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一位肯尼亚乡村女子的动人故事(译)

【译林趣事】开栏语:

世界很大,其范围之广,人口之多,物种之繁,风景之盛,举不胜举。每天的重大事,新鲜事,有趣事,层出不穷。

世界那么大,我想去看看。本栏目是一个瞭望世界的窗口,让您足不出户而目及天下,身在一隅而遍游世界。栏目文章为独家翻译,决无二店。

一位肯尼亚乡村女子的动人故事

——她与“割礼“抗争并赢得胜利

索尼娅·法雷奥 文

韩瑞国 译

活过童年是一项被严重低估的技能。我活过童年,现在看自己就是英雄。然而,肯尼亚反割礼活动家尼斯·伦盖特才是真正的英雄,自己的童年经历让她致力改善别人的境遇。

伦盖特在肯尼亚与坦桑尼亚边境附近的一个马赛族小镇上成长。三四岁的一天,妈妈带她去看一位14岁女孩的“割礼”过程。“大家都沐浴再清晨的阳光下,”她在文字优雅而动人心扉的回忆录《野生无花果树林的女孩》中写道。“然后来了一位老妇人,是附近镇上的助产士。她走上前去,用一把剃刀在女孩的两腿之间划了一刀,鲜血溅满老妇人的双手,也溅在铺在地上的牛皮上。”可她仍就一刀一刀的割着。“全给切掉,根上断掉,”周围的女人们不停地吟唱。割礼过后没几天,女孩发了高烧,又过了几天,她就死掉了。“一定是有人诅咒这个家庭,”村民们说。生活又恢复到以前的平静。

在马赛族社区,割礼是指切除整个阴蒂外部,这种做法在肯尼亚是被禁止的,但伦盖特周围的马赛族长者却认为,割礼代表着女性对身份的认同以及文化理想。他们说,没有做过割礼女人就不能结婚生孩子,意味着男人也接不了婚。“她们的家人会感到羞辱,”伦盖特写道:“女孩就成了弃儿。”在她出生之前,家里的所有女性都做过这种割礼。

六岁时,伦盖特就知道自己不会步她们的后尘。这种想法不仅让她成为族群中的异端,也危及她的性命。不过,正如她所指出,女性割礼是一种应该送进坟墓的传统。对许多女性来说,世界上最危险的地方就是家,伦盖特的回忆录就从家里写起。最近有心理学家告诉《观察家》杂志,“一个人如何从某场事故走出取决于他如何考虑此事。“ 这种说法也许可以用来解释伦盖特如何应对后来所所面对的挑战:她的家庭是还算幸福,父母对她精心养育,慈爱有加,亲切地叫她“Karembo(小美女)”。母亲一大清早就起床,一定让孩子们穿着干净的衣服、吃饱早饭再去上学。父亲是位受人尊敬的社区领袖,是他激发了女儿对行动主义的热情。然而,她仅7岁时父亲就撒手西去,不久母亲也走了。

母亲去世时,我已经十几岁了,有时间有地方去哀悼她。我现在才明白,被允许参加这一过程,对当时已经成为孤儿小伦盖特来说,是一种奢侈。相反,一群我们只会在电影上看到的形形色色的人物出现了,让这个孩子感到恐惧。贪婪的叔叔夺走了她的遗产,她的监护人恶毒的新婚妻子,对她又打又骂。“绝大多数时间我什么都不说,”伦盖特写道。“我做自己的事情,只有独自一人时,我才会默默哭泣。看不见了,也就不会挨打。我身子本来就很小,可我尽所有可能让自己缩小,不被人看到。”

8岁时,她的人生无论从哪方面来说都该结束了。然而,凭着钢铁般的意志,她开始了新的生活。在最后一次遭受殴打时,她下定了要求上寄宿学校的决心。这时她已经练就逃跑的专长——她甚至从割礼手术现场逃走,成为社区唯一逃过割礼的女孩。

伦盖特完成了学业,上了大学,不到20岁就被非洲医学研究基金会的一名项目官员发现。这位官员看到她鼓动镇上的女孩逃避割礼,走出为马赛族妇女强加的生活方式,她出色的说服能力给人留下了深刻的印象。著名学者霍米·巴巴(Homi Bhabha)说过,对生命的威胁也是对生活的威胁,伦盖特清晰地描述了屈服的代价,令人信服。

“她们可以看到我的生活,”她写道。“她们会看到我是村上第一个上大学的女孩,即使没有受过割礼,我仍很健康,仍很快乐。在别人的帮助下,她用三年的时间,彻底终结了镇上的割阴陋习。项目官员还邀请担任领导青年,向男孩和女孩们传授健康知识。现在,伦盖特本人成为非洲医学研究基金会的一名官员和环球大使,帮助挽救了肯尼亚17000名女孩。这一巨大成就怎么说都不为过:由于多年努力不够,许多妇女受害致死。世界各地的活动家都在努力结束割阴陋习。在马里,90%的妇女被迫接受割礼。一家活动团体(Sahiyo)调查发现,在印度达乌迪博赫拉(Dawoodi Bohra)的小社区,80%的女性都有类似的遭遇。

伦盖特逃离割礼以及她的积极行动,是这本重要回忆录的核心,然而,她太令人注目,单从这些成就的角度,并不能完整地了解她。她的回忆录,还有其他著名活动家的回忆录——让人不仅想到马拉拉·尤萨夫扎伊(Malala Yousafzai)的《我叫马拉拉》以及纳迪娅·穆拉德(Nadia Murad)的《最后一位女孩》——的核心失误在于,这些作品把太多的注意力放在各种事件上,而没有放在这些伟大的女性为生存而战的过程上。我想弄明白,她们的毅力时如何培养的。

