“I’m suffocating…

For three days or maybe four, I don’t know anymore… I just know that I’m suffocating

The feeling that something is taking over my lungs.

A big thing

A heavy thing. Under the uniform. »

From the depths of his tent set up in a military encampment, a young soldier expresses his despair in a long story, in the middle of the night. Does he actually write, does he speak out loud, or does he just formulate in his mind the words and phrases that come to him? No one knows, not even him, but it doesn’t matter. Because it is first of all a matter of taking stock of the physical ills which overwhelm him: chest pain, vomiting, delirious fever, drips of sweat, hallucinations… so many moods of a body which atones and signifies a wandering soul.

Then it is to his mother that the soldier little by little addresses the details of his painful journey, a mother whose forgiveness he implores while calling her to witness his good intentions during his departure. “What do you say, mom? (…) You didn’t teach me how to say goodbye. I rushed things…That day, when I came to tell you that I had enlisted in the army (…) you were drowning in your sorrow. I wasn’t used to it. I said to myself: what a sentimental woman… I didn’t know that this image was going to haunt me today… My pupils, haloed with blood, are unworthy of your tears, of your cries… I never want to see myself in your eyes again , Mom! »

Having left to enlist in the hope of protecting his people from the abuses of rebel militias, the young man saw his ideal pseudo shattered upon contact with the brutal reality of war. He not only became a soldier, but transformed himself into a murderer, capable of abusing the power of weapons by committing wanton and heinous acts. We will particularly remember the passage where he recounts his meeting with a peasant and his goat. “I had the kalach, what did he have? A goat. And I wanted it, the goat. What else did he have? Nothing. Damn, I loaded my gun. He still hasn’t left. He stayed there. Right, staring at me. »

The absurdity of conflicts

This scene alone symbolizes the infinite absurdity of conflicts, which makes everyone, guilty and innocent alike, victims of human madness. Shame finally adds to the soldier’s distress, a notable shame which prevents him from taking the step of returning to his family circle, while giving rise to the temptation of suicide and desertion. At the end of his long delirium, the present alone imposes itself on him, unbearable, haunted forever by the memory of the crimes committed, and which will remain indelible.

When reading Jocelyn Danga, one cannot help but inscribe This letter that I will perhaps never write to you in the wake of a certain number of other texts, signed by great literary predecessors of the author such as Amadou Kourouma (Allah is not obliged), Emmanuel Dongala (Johnny bad dog), Tierno Monénembo (The eldest of the orphans)… These writers also have highlighted through fiction the serious issue of child soldiers.

Very concerned about the situation in the east of his country, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Jocelyn Danga, an author, poet and playwright aged only 30, took up the torch a few decades later. His text, awarded during the 9th edition of the Francophonie Games in 2023 and accompanied by Nzoi Editions, which publishes it in an affordable book-short story format, is a poignant and raw logorrhea, with poetic phrasing, close to slam. The power of the word, again and again, to ward off the feeling of helplessness experienced in the face of social tragedy? But even this, the author seems to doubt when he puts these words full of irony into the mouth of his narrator: “Anyway, what can it change? I’m worth a stray dog’s fart. » The words are nevertheless printed on the page, between a whisper and a howl. In short, write, before returning to silence. Weary of war.