February 2019 Theme: Listening to the wind


Is it just me or does everyone have a time in the year where the presence of those we lost is felt so strongly, it’s overwhelming? A time where our minds are overtaken by a strange melancholy and our bodies invaded by an unshakable anguish, a ‘premonition’ of a sad event to come, though that event has already happened years ago, but you are just reliving it like in a bad movie?

Well, for me, that time of the year is January. In starts around the 10th and last for about two weeks. Though I know it will come and should rationalise it, I can’t seem to escape it. Then when the tragic remembrance dates are over, the mind-storm leaves place to a very strange peace of mind. Sadness is gradually replaced by joy and the ache of the loss is swapped with the souvenirs of happy moments together.

Strange, hey?

This year was no different, I did not escape my annual Blues. But I found solace, like I often do, in the immortal words of ‘Spirits’, the acclaimed poem of Senegalese author Birago Diop:

“Those who are dead are not ever gone;
They are in the darkness that grows lighter
And in the darkness that grows darker.
The dead are not down in the earth;
They are in the trembling of the trees
In the groaning of the woods,
In the water that runs,
In the water that sleeps,
They are in the hut, they are in the crowd:
The dead are not dead.”

This February let’s live by those insightful words. Let’s pay attention to every whisper of the wind, to the birds singing in the trees, and the shadows, and the firestorms, so we can capture back bits and bits of memories of the moments we so deeply miss.

Each of the story I’ll share for the next four weeks will be stories of Dear Departed, extraordinary beings who had such an impact on the world, they will be talked about for generations to come. These stories or the sight of their portraits might bring tears to your eyes, but we must dare to walk down that memory lane if we want to keep their Legacy alive.

Normally, when we read of someone who passed away, we visit their family to cheer them up. In lieu, let’s reach out to the people around us who lost someone dear and who might be struggling to get to terms with their loss. No need to say much; just these three little words: ‘we are together’.


The UMURAGE Foundation


Featured Artwork

‘In the eyes of children' by Mohamed Baba Ly (Senegal, 2014)