Day 21: A Voice is Heard Weeping

Then what had been spoken through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled:
A voice was heard in Ramah,
Wailing and loud lamentation,
Rachel weeping for her children;
She refused to be consoled, for they are no more.

-Matthew 2:17-18

On December 13, John Naju Kibe died after falling from one of the concourses at Lusail Stadium shortly after the Argentina vs. Netherlands quarterfinal game. He was 24 years old and working as a security guard; he was originally from Kenya, and had lived in Qatar for about a year. 

Kibe’s death is the second recorded death of a World Cup staffperson. It comes after years of scrutiny on Qatar’s labor practices. Hundreds of workers died in the runup to this World Cup, as a direct result of FIFA’s orders to host a memorable and luxurious event. Around 20 workers died in the runup to the 2018 Russia World Cup, almost all preventable construction site deaths. 

The official response to Kibe’s death has been dismissive and lukewarm at best. The Guardian quoted an official saying, “We’re in the middle of a World Cup. And we have a successful World Cup. And this is something you want to talk about right now?” As if the existence of joy negates the cost of that joy. Over and over, FIFA and the hosts in Qatar have treated human life as a disposable good in the pursuit of spectacle and power. The same way King Herod did.

When King Herod massacres a city’s worth of infant boys, Matthew writes:

A voice was heard in Ramah,
Wailing and loud lamentation,
Rachel weeping for her children;
She refused to be consoled, for they are no more.

So much of this heart-breaking verse hinges on a single word: heard.

When King Herod sent the order, perhaps he was counting on his power to deafen the pain. It was not the massacre that bothered him, but the fact that the voice was heard. That people knew and witnessed the death. 

The massacre has happened, but has it been heard? We have a choice to hear the voice in Ramah or to ignore it. When you watch the third place game today, and the final tomorrow, listen for the voice from Ramah, the mother weeping for her children. Amplify that voice. Let us hear, around the globe, the mother weeping for her children, as loud as a full stadium, undeniable.

An architect's rendering of Lusail Stadium. The glossy, oval-shaped stadium sits in the center behind a long, triangular, tree-lined boulevard and a large parking lot and outbuildings.
Architectural rendering of Lusail Stadium, which will soon be renamed Lusail Memorial for Exploited Workers.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s