The Tears of Africa Meet The Tears of the Rainforest
Quote from Acoustic Dad (and written by him too...)
In February of this year (2005) an activist nun named Dorothy Stang was murdered when hitmen contracted by illegal loggers and ranchers ambushed her in the Brazilian rainforest. Though a tragic loss in itself, her murder represents only a fraction of the sorrow and death that continues to occur in that part of the world. Sister Stang devoted decades - and ultimately her life - to a cause that is often forgotten once the articles fade from the front page of the newspaper. I am therefore including the following folk-poem in the hopes of increasing awareness of her death, her work, and the continuing plight of the people and the environment she sought to protect.
Sister Stang lived in the Amazon
in a small Brazilian town.
It was a pit of fear and poverty
where corruption coats the ground.
The loggers there are violent;
they’d kill you where you stand.
Land and wealth are paramount
and wield a heavy hand.
Long have peasants suffered there;
long have peasants died.
More tears than rain have fallen
from the mourning eyes that cry.
The people there are starving;
she tried to bring them hope.
Then incurred the wrath of logging men
who brought a hangman’s rope.
Their threats were thick and heavy
like the dark Brazilian mud.
They told her that the forest floor
would soon be stained with blood.
Then movement in the jungle
exposed two shadows in the rain.
Fear hovered in the evening mists
and stained the dawn with pain.
Six shots rang in the darkness
of a still Brazilian night.
A nun lay dead and silenced
by negligence and spite.
Her death was truly tragic;
The aftermath was worse --
from threats and token rhetoric
to tears that seemed rehearsed.
Threat logic is the king out there;
Yet nothing has been done
to curb the acts of violence
burning brighter than the sun.
A village lives in fear
under the shadow of a gun.
The same that silenced Sister Stang;
the same that killed a nun.
©2005 Mike Bogle - All Rights Reserved
This is a beautiful poem. After reading this, and the story of Sister Stang, it brought back some memories for me that I never witnessed, though I found reading the telling of the events to be heartwrenching indeed.
When I was younger I lived in Africa. For four years, from the age of 12 to 16, I lived, with my family, in Mbabane, Swaziland. We were fortunate to be there with Dad working for CIDA (The Canadian International Development Agency) helping get rural water systems installed to avoid the drinking and use of contaminated water by the Swazis. All in all, it was a terrific experience, and I was lucky enough to attend Waterford Kamhlaba, a private school full of ex-pats and Swazi nobility. It was one of the rare and highly esteemed United World Colleges. I remember one of the first people I had met there was the Headmaster, a British fellow named Richard Eyeington. He and his wife worked at the school there for many years, and devoted selflessly of their lives to helping the children of Africa gain an education they would never otherwise achieve.
It was with great sorrow, one day last year, when I was reading the Waterford website, that I had stumbled upon the news. Richard and Enid Eyeington had been shot dead in their home by unknown gunmen, while watching television, in the normally peaceful Somaliland region of Somalia.
I was immediately touched by reading this news. I had nothing but fond memories of both of them, whether it was seeing them in the Administration building or at Assembly, or learning Geography from one of the true Masters. People like this are of the rarest breed, and to have all of their service and devotion ungratefully taken from them for reasons undoubtedly tied to greed was beyond my comprehension. My memory of first meeting them both at the school in Swaziland now is faded, and the edges curled, but the memory of their service is as stark as ever. I can only hope that the people responsible were brought to justice. Richard E. Grant, the actor, whom attended Waterford in the early 70's, has the article on his site, and really, it is worth reading.
British teachers murdered by gunmen at Somali school
By Declan Walsh in Nairobi.
Two British teachers have been murdered by unidentified gunmen in Somaliland, a normally peaceful enclave of war-racked Somalia.
Richard Eyeington, a 62-year-old headmaster, and his wife, Enid, 61, were shot dead on Monday night while watching television in their house on the grounds of a boarding school they ran at Sheikh, 50 miles east of the regional capital, Hargeisa.
Richard really said it the best... my words are insignificant by comparison.
"My heartfelt condolences to their children Mark and Louise and to all the students whose lives were enriched by knowing these two extraordinary, unique and inspired individuals."
Extraordinary and Inspired individuals. I can only imagine the number of lives they touched. Just like Sister stang.