“Against the Double Blackmail”

Early this morning, I woke up to a text message on Whatsapp. It was a photo with three crying emojis, a bunch of flowers with an inscription stating: R.I.P IN PEACE. The print has five people in it—two beautiful women; one looks in her early or late 50’s, and the other one in her late 20’s or early 30’s—one young man (seemingly in his late 20’s or early 30’s). The last two humans in the photo are small kids under the age of 5.  

A few months ago, I heard rumors of refugee families secretly organizing to leave Malawi to seek protection in France. Have they obtained official travel documents? How, and How credible? I wanted to ask my friends on the other end of the line. But then, from a lived experience, I recollected: refugees do not carry with them identifying documents, mainly when there are fleeing in search of protection—the HOW this particular family and their counterparts prepared for their journey was none of my goddam business. 

I have almost known this particular family for nearly 20 years. They were my closest neighbor in Lukole refugee camps in Tanzania before the United Nations Higher Commission for Refugees (UNHCR)—invoked cessation clause against Rwandan nationals living in Tanzania in 2002, a policy firmly pushed by the government of Tanzania. My memory reminds me, this family was among the first people to leave the Camp for Kenya. One night I played with the young man’s brother. The following day he (and his family) was gone. This incident prompted many other Rwandan refugees to pack up for Kenya. My uncle was one of them. 

I remember the pressure among the Rwandan refugee population in Tanzania. It was intense. Everybody wanted to leave, but only those with the means (financial resources) to carry them to the next border-left first. The current situation and refugee conditions in Malawi should exactly be conceptualized in Tanzania’s experience to be understood. REFUGEES ARE NOT WELCOME HERE. REFUGEES ARE NOT WELCOME ANYWHERE.

Has any press in Malawian reported this tragic incident? Of-course NOT. 

In Nina Simone’s words: 

The name of this tune is Mississippi Goddam

And I mean every word of it

Alabama’s gotten me so upset

Tennessee made me lose my rest

And everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam

Alabama’s gotten me so upset

Tennessee made me lose my rest

And everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam

Can’t you see it

Can’t you feel it

It’s all in the air

I can’t stand the pressure much longer

Somebody say a prayer

Alabama’s gotten me so upset

Tennessee made me lose my rest

And everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam

This is a show tune

But the show hasn’t been written for it, yet

Hound dogs on my trail

School children sitting in jail

Black cat cross my path

I think every day’s gonna be my last

Lord have mercy on this land of mine

We all gonna get it in due time

I don’t belong here

I don’t belong there

I’ve even stopped believing in prayer

Don’t tell me

I tell you

Me and my people just about due

I’ve been there so I know

They keep on saying “Go slow!”

But that’s just the trouble

“Do it slow”

Washing the windows

“Do it slow”

Picking the cotton

“Do it slow”

You’re just plain rotten

“Do it slow”

You’re too damn lazy

“Do it slow”

The thinking’s crazy

“Do it slow”

Where am I going

What am I doing

I don’t know

I don’t know

Just try to do your very best

Stand up be counted with all the rest

For everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam

I made you thought I was kiddin’

Picket lines

School boy cots

They try to say it’s a communist plot

All I want is equality

For my sister my brother my people and me

Yes you lied to me all these years

You told me to wash and clean my ears

And talk real fine just like a lady

And you’d stop calling me Sister Sadie

Oh but this whole country is full of lies

You’re all gonna die and die like flies

I don’t trust you any more

You keep on saying “Go slow!”

“Go slow!”

But that’s just the trouble

“Do it slow”

Desegregation

“Do it slow”

Mass participation

“Do it slow”

Reunification

“Do it slow”

Do things gradually

“Do it slow”

But bring more tragedy

“Do it slow”

Why don’t you see it

Why don’t you feel it

I don’t know

I don’t know

You don’t have to live next to me

Just give me my equality

Everybody knows about Mississippi

Everybody knows about Alabama

Everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam

That’s it!

Source: Musixmatch

Songwriters: Simone

Mississippi Goddam lyrics © Wb Music Corp.

Early this morning, I woke up to a text message on Whatsapp. It was a photo with three crying emojis, a bunch of flowers with an inscription stating: R.I.P IN PEACE. The print has five people in it—two beautiful women; one looks in her early or late 50’s, and the other one in her late 20’s or early 30’s—one young man (seemingly in his late 20’s or early 30’s). The last two humans in the photo are small kids under the age of 5.  

