'A voice is music too'

1 May 2007
Bono turned to poetry this morning, presenting the Front Line Award for Human Rights Defenders to Gege Katana from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Gege, one of five women nominated for the annual Front Line Award award, works on behalf of victims of sexual violence and founded the Solidarity Movement of Women Human Rights Activists in Uvira, eastern DRC. She is often under surveillance, was banned from travelling for seven years, has been arrested several times and regularly receives death threats.

'Winning the award is a recognition of my work as a woman human rights defender.' she said. 'It gives me the strength and encouragement to pursue my struggle.'

Presenting the award at City Hall in Dublin, before an audience of politicians, business leaders and human rights activists, Bono paid tribute to Gege's work with a poem. Here it is:

'There's a woman here amongst us
A girl we cannot know
Eyes from the frontline
Eyes that can overthrow
Eyes that see what is
But more what might be
Eyes with vision over visibility

There's a woman in our midst
That we can never know
A voice from the frontline
A voice that can overthrow
A voice is more than language
A voice is music too
Her voice is whispering, 'Ubuntu, Ubuntu'

Ubuntu, a spell in Swahili
There's no me without you
No you without me
I am because we are
We are what we can do
There's no you without me
There's no me without you

The voice says love thy neighbour is not advice, It's a command
The voice says, Africa is your neighbour land
The voice says the sun rises on our great shore first
The voice sayd dig your neighbours well
And you will quench your own thirst
And if we dig a well together
We will strike a spring of stories
And discover we can't stand up if she is on her knees

I am because we are
That's the word ubuntu
I learned this lesson from Africa
There's no me without you

GEGE, GEGE, iron woman smile
We will walk in your footsteps
And follow your mile
May the dreams you've had in darkness
Not leave you when you wake
And like The Morning Tree of CONGO
May you bend and never break

There's a woman here amongst us
A girl we cannot know
She's been to the frontline
But today's she's home.'

Front Line was founded in Dublin in 2001 with the specific aim of protecting Human Rights Defenders, people who work, non-violently, for any or all of the rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).

More on Frontline and the other nominees here


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