Did We Do Any Learning? [6]

equality v justice

Human rights are not only violated by terrorism, repression or assassination, but also by unfair economic structures that create huge inequalities.
Pope Francis

 

Life isn’t Always Fair

It is a lesson we have all learned. Sometimes fate turns around and bites us. But I have never seen this inequity so clear and so devastating, as I have over the last three months in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea.

Ebola.

I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Liberia from 1965 to 1967, a long time ago.  It was an incredible experience for me, going from the University of California at Berkeley and California’s super-urban Bay Area to the then small upcountry town of Gbarnga, where I met Africa face to face and received so much more from the experience than I was able to contribute.

Afterwards, the terrible civil wars tore Liberia apart in a way that was incomprehensible to those of us who had lived in the country and had come to know her people and culture.

Recently, I began to feel more optimistic about Liberia’s future. There was hope. Liberia had known peace for ten years. Children were back in school. There was laughter in the street.

And then Ebola struck. Once again, Liberia teeters on the edge of chaos. How much more can the country take? Yes there are things we can do, must do, to help. But I can’t help thinking, over and over: isn’t it time that fate gives the people of Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone a break?

 

Curt Mekemson @ Wandering through Time and Place

Half of the profits from Curt’s recent book, The Bush Devil Ate Sam and Other Tales of a Peace Corps Volunteer in Liberia West Africa, will go to Friends of Liberia, a group of returned Peace Corps volunteers.

 

Wake Up and Think for Yourself

This year my sixty-seven year old country finally woke up. Millions of Pakistanis learned to think for themselves.

Four months ago, frustrated people stepped out of their homes and stamped their thoughts on the streets under the leadership of Imran Khan. Old men, housewives, students, and children slid open curtains of indifference and made history.

War is when your government tells you who the enemy is. A revolution is when you figure it out yourself. ~Anonymous

This year millions of Pakistanis learned about pain. Pain that transcends boundaries of flesh and geography. Pain that sets things into perspective. Love, family, home, and health. Everything else seems extravagant. You don’t expect to send your children to school and never see them again.1

We saw hope and held on to it tight. Perhaps too tight because it left blisters. We learned about healing as skins of faith quickly formed protective layers on our stubborn wounds. My people are even more stubborn.

This year I learned about victory. A victory that marks an end to our closed minds and blind hearts. I have seen my extraordinary people walk to hell and back. They tell me to keep going. Because that is exactly what they will do. They always do. And this revelation makes me realize our power.

I had a dream about you last night…and in it you said, ‘Chin up; it only gets harder.’ ~ Marshal Ramsay

Think. Question. Challenge.

Because once people begin to think aloud, they are impossible to ignore.

 

Nida S. @ on the road to inkrichment 

  1. On 16 December 2014, terrorists ran down an Army public school in Peshawar (Pakistan), leaving 132 children and 9 members of the school staff dead in cold blood.

 

 

In Search of a Messiah

I have thought about poverty and inequality, and for me, there are no easy answers yet. Years of inequality, poverty, rising unemployment (indices to gauge development according to economist Dudley Seers), and insecurity, have made many Nigerians pant for a benevolent dictator, a fairy godmother with a magic wand to wave all our problems away, while we dance with the prince and midnight never comes.

In the lyrics of Bob Marley, Most people think great god will come from the sky take away ev’rything, and make ev’rybody feel high. I believe in The Messiah, but I don’t want to be guilty of a messiah complex. These days when someone offers me help, I ask why, I ask how, I ask what, I ask where, I ask how much. And, I keep asking until I understand.

The race for the 2015 presidential elections in Nigeria resembles a dem-all-crazy; they say we have to choose the lesser of two devils. Democracy delivers to us what we demand of her. Poverty and inequality like kwashiorkor, can make people swallow nutrition devoid of protein, and then roll over to sleep not realising death is waiting.

I have learnt that on the drive to my destination, it is unwise to hand over the keys of my life and snooze in the passenger seat. Going by what I read on social media it seems many have learnt this too. The challenge is to remind the driver that he is driving our car and so we decide where he goes and when he stops.

Timi @ Livelytwist

 

 

 

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Timi Yeseibo and livelytwist.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Interpreting Silence, Mine and Maybe Yours

Malala

. . . and I began to see that the pen and the words that come from it can be much more powerful than machine guns, tanks or helicopters. We were learning how to struggle. And we were learning how powerful we are when we speak.1

I was at a meeting. The preacher declared, “If you haven’t found what is worth dying for, then you haven’t started living!” In my mind, I said, “But I am living and I enjoy my life although, I don’t know what I would die for.” The preacher reeled off convictions on which he would stake his life. I thought, that’s good for you, my children are still small, my marriage too young.

