For Pio

A history series.

#1 – Pio da Gama Pinto

How did you feel when you woke up on 21 February 1965? Were you excited about the day? Did you feel lazy? Were you craving something? What did you want to eat? Did you turn your head, as you sat in the car that day? Did you feel that perhaps there was something amiss?

People knew you would go. Isn’t that quite something to wrap your mind around? That people know you will go, that they saw you, their eyes settled, they knew you would go. They knew the day was coming when you would speak no more. Might you have looked at your lips in the mirror, realising one day, you would speak no more?

What did you think when you saw the first death threat?

When I look at those who died for thinking, I wonder how we do not realise the weight of the gift in our hands today – the gift of the freedom of  thought; why we might not use it more. Do we not respect blessing? Do we only revere what is in the clutches of denial?  

In the days that we worshiped the face on our currency, you were something. It is those of us who are willing to speak for ourselves who alter the course of things.

Man, I would have loved to see you walk into those hotels that they said our colour was too heavy for. You barged in so often that they finally left the doors open for us, and by Jove, Pio, we will eat. 

I wonder how things would be if people knew what lay ahead of them. I wonder if you sat to have that conversation with Malcolm X, knowing you would die 3 days after him, there might have been a difference in the moment, in the air about the two of you. Is the glory in the knowing or not knowing?

I wonder about how our own dreams can betray us, how we can die in the chasing them, how they owe us no loyalty. You said, you dream for Kenya and you smiled and held this dream, but my goodness—what that dream did to you.

I will write you some letters, Pio. Today and next week. I will write to ask you what you think about certain things, how we answer questions today and how you might have answered them.

Until then.

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