We watched the movie, The Siege of Jadotville last night. I am not an aficionado of “chick flix”, being more of the “blood, gore and guts” type of girl. I don’t do horror and zombie movies either; I prefer real dramas.
Well, I was in for a surprise. I watched, stunned, as the story unfolded. The movie left me with such a deep, sad sense of injustice and futility that I struggled to fall asleep.
The Siege of Jadotville happened in September 1961, and it is based on true events. It was a time during which there was much unrest all over Africa as many colonial powers were being forced to relinquish their grip on the suppressed people of the benighted continent.
The United Nations decided to intervene in a conflict in Congo-Leopoldville, a state founded after independence was granted to the former Belgian Congo in 1960. They sent a troop of 155 UN soldiers, all Irishmen, untested in battle, to combat the mercenaries who had been employed by the State of Katanga which had seceded from Congo-Leopoldville. They were to protect the remaining Belgian settlers in the mining town, only to discover that they were unwanted because it was felt that the UN was meddling in the politics of the country.
The movie captured the terrifying ordeal of the A Company as they were ultimately abandoned during the five day siege. They received scant assistance as the powers-that-be played political games, leaving them to eventually surrender. Upon their return to Ireland they were reviled as cowards and were never given the recognition they so justly deserved.
The movie is based on the book by Declan Power, The Siege at Jadotville: The Irish Army’s Forgotten Battle; a gripping drama that will horrify you when you realize how small and insignificant we are when human lives are used as pawns in the game of power and politics.
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