Sitting in front of my television today searching for enlightenment, I happen to stumble upon an Aljazeera documentary titled “EXILE IN NEW CALEDONIA”. It was a part one version of a series of a documentary about some Algerian deportees that were sent to an Island in Caledonia almost 150 years ago, after haven failed in their year-long resistence to French colonial rule in Algeria, France sent hundreds of Algerians to what was then a penal colony – the island of New Caledonia
As I watched, they told of their grieves, their pains and the future they never had after their fathers were taken as prisoners and sent to this Island to serve prison sentences.
Since I happened to get on midway, I could barely tell the origin of it or entire information how it all began, but 3 generations later their children were distraught about the denied future of independence that they had to live. They resented the exile. The lost Identity and the grief of the discrimination meted out to them. The sorrows in the voice of the men and the women were visible as they told of how different their lives would have been. They spoke French and were given French names that they did not like. They believed they were Arabs. The lamentation of the loss of their ethnic identities and the sense of not belonging brought tears to their eyes. They cried. I cried too.
It was all sad memories and anguish over forlorn hope. There was raw desire in their eyes as they tried to relay the imageries of a land that was told them…These were stories from the descendants of the Algerian deportees. They were a people. They wanted to belong.
It reminded me of Africa. It reminded me of the slave trade. It reminded me of all the wrongs that happened during that era. How the strong descendants of Africa were taken away. I reminisced about America. The black Americans and the shared grieve of these people in understanding and upholding their identities. The circumstances perhaps were different; they were free men taken captive and forced into slavery. Yet, in the center of it all there exists the need for identity. The need to understand their root till this day.
The thought brought me to the march on Washington August 28, 1963 at the capitol hills of the United States of America where Rev. Martin Luther king gave the speech that will forever be in history: “I Have a Dream…”. A speech, that tells of a people who wanted to be free.As humans, we want to love and be loved. We want to be accepted. We want to know that we are free. We want to be seen as individuals with rights to be and to express our humanity.From the streets to the apex of the corporate world...
…We all want to belong.