FORMER REFUGEE’S LIFE STORY OFFERS HOPE AFTER UNSPEAKABLE HORROR
In his new book, “Still With Us”, Msenwa Oliver Mweneake writes about fleeing war in his native DR Congo as a young teenager with his two small sisters.
DR Congo. On the morning of October 25, 1996, while 15 year-old Msenwa Oliver Mweneake sat in his tin roofed classroom, a wooden bench his seat, his knees his desk; a single gunshot rang out in the distance. His parents had sent Oliver and his two younger sisters, 6 and 8, sixty kilometers away from their home in Lusenda to the far-off school in Abeka to escape the whispers of an impending war that had been swirling around their village. Before that morning was out, those rumours had been replaced with dead bodies and bloody screams. ”It was like the sky was falling down on us,” recounts Oliver. What was a teenager, who had never known war and had two young sisters to care for, supposed to do?
In his new memoir, Still With Us: Msenwa’s Untold Story of War, Resilience and Hope, Msenwa (Oliver) Mweneake, shares his amazing true life tale. From fleeing war to working towards healing his homeland to finding new life and love in Canada, Oliver takes readers on a journey that breaks hearts yet empowers belief in the unyielding strength of hope and the ability to make a difference in the lives of those too easily overlooked.
Still With Us focuses on Oliver’s own journey, but it’s also very much about his people, the Congolese, and their history: a people slaughtered and enslaved during King Leopold II’s grab for their country’s rich natural resources. A greed that, after decades of peace, re-awoke in the hearts of outsiders to breed the butchery that stole Oliver’s home and the lives of too many friends and neighbours. Even now, thousands of Congolese are still being exploited. This time by international bureaucracy more content to live off their problems as refugees than trying to solve them.
As much as the book’s title Still With Us refers to Oliver’s survival after many near death experiences, it also speaks of these forgotten refugees; his Congolese brothers and sisters who are still with us today. They are still waiting for people who will choose to stand up for them, and with them, and declare in one voice “No more.”
“To this day I reflect on the countless times I was without medical care, food, shoes, shelter, family, and stability, but I hold no bitterness from these experiences. I now long for victims to regain hope just as others restored mine.”
Still With Us is available for purchase at indigo.ca, amazon.ca, barnesandnoble.com and Amazon.com. All proceeds are being donated to The Msenwa Foundation to further its mission to empower marginalized children, youth and widows to discover their full potential through educational sponsorship, micro-loans, entrepreneurial training and other social supports.