The Week of January 20, 2009

Three moments of the week enriched my experience - a Barack Obama's ascendency to the White House, watching all 257 minutes of Steven Soderbergh's Che (including a Q&A with Benicio Del Toro) and an ongoing reflection on the ugliness of the situation in Zimbabwe. 

The first moment was the contagious resolve expressed by the new American president to change and take us forward. There was a moment during his inaugural speech that made me truly hopeful. Decades ago one president promised us the moon, this new president is taking us there. That's how I felt.

The Che experience - which I was awarded to enjoy courtesy of my friend and videographer, David Brillhart - was more than I was asking for. Honestly, I felt that the film should not end. It was at once near-hypnotic and devoid of Soderbergh's, it seemed, personal views. What amazed me - something that crossed my mind only while watching the film - that Che's [as a person; as a revolutionary] appeal is in the fact that he was out there, in Bolivia and among the people he didn't know, yet he was there for them and all the way. Personally, while rejecting armed struggle and being of a different world view, somehow and strangely I feel indebted to men and women who stand up also for my freedom. 

Some reviewers called the film flat, others called it a draining experience, flawed, so forth. Not a reviewer, I consider the film and the story quite absorbing and engaging. Whatever ... It was a moment to remember during the week of January 20.

On Thursdays, Zimbabwe is the focus of my weekly fast. The genocidal crimes and pain of the innocents have been created by a madman obsessed with power hit my own indifference. A couple of weeks ago, and once again, Archbishop Tutu pricked my conscience with a challenge - this time to stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Zimbabwe. Starvation, cholera, apathy and hopelessness of a land whose innocent victims are countless children and women all are crying to high haven. 

This week's end topped my anger and my resolve with a news feature in The New York Times about scores of desperate and destitute Zimbabwe children whose plight takes them from hell into South Africa's milieu of the "unwelcome" and resentment. The report's images were stark: "Crossing the border can be a simple chore ... But for the uninitiated and the destitute, the journey is as uncertain as the undercurrents of the Limpopo and the appetites of the crocodiles." The unlucky ones are prey to the "swindlers, thieves and rapists." Can this get worse?

Standing on the E Street corner, David and I saw Del Toro walking in our direction. We shook hands and exchanged our initial "wow" comments about his stellar performance in Che. I shared with him a moment of my own connection with Sierra Maestra where I participated in dedication a church in Buey Arriba just over a year ago. The house of worship serves as a point of reference and an inspiration to a different kind of mission and to a different brand of revolutionaries ...

There on the E Street corner a moment of vanity took over and we asked Del Toro to sign the film folders. He did. Then we moved on ... 

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing these experiences and reflections on justice around the world. It's just incredible that with almost everyone in the world against his evil rule, Mugabe continues to hold power and destroy so many people's lives.

    I'm really looking forward to seeing Che now!