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The Bone Sparrow
23rd June 2016

Author Zana Fraillon introduces her new book The Bone Sparrow.

We are at a point now, in human history, when we most need the guidance of global leaders with compassion, courage and dignity. It is a sad irony then, that those very people who show such traits are locked behind barbed wire fences, or stuck in limboed tents in the darkest shadows of our countries.

As a global community, we should not accept guidance from those who have fought their way to power through deceit and fear-mongering. It is not the profiteers and power brokers, or those who gain influence by belittling and undermining their opposition who should lead us. It is the people who have the strength in their convictions and identities that we should be turning to. It is the people who are courageous enough to endure the greatest torments, who refuse to bow down before a more powerful foe, or to give in to outrageous fortune, that we should be listening to.

And yet those who should be guiding us are being shunted out of sight, their voices silenced and their futures stolen. And it is from the shadows of the 59 million people worldwide fighting for survival, where those who will be recognised as the true leaders of our global community may very well be found – as soon as we are courageous enough and wise enough to listen.

If the voices of the Nelson Mandelas, Martin Luther Kings, Malala Yousafzais, Elizabeth Stantons and Vincent Lingiaris of our world are to be incarcerated in silence; and if we are to be told that there is no room for such voices in our countries, then individually, every one of us needs to find the same compassion and courage and determination as every one of those refugees and asylum seekers. We need to find our own voices and have the strength in our own convictions to stand up for what we believe in. If only we could be as courageous and honest as those seeking asylum, perhaps then, we could truly find peace.

The Bone Sparrow is a fictional tale. Yet it is drawn from the voices we are forbidden to hear. The stories of those we are forbidden to tell. It speaks of conditions that reflect the most shameful times in our history. It is written because it is not good enough for our leaders to banish or detain people in our name, nor for them to proclaim compassion when the immigration policies worldwide become less humane, and more and more lives, stories, ideas, solutions, leaders and futures are lost.

It is written because it is left to the seemingly disempowered masses to make a difference. It is left to the fishermen who rescue a stranded boat full of dying people while governments worldwide choose to argue over responsibilities and obligations instead; to the drivers threatened with people smuggling charges when they give water and transport to exhausted families washing up on our beaches; to those building shelters and reading rooms for the thousands of unaccompanied children whom we turn from our doors and refuse to hear, leaving them in danger of sickness and hunger and the imminent threat of child trafficking. The Bone Sparrow is written in the hope that every time we read a statistic, or hear the condemnatory silence of the politicians, we remember the people in the shadows, waiting to be heard. It is written so we may all live in hope.

Zana author image

 The Bone Sparrow image