Monday, April 7, 2014

Everyday Life and Genocide

  What is normal everyday life for people in a city, community, or neighborhood? At its core, it is family and community life activities: cooking, cleaning, caring for family members, going to work, going to school, or attending events such as weddings, graduations, births, and other ceremonies. Scenes of family life occur daily, such as going to church, synagogue, or temple, or some other place of religious, or spiritual, worship. These are the normal activities of people in a society. Ironically, stories of genocide often begin with normal everyday life. As a part of normal life, people in a community interact, and businesses, large and small, operate. These normal community activities stop when genocide starts.
     Night, by Elie Wiesel, and Left to Tell, by Immaculate Ilibagiza, are both true stories about genocides, one that occurred during World War II and one that occurred in 1994. Both books start with families living their normal lives in their vibrant communities. Yet, the outcomes of these true stories are that each story ends with hundreds of thousands, and millions, of people being murdered as a result of genocide.
     I visited the Holocaust Memorial soon after it first opened in Washington, D.C. I remember that a part of the exhibit contained artifacts which consisted of the personal belongings of genocide victims. These items ranged from toys to shoes, clothing, furniture, photographs, and many other household items, all as old as one would expect, 60 years later. These items showed evidence of the owners’ previously normal lives, before the genocide started.  So, it is clear that genocide happens to normal people who live normal lives. It is important to remember that genocide can happen to normal everyday people.
     Another question is do the victims of genocide see the genocide coming? Years, months, or weeks before genocide happens, victims often suspect something very bad is going to happen. Yet, they are hopeful that what they suspect won’t actually happen. They may even attribute their fears to paranoia and decide to just not think about it. This happened in the books Night and Left to Tell.  In, Night, there was a sequence of fearsome signs that something very bad would happen to Elie and his family and community. For example, the first sign came from the quiet, poor neighbor of Elie’s family, Moshe the Beadle, who warned his neighbors continually of the eventual fate of the members of his community. He told them repeatedly that he saw people taken from their community and killed by Nazis. Yet, no one believed him. Then, Elie’s family, along with all the members of their community were forced from their homes and forced to walk to a crowded ghetto, with only as much as each family could carry. There, the families set up a temporary community structure, and tried to live within it. The community people adapted to the poor living conditions and remained hopeful. Another opportunity to escape presented itself when their former housekeeper found them and pleaded with them to come with her so she could hide them from the Nazis.  The offer was declined, and they remained in the ghetto, hoping for the best. Their hope was that the allied forces of World War II would stop Adolf Hitler’s army. Then, the ghetto social structure they’d constructed was very quickly dismantled, and, Elie and his family and community were loaded into an overcrowded cattle train car and taken a Nazi concentration camp where the children were the first to die.  Elie's parents and siblings would not survive the concentration camp. In Left to Tell, the author’s parents chose not to flee their home days before the genocide started. It may have been that the presence of so many U.N. soldiers prior to the genocide that made the people feel safer, yet when the genocide started the U.N. soldiers did not take action to stop genocide.  Immaculate's parents, and most of her siblings, except for one who’d travelled out of Rwanda, were brutally murdered.
     Elie’s parents had a grocery store and were respected members of their community, and this happened to them and other people in their community. Likewise, Immaculate’s parents were teachers who were beloved and industrious people who were respected by members of their community, and they were murdered during the genocide. Genocide destroyed the lives of these families. It's sobering to know that genocide happens to normal and good people.
     In both stories, there was a similar theme that the victims had hoped that somehow the genocide would be stopped, or that reason would prevail. The books Night by Elie Wiesel and Left to Tell by Immaculate Ilibagiza depict this phenomenon of the victims' being hopeful in spite of signs of something extremely bad to come. In both stories, the help comes only after the genocide had almost run its course. 
By Angeline Bandon-Bibum

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Henrietta Marie, A Poem

Henrietta Marie
In my dream, I am a child, playing on the beach.

The air is warm and humid, as the waves of the Atlantic roll to shore.

 Briny and warm, the water feels soothing to my feet, ankles, calves, and knees.

The sun displays its affection for me, turning my skin from cinnamon, to sienna, then to mahogany.

In my pink bathing suit, I rush to greet a frothy wave, as it tumbles gracefully to shore.

On the horizon is a massive ship, of an ancient design, a schooner.

She floats, coming closer and closer to shore.  She captivates me; mouth open, I stare at her.

Christened “Henrietta Marie,” she is a slave ship.  A vessel designed to hold a living human cargo,
on wooden shelves, like canned fish.   I recognize her from my history book.

Henrietta Marie floats imperiously, her passengers

immersed in agony and humiliation.   She is gloriously gruesome.

