LOUIS ABELMAN

Oprah’s on

without comments

Jen was at the dentist and she called me to say that Oprah had a segment on rape in the eastern Congo… you know, just after the piece on Ricky Martin visiting Tsunami victims. Lisa Ling, lately of Channel One news (the one they show in high school homeroom) with the story.

Oprah: So you were just telling me that the Congo is the worst place on earth.

Lisa: Yes, it’s the worst.

Wow. It’s always good when the Congo shows up in our press, and I’m sure Women for Women international, Oprah’s chosen charity, is a good one. But come on, Lisa, did you really risk your life to get the story (as the show claimed)? With your SUV caravan, your armed guards, your buying off of local rebels, etc.?

I found I couldn’t write about the subject of women, the overflow of stories and anecdotes that are variations on the theme of “I, my family, my children, my people, endured things that go beyond the sternest vision of hell that you could ever imagine” — I couldn’t even take on the subject or talk about the things we heard when working with the patients at the fistula program at DOCS in Goma. I couldn’t put myself there, even though I mentioned it in the IHT article… I didn’t want to add my measly “Africa is really f’d” to the torrent that’s out there already. And it all came down to “a glimmer of hope.” So I failed, and I will freely admit, it was way too big for me to handle.

My personal hope is that the images of our documentary (that we have just begun to work on) will speak for themselves, but Nelson has suggested that what we have is perhaps only a beginning, and we need to go back there with more intellectual preparation, and stay longer, to break through the many traps and paradoxes of such work… to avoid them unlike Oprah just now…

Actually, all of this is painful to think about at all and I don’t even know what I’m trying to say. Thanks Oprah!

(Oprah also has letters from women in Bukavu, in South Kivu, about their experiences… they are painfully similar to what we took down in Goma…)

Written by louis

January 24th, 2005 at 10:00 pm

Posted in Blog

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