The Laws of the Land


A few things made me a little bit confused Saturday night. Especially after having a great day at the Soul Food Extravaganza, performing and watching the great Teedra Moses familiarize herself to the Boise crowd.

Going home and finding myself breaking up a fight between my friend—who is a refugee from Burundi—and his wife, was just not how I wanted my night to go. I’ve often thought about this subject. I had asked questions and then explained the domestic battery law to my fellow refugees, who are newly landing in Boise. But maybe the two hour sessions they do at the orientation, breaking it down, is just not enough.

After a busy day I needed a good sleep. But instead, my intoxicated friend called me so I could witness him beat his wife. He is a friend that I’ve advised so many times and saved from trouble whenever he might expose himself to breaking the law, either after drinking or when he is stressed out. But this time around I could not hold him back from beating his wife as he was highly intoxicated. My best judgment was to call 911 on him in order to protect a wife who was just coming out of labor two weeks ago, carrying a two week old baby while dodging the punches.

I risked a couple of punches myself by standing in the middle, holding him back, until the police arrived. They had to muscle him to the ground to handcuff him. None of the punches touched his wife, as I was holding back and let's hope he won't be charged for something that will put him out for long.

The thing is, I feel bad that someone I’ve known since he came to this country, and for whom I’ve interpreted in the orientation, where they teach about domestic battery and its consequences, someone I intensively advised against abusive behavior, DUI and who ran to me every time he had a letter he could not understand so I could translate or interpret, could today demonstrate such violent behavior that I had to call the police on him. I feel sorry, and if there is anyone in the African society here that condemns my act, I totally don’t regret what I did.

I know that even in Africa, we don't respect men that are abusive to women, despite some African governments not laying out strong measures to condemn such behavior.

I just wish we as Africans, as we come to these western nations, could take time to understand the law and the way of living that we are coming to inherit. When in Rome, do as the Romans do. Like I used to tell my good friend who is in jail today, ”no offense to women, but, no woman is worth me spoiling the opportunity that I’ve been privileged today, nor is alcohol.” We suffered for many years in our own countries and in the refugees camps. Now that we have opportunities to rebuild, why would we do something that we know will take us back to pain? We all are African, but we still know well that beating our wives was condemned even when done in Africa. Many people in Africa are Christians, and they know better; that it's against the Good Book.

This is not the way I want to see someone who has strived for years to get a place to call home fail. Let’s try and abide to the law of the Good Book and of these countries where we are coming and create opportunities that we never had for our own children. I know my fellow Africans who have been here for a long time would understand me because I was advised against this and against DUI upon my arrival in the U.S. Not by Americans, but by my fellow Africans, who loved me enough and did not want to see me spoil my chances.

It hurts me to see someone I oriented so many times since arriving in this country get locked up due to a phone call I made. But on the other hand, I would have hated myself if he would have hurt the two week old baby or the wife that was just coming from a C-section. If he is released soon, let him be an example to other refugees who have the same habits. Sometimes consequences teach us better than advice. I hope he will learn something out of this. I know in some societies, men command more respect. Now this is America and all humans are equal. Let’s focus on our goals and sacrifice parts of our habits that go against the law, in order to have a successful future for ourselves and for those who depend on us for a change. Moreover, those Africans that make excuses about this being okay in Africa, stop! That's not true. I have seen people get beaten up and locked up in some countries in Africa for beating on their wives and getting drunk in public.

This is not an African thing; it is people taking advantage of corrupt governments to get away with it. Let us be wise.