伦盖特回忆小时候祖母唱给她的马赛族寓言故事,其实她是给我们一种暗示。跟现实生活一样,那些故事里充满那些只要给一点点机会就会毁掉你的危险人物——嫉妒的女人和贪婪的男人。然而最终,如果你心智聪明而锲而不舍,你就会活下去并得到回报。

《野生无花果树林的女孩:为拯救妹妹、我自己和全世界成千上万的女孩而战(The Girls in the Wild Fig Tree: How I Fought to Save Myself, My Sister, and Thousands of Girls Worldwide

)》尼斯·伦盖特(Nice Leng’ete)、伊丽莎白·巴特勒(Elizabeth Butler)合著

原文摘自2021年9月22日《纽约时报》

【原文】

Surviving childhood is a highly underrated skill. I survived mine and view myself as a hero. But a real hero looks like Nice Leng’ete, the Kenyan antifemale-genital-mutilation activist whose response to her childhood was to improve the experience for others.

At the age of 3 or 4, while she was growing up in a small Maasai town near the border of Kenya and Tanzania, Leng’ete accompanied her mother to observe a 14-year-old girl get “the cut.” “Everyone was still in the early morning light,” she writes in her elegant and inspiring memoir, “The Girls in the Wild Fig Tree.” “Then an older woman, a midwife from a nearby town, stepped forward and slashed the girl between the legs with a razor. Blood sprayed across the woman’s hands and the cowskin. She cut again and again. ‘Get it all, get it by the root,’ women chanted.” A few days after the ceremony, the girl developed a fever, and a few days after that she died. “‘Someone had placed a curse on the family,’ people said.” Life went on as before.

In the Maasai community, female genital mutilation means removing the entire exterior of the clitoris. The practice is banned in Kenya, but Leng’ete’s Maasai elders spoke of the cut in terms of identity and cultural ideals of womanhood. Without it, they said, women can’t marry or have children — which means men can’t, either. “Their families are shamed,” Leng’ete writes, “and the girls are outcasts.” Before she came along, every female member of her family had undergone the procedure.

By the time she was 6, Leng’ete knew she didn’t want to be like them. This didn’t just make her an oddity in her community, it placed her life at risk. But, as she observes, it was the tradition that deserved to die. Leng’ete’s memoir starts in the most dangerous place in the world for many women — at home. A psychologist recently told Observer magazine that “how someone comes out of an incident depends on what they took into it.” This might explain Leng’ete’s response to the challenges she would later face: Hers was a happy home with parents who doted on and nurtured her. They nicknamed her “Karembo,” meaning “beautiful.” Her mother woke up at dawn to ensure her children went to school with clean clothes and full bellies. Her father, a revered community leader, inspired her passion for activism. He died when Leng’ete was 7, and Leng’ete’s mother followed shortly after.

When my mother died, I was older, a teenager, and I had the time and space to grieve for her. To be permitted that process, I now know, was a luxury, and it’s one that Leng’ete, a mere child at the time she was orphaned, didn’t have. Instead, a parade of characters, the likes of which many will encounter only as stereotypes in films, emerged to terrorize the child. There’s a greedy uncle, who usurps her inheritance, and her guardian’s cruel new wife, who physically and verbally abuses her. “Most of the time I said nothing,” Leng’ete writes. “I did my work. I cried silently, and only when I was alone. If no one saw me, no one hit me. I was already small. I did everything I could to shrink to nothing.”

By the time she was 8, Leng’ete’s life might have ended for all intents and purposes — instead, by dint of iron will, it starts anew. One final beating persuades her to ask to go to boarding school. She has by then become an expert at running — she even runs away from the cut, becoming the only girl in her community to avoid mutilation.

Leng’ete completes her education, goes to college and while still in her late teens is spotted by a project officer at the African Medical and Research Foundation (Amref). He sees her encouraging girls in her town to run from the cut, and from the life prescribed for them as Maasai women. He is impressed by her persuasiveness. A risk to life is also a risk to living, Homi Bhabha has said, and Leng’ete convincingly articulated the cost of submission.

“They could see my life,” she writes. “They could see that I was the first girl in our village to go to college, and that, even without the cut, I was healthy and happy.” In three years, Leng’ete, with some help, ended female genital mutilation in her town. The project officer hired her to become a youth leader and teach girls and boys about health. Now, herself an Amref project officer and global ambassador, she has helped save 17,000 girls across Kenya. The enormity of this achievement can’t be overstated: Women have been killed for doing less. And activists all over the world are struggling to end female genital mutilation. In Mali, nine out of 10 girls have been subject to the practice. In India, a survey by Sahiyo, an activist group, found that 80 percent of women in the small Dawoodi Bohra community have similarly suffered.

Leng’ete’s escape, and her activism, are the centerpiece of this important memoir, but she’s far too compelling to be viewed through the lens of such achievements alone. The misstep at the heart of this and other notable activist memoirs — Malala Yousafzai’s “I Am Malala” and Nadia Murad’s “The Last Girl” come to mind — is that they focus too much on events and too little on how these magnificent women fought to survive. I wonder how they developed their resilience.

Leng’ete offers a hint when she recalls the Maasai fables her grandmother sang to her when she was a child. Like real life, those stories were full of menacing characters who would destroy you given the slightest opportunity — the jealous woman, the greedy man. In the end, though, if you were clever and persistent, you survived and were rewarded.

The Girls in the Wild Fig Tree: How I Fought to Save Myself, My Sister, and Thousands of Girls Worldwide

By Nice Leng’ete with Elizabeth Butler-

A 18, New York Times, September 22, 2021

作者简介

韩瑞国(笔名:林戈寒,英文Ringohan),陕西乾县大杨镇人,电力企业退休职工,翻译爱好者。

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