~~Portland Cross-Pollination Project!~~

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January 21, 2007

Scenes from January 21st, Day One

The women in red: when I first walked into the Forum today, one of the first things I encountered was a group of women singing and marching around the stadium. I couldn’t help but to join them, and they loved it. Soon, I was singing doing the dance moves and singing the song (about giving birth and how to care for babies). So fun! Afterwards, I pulled out my song book and taught them a few Farm classics. They loved it!! They are a group called “Women of Tears” and the are a “CBO”—a Community Based Organization in Kenya. They are from various areas in the same district and work on all issues from jobs to child rearing to fighting the EPA—a Europe/Africa free trade agreement (their version of FTAA—bad news!).

This is Ulenu from Malawi and Gao from Botswana looking at a photo of TLC Farm’s garden. Guess what? They are permaculturists!! We compared notes, and I might go visit some of their farms in a few months… a fun exchange.

This is a Ugandan dance and drum group, sharing a dance that teaches people about how to not spread HIV/AIDS. It was pretty amazing.

The ten elders: these men and women are Freedom Fighters. I went to a session called “Memories of Struggle and Contemporary Resistance” with speakers from Kenya, Cuba, Brazil, India, Palestine, Senegal, India and France. This group struck me the most. They fought in the Mau Mau rebellion. The woman in blue, Muthoni, spoke of how they “went into the forest” in 1952 until 1963, when Kenya won independence from Britain. If they had stayed at home during the day, they would have been captured, so they spent their days in the forest and their nights fighting for freedom. Muthoni spoke, though, about how the people who took the power after independence “resumed the colonial policies.” As another speaker said, Kenyans are not treated as human, they are treated as property. Kenya is a market, not a nation, he said.

This is Josephine Alabi, from Nigeria. She was keen on staying in touch to keep sharing issues about our two countries. She is a real networker, an intellectual who founded an NGO supporting women and children, and someone who wants to absorb as much information as possible. She kept saying, “we must be free with communicating.” Within the day, she had already emailed me about groups in Nigeria.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have been truly touched by your stories of cross pollination and grass roots activism - Though I think you might have misspelled "Mau Mau".

Layeni! (The Zapotec word for Peace)