You never truly understand the meaning of the words “freedom” and “liberty” until those things are taken from you. It was a cold, dark night in a filthy prison when I first began to really understand what freedom and liberty meant.
I had arrived, a few days earlier, back in my home country. I decided to return home because my fellow countrymen had called me home to once again run for President. I had already run twice and won both times.
But each time, a man of unspeakable evil had cancelled the elections after he only received 8 percent of the votes. I felt a calling to try again to fight for democracy and freedom in my beloved homeland of Congo-Brazzaville.
I was greeted by a large crowd upon my arrival at the airport. Members of the dictator’s military immediately threw me in prison. They beat me. They tortured me. But I never gave up hope — hope that one day my country would rise up.
I was held for 575 days without much food or any medicine. I was repeatedly beaten, bloodied and bruised. But I never gave up.
One day, a woman came to see me in prison. She told me that I was soon to be released. I was shocked. She told me President Donald Trump and his administration had arranged for me to be exiled where I could get the medical treatment I now needed. That was the first time I ever heard of President Trump.
President Trump may have saved my life. But he most certainly saved my dream. My dream is of a new Congo where everyone is free. My dream is of a new Congo where the resources God gave us help children go to school, build hospitals for the ill and create jobs for families. My dream is of a country where men and women are truly free to chart their own course.
My country is blessed with minerals, gems, energy and fertile soil. But my people live in despair because our dictator chooses to line his own pockets instead of caring for his own people. He suffers not from just corruption but from evil.
Thanks to the United States, I am now a free man. However, my fellow countrymen are far from free. Many political prisoners languish in prisons just like mine. Many more suffer severe hunger and from contagious diseases. None are truly free. Most troubling, their suffering is leading to increased violence.
I have nothing but admiration for the United States of America and President Trump and the actions that were taken to free me. Few know of what he and your country did, maybe even fewer care. But I will never forget. My countrymen will never forget.
Modeste Boukadia is president of the Circle of Democrats and Republicans of the Congo (CDRC).
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.