A spoken word poet declares her place in the world | Anisa Nanduala | TEDxBrisbane


Translator: Anabela Pegoraro
Reviewer: Peter van de Ven [This performance
contains graphic language] [and descriptions of child sexual abuse,] [sexual violence,
war zone conflict and suicide.] [Viewer discretion is advised.] The world’s children have put me on trial. Today is judgement day, so tell me … What do I say to the boy
who lays wait in a refugee camp, scared and scarred,
barred by visions of war, waiting for someone to tell him
that his future is worth fighting for? But my silence is a machete
he will use to slit his own throat before the rebel soldiers get to him. So tell me … What do I say, after I have spent
my whole life saying nothing, to the girl … who clenches her bed sheets like
she’s trying to hold onto her innocence, trying to fight off an uncle
who is four times her age, from breaking every window
in the house of her six-year-old body? My silence is red. My silence is the blood between her legs. And I didn’t know
if I should say that line on stage, but I had to because when my friend got raped,
she was the exact same age. Today, tears and trauma tangle themselves into a rope
and wrap themselves around the pupils of the abused children
forming this courtroom. So tell me … What do I say, after I have spent
my whole life saying nothing, to the girl giving birth to a child
when she’s still a child herself? Instead of playing on a seesaw, she saw her body
being turned into a prison, incarcerated behind the metal
of her wedding ring. She’s only lived
through 12 years of her life. Now she has to spend the rest
as somebody else’s wife. Today, the world’s children
have put me on trial. And the judge has a face
just like my future daughter. So tell me … How am I supposed to look at her
and tell her that today … mummy pleads guilty? (Applause) I’m standing on Adelaide Street. Getting ready to go head-to-head
with my inner self, I tell my soul, ‘Look, I’ve never been in a fight before.’ My soul says, ‘Girl,
you’re going to learn today.’ Ding! Round one. Bam!
My soul says, ‘This is for the day you … raised your hands in the air
like a sacrifice, dipped your fingers in bleaching cream and tried to set fire
to the midnight on your skin, forgetting that you can’t run
from the Nile River flowing through your veins.’ My soul pulled out a cane. And boom! Hit me across my face. The pain took me back to my place, Uganda, Kampala, Mawanda Road, 2004,
black girl on the bedroom floor. I was four. And I looked in the mirror and saw this beautiful black rose
that only grows in the motherland before Europe made me understand
that flowers as dark as me find it hard to love our petals
and even harder to love our roots. Ding! Round two.
My soul hits me with an uppercut. And my lips bleed all the words
I never had the courage to say like … ‘Daddy, please stay because … ‘ Now I hate your hands
for not being there to hold me, I hate your voice
for not being there to console me, and most of all, I hate the fact
that I don’t hate you at all. And when tears begin to fall
down my cheeks, my soul says, ‘I’ve been
trying to fight you for weeks. I’m not trying to hit you hard enough
so a dead body remains. I’m trying to take you on a trip
back to memory lane.’ Then my soul punches me in the face. And the pain takes me back to 2007, when my family and I got on a plane
like we could fly to freedom. And it said, ‘Here you are,
acting dumb for free, forgetting that millions of girls
would die for your law degree.’ My soul hits me with a combo,
left-right, left-right, and I start seeing stars over my head,
the same stars I looked up to in 2017, when I got my heart broken
for a second time when I set my intelligence on fire
just to make the wrong man stay. My soul said, ‘Look this way,
I’m not done with you. Today, you will understand humanity. I will kill you,
then bring you back to life, this time with bigger goals
and a smaller ego.’ And it said, ‘Don’t you understand? There are children dying in Palestine. Boko Haram has been terrorizing
Nigeria since 2009. A mother in South Sudan
has two bullet wounds in her back, and she is lying to her son
saying she would be fine. And it said ‘Don’t you understand?
You are lucky to be alive. So today, I will knock you to the ground. And when you stand up,
you need to stand up for the truth. Stand up for something more than you. Stand up because there are
7.4 billion people on this earth, but there is no one like you, Anisa. You need to stand up!’ (Applause)

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