A few months ago, I heard rumors of refugee families secretly organizing to leave Malawi to seek protection in France. Have they obtained official travel documents? How, and How credible? I wanted to ask my friends on the other end of the line. But then, from a lived experience, I recollected: refugees do not carry with them identifying documents, mainly when there are fleeing in search of protection—the HOW this particular family and their counterparts prepared for their journey was none of my goddam business. 

I have almost known this particular family for nearly 20 years. They were my closest neighbor in Lukole refugee camps in Tanzania before the United Nations Higher Commission for Refugees (UNHCR)—invoked cessation clause against Rwandan nationals living in Tanzania in 2002, a policy firmly pushed by the government of Tanzania. My memory reminds me, this family was among the first people to leave the Camp for Kenya. One night I played with the young man’s brother, Takali. The following day he (and his family) was gone. This incident prompted many other Rwandan refugees to pack up for Kenya. My uncle was one of them. 

I remember the pressure among the Rwandan refugee population in Tanzania. It was intense. Everybody wanted to leave, but only those with the means (financial resources) to carry them to the next border-left first. The current situation and refugee conditions in Malawi should exactly be conceptualized in Tanzania’s experience to be understood. REFUGEES ARE NOT WELCOME HERE. REFUGEES ARE NOT WELCOME ANYWHERE.

Has any press in Malawian reported this tragic incident? Of-course NOT. 

In Nina Simone’s words: 

The name of this tune is Mississippi Goddam

And I mean every word of it

Alabama’s gotten me so upset

Tennessee made me lose my rest

And everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam

Alabama’s gotten me so upset

Tennessee made me lose my rest

And everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam

Can’t you see it

Can’t you feel it

It’s all in the air

I can’t stand the pressure much longer

Somebody say a prayer

Alabama’s gotten me so upset

Tennessee made me lose my rest

And everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam

This is a show tune

But the show hasn’t been written for it, yet

Hound dogs on my trail

School children sitting in jail

Black cat cross my path

I think every day’s gonna be my last

Lord have mercy on this land of mine

We all gonna get it in due time

I don’t belong here

I don’t belong there

I’ve even stopped believing in prayer

Don’t tell me

I tell you

Me and my people just about due

I’ve been there so I know

They keep on saying “Go slow!”

But that’s just the trouble

“Do it slow”

Washing the windows

“Do it slow”

Picking the cotton

“Do it slow”

You’re just plain rotten

“Do it slow”

You’re too damn lazy

“Do it slow”

The thinking’s crazy

“Do it slow”

Where am I going

What am I doing

I don’t know

I don’t know

Just try to do your very best

Stand up be counted with all the rest

For everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam

I made you thought I was kiddin’

Picket lines

School boy cots

They try to say it’s a communist plot

All I want is equality

For my sister my brother my people and me

Yes you lied to me all these years

You told me to wash and clean my ears

And talk real fine just like a lady

And you’d stop calling me Sister Sadie

Oh but this whole country is full of lies

You’re all gonna die and die like flies

I don’t trust you any more

You keep on saying “Go slow!”

“Go slow!”

But that’s just the trouble

“Do it slow”

Desegregation

“Do it slow”

Mass participation

“Do it slow”

Reunification

“Do it slow”

Do things gradually

“Do it slow”

But bring more tragedy

“Do it slow”

Why don’t you see it

Why don’t you feel it

I don’t know

I don’t know

You don’t have to live next to me

Just give me my equality

Everybody knows about Mississippi

Everybody knows about Alabama

Everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam

That’s it!

Source: Musixmatch

Songwriters: Simone

Mississippi Goddam lyrics © Wb Music Corp.

Published by Gabriel Ndayishimiye

Gabriel Ndayishimiye lives in London, Ontario. He is a writer with a passion to contribute to Black history and literature; and the author of “Run Elvin” (forthcoming), a memoir written for youth from marginalized backgrounds. This book tells Gabriel’s academic/life experiences from refugee camps in East and Southern Africa and now from the metropolis of the western world. The story aims to inspire and motivate such demographic of youth to take up given opportunities to be creative, achieve success, and develop resilience to fight the challenges of life.

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