CAN ONE help but envy Meriam Ibrahim, the Sudanese mother of
two who until about a month ago was staring at a death sentence for the crime of having been born Muslim (her father was), being raised as a Christian (by her mother after her father left them), marrying a Christian man, and refusing to renounce her religion.
Following a pardon, she was finally allowed to leave Sudan with her family for a new and presumably better life. As we all know, her first stop was Italy, which happens to be the same destination scores of migrants drown trying to get to. Many of those who survive the desert heat and treacherous seas end up in detention centres or, worse, are sent back home - not exactly what they’d hoped for.
A star is born
Meriam didn’t have to go through all that. She’s a star now, having already met Italy’s Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and Pope Francis, two people I’ll probably never meet. She will be heading to the US soon and my guess is that she’ll be invited to dinner by the Clintons, drop by the White House for a chat with Michelle Obama, if not the US president himself!
You could say her life changed the day she was locked up. I don’t know much about her dreams and what she’d like to do now that she’s in the land of the free and home of the brave, but one thing is certain. Several doors are going to open, if they haven’t already. Knowing Hollywood, someone is probably halfway through the script to My Year in Hell: The Meriam Ibrahim Story or some other dramatic title.
Hopefully, the producers will have the good sense to go with new-minted Kenyan Hollywood darling Lupita Nyong’o and come 2015, she’ll make history as the first African Woman to win back to back Oscars.
But, I digress. Back to Meriam, I also see a book deal, with a decent advance that will enable her to take care of her family. Americans are quite generous and I wouldn’t be surprised if someone offered to buy this family their first home, no strings attached.
Beauty and tragedy
Neighbours will be eager to help them settle in and those kids are going to get lots of toys and clothes. There will also be activists - Christian and women’s groups - eager to work with her. In fact, I think Meriam doesn’t need a full-time job. All she has to do is show up at a conference, fellowship or workshop, having already negotiated appearance fees.
One more thing. She really is pretty and has a nice smile. If you haven’t seen her wedding pictures, head to Google. L’Oréal, Lancome, Nivea and MAC representatives will all be trying to sign her. Some people have all the luck!
So would I be willing to step into Meriam’s shoes for a shot at a better life? No thank you. Not even for a chance for the elusive American citizenship. However, I wouldn’t mind being her publicist. Jokes aside, Meriam has gone through what no one should have to. Delivering a baby in shackles and having to raise your children in jail simply because you’re Christian is neither fair nor right, especially in a country whose own president Omar al-Bashir is wanted on war crimes and crimes against humanity.
If only they spent as much time and resources averting the environmental disaster that is staring Sudan in the face, going after corrupt officials, child molesters, rapists and stopping the slaughter in Darfur.