The Ones Before Me

Written by: Lukeno Alkatiri

With the contribution of: Low Heng Boon

20th August 2009

This piece is dedicated to the historical FALINTIL for their struggle
and sacrifice. I dedicate it to all the men that were part of it. I
dedicate it especially to FALINTIL’s founders (Nicolau Lobato, Mau
Lear, Alarico Fernandes and others), including the only living founder:
my father, Mari Alkatiri.

As I travel on the back of the crocodile land, I follow the path you
left behind representing your beautiful and courageous struggle. I walk
with it or behind it but never in front of it. For, unlike some, I
cannot bear the idea of giving my back to story and history you have
left us. I try to understand the source of your strength during the
years you were locked away from the rest of the world, a world that
took its time to come your rescue and now forgets who you were and what
you have become.

I follow your tear drops and your drops of blood that many times fed
this soil. They are still here, resisting and not allowing themselves
to dry. I notice that each drop unlocks the narration of a beautiful
tale. Your tale, therefore, our tale. Tales of sacrifice, of
desperation, and most importantly, drops of blood and tears that
provide evidence of the trail traced by your dreams and your beliefs.

On this journey I also follow the sound of your scream that still
echoes from the top of these mountains. So many times you screamed,
hoping that someone would hear you and put an end to the madness of
your enemies. So many times they ignored you, deluding themselves to
think that your screams would one day surrender to silence.

Little did they know that it was their own silence that would one day
break. The bullet shells that are still left untouched on the sites of
your battles represent the existence of a cause. Next to them are some
of the bodies you left behind. Your own. However lifeless you left them
and regardless of the mutilation you suffered by the horror of
witnessing their last breath, you assured that their self-sacrifice
would keep our ideals alive. They represent the countless times you
were forced to suppress the sadness and the mourning for your loss in
order to leave them but always remembering that you owe them your
continued existence.

Before I started this never-ending journey, people told me about you.
They told me that you were fighting, hurting but keeping yourself
relentlessly alive for us. For this reason I decided to follow your
path, to hear your scream and to let the trail your tears and blood
guide me to the place where you have become forever our hero. I will
catch the shells of the bullets that pierced through your flesh and
show them to the world. I will lie down next to the bodies you left
behind and I will let them tell me the stories of your battles. They
will tell me their names so that I make sure they will never be
forgotten. And after I thank them for their sacrifice, they will teach
me how to face the future battles of the struggle that is far from
over. And I will learn, from these everlasting souls, how to tear,
bleed and scream, when it is my time to continue tracing the trail.

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