Brought from the sea

Publish date 11-03-2022

by Fabrizio Floris

In the middle of the journey of his life, Father Pierluigi Maccalli, missionary SMA (Society of African Missions) found himself in an arid sand with a chain on his foot. It is not the opening words of a novel, but the chronicle of a kidnapping that took place on 17 September 2018 in the small town of Bomoanga (about 150 km from Niamey). A kidnapping that lasted almost 25 months and carried out by one of the jihadist movements operating between the Sahel and the Sahara, the GSIM (Support Group for Islam and Muslims, Nassaratu islam wa muslimins) . At first he thinks they want money (lighi), but then he realizes that they don't speak his language the gurmancé, I'm peul and I'm not coupeurs de routes highwaymen, but mujahideen (fighters in the jihād). He is loaded onto a motorcycle and carried north through mostly internal tracks, paths, until he arrives at a first den on 5 October 2018 and is chained. He rebels, yells that he is not a dog, but the soldier replies: "Yes, that's how we say about you, you are dogs."

He cries, he is desperate, he tells what he was doing in Niger: wells, pharmacy, school, help for malnourished children, but his jailer replies: «The good you have done will be of no use if you do not become a Muslim. Only adherence to Islam saves from eternal fire ». After a few weeks he is moved and taken in charge by another group and then again by another until he lands in the Sahara. The movements are continuous, every now and then they hear the hum of drones, even the jailers change and relationships are interrupted. One of the bosses asks him to teach him French and with half a torn sheet of paper he begins to write, then continues with the half of a notebook and other sheets that he manages to recover and which, at the moment of his release, he will hide in a pocket he had sewn into the pajamas and giving rise to her beautiful Chains of Freedom. For two years kidnapped in the Sahel (Emi).

An intimate and spiritual diary intertwined with the news. «In the desert you must let yourself be carried away by the sea: abandon yourself with confidence, leave the helm, do not tire yourself rowing against waves too big for your strength. You only risk sinking into depression and madness. Let the sea carry you ». He alternates moments of discouragement: "There are days when I can't remember the names of my loved ones" and moments of greater serenity: "The night in the desert, an infinity of stars that made me feel like a dot in the universe, but a point under the gaze of Someone".

Fabrizio Floris
NP December 2021

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