“You can’t handle the truth!”
This was my line, and I said it just like Jack Nicholson from the witness box.
We were sitting inside an African courtroom, summoned to start proceedings at 9:00 am. Victims of a crime, it was finally our day of retribution.
However, the hour was already 11:00 am and not one single person had managed to show.
No judge, no lawyers, no defendant. Just two foreigners naïve enough to actually arrive on time.
To fill the stuffy empty space, we reenacted scenes from movies like “A Few Good Men” and famous news cases. OJ Simpson kept us occupied for at least forty-five minutes.
My housemate Nicole and I were Peace Corps teachers living in an isolated desert region of Namibia. That day we experienced an eye-opening brush with an African legal system.
All the events leading up to that day and its aftermath taught me that just like ideas about time, family, and relationships, basic concepts of fairness and punishment are also not universal. Justice is culturally defined.