The sweltering journey through the starless midnight of exile had begun. Everywhere was wafting with gloomy smell of foreboding. Woes mounted and mounted upon the fugitives by the day, by the hour, by the minute, by the second, and by the blink. The farther the fugitives advanced into the starless midnight of exile, the darker the darkness became. The darkness soon became so intense that everything in the atmosphere became too clear to be seen. Everything! The only thing that was actually vague enough to be seen in the impenetrable darkness was a ghost-like shade skulking menacingly behind the fugitives. At a point, the blinding darkness became so still that, in fact, not even voices could be heard anymore. But for the fact that the couple - with their toddler firmly tied onto the back of Mrs. Malinger – had clasped arms before plunging into the murky journey, they would have lost touch with themselves in the ever-intensifying darkness. The only sound that was loud enough to defy the deafening darkness and be heard by the fugitives was the menacing footsteps of the ghoulish trailing-shade.
What a dreadful double-whammy! The deathly darkness was further bedeviled with savage windstorms that vowed to tear the couple apart. Oftentimes, the blustery winds blew the couple many miles asunder. But the clasped-arms became so mysteriously-elastic that they would remain clasped regardless of the distance between the bodies of the couple. At times the clasped-arms would be so desperately stretched as to become thinner than the thinnest thread, but even then not even the sharpest razor-blade could snap the thin thread.
As they groped and fumbled about in the increasingly windy darkness, the couple suddenly spotted a streak of dark-light up in the sky far in front of them. With dreaming now being equivalent to thinking in their own world, the fugitives would spend the coming years chasing after the streak of dark-light while fleeing from the monstrous trailing-shade…
… The camp had no source of regular supply of fresh water. Once in a week or two a water tanker would go there and ration out a few litres of fresh water - a maximum of 25 litres per head – to refugees. Refugees usually reserved these rations for drinking only. For cooking, bathing, washing and other purposes, the only reliable source of water supply was a pond located behind a sierra stretching about five kilometers from the camp. But going to this pond was a matter of do-or-die: Not only that the winding narrow ghaut leading to the muddy pond was infested with poisonous snakes, but also the pond was harbouring a certain ginormous crocodile which often ambushed and devoured water fetchers. At least a couple of refugees died of snake-bite or crocodile ambush once every month. One unbroken mystery was how such a shallow pond could harbor a crocodile of that colossal size. ..
… The RRHC took the circumspect decision to stage this rebellion after a painful realization that your officers here in Gushegu were nothing but a farrago of bulls in a china shop. As they slept in mansions and air-conditioned apartments, all at the expense of CARC, they hardly ever remembered the refugees they cooped up in byres somewhere in the bush. Whereas refugees were as hungry as hunters, the potbellies of your voracious officers were bulging with excess food. While refugees grunted under the onslaught of disease and death, your valetudinarians were as happy as kings. To wit, whereas for refugees life was as bitter as gall, for your anti-refugee profligates life was as sweet as honey. In a nutshell, P≠P was real doozy…
… Fellow battlers, l address you as battlers not because you are ex-rebel fighters, but rather because your present situation of refugee life is a real battle against the odd forces of existence. Only one who knows, knows one who knows; one who does not know, does not know one who does not know. Only being him/herself a refugee can make one understand what it actually means to be a refugee. What is man if he/she cannot share the feelings of people in distress? But it is only when you have yourself passed through the situation of a distressed person that you will be able to share his/her peculiar feelings...
Refugees: a people in acute destitution; abused and neglected by authorities; denigrated and maligned by society; exploited by employers; tempted by desperation; dejected by the loss of social ties; emaciated with hunger; frail with poor health; demoralized by frustration; haunted by despair; et cetera. Everything is measured for refugees. Everything! Food is measured for them; water is measured for them; health is measured for them; happiness is measured for them; above all, even life is measured for them…
Fellow battlers, the CARC officers here in Gushegu have one hackneyed phrase: "The problem of false refugees.” However, facing the facts l should say, ignominious and unbearable as refugee life is, if someone willingly chooses to present him/herself for a refugee status, that person must be accepted as a refugee, for whatever caused the rat to jump into fire must be hotter than the fire itself…
There’s no air as fresh as that of the motherland
There’s no breeze as gentle as that of the motherland
There’s no day as smooth as that of the motherland
There’s no night as calm as that of the motherland
There’s no sun as warm as that of the motherland
There’s no moon as bright as that of the motherland
There’s no sky as blue as that of the motherland
There’s no earth as thick as that of the motherland
There’s no grass as green as that of the motherland
There’s no fruit as ripe as that of the motherland
There’s no food as lush as that of the motherland
There’s no drink as cool as that of the motherland
There’s no room as roomy as the homeland
There’s no home as homey as the homeland
A fictionalized account of a real experience of a veteran refugee, Refugees’ Rebellion says it all about the harrowing twists and turns of life in exile. It was written to highlight the growing plight of the huge refugee population around the world. Rich in passion and literary expression, provocative and amusing at the same time, Refugees’ Rebellion is not just a classic piece of informative entertainment for general readership, but also an arousing message of solace for any grieving heart.
Professor Malinger falls out with the military junta of his country and goes into exile in Gushegu with his wife and little son. The fugitives are taken to a refugee camp somewhere in the bush. Conditions of life on the refugee camp are deplorable: hunger, crime, disease and death are everyday realities. After several months of hopeless endurance on the refugee camp, the fugitives are transferred to Funcity. It is not really clear which condition is the better one – is it their former life on the camp or is it their new life in the city where they now languish in joblessness and societal contempt? The general belief of refugees is that officials of CARC are misappropriating resources meant for the wellbeing of refugees. At the end of their thither, the refugees stage a revolt to oust the corrupt CARC officials and take over management of their own affairs. The rebellion fails. Professor Malinger leaves Gushegu for another country after giving a passionate farewell speech to his fellow refugees.
About the Author
Issah H. Tikumah is a lecturer in the English Department of the University of Cape Verde. He has published more than a dozen books. “Baptism of Orphanhood”(2013), an autobiographical exposition on the excruciating plight of the orphan-child, is among his recent novels. He was nominated ICORN Guest-Writer in 2012.