Thursday, February 5, 2009

Tout Le Monde

For my African Literature class I have been reading the novel Allah Is Not Obliged. Although it is a work of fiction, most of what occurs in the book is heavily rooted in reality. The story is of a 10-year old child-soldier from Côte d'Ivoire. Throughout the narrative, our hero (for lack of a better word) is surrounded by hard drugs, AK-47s, rape, sexual abuse, etc. It is totally eye opening, but leaves me with a real genuine blanketed helplessness. There's really no way for America or anyone else to prevent a lot of the genocide and sexual slavery and child-soldiering that goes on in the world.

The following is a list of things from the book that I found specifically unsettling...

- "The solution spontaneously comes to his lips in a simple slogan: 'no hands, no elections'. It was obvious: someone with no arms couldn't vote. All Foday Sonkah had to do was cut off the arms of as many people, as many of the citizens of Sierra Leone, as possible. Every Sierra Leone prisoner had his hands cut off before being sent back into the territory occupied by government forces. Foday gave the orders and methods and the orders and the methods were enforced. The 'long sleeve, short sleeve' policy was put into action. 'Short sleeve' was when you cut off the whole forearm; 'long sleeve' was when you cut off both hands at the wrist.

Amputations were rife, and they were carried out with no quarter, no mercy. If a woman showed up with a baby on her back, the woman's hands were amputated and the baby's hands too. It didn't matter how old the baby was on account of how you might as well amputate baby citizens because they'll be voters someday too."
(pg. 165)

The worst part of this section is that the armless were still able to vote. The whole endeavor resulted in pointless suffering.

-"You got no luck, little Birahima, you can never be a brave young lycaeon of the revolution. Your mother and your father [are] already dead, dead and buried. To be a brave young lycaeon of the revolution, you must kill with your bare hands (with your own hands, understand?), kill one of your own parents (mother and father), and only afterwards be initiated."
(pg. 174)

-There is one scene in which a girl child-soldier aggravates a boy child-soldier, who happens to be her boyfriend. The girl shoots the boy with an AK-47 but misses because she is so drugged up on hash. He responds by shooting her in the legs. They leave her behind to be eaten by the ants and vultures.


Since I am on the topic of world culture, here are a few interesting things about Moldova that really stuck out to me...

- Some people wear backpacks on the front so that Gypsies don’t steal slice open the bag and take their belongings. Gypsies. Not really something that most Americans have to deal with.

- People with severe mental disabilities just become shut ins. The families keep them inside most of the time because there are no programs or jobs for the mentally handicapped. They just stay quiet and try to pass for “normal”.

- Children can buy cigarettes but you must be 16 years old to buy alcohol and you can buy that just about anywhere (even McDonald's).

- If you get in a car accident, you are probably going to die. The ambulances take their time and the doctors, in general, are sub par at best.

- Religious shrines are incredibly commonplace.

- The money is about the size and consistency of Monopoly money. It comes in varying sizes and colors.

- Being gay is not really an option. It is considered one of the worst ways that one can shame their parents. This is the way that everyone is brought up.

- Contraceptives are not widely accepted. Because of the religious state of the Republic, most people wait until marriage and then have children right away. Pre-Marital Sex (or PMS, as I like to call it) is considerably frowned upon.

The Romanian currency is probably the most beautiful I have come across. It has a weird sudo-wax texture to it.

I have an interview tomorrow morning for an on campus job. The only real downside is that, to start, I will only get about 3 hours a week. Not too bad considering I currently don't make any money at all.

Bill Gates released a bunch of mosquitoes at a prestigious technology conference.

Tout Le Monde is French for "Everyone" (the literal translation being "All the world").

The nosebleeds are almost history. Thanks to Jim and Liz's mom for the suggestions.

Speak easy,

1 comment:

Robin said...

Your blog today was eye-opening. I had heard of the African mutilation (chopping off the hands of people) but didn't know it was so they couldn't vote. I think you're taking some interesting courses this term! Good luck with the job interview.