|1||Title on screen:In Democratic Republic of Congo there is a permanent warfare.Mai-Mai, a local militia, fight to defend their land.
In this environment of social turmoil, deaf are marginalized from society and banished by families.
The African man exists because of relationships. In these, he is called to a permanent dialogue. The man who does not have relationships is already dead. He does not exist. A relationship is a language that has to be shared with others. We cannot live in isolation. We have to think of others and of the community. I exist thanks to the community. Isolation is like hell.
|NightfallLight comes from the open door of a hut|
|3||Title on screen: The Silent Chaos||Black Screen|
|4||Title on screen: Butembo City – North Kivu
|DaytimeButembo city: streets, daily life images.|
People are scared of the deaf. They think we are bad and dangerous. They are convinced that we are possessed by evil spirits.
I am not deaf because of evil spirits. Many people say that deaf people are possessed by the devil, but I am not. When I was born I could hear and speak. Then I got sick and became deaf. Evil spirits had nothing to do with it. When I was little, the other children did not want to play with me. Nobody wanted me around. Once they knew that I was deaf, they ran me off, beating me with a club.
In Lukanga I know a family where there was a deaf person. I cannot remember everything.I only know that the boy was very violent. He was considered a threat to everybody. The father trapped him in a hut and burned him alive. Years later another deaf child was born into this family. They said that he was the reincarnation of the dead boy. That he was a curse on the family. A disability of any kind shows itself and can return. It’s necessary to pray so that no more deaf children are born into the same family.
|Congolese hutsMedicine ManMen cleaning the wheat|
|8||Dawn on Virunga mountains|
We did not have guns. We only had clubs and stones and a pouch containing our magic powder. It fights the tiredness and heals the wounds. My job in battle was to bring the magic.I had to fight and bring aid the others. Once I was wounded by a bullet. During an attack I went back to help a wounded companion. Going back, I broke one of our commandments: always advance in battle. So God punished me and the bullet wounded my flesh. I understood my mistake and I began to fight again. Using only my knife I slaughtered (killed) thirteen enemies.
|Mai-Mai WarriorMai-Mai campMai-Mai warriors chattingMai-Mai Warrior|
The biggest problem for deaf people is the impossibility of communicating with others. This difficulty creates a block inside of them and an insurmountable wall surrounds them, isolating them from others. Deaf people can neither hear nor be heard. They live among the people like strangers, they live among the people like outsiders and the outsider is feared, ostracized, and marginalized.Who is different is considered dangerous: a bearer of evil influences. He appears like an enemy from whom we defend ourselves with magic powers. Belief in magic dehumanizes those who are different, freeing the community from every moral obligation towards them. This superstition strips one who is different of his dignity and his future and the latter is the most difficult to regain in daily life.
|Panning shoot of Butembo cityStreets of Butembo, peddlers
Route National n°4 (Butembo)
I hate my father because he paid only for my brother’s studies through university. It’s only because I’m deaf that he thinks I’m stupid.To him, I am nothing. For many years he forced me to work all day in the fields and to take the produce to the market with his motorcycle.One day I rebelled. I stole his motorcycle and I ran away from home.
|Deaf’s school. Classes picturesAlexRecreation TimeAlex|
It was already dark. I stayed outside all day with friends and went around the city. I remember that when I was returning home I was scared because it was dark. Many times I was almost run over. I was mistaken. I should have feared my father. My father despised me because I was deaf and he couldn’t stand for me to have a life outside of the house. When I arrived home he threw me to the ground and beat me with a club full of nails. He ripped my arm open. He left me on the floor bleeding.
|13||Daytime – Butembo streets, Red Cross’ vehicle, UN’s vehicle|
Mai Mai warrior
In mai-mai tradition, there are no firearms. One fights with bow and arrow like the ancients. These rules are still followed today in the forest. We have another weapon: magic. I did not believe that a stone could kill armed militants, but I saw a stone thrown into a group of soldiers. The stone became fire and immediately after I saw their burnt bodies.
|15||Music||Dawn – ButemboMarket|
In 2008, having finished school, I had to do something. I watched the cobblers on the street. I observed them and I tried to imitate them. So slowly, slowly I learned. No one wanted to teach me so I did everything on my own, like always in my life.
|Remy at workRemy|
For us deaf people it’s very difficult to find work. A little while ago I was lucky to find a job as a brick mason. I worked very hard. In the end, my colleagues who could hear were paid well while I received a meager salary. You tell me if that is just? All of this only because I do not understand the words.
|JacobPicures of bricklayers|
Everybody knows the historical refrain that they teach us at school. They tell us that Africa is the birthplace of humanity. Also, you know well that in Central Africa, we have everything. Every kind of richness, especially here in Congo. This is why the western countries come here to do what they want and to extract resources illegally.
It is always the same countries that bring weapons here. But why? Instead of making fair and just deals with us, they prefer to create disorder so they can easily take our gold and our diamonds.
And then there is our history. We have killed our brothers, our companions; we have massacred them with weapons. We killed them. Because of these conflicts there is no safety.
I have seen many people killed. Some decapitated, others shot. I have seen too many dead bodies, hundreds along the roads. The bodies were thrown in big pits. The bodies were piled up one on top of the other and covered.
