Just saw a documentary on Channel 4. The series is called ‘Unreported World’ and as the title suggests, it focuses on stories that might not get much attention. This one was on the practice of Voodoo in Benin, a very poor West African nation. It was particularly heartbreaking because poor families spend money they have to work very hard for to pay for expensive voodoo ceremonies that they feel pressed to take part in or rather to have their children take part in. The programme also mentioned that because of the cost, children are often taken out of school to take part in these ceremonies and so their schooling ends.
One woman didn’t have the money to take her obviously mentally retarded three year old daughter to the doctors. So she took the child to the local voodoo convent to be ‘trained.’ This will cost her 200 pounds, five years’ salary for her.
Many of the people on Unreported World are black, extremely poor and seem to live in a reality that has been created by their society that adds innumerable levels of suffering on top of the existing ones of poverty. At some point HRH and I had to ask ourselves – what is it about our ethnic group that seems to want to sustain the misery?
Now of course I know that other ethnic groups do so too – I also know that there are many groups of black people throughout the world who are suffering for reasons that have nothing to do with themselves. Here I am focusing on black people because I am one and because we seem to suffer the most. But be honest, many are suffering on top of suffering and the top layer is their own cause. I’m talking about the relentless killing of each other in ongoing civil wars; in the case of the above programme, ‘priests’ knowingly making their own people suffer even more by imposing incredible costs on already poor and ignorant people. In the case if Zimbabwe, a leader who knows full well what it is like to not only live under oppression but to fight to be freed from it, yet imposing an even worse oppression on his own people. Do your own research and you can see what I am talking about. If we are to rise as a people we need to stop shooting ourselves in the collective foot and need to have a much more sophisticated way of dealing with our own differences.