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© Copyright 2003 Kenneth Mulholland  


An AuthorMe special article by Kenneth Mulholland, Australian Editor.

Monica Arac De Nyeko, Rais Neza Boneza and Beatrice Lamwaka

AGENDUM: Latin. Things to be done.

Now I wish to address the subject of Writer's Agendas: What are they? Why do we need them? Where lie our priorities? How can they be achieved? Who will attempt them?

Here are the old Newspaper Questions: 'what, where, how, who and why?'

There are many reasons why writers write. Sometimes it is to give and to receive.
I have a project in mind regarding classical music. I want to write an article about composers in the western world and to ask the question, why do we know so little about composers of the east? Who are, or were they? How can we come to know them better? And in so doing, I am seeking some feedback from the readers at the site I hope to have my article posted. Here, I have my own agenda: my thoughts through my article and the thoughts of those who will reply. Thus we have an exchange of information, an enlarging of our own personal knowledge through a broader horizon.

Sometimes, Writers have very direct ideas as to what they want to say. They tend to specialize in fields that suit them: Children's Books, Romance, Westerns, Fantasy, Crime, Thriller, Spy, How-To books, Educational, Religious, Political, Medical, Theological and so on.

And there are Writers who work in many areas; chameleons who change style and stance as easily as we change our minds.

There are also the writers of comic books, of newspaper articles, of doctrines and essays, speeches and law, the biographers, the teachers.

Here is the shortest story of all.

' I.'

We could extend it a little by saying, 'I think, therefore I am. I am a sentient being. I have a will, a free will, to express myself in the written medium. We could therefore say that the next shortest story of all is, 'You'.

You have a power that is at once astounding and humbling. You have the power of the written word. And you can turn that power to any Agenda that you wish. And in this new age of the Internet and global world communication it has never before been as powerful as now. You can reach out to people across the world for as long as we have this incredible technology within our grasp. You can speak and be heard. You can decide what is to be your Agenda.
Where will it go? To wherever you wish.
How? By mail, and by the Internet.
Who to? To anybody you want.
Why? Because now it is possible via the swiftness of technology.

And yet...And yet, there are still scores of millions of human beings in this world of ours, this Twenty First Century world, who have never even made a single telephone call, who have no access to even the simplest means of communication, who are underprivileged in every meaning of the word. Who have still, and even so, a tiny word: a word that is driven, and will be driven, by their Champions. These are the People who have survived through terrible situations and have emerged to speak out. These are the People who yet dwell within the shadow of regimes that seek to eliminate various individuals and entire groups.

In the early 1980's, whilst working as a television cameraman in Melbourne, Australia, I happened to meet Chris, a sound recorder who was also employed on 'Prisoner', a locally made production about women in prison. I got to know him over a few months. He was a Black African, and he told me that his father had been killed in the riots of the seventies in Soweto. He was a young man with a good sense of humour. He had to be, considering the Australian way; which is to give and take a little bit of 'rubbishing', 'send-up', 'give the other guy a hard time and see if he can take it and come back just as hard', kind of thing. He took it all in his stride with a lot of laughter, and shot it back to us as well.
A good guy. A very nice man.

Like Shalom, a fellow from Israel, also in audio. I asked him, 'Why are you leaving?'
His answer was the same as Chris. 'I have to go back to my own country. My family are still there. I have been sending money to them and now it is time to go home.'

'But you like it here. You said that you had never felt so safe, so free as you have in Australia. Couldn't you stay and work toward getting your people out here?'

'That's just it. It's not that they wouldn't like it in Australia, it's just that they already have a home and they don't want to leave it. It is also my home. I want to see things improve there. I have to go back.'

And so both of them did.


What has this got to do with Writer's Agendas, you ask? Only this: there are Writers living and working today who have another kind of Agenda. Their Agenda is one of desperation, of frustration, of fear and terror and the ever present reality of what is happening in their countries. They are Writers who have been forced to flee their own lands, or dwell there still in circumstances that are intolerable. They have experienced, and are still experiencing situations that we find difficult to even imagine: famine, brought about by leaders who have no concern for their own peoples; ravaging disease, sexually transmitted so that almost no one is exempt; war, that continues unabated over many years and leaves whole peoples decimated; cruelty and suffering in so many ways that are absent to we in the western world, where freedom is considered a right and not a privilege of the rich and powerful.

These are Writers bearing the Yoke of Agenda.

These are Writers who cannot go back, who might go back, or who are still there.
No matter which, these valuable individuals are working at the Agenda of Freedom.
They risk their lives and security: they are banished, they are punished, they see in their past, or in their day to day lives the horrors of war, famine, poverty, sickness; all without relent.

And still, they persist.
As they must.
They have the Agenda of Message; a cry to the peoples of the world.
They are Writers with a voice that must never be silenced.

There is an Australian lyric writer, Keith Reid and an Australian singer, John Farnham, who wrote and sang these words:

'We have the chance to turn the pages over.
We can write what we want to write.
We gotta make ends meet, before we get much older.
We're all someone's daughter,
we're all someone's son.
How long do we have to look at each other
down the barrel of a gun?
You're the Voice, try and understand it.
Make a noise and make it clear.
We're not gonna sit in silence.
We're not gonna live in fear.
This time, we know we can all stand together,
with the power to be powerful,
believing we can make it better.
You're the Voice, try and understand it.'

Try and understand it.
'He's my Brother. He ain't heavy.'

Writers such as Rais Neza Boneza, Monica Arac De Nyeko and Beatrice Lamwaka are not alone. There are many others, and there will be more. These are the peoples of very real and urgent agendas that cannot be ignored. They have a great deal to say, much to tell the world about their fearful past and their terrible present.

I have made a point of reading what they have to say. It is not easy reading. The subject matter is of atrocity and debasement, of cruelty and death, of inhumanity, sickness without hope of recovery, loss of human dignity, loss of life almost before life can take any meaning. It is a litany of sad, sad dreams that are not dreams, but reality. It is a cry for the world to stop....
For the World to stop and turn collective eyes toward those in oppressed countries everywhere. And to do something.
Do something!
Do something to change what is happening right now to human beings in parts of the world that are in peril of being overlooked, that have been overlooked for too long. Writers can have a say in what will be and what will come, and these three writers can make a difference by the power of their writing and the truths that they expose. They write in a language that is ours, not theirs, and so what they have to say is not always best expressed. Yet it has all the more power and poignancy because of that. They reach out to us, stretching their hands and minds and experiences to we who consider ourselves fortunate to have lived our lives in countries where freedom is natural, where oppression is not a part of our Agenda.

They deserve to be heard, these three: Beatrice Lamwaka, Monica Arac De Nyeko and Rais Neza Boneza.
It is for these reasons that I, a simple resident of Australia, in the southern climes of all our world, commend them and all those others of their kind, for their indomitable strength, their tenacity, courage and fortitude. Read them.

Read Them. And think on what they have to say.

Now to the last part of Writer's Agendas.
There is an Agenda that is greater than all others; greater than anything that we as writers, or human beings for that matter, can defer or defeat.

It is TIME.

Born, Breathe, Die.
No space between.
Be a writer, be a reader.
Be advised. Time is your Agenda.
Do something!


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