“To tell me you know my pain is to stab yourself in the leg because you saw me get shot. We have two different wounds, and looking at yours does nothing to heal mine.
You know nothing of silence until someone who cannot know your pain tells you how to fix it.”
This poem speaks to me of the stolen agency and imposed voicelessness of Africa’s people. This silence is heavily illustrated in Africa’s relationship with the rest of the world, as well as the terms upon which scholarship on and in Africa is carried out. These is also evidenced in how ‘news’ on Africa is reported outside Africa. Our voices are unheard, but our pains are ‘treated.’ A doctor would always ask a patient for their symptoms. But not those who wish to ‘solve’ Africa. Africa’s ills are diagnosed, treated and dismissed without consulting the ‘patient’. There are lots of African experts and scholars who have never experienced Africa but are frequently called up to demonstrate their expertise of a broad and diverse continent.
You know nothing of silence! The age-deep stifling silence of shouting, screaming, yelling, but no one is listening…
You know nothing of silence! Silence in response to a pain so bone-deep, so ancient, it defies description.
You know nothing of silence!
We are the silence.
We are the lost voices.
We are Africa.