hamad shehe

A Letter from Pemba: “No more fire, no more ashes!”

I am in Pemba to visit my family. As soon I arrive in my village, I go to visit the graveyard where my nephew, Hamad Shehe, is lying. I go there for two major reasons.

Reason one is to confirm his death, because since he died, the authorities, which are responsible for his death, have been in denial. Reason two is to offer myself an opportunity to see the first person in our family whose death is politically motivated. 

Hamad, the son of Shehe Ali, a staunch Afro Shirazi Party and, later on, a CCM member; and a grandson of Abdalla Amour, brother of Suleiman Amour of Wingwi Mapofu, also a strong member of ASP and CCM respectively, has vanished and is no more in the way of speaking. 

The orphans. Their father, Hamad Shehe, was killed in a cold-blood murder in Konde, Pemba.

Had the killer known Hamad parents’ attachments to the ruling regime, he would have saved him, perhaps. But Alas! Nyika Usiyoizowea huwajui wanyama wake!

I have seen in other places the principle of Animal Farm that “All animals are equal, but some are more equal” being used as exceptionalism. It did not work on Hamad’s fate, however.  

After I visit the grave yard and have all my questions answered, I go to my nephew’s past home yard. 

Here is where I cry like kindergarten kid. I am seeing the children holding very serious and sad expressions on their faces. 

I ask myself: who can protect these children for them to feel secure in the country where a person dies to allow others to rule. I do not have answers. 

Hamad’s grave. His people say that he was killed like a cat and buried like an animal.

I know that these children whose father died and buried like a wild cat seem not to forget what happened. They also seem to be not naïve about the difficult aftermath of their father’s death.

The eldest can tell me clearly the date on which her father succumbed to democratic hooligans. She also says correctly that the assassins assassinated her father one kilometer away from the polling station.

She does not believe that her father’s killing had anything to do with elections. Hamad, according to his daughter, died while running away from the killer and he was not confronting him. Really? Yes! The killer was such a coward!

The youngest cannot say anything yet, but will very soon start asking who killed his father and why. With or without answers, this boy will continue to ask and ask until he knows the truth. 

My nephew’s children are not the only orphans of the election violence here in Pemba. There are about 38 of them in other places of this beautiful but maladministered island.

The late Hamad and one of his daughters. His kids speak of him being a good caring father.

Many orphans will be growing up looking for the answers of their parents’ unwanted deaths. They will reach adulthood burning inside with those questions.

Once they know, their reactiona cannot be guaranteed action. This is the most worrying development we all do not want to see happening. Will they seek for a revenge?

In the extreme situation, these children would be asking questions only themselves have answers. For example, because  of being highly traumatized, and of them being aware of what is going on, they will ask themselves questions about  the authorities robbing their people of their powers and their rights to choose the leaders of their choice.

As a people, they will no doubt ask about being marginalized and condemned to social and political injustices because of their origin or the place of their birth. 

They will ask why government determines the price for the cloves and sets the time limit within which farmers can store the cloves in their homestead.

They will ask why there is a sort of an apartheid system against them.

When they choose to allow their mighty to reign their thinking, the world will turn upside down. “No more fire, no more ashes” will be their guiding philosophy. 

This will be the most challenging and momentous development, which we all have to get ready for. 

Angali Marango

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