5/13/2015

Somehow, he did not drop that knife on her...

I have seen the video.

At first, anger. Moments - milliseconds actually - later, justification.

In a few seconds, he emerges. Within a short space, he is wiped out. The camera, of a phone most likely, focuses on other things: the commotion, the madness.

None of the journalists and the news sites so far has picked up that aspect. The angle they have chosen is the violence. Its entire humiliating act is unnerving but, as well, is commercial. News is business.

I am yet to see anybody focus on that 3 seconds as captured by the camera of an angry, even excited, protester. In the sparsely tarmacked road of Bujumbura, most likely.

First is the slap you notice. The screams of the frightened officer muted by an angry mob are the soundtrack. A woman in a grey uniform is surrounded. All the vengeance, the justified madness, is falling on her.

Yet as some resort to hands and fists to execute their judgement, one emerges with a knife. He appears poised to strike. A knife meant to scare is not carried in the fashion my Burundian brother sporting a white shirt and a grey (?) trousers with a red underwear carried his. That was meant to strike. And run deep. Close to the heart. Or at the center of the heart.

But, this is a commotion.

Somehow, my brother victimised by the system, does not get his way. He is blocked. A few milliseconds show him struggling, looking for a better spot to strike, yet in a fraction of some more milliseconds the shaky camera captures the woman, another victim of the system, lifted by her uniform shirt. She is being airlifted through the space of Bujumbura, most likely.

The knife, I am not sure she noticed it as the violence was being administered on her, has missed her flesh. Somehow, she has survived. In one piece.

Her skill in avoiding a fate with death, however, cannot be said of the more than 20 that have since died in Burundi in the protests that have rocked the country following the President's decision to contest for a third term which the constitution barred him before he bullied his way through the courts.

Sadly, the more than 20 have been dispatched to their maker by the people in uniform, like her who survived the death. Reports, extremely unconfirmed, said she was mobbed because she killed one of the protestors.

Pierre Nkurunziza, the Burundian President, was on BBC the day before. I saw him. I saw the still camera capture his face. His looks are deceptively religious. His manner of speech is deceptively kind. He has a soft voice. A generous tone.

He dismissed the protestors. He said they are just 1% of the population. Him, being a democrat, could not succumb to the wishes of a percentage while the remaining staggering 99% is behind him.

I know such talking. I have heard such talking. I know of leaders who challenged the world, defied their people, bought their own people to drive a wedge against them just to achieve ends. So, when Nkurunziza appeared in his cap across the camera that rested on his face, I believed him less. For me, I chose to go with the voice of the people. The one he cannot hear. The one he is silencing with his police. The ones who, kindly, saved that officer from the mob to let her go to her friend officers. To kill them again.

I have been in protests. I have had a season when I enjoyed protests. I know the resentment protestors have towards the police. I know how the police come to represent and signify terror and oppression. I know how it is the wet dream of every protestor to strike an officer. If there have been deaths in the protests, you can bet the protestors are always and constantly seeking a revenge.

But, in the video it is different.

It appears Burundi has rational people. Burundi has rational protestors. I may be wrong.

The protestors shield her as the camera captures the fear and death on her face. They hand her over to her fellow officers, the ones that have killed some of them and are willing to kill some more it appears. Others, of course, are less pleased and they want revenge. They want her. They want to overwhelm the police force. They want to revenge.

Nevertheless, the somehow sober ones overcome. She goes to her friends and the moment she is safe, they start shooting. Victims of the system.

In all this, Nkurunziza is safe. His family, most likely, is away. I doubt if he is even hearing the gun shoots. I am not sure he is concerned of the deaths. The face I saw on BBC was not of a person concerned. There was no remorse on that face. It was the face of a victor. The face of a man who is right and every other gospel proclaiming the opposite is wrong.

I did not see Blaise Compaore's face the final moments before he fell. I never had the luxury to see Hosni Mubarak's face before Egypt grew fangs on him. The final moments of Ben Ali were sheltered from me as Tunisia slipped through his claws.

I wish I saw their faces.

I hope Pierre Nkurunziza get to see the video and see the unity the people and the police are slowly forging. It appears they know the enemy. It appears they know the actual murderer.

I may be wrong in my reading of the video, I know, but at least I am sure of one thing: that knife was not dropped on that woman although Burundi might get Nkurunziza's knife - close to her chest.