A Letter From Zambia
There was a handwritten letter from Zambia on my desk today, and a pencil sketch of a rhino was in it. The return address is Maximum Security Prison, Death Row Ward. I was curious about the writer. And so I googled him. Here are some excerpts from his letter (in italics) and the story about one of the victims from a prison report as I learned it. (If you’re sensitive, you may want to skip this post.)
I am very happy to write you this letter for the first time. I am a Congolese by nationality, and I am on death row here in Zambia. I have got two children from my marriage.
On May 1, 1997, she was on her way to Mansa. She was given a lift in a Land Cruiser, and they were 3 women and 2 men in the vehicle. As they were driving, they were stopped by one man whom the driver recognized. As the driver was exchanging greetings with this man, four men sprung up from the bush, one armed with a gun and the other three with knives.
I am an artist by profession even when I was outside. I know how to make monuments, necklaces, malachite, etc. But it is now very difficult for me to do these here in prison. I do draw sketches and portraits in prison because we are allowed to do so.
These people wanted to grab the keys, but the driver resisted. The man armed with a gun fired in the air, and the driver surrendered the keys. When they got the keys, they ordered all those in the vehicle to come out, and they were taken into the bush while the men who has stopped the vehicle jumped into the vehicle and drove it into the bush.
The only problem is that I do not have materials such as water colors, brushes and drawing paper as they are very difficult for me to find. Now I am very lucky to find your address and I ask you to help me with colors and other drawing materials.
In the bush, the men raped the women and killed the men.
Please please do not forget me. I don’t have any relatives to assist me here in a foreign country. Here I have been for 10 years without a visitor from my relatives.
They assaulted her and raped her again after which she was told to run. She started running. At that time she was naked and bleeding. She walked in great pain, and it was not long then it became dark. When she left the scene, she did not see her friends. When it became dark, she slept by a log.
I do receive letters from my family in Congo. The only problem is for them to come here because they are very poor.
The following day, she continued walking not knowing where she was as it was in the bush. After walking for a long time, she came to a road and she sat by a tree. As she sat under a tree there came a woman from whom she asked for something to wrap herself in, and she also inquired where she was. She asked this woman to escort her to the police station, the woman refused but gave her directions and she walked up to police station.
That is why I call upon you to find me someone who can help me. I have sent this sketch so that you can know I am an artist. But it is not painted. I will paint some if you will send me colors.