LUBERO, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO — There’s a musician in my village known as Lembatse. The lyrics to one of his songs visited me often while writing this story:
“We should begin in graves to end on earth, so death could not carry us away again.”
The words of this song were born from the fact that he, like the rest of us, is accustomed to seeing members of his community killed day and night in incomprehensible circumstances.
Insecurity is a way of life here in Lubero territory, my home. Since 1996, this has been a hotbed of armed conflict as rebel groups overtake one another day after day, leaving chaos and poverty in their wake. Killings, rapes and kidnappings are part of our daily lives.
As a result, poverty has also invaded my community. People are afraid to work in the fields and they are forced to spend too much time figuring out how to pay to bury their dead. There are no bright futures here. Most of us don’t believe in the future at all.
Recently, a man was shot dead just a few steps from his home. He was returning from work.
His family, like many others, has nothing in terms of material possessions. But it has the solidarity of the community. Local people came together to help his family. That’s how I came to find this story, the story of “Silwamughuma,” a community support organization. The name means that death is not exclusive. Each person can die in any moment.
Community members helped this man’s family with donated food and funeral expenses. We are all we have, until the government can work to effectively secure our community. We have no way forward, except to support one another.