Bits and Pieces

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

How Lucky We Are

As I was lying in an exhausted stupor last night, unable to sleep after taking an ill-advised nap earlier in the evening, I got to thinking about people I used to work with while I was a student. Many of these people, working in low paid jobs at unsociable hours, were immigrants from poverty-stricken nations.

The first guy who came to mind was named Frank, a very large man in his late 20's. Frank was born in Sierra Leone, and had lived in the UK for about 5 years. At this time, around 2000, abduction, rape and murder of civilians was an almost daily occurrence in his home country. Frank had not heard from his younger sister in a year, and had no way of knowing if she was alive or dead, and yet he came to work every morning and kept going.

The next person I thought of was a young woman named Abedayo Babakume, known to her friends as 'Dee'. Dee had left her family back home to seek her fortune in London, and later moved up to Manchester where I met her. At the time I knew her, Ivory Coast Patriotic Movement rebels had seized the north of the country and her family had been forced to flee to Nigeria. Again, Dee turned up to work every day with a smile on her face.

This behaviour baffles me. If my younger sister was missing or my parents had been forced to run from rebels I would be on the first plane back, worrying all the way. It amazes me that people can come to accept any situation as normal. I am lucky to live in a country that is politically stable, where the law can be upheld and I don't have to worry an awful lot about being slain in the street. I wonder what would happen if the UK was suddenly plunged into a bloody civil war. Would we adapt as many African people have, and accept the situation stoically, or would we collapse in despair at our lot? I suspect the latter is true.
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