The Poisonous Silence

Silence. When you hear this word do you think of a peaceful setting with no voices to be heard or do you think of an uncomfortable, awkward, maybe even painful situation? Silence can mean many things however, in Baho!, by Roland Rugero, the author emulates Africa’s silent struggle through the main character Nyamuragi.

“His father spoke little and drank much. Always in silence…For a long while his father would remain crouched before the fire, his son imitating him. Words were rare in that family, laughter even rarer” (p.9).

Children do what they see. They imitate. Teaching a child at a young age that speaking is not necessary and that laughter is rare can only lead them down a dark path…and in this case it turned Nyamuragi into a mute. In his early childhood he simply did not care to talk much because it was peaceful, it connected him to the earth. African existentialism makes the point that you should live in the moment and be connected to what and who is around you. Nyamuragi chooses not to speak because he was living in the moment. However, after a certain point it became an issue because he is now not able to speak, he does not know how. Because of this he is in a life or death situation that is out of his hands and he has zero control over.

At a certain point South Africans had not spoken up about their plethora of issues that they became silenced. Even if they had spoken up a little, would anyone do anything? Would anyone care to help after that long? Trauma can silence people, especially when silence is all they see, it’s all they know.

“Nyamuragi had come to believe that his father suffered, but, in the reverie that pervaded their dwelling place, suffering was grounded in silence and so, unencumbered, the world pressed on” (page 10).

Suffering in this time became almost a common ground and this family, and Africa, decided to let silence overcome them.

Image result for suffering leads to silence

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