I am a Nigerian Jamaican feminista. Brooklyn born and Jersey bred. I'm your Bed-Stuy living, rum loving, public health, international development and women studies nerd. Living by three basic rules: treat everyone as you wish to be treated, appreciate those who love you, and speak your truths. Let everything you do begin and end with love.
Meet Rose Mpendo… She is a survivor of the Congo genocide from 1998. This lovely woman standing before me, watched her husband be dragged out of their home and beaten to death. She was then was jailed in a “death camp” along with her 8 kids for 16 months. For what reason one might ask? Because her nose and neck were long… these physical characteristics are how they identified a Tutsi. She spent 16 months without a single piece of clothing, soap, and barely any food. During this time she was also pregnant with twins. Despite the hatred and pain in her heart caused by her neighbors, she refused to give up….. This meant she had to learn how to forgive. She even named her twins after the high ranking officers who murdered her husband. The SAME men who brutally killed the man she loved and the father of her children.
She realized she couldn’t move on with her life unless she forgave these men. Anyway, she was finally rescued and brought to the US, where she now lives in Arizona with her 10 children. I want her story to not only enlighten people about the horrible fate that women in the DRC area still face, but also show what faith and forgiveness can do. She could have given up, she could have succumbed. She made a conscious decision to fight…for her twins, for her kids, for her life. No better story than that.
Spending the past two days with this woman has been an honor and a great lessen in forgiveness… If she could forgive her perpetrators, there is no way I should EVER hold on to anything. Life is too short and we have too much to do!!