Uwem: If we must go back to my country where this story is set, a lot of past leaders and politicians have stolen a lot of money from the country. Billions. And they use this money, you know, to stir up religious violence, you know, to get reelection in that country, you know, to force their candidate who should be the Attorney General of the Federation. Who should hold the petroleum ministry. 

Okay, they have a lot of money. And as long as these people keep this money, it's very difficult, you know, to get the country to work towards justice. If it, if it means stirring up religious conflict to get the agenda, they will do it. The problem is the bulk of this money is in the West. It's in the U.S. It's in Europe. It's in the West. The children of Africa and the conflicts I've tried to drama ties, they're like our children. You know, they're innocent. They're promising. They're resilient. They're one of the good things of this life. Where is the fairness if the West has allowed these thieves to keep this money in the West? Where is the fairness if the G8 keeps meeting and this issue is not resolved? Where is the fairness if all these powerful men in the world, the presidents, keep meeting... The World Bank knows where this money is in the West and who has what. 

What will it take for the World Bank to come out and say this man has this money and has stolen this money? After all, we know what a military general earns. If I have a check and I send it to you across state lines in the U.S., that check stays in your bank for five days and they're looking at that check. Who has this money? Money coming into this bank account, this money has come from where? So how come someone brings billions from Africa and we take this and keep in our banks? And this money helps to turn the children of the West. And Africa is constantly standing there asking for aids, okay? 

We may not be asking for aids anymore. Our money in the West, can this money be frozen because this money is used for the conflict, you know, to stir up these conflicts in Africa. The children in my stories, they are poor, they lack food, they lack shelter, they are reacting like this because of the poverty. But the money is in the West. Many of us don't know about this. Our politicians have a lot of mansions all over this country. Okay? Where did they get the money from, okay? Who is going to stand up and say because we share a common humanity and the children of Africa are like our children, who is going to stand there and say, let our, let us put a stop to this. Okay? So, you know, people keep asking, what can we do in the West? Okay? 

The World Bank is in the West. The World Bank can track down this money and make everybody account for how did you get a billion dollars in your bank account? This money you are using to destroy the world. We have, you know, Genocide Tribunal. Why can't we have a tribunal in the UN to take care of this. As long as our brothers and sisters have this money in the banks and they use this money...

Oprah: You're talking about people in your country having money in the West. 

Uwem: Yes. Yes. 

Oprah: Yeah. 

Uwem: People in our country...

Oprah: Having stolen it from the people and placed it in the West. 

Uwem: This money is in Western banks. Until this money is frozen...

Oprah: Well, we are not going to resolve that problem tonight. 

Uwem: We are not going to resolve that problem tonight or anywhere until that issue, you know, is looked at, you know. 

Oprah: Thank you for your question, Ann. 

Ann: Thank you.

Oprah: Let's discuss this last story of this collection in Say You're One of Them. This is probably my favorite story. "In My Parents' Bedroom." It is set during the '94 Rwandan genocide and I think it is one of the most powerful and devastating stories in the book. Father Uwem, talk about why you wrote this story. 

Uwem: When the genocide in Rwanda happened, I was in the U.S. I was studying in Nebraska. Creighton University. 

Oprah: '94. 

Uwem: '94.

Oprah: Everybody, where were you in '94? Think of that. 

Uwem: Yeah. 

Oprah: The Spring of '94 from April to June when the Rwandan genocide, over a period of 100 days. I think it started April 4, wasn't it? It was April 4 or April 8. Started, and in 100 days, 800,000 people had been slaughtered.

Uwem: Yeah. I was very ashamed, excuse me, because this issue of who should go and help these Africans. 

Oprah: Right. 

Uwem: Who should stop the violence? And to many people in the West it was, you know, it's not our problem.

Oprah: Right.

Uwem: We may have the best military in the world...

Oprah: But we didn't know. I'm telling you, I often, when I, you know, I think if you want to know about the genocide, the Frontline did the best piece on the Rwandan genocide I've actually ever seen where you literally see the bodies stacked up and you hear how the people who were there talk about one day you're barbecuing with your neighbor in the backyard.

Uwem: Yeah. Mm-hmm. 

Oprah: And the next day, that same neighbor comes across the street to slash your throat and kill your children.

Uwem: Mm-hmm. 

Oprah: It's just, it's just it's impossible to even understand.

Uwem: It's... It's very painful. It was very painful for me to sit down... So I was saying to myself, you know, how could this have happened? 

Oprah: How did this happen? 

Uwem: You know, it happened in a Sarajevo, Kosovo. 

Oprah: Yes. 

Uwem: They had the same situation. How could this have happened?

Oprah: And what were we doing when this was happening? 

Copyright 2009 Harpo Productions, Inc. All Rights Reserved. No license is granted to the user of this material other than for research. User may not reproduce any printed copy of the material except for the user's personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon Harpo Productions, Inc.'s copyright or proprietary interests in the material.


Next Story