A month ago, anyone in my home could predict my routine; wake up, pray and retire to my phone before breakfast time. The routine suited me well and the predictability of my life was not as boring as it may seem. The ritual changed on 999 when I first saw a thumbnail of a man kneeling on another man’s neck. The decision to click the play button would change a lot of things I did not knowtoexist then. I watched with sleep in my eyes as George Floyd moaned through the final moments of his life. The next hour was filled with a myriad of negative emotions as I scroll through Instagram, seeing angry messages on people’s timelines and watching as more people join the #BlackLivesMatter movement.
While I was chained down by Instagram, seeing mostly non-black people vent against racism, I was delayed a bit from checking out the hundreds of messages waiting for me on WhatsApp. The moment I broke free, thinking to detoxicate my mind from the negativity of racism, it was to be sucked into another abyss, every group was full of graphics and broadcast messages decrying the rape of Uwaila. Not knowing who Uwa, as the messages put her, was, I made the necessary Google search and stumbled upon what would plague my sanity for days. I saw a beautiful lady smiling on my screen with the RIP inscription beneath her name. Various websites rebroadcast this same message and the green chiffon top she was wearing became permanently imbued in my memory.
A few days later, just when I was getting used to seeing justice for Uwa everywhere I turn on the social media space, another cry went out. This time, it was Tina, then, Farishina, then Barakat and in a seemingly bizarre turn of events, the moodiness of the atmosphere some weeks ago became replaced with the angst of the violence those young ladies were subjected to during the final moments of their lives.
Empathy has always been a virtue I cherish. Suddenly, the object of my admiration became a nightmare. I couldn’t sleep without having to battle with the sweet smile of Uwa, the innocent look of Tina or the voice of Barakat’s mum as she lamented the death of her daughter. I came to the reality that the danger is no longer something I read of in crime novels or watch in thrillers, it is within my grasp. I realised anyone I know could become the next Tina or Barakat. I knew then, that the state of emergency declared on violence against women is not one to be enforced by the government alone but the people.
Today, I join my voice to the multitude declaring that the world is balancing on a precipice, right by a steep ledge leading to a deep and dark canyon. I give my absolute support to everyone saying no to rape. I lend my solidarity to the war against violence. I take a pledge to protect the weak within our communities, promote diversity in our societies and propel the world to a safe and peaceful harbour.