Copyright 2006

By Angeline Bandon-Bibum

Respect and Appreciation for the Ancestors

As Black History Month comes to a close, l express my deep respect and appreciation for the numerous ancestors who often suffered brutal physical and mental abuse during the Transatlantic Slave Trade.  The artifacts from the wreckage of Henrietta Marie, a merchant slave ship from the 17th century, are some of the remaining symbols of the horrors of the Middle Passage, one stage in the Transatlantic Slave Trade, which took place over three centuries.
Transatlantic Slave Trade Henrietta Marie

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Journey to Writer: Sharing Mine

I have found a way to share the beginning of my self-actualizing journey into becoming a writer.   Many people have said to me that they too wanted to become writers, and I was told that it would be a good idea to share what I know about my own journey.  So, here it is...

Journey to Writer - A 7-Week Writing Webinar/Teleseminar

I'll share a step by step plan that you need to place pen to paper, finger to keyboard, and share your book with the world.  Take your first step on your journey into author-hood.

Visualize this.  In seven weeks, you’ll have obtained the foundational tools you need to:

• Gain the confidence to write your book for the world to see.

• Take action on your dreams of being an author or writer.

• Be the author signing books at your own book signings.

• Have the basic tools to create the book.

***And, this is all from the comfort of your home office, or sofa.

There is a book you want to write.

You know you can write a book, but you also know there's a problem: What comes next?  How does your book go from an idea, to on paper, to publication? What are your publishing options?

Sign up for Journey to Writer and get on the road to becoming an author.

Join me on a free 45 minute webinar/teleseminar on December 3, 2013, at 7 p.m.
Register now!

Journey to Writer - Webinar/Teleseminar Details When:  December 10, 2013 to January 21, 2014 Time: 7 p.m.  Where: Webinar/Teleseminar Dial-in-Details will be provided.  
Cost: $297 (Before 12/4/13) Per Person

Angeline is the author of the novels Sojourner’s Dream and, soon to be released, Lamentation of a Warrior

Contact Angeline Bandon-Bibum  with questions: 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

A Photographic Exhibition at Howard University in Honor of Nelson Mandela

My husband and I, both Howard University alumni, are just back from a special event at the Howard University.  It was a gala reception at the Howard University Founders Library.  It previewed the premier of a new exhibition.  It is entitled "Mandela: Character, Comrade, Leader, Prisoner, Negotiator, Statesman.”  It is an awesome photographic exhibition of the many stages of Nelson Mandela's life and impact on South Africa and the world, replete with direct quotations from Nelson Mandela.  

We also got a chance to meet the new interim president of Howard University, Dr. Wayne A.I. Frederick, who was very gracious.  There were also other dignitaries there, such as the South African Ambassador to the United States.  I really enjoyed the event.  I hope you get a chance to view this new exhibition at The Moorland-Spingarn Research Center Gallery at Howard University.

By Angeline Bandon-Bibum

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Remembering Mrs. Wanda Harris: A Howard Alumna's Impact on My Life

As we near the time for the Howard University 2013 Homecoming, I would like to honor a great lady, a Howard alumna, who gave back to the community via her service as the Director of the Guidance Department at Atlantic City High School.  Mrs. Wanda Harris was the Director of the Guidance Department of Atlantic City High School, where I volunteered for an hour each day during my senior year at Atlantic City High School.

As a student volunteer in the guidance office, I would answer phones, type, run errands, shelve books, etc.  The best part of this experience was meeting Mrs. Harris.   Mrs. Harris personally showed me the process of applying to colleges and applying for scholarships and financial aid.  She did not have to do this because I had a counselor, but thank God she did.  Her help made a huge difference in my life.  With her continual guidance, at that critical time in my life, I had the information and support that I really needed to succeed in getting into a good college. 

Mrs. Harris would notify me, and other students, as soon as scholarship information was available.  I would promptly fill out the application forms, provide information, write essays, and go to interviews to meet the requirements for the scholarship.  Mrs. Harris would remind me, whenever she saw me, to make sure that I submitted the information on time.   She reminded me to take the SAT on time, too. 

When I was accepted into Howard University, I quickly informed Mrs. Harris.  We rejoiced at the news.  I also told her the dormitory that I would be staying in was the Harriet Tubman Quadrangle - Truth Hall.  I told her the room that I was staying in, room 206, and she joyfully smiled and said that was the same exact room that she stayed in 30 years earlier when she was a Howard University student.  (My high school classmate, Krystal, was also accepted into Howard University and we stayed in that room.)  

Mrs. Wanda Harris passed away some years ago.  Yet, I will always remember what she did for me, and others, at Atlantic City High School.  In my heart, I thank Mrs. Harris, an awesome Howard University alumna, who gave back in her own special way.

By Angeline Bandon-Bibum

Saturday, September 21, 2013

A Prayer on International Day of Peace

     Today is International Day of Peace, as declared by the United Nations (U.N.) General Assembly.  The U.N. established it in 1981.

     On that note, I'd like to end this day with a prayer for peace on Earth.  Let the peace be a result of the presence of the Holy Spirit in mankind and the justice which would result from the widespread presence of the Holy Spirit.   Let it be so for the sake of the planet and for the sake of our children. 

By Angeline Bandon-Bibum