Anti-balaka fighters killed at least 72 Muslim men and boys, some as young as nine, in two recent attacks in southwestern Central African Republic. The assaults, on February 1 and 5, 2014, were in the village of Guen, in a region where abuses have been rampant, but not widely reported. Human Rights Watch interviewed survivors who had fled to a nearby village.
In a separate attack in the southwest, armed Seleka fighters, supported by Peuhl cattle herders, killed 19 people on February 22 in the village of Yakongo, 30 kilometers from Guen. Both villages are near a main road between the larger towns of Boda and Carnot. Although French and African Union (AU) peacekeeping forces are deployed in those larger towns, they do not regularly patrol the road between them. Minimal help is being sent to villages in the region to prevent attacks on civilians.
“These horrendous killings show that the French and AU peacekeeping deployment is not protecting villages from these deadly attacks,” said Lewis Mudge, Africa researcher. “The Security Council shouldn’t waste another minute in authorizing a United Nations peacekeeping mission with the troops and capacity to protect the country’s vulnerable people.”
Photo 1: A 16-year-old survivor of the Guen massacre. © 2014 Human Rights Watch
Photo 2: A survivor of the Guen massacre, approximately 70 years old, shows his wounds after he was shot in the back by anti-balaka while trying to flee Guen on February 1. © 2014 Human Rights Watch
If it is real the white
light from this lamp, real
the writing hand, are they
real, the eyes looking at what I write?
From one word to the other
what I say vanishes.
I know that I am alive
between two parentheses.
You are earth and death.
Your season is darkness
and silence. Nothing alive
is more distant than you
from the dawn.
When you seem to wake
you are nothing but grief,
it’s in your eyes, your blood,
but you don’t feel it.
You live like a a stone lives,
like the enduring earth.
And you are dressed in
dreams gestures agonies
that you ignore. Grief
like the water of a lake
trembles and encircles you.
There are rings on the water.
You allow them to vanish.
You are earth and death.
We’re walking down a dim street in the Chiado. Something about tonight feels so right. I stop for a moment to knell down and tie my shoelace and I see her standing over me. A wall with crumbling plaster is behind her. It must be something about how she has her scarf wrapped around her…
Alifano: One of the most beautiful definitions of the aesthetic act comes from you, Borges. In one of your essays you state: ‘The aesthetic act is the imminence of a revelation which is never fulfilled.’
Borges: Ah, yes. I did say that. It’s true. Certain sundowns, certain dawns, some weathered faces are at the point of revealing something to us, and this imminence of a revelation which is not fulfilled is, for me, the aesthetic act. Now, language itself is also an aesthetic creation. I believe this is indisputable; a proof is that when we study a foreign language, when we are compelled to look at words closely, as though with a magnifying glass, we see them either as beautiful or not. This doesn’t happen with one’s own language, since we see and feel our words as integral to our expression.
Alifano: You have said that metaphors exist from out very beginnings. Could you expound on that concept, Borges?
Borges: Yes, certainly. I believe that metaphors, if they are truly metaphors, exist from the beginning of time. I don’t believe it is easy to invent them or to discover affinities that have not already been perceived. But we express them differently. I have occasionally thought of reducing all metaphors to five or six which seem to me to be the essential metaphors.
Alifano: What are those metaphors?
Borges: Well, time and a river; life and dreams; death and sleep; stars and eyes; flowers and women. These would be, I believe, the essential metaphors that are found in all literatures; and then there are others that are whimsical. I believe that the poet’s task is to discover metaphors, even though they may already exist. I think that a metaphor doesn’t come to a poet as a revelation of a similarity between disparate things: a metaphor is revealed to the poet in its wholeness, in its form, in its intonation. I don’t think that Emily Dickinson thought: ‘This quiet dust was men and women,’ and that afterward she changed the latter phrase to ‘gentlemen and ladies’; that seems unlikely to me. It is more likely that all this was given to her by someone–whom we could call the spirit, the muse–as a single even, at a single time. I don’t believe that one arrives at poetry by means of progressions, by searching all possible variations of words. I believe that one comes upon the proper adjective or adjectives. I remember a verse by Rafael Obligado which reads, ‘Estalla el cóncavo trueno’ (the concave thunder bursts). And I am sure that he didn’t arrive at such an expression by trying several adjectives accented on the antepenultimate syllable; I think he came directly upon the word cóncavo, which is the precise word, the word we feel as proper, and it is the one that gives the verse its beauty."
This may seem out of context but it came to mind because my little brother is reading To Kill A Mockingbird in school right now:
I have strong feelings about public schools’ reading curriculum in America and one of them is this book. In my opinion To Kill A Mockingbird should be white out from that curriculum, especially for high school students. It’s harsh because many people have attachment and fondness towards books and characters and Harper Lee’s book appears to have a large and appreciative following.
I have never had any fondness towards this book and have no qualms dissing it. When I was a small kid literature on the civil rights movement was my equivalent of Marvel or the Power Rangers and people like Malcolm X were the equivalent of my superheroes. By the time I read To Kill A Mockingbird in high school I could recognize the bastardization of how civil rights were fought for and against–with blood and with questions of conscience and of the soul. It’s a real point to say that black Americans may not have made as much progress (as fast) against injustice without a number of white Americans fighting with them. It’s another thing to propose, as Lee’s book and movies such as The Help do, that white Americans were the sole leaders in the fight against injustice, that white Americans were needed for black Americans to understand their plight and to fight against injustice. Overall the book’s depiction of this battle is neutered and either ignorant or dishonest. There’s also no moral conflict in the book; as you read it there’s no engagement with the questions of the time, the era is a simple backdrop for Atticus’ “wisdom” Lee’s precious pap. And lastly, the book is boring and is most rightly assessed by Flannery O’Connor who described it as a “children’s book.”
All this to say that maybe someday we will actually replace this self-congratulatory pulp with a really great work like The Autobiography of Malcolm X or the stories of O’Connor or Ellison or Welty or Faulkner or the writings of DuBois. Almost anything else.
y tu alma una fuente de canciones."
Refugees who fled Iraq and came to settle in Lowell have found guardian angels in two Vietnam veterans from North Andover and Billerica. Pat Scanlon and Bruce Macdonald are members of the Greater Boston chapter of Veterans For Peace. Most of the Iraqi refugees in Lowell are educated professionals who struggle now to find minimum wage work since their degrees are not recognized in this country. Many had to flee their country to avoid being killed for assisting coalition forces during the Iraq War. Scanlon and Macdonald help find furniture, clothes, and food for the families, and help with the language barrier. The work with the refugees has “put a face on the victims of war,” Macdonald said.