Once upon a time in a land as dark as night…
Maybe you have heard of Marielle Franco, assassinated in March of 2018 in Rio de Janeiro?
Marielle Francisco da Silva, was born in July 1979, the same year I joined the Liberal Ecology Group and the same year Mrs Thatcher was elected Prime Minister. Marielle was a feminist Brazilian politician and human rights activist, elected to the Municipal chamber of Rio de Janeiro as a councillor for the Socialism and Liberty Party (PSOL)
She had been an outspoken critic of police brutality and extrajudicial killings. She was also highly critical of the federal intervention by Brazilian president, Michel Temer, in the state of Rio de Janeiro which resulted in the deployment of the army in police operations. After a long period when it seemed likely that her killers would “never be found” and were somehow being protected by the system, two former police officers were arrested, charged and convicted of her murder.
Brazil has an unenviable record for killings by its police force. Human Rights Watch, reporting in 2019 put the figure for 2017 (their latest data) at over 5000 – averaging 14 per day. If these numbers are anywhere near correct, that is around five times as many as are killed by police action in the USA. Worse, the Brazilian President, Jair Bolsonaro, not only sanctions brutal police action but made his way into power with a slogan “30 bullets for each bandit” and looks fondly back to his days as a military Captain during the Dictatorship years in Brazil.
That any beauty can come out of such brutality, shows a fascinating “other side” to the human spirit – but this poem came into my purview recently and I pass it on to you with no further comment. It is spoken alongside a video of some delightful sculpturing skill which you can see here… well worth your time to see and listen. Enjoy and then read the poem again for yourself.
Once upon a time in a land as dark as night
Where nothing would grow
In despite of every woe
There was an unusually happy girl
And, since she loved life and, since she loved beauty
She decided that it was her duty
To plant sunflowers on dry hard sand
And perhaps her heads would help to mend
Through the soil and turmoil of that land
The people there, seeing her endeavour,
Smiled again and thought they would forever,
As they noticed flowers strong and bright
And thought they were tired of the night
The evil forces however frowned
And opening a hole up in the ground…
… [sound of shot fired]…
Watched her being swallowed deep
Until she could no longer speak
Or see, or dream, or sigh, or resist
But what they could not predict was this
Her love was such that it spread across the mud,
And thousands of flowers grew nourished by her blood
And now every time a flower`s pluck`d
Many more will grow at present speed
And the girl will always, for her deed,
Be remembered by the name – of “Seed”
Poem by Renato Campello