words to never ever forget
|picture from Getty - The Washington Post|
translation from article by Bram Vermeulen (Dutch correspondent based in South Africa)
source: https://nos.nl/artikel/2209440-jullie-moeten-me-verontschuldigen-woorden-om-nooit-te-vergeten.html (incl.video report in Dutch, with some French words)
Not the seizure of power in Zimbabwe, even though it took 37 years. Nor the directed end of Jacob Zuma as party leader of the largest party of the largest economy on the African continent. The story of 2017 that stays with me the most was told to us on the floor of one of the ghettos in the caravan city of Agadez in Niger.
Thermo Amadou from Guinea and Diallo Mamdou Djulde told about the day when the Toyota Hilux left them and 23 others in the vast desert near the border between Niger and Libya. The driver had deviated from the route that smugglers have been using for decades between Agadez and the Libyan border.
On that route, since the beginning of the year, roadblocks and policemen had been trained by the European agency Eucap, which settled in Agadez to stop the migration to Europe. The consequence of this pressure from Brussels is that the smugglers now prefer the rough roads through the Sahara.
The driver of Amadou and his travel companion ran after a day of driving out of petrol. In order to get new fuel he would drive back to the official route, but with 25 migrants in the trunk, he would certainly be arrested. So you wait here, he said. "I'll be right back."
Most of them got out of the trunk. Thermo Amadou remained seated. Until Pappi, the muscled Congolese persuaded him to trust the driver. "Otherwise we will all die here." The driver never came back. They waited for him a full day.
Then they started walking. With two jerry cans containing 5 liters of water, connected to a rope that he has wrapped around his neck. Back to Agadez. Following the trails of the Toyota Hilux. On the seventh day the Senegalese Pap Djah broke down. "Leave me here," he begged the others. They had already carried him around on their shoulders for a day. "Il faut me pardonner", he said. "You must forgive me."
Thermo Amadou had never forgotten those words. "Il faut me pardonner". He sat on a stone in Agadez's ghetto, and next to him Diallo with hollow eyes. They were crying. They walked nine days to tell this story. Two others did not survive the walk back. They buried them in the Sahara sand.
While I listened to their story together with colleague and cameraman Sven Torfinn, I promised myself to never forget those words of the Senegalese Pap Djah. Every time migration from Africa to Europe is discussed again by policymakers, angry twitterers, and opinion makers in the talk showrooms far from Agadez. Those apologetic words from the Senegalese Pap Djah minutes before his death: "il faut me pardonner".