would have begged to come along. My three sisters had left already with my big cousin about thirty minutes earlier than us. My papa was in the driver's seat; my uncle in the front passenger seat; and my mama was at the back with my baby brother, my little sister, and one of my cousins – let's call him Mark. I was at the back of the car with my other cousins, my big brother, and food! For some reason, I was always near food. Off we left our home.

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