Tenth International Conference on War Tax Resistance and Peace Tax Campaigns - Brussels, Belgium 2004

An Impression

By Evelyn Nana-Fosu Randall (Ghana/USA)

5.3

Learning what I have control over and then understanding what I don't have control over eliminates a lot of frustration. And life holds no guarantees.

Our visit to the war museums brought back to me all the war torn areas I have worked in during my 29 years of service with the United Nations. The horrible things I saw in Liberia – the stench alone – that heavy stew of mold, waste, rot, urine, sweat and tuberculosis mixed with one hundred percent humidity, cooked in hundred degree Fahrenheit heat, with ventilation only enough for mosquitoes to fester - the overcrowding, the starvation. Listening to the stories in the museums and seeing the statue of parents crying over the death of their eighteen year old son reminded me of a pregnant girl and her grandmother who gave testimony of surviving a massacre in which the rest of their entire community was wiped out.

It is amazing to me to see the horrible atrocities that happened during World Wars I and II . The museums gave me goose pimples. I remember the faces in the pictures and am still haunted by them.

As I look around me today, I see the people who suffered atrocities sitting side by side with people who perpetrated them, joining together to come up with a common understanding of human rights. What is happening in Africa is not called World War I or World War II. But the history of the Flemish people being oppressed, is it not the same thing that is happening in the Sudan? The stronger trying to suppress the weaker?

My question is: When will we learn to live in peace?

It is heartbreaking to hear stories from children and women in Iraq, Liberia, the Sudan and the Middle East. Children, many of them forcibly conscripted, committed arson, rape, murder or were forced to walk the front lines, so as to shield their commanding officers instead of attending schools.

The successful conference and this excursion to Flanders Fields encourage me to work with Voices of African Mothers for justice, freedom and human rights for all peoples.