When the Arts speak to you in another Language

It is that night when the crowd snuffed out the little air in the cinema hall; seventeenth October, 2016. It is barely 9pm. A documentary will be showing. I place my spectacles on my nose because I do not want any detail of the film to slip through my grasp.

We laugh at first, at the comments made by the actors and add our own jokes because to us, this will be another movie, an entertainment. I think I am still smiling from what someone behind me said when the air in the hall changed. Some people sit erect, while some others sit backwards. The story of a people's reality flow from the screen to where I sit and finds me jerking back and forth. Slashed nipples. Raped women. Crushed skulls. Plucked finger nails. Bodies dragged on the floor until their blood become gritty like sand-filled water. Dislocated jaws and waists. Amputated legs. Exhumed skulls. I feel goose bumps as bold as boils grow on my arms. It is a sharp contrast to the excitement we lived earlier in the day. But this is what Aké  festival does to you; bringing every theme of life home to your soul, the beautiful and the ugly. 

A man climbs the stage later. A man I do not recognize. A man I do not know is the journalist who produced the documentary. His mouth quivers with pain when he speaks. I see in his eyes a reflection of his people, wherever they are, whether living or dead. His voice when he responds to questions echoes the injustice his people lived in the hands of Hissein Hibré. Someone asks him to leave Chad and seek refuge elsewhere. He says no. Someone asks him why he still fights when his life is in danger. He says it is his duty. Someone asks about his stand with God. He says he still believes. I stare at this faith that can endure capital pain, and still stay so fresh and alive. I think of these people thousands of miles away, trying to stay alive and sane after everything had been taken from them. I stand suddenly and enquire about the wellbeing of these people. He says they contribute money from their purses to take care of them. 

The room is quiet now. He is speaking to us, the youths. How much history we need to know, how much fight we need to put up. His words bite in deep into the walls of the room before a loud applause breaks out. 

I walk up to him later and say "bonsoir"

He smiles and I see his quavering lower lip clearer, an examplary effect of Hissein Hibré's punch on his own people.

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