From artists, to human rights activists, to journalists, to athletes—there are so many Congolese thought leaders spreading big ideas and enriching global culture. Sabrina Moella is one of them.

A Toronto-based writer, performer, and filmmaker, Sabrina Moella’s work is strengthening Congo’s voice across the globe. She explores critical subjects like immigration, family lineage, womanhood, and body image while narrating the everyday life, traditions, and culture of the Afro-Caribbean diaspora.

Moella received her first screenwriting accolade in 2000 for the short film “Letter to Abou,” which was featured at the Cannes Film Festival. Since then, her films have been screened at more than 100 festivals across Europe and North America, including the Toronto International Film Festival, Hollywood Black Film Festival, UrbanWorld Film Festival, and the Reel World Film Festival. Her poetry has been featured on various radio shows, such as the LA-based “Words on the Street” and South Africa’s “Badilisha Poetry.” In 2014, Moella made her Broadway debut at the United Solo Festival with her autobiographical one-woman play, “Made in Congo.”

Sabrina Moella’s illuminating work provides us with a means of becoming informed and empowered via multidisciplinary art. Today we’d like to share one of her powerful poems, “We Are Not Ruined,” which captures the shared resilience Congolese women share in the face of unending violence:

We are not ruined

We are the ones who wear cornrows in our heads and draw tattoos on our wombs to show the world our precious uniqueness 

We are not ruined

We are the ones who tie wrappers around our hips to go out, two for the married women, one for the single ones

We are not ruined

We are the ones who eat white clay when we’re expecting, to give strength to our babies while they’re growing inside our wombs

We are the ones who gather together in the evening to share stories and laughter and to ask one another: “citoyenne, tokoseka na biso nini?”

We are not ruined

We are the ones who wake up every morning to go sell dumplings and cassava at the market to provide for our families

We are the ones who manage to make a living despite the power cuts, the unpaid salaries, and the unmaintained roads

We are the ones who are tired of our corrupted governments who steal the country’s money while our own children are starving

We are not ruined

We are the survivors of colonialism, imperialism, dictatorship and genocide.

We are the ones who know that when foreigners come and take our diamonds, our copper, our cobalt, our coltan and give us a rice bag in exchange, this is not fair trade

We are not ruined

We are the ones who reclaim justice for the 5 millions dead in the Democratic Republic of Congo since 1998

We are the women whose mothers and daughters and granddaughters are abused and raped every day by soldiers who use guns and machetes to make sure that our bodies will never give birth again

But we are not ruined

We are the ones still standing on our feet, shaking, in tears, but still standing

Because they might destroy our bodies but they won’t destroy our spirits,

And though they want us to keep crying, we’re the ones who’ll keep on praying and singing, like “Lelu tudi tudila malaba lutulu ne luikala”

We are not ruined

We are the women of Bukavu, Goma, Uvira, Beni, walking together in our streets to reclaim our dignity 

And as long as we’ll be breathing, we’ll have the strength to keep on telling

To the soldiers who think that they can kill us

We are not ruined

To the westerners who think they can manipulate us

We are not ruined

To the governments who think they can despise us

WE ARE NOT RUINED

WE ARE NOT RUINED

WE ARE NOT RUINED

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