I had a very long day yesterday. I woke up today. I’m still here. Marie Mendy may have had a long day yesterday, as well. Today, she did not wake up. She did not even see the night yesterday. She is not here. She is gone. Raped. Murdered. Gone.

I pray Marie’s beautiful soul rests and finds peace better than this world could ever give her. I pray her family heal and find comfort in the memory of their shared moments. I pray they find peace on Earth, too.

Gambian social media is filled with reactions to this very tragic end for Marie, a girl in the 12th Grade, described as promising by those who knew her. The man alleged to have raped and murdered Marie is said to have killed himself.

I struggled to sleep last night, because along with the many reactions, there were also gory images of the murder scene spread all over social media. Marie’s blood. Marie’s body. Marie’s grieving family. A photo of her, alive and smiling. A vehicle with the covered bodies. Weapons. Blood.

The images wouldn’t leave my head. I don’t know when I slept off, but I woke up this morning shaking. I am truly struggling to get through this day, and this struggle might be coming from a place of defeat. It is a truth I am trying to find peace in. It is a truth I don’t want to find peace in.

The first time I saw the news, it was through Fatima, who would eventually spend the rest of the night expressing her anger in the ways that she could. Then, I would see the reactions from Sukai and from Madeline. 

More women spoke up. More girls spoke up. More people spoke up. I read the posts and just stayed in my bed wishing it away. 

By night time, the reality weighed heavier for me, for the women and girls I was talking to, and for so many other people. I was heartbroken… for myself, for my sisters, for my non-binary fam. I was devastated. I was sad. But… I wasn’t angry.

I don’t know if I can be angry anymore. I can’t find my anger. I tried yesterday, but nothing. In its place, I found defeat looking me in the eyes, taunting me and asking me “what next”. I speak to my closest friends and the feeling is the same. 

Helplessness. Defeat. Resignation to this fate, perhaps? Fatigue. Defeat.

These feelings did not appear yesterday. They have been building up for years, pushed back only by the anger at the lives we have been condemned to live and accept. 

It is my anger that has continued to fuel my work, even when I’m triggered beyond healing. It is my anger that has allowed me to continue to use my voice to speak up for myself and for all vulnerable persons. It is my anger that drives my passion to see and live through a better, safer life.

But it is this same anger that has been questioned, criticised, ridiculed, torn apart, and dismissed over and over. It is this same anger that has been invalidated and called irrational. 

It is this same anger that has been used to define my identity. It is the anger that has been used to exclude us, silence our voices, and drown out our concerns and fears. It is this anger that many are afraid of and, therefore, must kill.

No one seeks to understand our anger and its source. We are just angry. We are just bitter. But, wouldn’t you?

Wouldn’t you be angry and bitter if you had to wake up everyday living in fear of violence? 

If you had to spend a considerable amount of your day planning and plotting ways to keep yourself safe? If you had to stay alert at all times, at home and on the streets, because you could be the next victim of patriarchal violence? 

If you had to wake up on a regular basis to deal with news of yet another girl, another woman, another non-binary person violated, abused, killed? If you had to show up everyday for yourself and the many who count on you? 

And when it’s all done, if you had to show up to yourself, your wounds, your hurt, your pain, a healing that never happened? If you had to wake up to deal with these feelings in the very home that you were violated? Wouldn’t you be angry too?

I think I can feel my anger coming back to me.

And I am angry at so many things and so many people. I am angry at everyone who has ever looked the other way because it was your friend or brother doing wrong. I am angry at everyone who has ever poked holes in the stories of any victim or survivor that has spoken up about their experience of violence in any form. 

I’m angry at a useless government that doesn’t give a fuck about the rights, safety and wellbeing of women, girls, non-binary persons and other vulnerable groups in this country. 

I am angry at all you disgusting apologists who continue to uphold rape culture, make excuses, vilify the people who speak up, and hope that your own violence may never come to light. I am angry at the media for their complicity and their insensitivity. 

I hope the clicks are worth it for you. I am angry because I don’t have the power to do much to change this. I am angry at those who have all the power but choose to do nothing. I am angry because Marie won’t be the last victim.

And as I sit here, watching my anger push back that defeat, I am having to deal with the questions in my head. When will my turn come? 

Will I also become a hashtag? Will my blood be splattered all over social media, the memory indelible for the people who love me and have to deal with that? 

Will they try to find out what I was wearing? Will they ask why I was at home? What will they say?

The questions do not live in my head alone. They are questions I am seeing my very young sisters asking right now. And it breaks my heart that this is what they have to deal with. 

It breaks my heart that I can’t even promise them different. I am devastated that our questions are right, our fears are valid, and we could be next. We deserve better. Will we get better? Who really cares?

I am not okay…

I am tired…

I had a very long day yesterday. I woke up today. I’m still here.

I don’t know how much longer I’ve got before my turn comes.

By Jama Jack 

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