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In the past few days, this image of a boy covered in dust and blood has been making its rounds on social media.

His name is Omran Daqneesh. The image comes from a video taken after an airstrike in Aleppo, a city in Syria.

As the image continues to generate outrage against the horror of what some are saying could be a Russian-led airstrike in Syria, Caine Prize winning author Lidudumalingani posted a touching tribute to the boy on Facebook.


Orman Daqneesh is only five years old. He is a year older than my own son.  Orman, as he is being lifted from the rubble, his tiny arms flapping about, his petite body covered in dust and blood, appears to not know what is happening. He is too young to comprehend it. Watching, even this far away, I cannot help but feel his body against mine, light and fragile, like my son’s when I carry him but Orman has not decided that he is tired of walking and wants to be carried for the rest of the journey, he is being rescued from rubble, from a house that was brought down by a government airstrike with no care of who was inside it. You look at the women carrying him to the ambulance, you see routine on her face and not a heartbreak, but you understand that no one who rescues kids from rubble can have a heart. To do so is to commit suicide.  To do so is to spent a second longer with one child whilst another is dying underneath the rubble. You want to believe that if the government knew that there was a five year old boy was inside that house, they would not have, surely they would not have, but you have seen this too many times to believe that. When he sits, with this bewildered look on his face, in the ambulance that he was taken into, staring into the distance and then rubbing his bloodied face with his small hands before looking at them, I wonder if he can see me, on the other end of the universe, looking back at him, teary and unable to explain to him what is going on, unable to promise him that it will not happen again. My heart bleeds for the children of this world. I carry a heavy heart.

– Lidudumalingani Mqomboth

Screen Shot 2016-08-24 at 1.16.52 PM


Post image via abc7newchicago

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I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

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