The Avoidance Word Still Screams its Name

After more than nine years of overt violence and systematic cultural and economic dismemberment, Darfur remains in the grips of genocide, now in its attrition phase. The international community continues its unseemly acquiescence to the Khartoum regime’s travesty of governance.

Although billions of words have been written on this seemingly endless crisis, I never give up on the notion that change will come, that these afflicted people, not just Darfuris but all Sudanese, will yet enjoy the peace and prosperity denied them for generations.

The following is excerpted from a Lecture by Professor Wole Soyinka at the 50th Anniversary of the 1st International Conference of Black Writers & Artists, Paris, September 2006   Soyinka

As writers, we cannot cease to recognize and embrace our mission oftestifying and laying ambush for escapist minds. Those who are alive today to witness this renewed perfidy [in Darfur], and their successors living or yet unborn in the mission of warning and bearing witness, will not forget. Let words, at the very least, be mobilized towards the fulfillment of responsibilities by those who are charged with the protection of the weak and helpless, the temporarily disadvantaged, let them persist in saying to you, all who hold the primary controls of the direction of a continent’s future, that that future will not forget, nor will it forgive. As the armies of the Sudanese state mass for the final onslaught on its long determined design of race extermination, that future will stigmatise you one and all, will brand youcollaborators and accomplices if you abandon the people of Darfur to this awful fate, one that so blindingly scrawls its name across the supplicating sands and hills of Darfur– Genocide!”

Though I often wish it were possible to “un-know” this horror, I persist, in my own small ways, to work for the critical mass of awareness and commitment that will turn the tide. I believe empowering war-affected women is the key.

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