We were running away from the city. They were telling us that they wanted to free the city. I had never heard about the war. We kept running until a group of rebels decided to take me with them as a guide. They were mai mai. I was with my brothers and sisters. They asked them where they were taking me. The mai mai said that it would be better for everyone if they let me go. Otherwise they would have killed me. So I followed them until we got to a bridge. While I was walking they wanted to cut me on the shoulder for the rite of initiation. Once under the bridge, I decided to offer them my hand. They cut me with the magic knife and they gave me their magic. Immediately I forgot my past, who I was and who my family were.
|Rural roadMai-Mai warrior|
To become a mai-mai you need to be initiated in the forest. They cut you on the shoulder and the head. It is a ritual to exorcise the fear from the heart. With the embrace of the other mai-mai you become one of them. After the ritual of initiation they are ready to kill. They don’t fear anything anymore; from that moment their face changes form.
A mai mai warrior cannot die: he is invulnerable. We are not scared of the bullets of the enemy because we know that we cannot die. The true mai mai knows that his body will never remain on the battlefield.If you begin to feel fear it’s because you know you have disobeyed our rules. A mai mai can face an armored truck without fear. An armored truck cannot crush a mai mai. At most it will be able to push him to the side, as if he is made of a different material.The enemies had many weapons, including bazookas. They were able to all shoot at the same time, but even at the maximum of their firepower, they could never hurt us. After the battle, we mai mai we may have marks on our bodies like stings or burns, but no one could die. Against us, the bullets melt. They become water.
|ForestMai-Mai WarriorMai Mai Camp
A lot of Mai-Mai are children. Thanks to magic they can fight with whatever tool, like clubs or stones. The tips of their knives have a lethal poison on them. I saw with my eyes a mai mai child face a soldier from Rwanda that was patrolling the street. The soldier fired at him. The child disappeared in between the leaves and reappeared behind the soldier and killed him with his knife.
If you know our history you know that the first modern weapon that we ever had came from the water. Back then we fought with spears, when a child saw a gun rise from the water and float until it stopped at his feet. We understood that the gun was a gift from God who called us to the fight. All of the weapons we have are trophies of war. They are gifts that come from God to solve the problems of our people. We do not have a salary; we fight because we are called for a cause. For this reason there are still a lot of us. Because God protects us. We are grateful for all of this and we ask that this will continue to protect us. Our story is comparable to the one of the army of Gideon that is told in the Bible.
|Mai-Mai campColonel SafariMai-Mai camp|
We were terrified. When the soldiers arrived we would flee into the forest. The soldiers massacred everybody. If you encountered one, you were dead.
I knew that the soldiers were in the city when the earth and all the things around me shook. I felt inside of me the vibrations of the explosions.
|31||Title on screen: Kykyo Hill, Butembo||Kykyo Hill at dawn|
We are at war now like always. The city is attacked by the mai mai resistance. They would ambush the soldiers who were attacking the people. Especially young children. Kikyo was the height of the suffering of the people.It is a mystery. Kikyo became a real mystery. They say that the people were buried alive. They say that there were dead bodies; Kikyo became a cemetery. A lot of people were buried alive. There was a curfew. The few that survived told the horror of what they lived through, their agony. The truth of Kikyo will be revealed one day.
|33||Men building a hut|
We can tell that we don’t suffer anymore: we die. It’s not just pain anymore, it’s that we die. You need to imagine having a house, built for your family, for your life, to protect your children and your things. But another man comes, ties you up, rapes your wife and children in front of you and then forces you to thank him. Thank you for raping my wife and daughter. Thank you for taking everything I have.
|Jean BoscoMen building a hutSunset on the forest|
I was a child. There was chaos in the city. Everyone tried to run away. Trucks full of soldiers arrived. My mother and I ran away. I was terrified. My father didn’t make it to escape. They shot him in the leg. They kept shooting without stopping. There were dead bodies everywhere: children, women, and old people. I saw the soldiers capture a deaf friend of mine. They beat him up and then they threw him up in the air. They threw him in the air many times. He tried to run away but they caught him again and killed him. He had wounds everywhere.
|NightfallWoman in the night, car lightsKaviraPictures of soldiersKavira|
Deaf people were wandering through the streets. Even deaf people in the schools, before going home would wander through the city, all day long. Deaf people live off of their wits. The deaf student, before going home, wanders through the city until he finds another deaf person with whom he spends time. It’s not a real community. More like a spontaneous gathering of people. So a deaf person is in the company of another deaf person. Sometimes somebody feeds them, sometimes not. But this way they feel alive. This way they feel happy, while when they’re with their normal relatives they feel distant and marginalized.
When I was little I was always angry because people would stare at me. Their looks were full of disgust. I was full of hate. They made me a bad person.When somebody would stare at me I would take a stone and throw it at him. I felt bad often because of that. When I was little, I would often go with other deaf people to the market to steal.
|38||Music||Butembo’s marketChildren running in the grass|
The social order becomes a problem for everybody. We need more extended relationships. Relationships that are about everybody, based on the sharing of one Earth, one destiny, and one common future.The social order depends on the relationship that we have with others. The deaf of Butembo live the chaos of their own city. The chaos that does not spare their families. The deaf are the mirror of the difficult relationships, or the lack of, in our society. Like in a modern Tower of Babel everyone has his own language. Like if we were all deaf, one in front of the other. The hope is that the deaf people can come out of this chaos. Can come out of this disorder of a society that thinks only of people who can hear, who are normal, and marginalizes anyone who is not. The ones who suffer the most in this chaos are the deaf.
|Pictures of streets
From the time when I was not deaf, I remember only the melody of my favorite song.
|41||Title on screen:Despite the peace agreement of 2009 of the Democratic Republic of Congo, a land full of mineral resources, there is a permanent warfare to date.
Casualties since 1996 amount to over 5 millions.
Nowadays, more than 250 conflicts exist in the world. Almost all of these are “silent wars”.
|42||Title on screen: Credits|