Sunday, April 19, 2015
In April 2008, I remember asking a young South African about the Xenophobic violence in his country. The response I got shocked me.
He justified the killings of foreigners. He could have as well said, we will kill all of them because they are taking our jobs.
I was short of words. And for the rest of the conference, I avoided the young man like a plague because his mind was made up. No other view made sense to him.
By the way, we were in a global conference where a teenager from Israel gave a high5 to a youth from Iraq. One of those conferences where we lived the dream-- that one day the world will be sane again. And we'll stop killing one another.
I wonder if the inter-cultural dialogue and interaction made any impact on the young South African.
Fast-forward 2015. South Africans have launched another attack on foreigners. For almost the same reason as the past.
And tens and hundreds of young South Africans might just justify the action with the same thought pattern-- they [other Africans] are taking our jobs, lets kill them all.
Forgetting that as the world continues to shrink to globalisation, young Africans will continue to break barrier and travel across borders to seek out new ventures, to foster development on the continent through cross-cultural innovations and collaboration.
Dear South Africans and other Africans, can you hear me?
Re-Orientation is key.
Image source: DailyMaverick
Wednesday, April 15, 2015
Next, we heard heavy footsteps running towards the direction of our rooms [staff quarters]. Trust what followed. Doors were locked. Bolted. Light went off. Silence.
A few minutes later, we were snapped back to reality by voices of the strangers.
Apparently, one of my colleagues successfully provided shelter for some of the people who had come running towards our rooms. They begged for shelter and she obliged.
The strangers were night travellers. They had heard rumours of arm robbery attack some miles away, which prompted them [and some other drivers/travellers] to run out of their vehicles for safety. One of the closest spot was the fenceless secondary school where we were serving [NYSC].
That was not the first time we have had strangers driving into the school at night seeking for refuge from the terrors of armed men on the highway. There were also cases of strangers dropping in at odd hours looking for ways to lure students out of the school compound... until a group of senior students shout the stranger out of the compound.
Don't get me wrong, Nassarawa-eggon is a relatively peaceful community.
It is possible for armed men to drop into a secondary school in northeast Nigeria and whisk kids away into sambisa forest. Most schools -- especially government-funded boarding schools-- lack a lot of things, including adequate security.
The case of over 200 girls that were kidnapped a year ago, for me, has brought to light many issues that is wrong with Nigeria and how our government leaders run the system.
Let us not loose sight of those important things.
A year ago:
"Is this #BringBackOurGirls campaign real? Are you sure those girls were really kidnapped?"
Those were some on the questions in the minds of many people a year ago, when the news of the Chibok kidnapping was first announced. Someone actually confronted me with similar questions... which I had no answers to then.
There were those who passionately protested for the girls to be rescued. Amidst opposition, their attitude said: we are here to brazen it all out.
Those who traveled to the community reported what they saw.
Then there was this:
Pictures. More pictures. Some were real, some had elements of photo-shop. It almost became a distraction. In public forums, after an event, participants were mobilised to take a group picture holding up the famous #BringBackOurGirls postcard.
But this, like the hashtag boom on twitter cannot be faulted. At least, it was relevant enough to soon draw global attention. The shame of a nation became a global discourse. How can over 200 girls be kidnapped from a school without any declaration of a state of emergency?
Tuesday, March 31, 2015
Lagos is quiet this morning.
The roads are free.
I heard a woman
screaming at her neighbour's daughter:
Leave the street, get inside, where is your mother? If everyone starts running, where will you go? Hurry up, inside.
If everyone starts running?
To where? For what?
Offices shut their doors.
Too early. It used to be 5pm, for some.
I could smell the fear in the air.
It still stinks.
It is like we are all waiting
for the dragon that will be unleashed
once the election results are announced.
The war may never come.
the roads are empty this morning.
Fear is a terrible state to be in.
This is not poetry.
This is not journalism.
Whatever it is,
Pray for Nigeria.
The picture was taken last week. Army officers on their morning parade around Adeola Odeku. It has nothing to do with elections.
Tuesday, March 03, 2015
Saturday, February 07, 2015
Satyagraha Institute (satyagrahainstitute.org) announces its first summer institute, to be held August 2 -22, 2015 in the Black Hills of South Dakota. The program will provide leaders interested in nonviolent social change an opportunity to deepen their understanding, skills, commitment, and community.
Mohandas Gandhi, who famously experimented with the possibilities of nonviolence, coined the Sanskrit term satyagraha, or truth-force, to identify a method of social change. Satyagraha is a way of directly engaging with others to work out the difficult aspects of life without resorting to coercion, harm, or ill intention.
The summer learning experience will be rooted in a course of study, the arts, community life, and the inner life. Resident faculty and a variety of visiting resource people will guide the exploration of nonviolence in the traditions of Mohandas Gandhi, indigenous spirituality and culture, Martin Luther King, Jr. and the civil rights movement, Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker movement, and various spiritual traditions. Training will also be provided in conflict prevention and tools for conflict resolution.
Faculty include: M.P. Mathai, a well-known Gandhian scholar from India; Darlene Pipeboy, a Dakota elder and pipe keeper; Amelia Parker, Executive Director of Peace Brigades International; Priscilla Prutzman, Executive Director of Creative Response to Conflict; Clare Hanrahan, an author and organizer with the New South Network of War Resisters; and Fernando Ferrara, founder Mesa de Paz in Mexico.
The institute is designed for leaders of groups, organizations, movements, and communities. The program also welcomes promising young people who are likely to be future leaders.
The application deadline is May 31, 2015. Space is limited, so early application is suggested. In order for this program to remain affordable, it relies heavily on donor contributions. Satyagraha Institute welcomes contributions via its website, satyagrahainstitute.org. Contact: Carl Kline, Program Coordinator Satyagraha Institute (605) 692-8465 email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org satyagrahainstitute.org
Sunday, February 01, 2015
"When I was a young man, I wanted to change the world. I found it was difficult to change the world, so I tried to change my nation. When I found I couldn't change the nation, I began to focus on my town. I couldn't change the town and as an older man, I tried to change my family. Now, as an old man, I realize the only thing I can change is myself, and suddenly I realize that if long ago I had changed myself, I could have made an impact on my family. My family and I could have made an impact on our town. Their impact could have changed the nation and I could indeed have changed the world."
- Unknown Monk (1100AD)
Sunday, January 18, 2015
|Jess, Ashima and Jen-- OWYP team- Disney World, Florida USA 2007|
"Our dream came true and we proved something very important: independent of who you are or where you come from, independent of the world being in economic crisis, if you never give up, have a business plan that works, stick to your ethics, and have a strong culture, then a community, together, can birth an idea whose time has come." Jess Rimington, founder One World Youth Project.
"I have come to believe that at this particular moment in human history the world needs more feminine leadership, embodied in and demonstrated by both women and men. The art of feminine leadership is to give space so that the flame burns brighter, to witness so that there is safe space, to trust so that others trust themselves, to give power so that power multiplies, and to leave when the time to leave has come." Jess Rimington, Founder One World Youth Project.