In my university, when students would gather to protest against government policies, I always left the campus and went to stay at my aunt’s, as I did not fancy being tear-gassed, arrested, or beaten or raped if the protest degenerated to a free-for-all.

Their protests annoyed my middle-class sensibilities. Shielded by my parents, I had never felt the sting of socio-economic or political policies. The more daring the protest, the more likely, that my university would be shut down, so that, instead of graduating at twenty, I would graduate at twenty plus x, x being anything from one to five years. This concerned me because I had mapped my life’s trajectory without the possibility of detours.

And so, Malala Yousafzai’s autobiography interested me, as all biographical material does, but more so because she is a teenager. She’s described as the educational campaigner from Swat Valley, Pakistan, who came to public attention by writing for BBC Urdu about life under the Taliban. News about her work had floated in and out of my attention in years past, but as I settled to read her book, I shook my head, what was she thinking?

The man was wearing a peaked cap and looked like a college student. He swung himself onto the tailboard at the back and leaned in right over us.

Who is Malala? He demanded?”

No one said anything, but several of the girls looked at me. I was the only girl with my face not covered.

That’s when he lifted up a black pistol. I later learned it was a Colt 45. Some of the girls screamed.2

Malala’s story, in my view, traces the journey of her convictions, how they were shaped, how they crystallized, and how she learnt to live and expect to die for them. Her father is central to her story. She interprets her world through his eyes. But I get the sense as I read that even if Malala were translated into another set of circumstances, mine as a youngster, for example, she would still shake the world. Named after the Pashtun heroine, Malalai of Maiwand, when she was born, she popped out kicking and screaming.

Malala gives us a history lesson on her beloved Pakistan and Talibanization. It is a story I recognize: Nigeria before and after British colonization; Nigeria in the age of Boko Haram. Politics never sleeps. Poverty and illiteracy make indoctrination and intimidation potent. But Kalashnikovs and RPGs make the rich and educated flee too.

Her photo on the book cover hides fear and courage, a tension that she draws her readers to share with her family in Taliban-controlled Swat Valley and beyond.

Are you scared now?” I asked my father.

At night our fear is strong, Jani,” he told me, “but in the morning, in the light, we find our courage again.”3

She writes that her father hated the fact that most people would not speak up. She knew he was right. He kept a poem by Martin Niemoller in his pocket.

First they came for the communists,                                                                              

and I did not speak out because I was not a communist.                                           

Then they came for the socialists,                                                                                    

and I did not speak out because I wasn’t a socialist.                                                 

Then they came for the trade unionists,                                                                        

and I did not speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.                                        

Then they came for the Jews,                                                                                               

and I did not speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.                                                        

Then they came for the Catholics,                                                                                    

and I did not speak out because I wasn’t a Catholic.                                                 

Then they came for me,                                                                                                     

and there was no one left to speak for me.

I live in a land where my concerns range from 30% income tax deductions to choosing between Gouda and Maasdammer cheese. Comfort is a familiar place and I do not apologize for it. Privilege comes with responsibility and many are not silent. But I must break my silence and scream with more than sympathy, with my words, my money, my time, and my votes, because Malala proves that one voice can be heard. At a cost, at a cost . . .

 

©Timi Yeseibo 2014

 

1. Yousafzai, Malala with Lamb, Christina, I Am Malala (London: Orion Books, 2014), 131.

2. Ibid., 6.

3. Ibid., 115.

 

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Timi Yeseibo and livelytwist.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

Why Revolution, Occupy Movements, Terrorists And All Sorts Of Anti-Establishment Things Are Good For Capitalism  

By his own admission, Charles Onyangbo-Obbo’s blog is a (sometimes) irreverent take on all things African – and non-African. So, who benefits from the “protest”? While in my view, grey areas encroach upon black and white territory; his piece reminds me of comments about Boko Haram’s ideology: western education is bad, although it gave Boko Haram guns, TV, internet, and cell phones . . . hmmm.

NAKED CHIEFS

I have been studying photos of the Sunni jihadist group, Islamic State of Iraq, those these militants who are trying to establish a caliphate in Iraq and Syria – to begin with.

On June 10 last week, they made some mind-blowing military gains, capturing Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, and most of the surrounding province of Nineveh. Buoyed by their victory, they headed south towards Baghdad, the capital, taking several towns on the way.

Some 30,000 of Iraq’s US-trained soldiers just dropped their guns and uniforms, and took off for the desert. How many ISIS insurgents were they faced with? Just 800!

The virulently anti-western ISIS is so extreme and violent, even Al Qaeda distances itself from it. However, they were carrying AK 47s, and wearing sneakers. The people benefitting from the sale of the AK 47s are actually some infidels and aetheists in the west and Russia.

And American…

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