Telling Histories

Day 16


Every day of that final week grew more dire than the one before. The urgency of Wayne’s condition sounded an alarm. Even the government felt the pressure to respond. Outcry on Wayne’s behalf had grown loud and international. It was a public relations nightmare for the ruling party. They winced as this dirty laundry was aired by the international press. Wayne held them hostage with a gun to his own head. Now finally, came a response.

    It was encouraging news and Wayne was in high spirits. Local activists and civil society had taken up the cause and were petitioning the government on his behalf. There were rumors that progress could be made by the end of the day.


    Wayne had become a site of pilgrimage. People came from all over the country, from all backgrounds, from all generations. They lined up to sit with him and shared their stories. There were those that had lost loved ones to crime, others who had lost livelihoods to corruption, most talked about the fear that had become a constant companion. Mothers took their children out of school and brought them to meet him. An unending procession, more with every passing day.

    Wayne’s protest had become something else; about something more than the highway.

    “It wasn’t always like this,” was a lament repeated by many.  They remembered that there had been better days; that as a nation they’d once dreamt of becoming better than this.

    “He represents the best of us,” one said.

    Another man had walked eight hours over a mountain to shake Wayne’s hand. Musicians brought instruments and composed songs. They ringed him with music. Wayne liked The Beetles and Bob Marley and so they sang, the surrounding crowd joining in, singing low and shy.

    Don’t give up the fight,” went the refrain and, unplanned, they repeated the line for more than a minute.

    Politicians came calling as well, posing with him for the cameras. Priests, Pundits and Imams prayed over him. One priest sang, “Oh God do allow, so my life can have some meaning,” while Wayne’s sister wept quietly in the shade.

    “There’s no guarantee we will be out again on Monday,” Wayne seemed light and optimistic.

“We expect an answer from the Prime Minister. We will review the documents over the weekend and make our decision.”

    He was on his feet wearing a gray hoodie that looked three sizes too large. He encouraged his visitors to, “Eat, eat! Drink and be merry.” The promise of victory seemed near.

    He seemed a man on the mend. We almost forgot the gravity of his condition.


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