You cannot jail our minds (Ode to the Congolese resistance)

And then, they arrested two more.

Catching the first one was easy.

They picked him up right outside of his brother’s house — what was he thinking?

Freedom flyers in his backpack, folded-in-half dreams falling out of his pockets… Damn, even the sweat dripping from his forehead was smelling like rallies and peaceful protests.

- Aha, they said, caught in the act!

He shrugged. Despite it all, he was his usual calm self. Sporting his hair in a short afro, wearing a bright-colored t-shirt, his three-month old beard barely adding years to his youthful face.

- Do you have your ID? they asked.

But, before he was even able to say no or provide a proper explanation — tsk, probably some garbage nonsense anyway — they quickly snatched his phone and belongings, forced his head into the jeep with big tinted windows and drove him straight to the Center-For-Those-Who-Needed-Some-Sense-Knocked-Into-Them. (Located just outside of Kinshasa, Congo.)

- Mtchew. Now we’ll see who has the last laugh, they smirked.

Handling the second one was even easier.

That fool walked into the lion’s den of his own will — what was he thinking?

Brazenly confident, his pencil mustache perfectly trimmed and his deep brown skin oiled for the gods. Even his teeth were too bright.

Law degree in one hand, civil code in the other hand, he walked into the place talking about how he needed to know what the charges against his client were. Having the nerve to demand to see the prisoner and read him his constitutional rights… Tsk, tsk. Nonsense.

Before he even got to finish his first sentence, they stripped him of his barrister gown, handcuffed him thoroughly and threw him in a 6 by 8 cell inside the Center-For-Those-Who-Needed-Some-Sense-Knocked-Into-Them. (Located just outside of Kinshasa, Congo)

- Tcha. Now we’ll see who gets the last dance, they bragged.

Not long after that, the first chants started. Sung by the same crowd of people; the ones with the bright-colored t-shirts and the looks of dissension on their faces. At first, their chants were barely audible, a mix of unintelligible vowels and consonants trying their best to bond with each other to somehow safely reach the atmosphere. But then, as the crowd grew, from one person to two persons, to twelve and then a hundred, slowly, surely, the once shy vowels and not-so-sure consonants started to stick together, more firmly this time, and words began to form. Words that were sometimes strong, sometimes comforting, yet always empowering. Words that were not afraid to ask burning, potentially life-saving questions like where were the comrades? Why could we not see them? How could we best help? And then, there were the other words — the defiant, brave, in-your-face ones — words like the five electric ones that the crowd kept chanting like a magical incantation: You. Cannot. Jail. Our. Minds.

- Blasphemy!

At the Center-For-Those-Who-Needed-Some-Sense-Knocked-Into-Them,(located just outside of Kinshasa, Congo), the Grumbler-in-Chief had had enough. Barely able to contain his anger, he banged his fist on his table so hard that it almost broke in two. He had a twitch under his right eye and his sweat was smelling like thunderstorms and hurricanes. His troops were assembled in no time. Leather boots, combat helmets, long rifles. More arrests needed to take place. Fast. How would they manage to jail millions of youths all at once though? Nobody knew. But it was not the time for these types of questions. No minutes could be wasted. The kids, those ungrateful silly kids, had been reading and listening to all kinds of gibberish nonsense. They had spent way too much time with their good-for-nothing elders, had paid way too much attention to those unruly charlatans.

- The revolution will not be televised, their uncle Gil had said.

- Write your own history, their Baba Patrice had nodded.

And now here they were. Standing tall, chests out, their dark skin glowing under the African heat. Every now and then, they would clap their hands in unison and start reciting their magical incantation again. You cannot jail our minds. You cannot jail our minds.

Furious, the Grumbler-in-chief stormed out of his office and started yelling instructions. Hundreds of men from his special unit were getting ready to face the crowd. Yet, the youths did not back away. Sharper words had even been added to their chants. One could hear them loud and clear from far away, as they were singing:

Yellow Sunday

You cannot jail our minds

All things censored

You cannot jail our minds

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You cannot jail our minds

Keep ya head up

You cannot jail our minds

Bana ya 4ème voie

You cannot jail our minds

Telema, Ingeta

You cannot jail our minds…

Ferguson to Gaza

Biko to Guevara

Tahir Square, Tiananmen

Sankara to Lumumba

Mental engagé

Kimpa Vita, Queen Nzingha

You cannot jail our minds, You cannot jail our minds

Free Jean-Marie and Free Sylva, Now!

Keeping a stone face, the Rumbler-in-Chief took a cigarette from his uniform’s front pocket, slowly lit it up, and gave the signal. Like well-oiled machines, his men loaded their rifles and started aiming at the crowd. The youths took a deep breath. Their hearts were beating fast now, and their hands were shaking a little. Yet, they did not close their eyes.

- While revolutionaries as individuals can be murdered, you cannot kill ideas, their uncle Sankara had said.

Brap!

Sometimes unruly elders like to have the last word.

©Sabrina Moella