November 14th, 2011
Today Addy and I went to the refugee Camp Clinic. At the end of the day we met the head nurse’s sister who teaches at a nearby school. She said something about a cable breaking and said a lady got hurt. I didn’t ask any questions, it only seemed like she was sharing the daily news.
She gave me a ride to the bus stop and when we approached the police had closed the road off. I saw the cable she had referenced laying across the road so the police had stopped cars from driving over it. I went around to one of the road blocks to try and get across to the bus stop. My around, however, was actually through and I quickly realized that I was in the middle of the scene that ran off to the side. The first thing someone said to me once I joined the crowd that had gathered was “she’s dead now.” He pointed to the lady whom I had just walked by.
It was an electricity cable that snapped and hit her when it fell to the ground. She was electrocuted. I don’t know how long it happened when I walked by but she was just laying there. Not covered, not roped off, just there in the position she died in, shopping bags and purse still in hand.
How did this happen? Had she just come from town and stopped to rest from the heat? Was she waiting for someone? Does she live here in my community? Is she one of the Bomake who sells fruit at the bus stop? Again how did this happen?
I was too shocked to think properly and it felt weird standing and watching so I just got on the bus and left. The police where just surrounding her body with caution tape when I boarded. I went home and told my Make because I still was processing what happened. She said near December every year something bad happens in Mpaka. Mpaka has had a string of bad luck in the last two months, but this scene really shook me up. Death is no stranger to Swaziland, but of all the ways to die here, to be electrocuted simply for sitting in the wrong place at the wrong time, it seems unfair. It could have been anyone sitting there.
Our power was out needless to say and I spent the evening eerily reading by candlelight as a strong wind blew in some very nasty looking clouds. The sky reflected my feelings at that moment; a hazy mix of grey clouds sending an altered brown light across the land as the sun set. It was dark and light at the same time. The wind was powerful but gentle. It was just a weird, somber night.