Eight-year-old Bruno, whose father is a Nazi officer befriends a strange eight-year-old Jewish Boy, Shmuel. Having moved to a new place following his father’s promotion, boredom and loneliness lead Bruno to an extermination camp which he innocently believes is a farm. Young Bruno asks why these pyjamas-wearing-farmers look strange and as fate would have it, he befriends Shmuel, who is on the other side of a barbed-wire fence. Unknown to him that young Shmuel is a prisoner, he considers his prison uniform to be Pyjamas, envies him because he is lonely while Shmuel has friends (prisoners) to play with and mistakes the number on Shmuel’s uniform for a game he plays with his friends.
The burning bodies of prisoners in the extermination camp killed using the gas chamber produce a horrendous smell and black smoke coming from the camp’s chimneys. The time comes for Bruno to move to a new place following his mother’s insistence on her child not living near a concentration camp, but an unwilling Bruno decides to cross to the other side of the fence to see Shmuel who helps him ‘pyjamas’ and help him find his father. Coincidentally, Bruno found his way into the camp the day the prisoners were prepared for execution. Bruno and Samuel, alongside other prisoners, were killed before his parents and other officers made it to the camp. The black smoke announced the death of Bruno to them.
Before Shmuel helped Bruno still Pyjamas, the latter had said that he does not have Pyjamas like Shmuel, he had Pyjamas but his pyjamas is different!
The reality of our world today is one of unequal pyjamas. Pyjamas are different and every man gets his own pyjamas according to where he is coming from. The Black Man’s pyjamas, like Shmuel’s, is different from a White Man’s pyjamas. the same for the Palestinian compared to the Israeli. The ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine is a pointer to the need for universal brotherhood. It is attesting to the fact that, indeed, pyjamas are different. It is saddening that in our age of science and technology, we have refused to do away with national barriers, and we cling on to hate and intolerance.
The world, Europe especially, has done well in its response to the cries of Ukrainians fleeing their countries. Sanctions upon sanctions have been placed on Russia while millions of dollars have been raised to help Ukraine against its humanitarian crisis with countries welcoming Ukrainians with open hands. Businesses have moved out of Russia, even, FIFA joined in sanctioning Russia in a seemingly tale of, ‘for the love of humanity’. Though commendable, it is important that we call the attention of the world to how it has reacted to the plights of some in less colourful pyjamas and what actions did the Western powers take.
Following media propaganda that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, the United States of America claimed that there was an urgent need to disarm Iraq of these weapons, end Saddam Hussein’s regime, and free the people of Iraq. The US, based on these premises, invaded Iraq in 2003 and killed thousands of them. Contrary to George Bush’s claim, there was no weapon of mass destruction discovered in Iraq. CNN in 2002, published a story that says experts confirmed WMDs in Iraq only for the same media house to say the Country, now invaded had no WMD. While Bush is guilty of war crimes in Iraq, he was never sanctioned nor tried in any court.
The resources of the country were looted, people lost their houses, women and children died but no one placed sanctions on the aggressors. The people were promised freedom but got misery. As a matter of fact, there was no universal outrage. WHY? – Pyjamas are different.
Former Arsenal midfielder, Mesut Ozil outraged by the treatment of Uighur Muslims by China wrote on his Instagram page,
“East Turkistan, the bleeding wound of the Ummah, resisting against the persecutors trying to separate them from their religion. They burn their Qurans. They shut down their mosques. They ban their schools. They kill their holy men. The men are forced into camps and their families are forced to live with Chinese men. The women are forced to marry Chinese men.
“But Muslims are silent. They won’t make a noise. They have abandoned them. Don’t they know that giving consent for persecution is persecution itself?”
Even though over one million Uighur Muslims are being held in detention camps, there was no universal outrage. Arsenal FC owns chains of businesses in China hurriedly distanced itself from China in a statement that read, “Regarding the comments made by Mesut Özil on social media, Arsenal must make a clear statement,” it read. “The content published is Özil’s personal opinion. As a football club, Arsenal has always adhered to the principle of not involving itself in politics.”
Today, FIFA, not just Arsenal, involves itself in politics it never involved itself when people with striped pyjamas were involved.
This article will be by no means exhaustive in giving accounts of countries that have been besieged, invaded, crippled, and destroyed by Western powers without universal outrage as we have seen in the case of Ukraine. Nevertheless, it is necessary to mention Libya where NATO and its allies claimed that there was a need to save Libyans from the tyranny of Gaddafi. Like Iraq, the Libyans were promised freedom but eleven years after the death of Gaddafi, the Libyans are making peace with the misery that befell Iraq and Afghanistan. Sadly, the Libyans did not receive the attention Ukraine got. WHY? – Pyjamas are not equal.
The Palestinians are faced with an apartheid reality from their Zionist Israel, yet, there is no universal outrage. The Zionist state of Israel had occupied the lands of the Palestinians in one of the most barbaric and inhumane invasions in history, but no one is sanctioning Israel or cutting them off from the financial system neither are Palestinians receiving global empathy with millions of dollars raised in their support.
We cannot live in a world of reason when unnatural men with machine hearts control what we do, how we think and feel. How can the world claim to have progressed in this age of speed when we have not broken national barriers? Why are Pyjamas different? Why do some lives matter more than others? Why are refugees different? There are records of reckless statements made by individuals citing that Ukrainian refugees look like them, unlike Black, Arab or Persian-looking slaves.
It is time we pushed for universal brotherhood. A world where no one deserves to be invaded, a world of reason where race, colour, language will not matter, a world where humanity is the universal currency.
Bashir Lucas Samson Lukman