Monday, July 20, 2020

Human solidarity

My father has a cousin who now must be around 80 years old, who has spent most of her life working as a nurse in Loloma in rural north west Zambia. That's it marked on the map above. It is a long way from Portavogie where she grew up, and a long way from the Royal Victoria Hospital where she trained as a nurse. I have only met her twice as far as I can remember. Northern Ireland stopped being her 'home' many decades ago.

A man I know well, who is around the same age as her, was a doctor in Uganda when Idi Amin came to power in 1971. The UK Foreign Office advised all Britons to leave the country but he opted to stay on for as long has he could. As well as daily medical duties, he was a vocal opponent of 'Western' corporations exploiting Africa for profit (one issue he worked against is here). When he and his young family finally had to leave they just managed to escape across the border in the nick of time - he was hit on the head with the butt of a machine gun at the border crossing and he still bears the scar it left him with. Amin killed an unknown number of his own people, estimates range from 100,000 – 500,000.

As the 'West' descends into perhaps the worst race relations in living memory, it is worth remembering that human solidarity has frequently overcome the limitations of ethnicity, genetics and politics, for a higher purpose. May that continue.