‘Just A Second’ Book Launch in Galway

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Famine Walk 2015: Food Sovereignty, Global Warming and Resisting Militarism

Photo: Kerstin Hellman.

Photo: Kerstin Hellman. Photo shows famine memorial on grounds of Delphi Lodge.

 

Food Sovereignty, Global Warming and Resisting Militarism

Saturday, May 16th 2015

From  Delphi Lodge to Louisburgh, Co. Mayo.

Registration from 12.45pm; Walk beginning at 1.30pm

Walk Leaders: Abjata Khalif (Kenya), Maitet Ledesma (Philippines) and Sharon Staples (Wales)

Music: RoJ Whelan

 

 Please park cars in Louisburgh: no parking available at Delphi Lodge – a shuttle bus will be provided.

 

Many themes have been explored in the Famine Walk over the past 27 years. The Philippines was the focus of the first ever famine walk as Niall O’Brien, recently released from prison, outlined the experience of living under the Marcos military dictatorship. Significantly, the Philippines is again a focus of this year’s walk as Maitet Ledesma updates us on the current situation there, with particular reference to the devastating impacts of  militarism and global warming.

The issue of food and famine has always been a central theme of the walk, as it is this year.  As nations continue to turn to war as a first resort, in many cases, food security is further threatened, global warming is intensified and corporate control of food is extended, despite the fact that small-scale producers remain the mainstay of global food supplies. Food sovereignty is the common ground on which the realities and hopes of many of these small producers meet.

Conflicts are raging in many places throughout the planet – fed largely by the military/corporate nexus in its insatiable appetite for expansion and exploitation. The unremitting aggression of Western capitalist greed has led to growing anger and resentment in many parts of the world, leading to violence which is met by further violence and to the development and deployment of ever more cruel and inhumane  weaponry, a burgeoning growth in what is  euphemistically titled the ‘security industry’.

Then, out of the darkness a light shines! Chelsea Manning sees from the inside the horror of war and the extent of the lies used to justify it, and, taking her courage in her hands, exposes the truth to the world. For her troubles she is called a traitor and given a sentence of 35 years in prison. Chelsea’s own direct link with Ireland was her transit, among over 2.5 million troop movements, through Shannon; her courage has now won her a committed solidarity group here.  We are delighted that Chelsea’s aunt, Sharon, will be one of the leaders of this year’s Famine Walk.

Abjata Khalif is well acquainted with conflict, global warming and food insecurity on the borders of Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia. He also knows about conflict resolution, about tackling global warming and about empowering people to resist, to build community and to work together in solidarity. Abjata has used the experience of surviving a massacre as a child in his village as motivation for his life’s work of building peace, promoting development, supporting food sovereignty and resolving conflict. He too will be among our walk leaders this year in Doolough.

Please help Afri to continue its work by getting sponsorship and taking part in this walk.  We are asking each participant to raise at least €20 in sponsorship to ensure that Afri can continue its important work.

To book/donate online go here.  You can share this event with your friends on facebook here.

 

Further Information:

Please assemble in Louisburgh for registration at 12.45pm.  Shuttle buses will bring walkers to start point from 1.30pm.  A brief ceremony (2 minutes) will take place at the Famine Memorial in Delphi Lodge before walkers return to Louisburgh.  Please note there is no parking available at Delphi Lodge.  The walk is approximately 11 miles and a shuttle car will be available along the route if needed.

Tea/coffee (no food) will be provided at a halfway point along the way.  There will also be toilet facilities at the halfway point as well as along the lake.

IN THE INTEREST OF HEALTH AND SAFETY, PLEASE WALK ON THE LEFT HAND SIDE OF THE ROAD FOR THE DURATION OF THE WALK.

Gather in Teach na nÓl, Louisburgh, for ceol agus craic with RoJ Whelan and the ‘Manning Street Preachers’ on Saturday night from 9pm.

Afri gratefully acknowledges the support of Irish Aid, Trócaire and Concern.

Government rejects calls to change Climate Bill as it passes Second Stage

scc_logo_highresStop Climate Chaos has today expressed deep disappointment at the government’s refusal to take on board concerns about the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Bill, which today passed Second Stage. This is the first time a Bill designed to tackle climate change has passed Second Stage.

Commenting this evening, Ciara Kirrane, Coordinator of the Stop Climate Chaos coalition, said:

“We are deeply disappointed at the government’s unwillingness to listen to concerns expressed not only by Stop Climate Chaos but by their own party colleagues. Fine Gael and Labour backbenchers have voiced their concerns with aspects of the Bill in the Dáil in recent weeks but the Minister’s statement today clearly shows that none of these issues will be addressed.

“The Government is also ignoring the advice from the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Environment, Culture and the Gaeltacht. Seven of the ten proposals made by the Committee which require changes to the Bill have been disregarded by Government.

“These include some of the most important proposals for actually tackling climate change, such as a long term emissions reduction target and an independent advisory council. Minister Kelly has argued that setting national targets would interfere with the EU process but this just doesn’t stand up. Other member states have managed to pass climate laws with long-term targets, the most recent of which is Finland which passed a climate law earlier this month with an 80% emissions reduction target for 2050. If the Government is going to reject such important recommendations they must find a stronger rational for doing so.”

As the Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Bill now progresses to Committee Stage Stop Climate Chaos is hopeful that amendments that will strengthen the Bill will be accepted by government. (more…)

Shamrock, Shame and Shannon

A protest at Shannon Airport took place on March 15th to mark the 12th Anniversary of the 2nd US-led war on Iraq and the Taoiseach’s annual cap-doffing, forelock-tugging exercise before the Commander-in-Chief of continuing wars in Afghanistan and around the world, wars in which Shannon plays a crucial role. It was preceded by a ‘cycle of nonviolence’ from Dirty Nellies at Bunratty Castle to Shannon Airport. Organised by Afri and supported by PANA.

 

Film produced & edited by Dave Donnellan, also including filming by Muireann De Barra

 
“I feel it is my duty as an Irish artist to follow the example of Margaretta D’Arcy and make a stand against the shocking situation of Shannon’s continuing use as an instrument of war.

As St. Patrick’s Day looms I want to help focus attention on the fact that the shamrock is stained with the blood of hundreds of thousands of lives taken by the U.S military campaign, of which Shannon is an essential component. Is this the kind of Ireland we want to celebrate?

The sight of Irish politicians celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in the U.S is grotesque while human rights abuses and death continue to be facilitated by the Irish government’s gift of Shannon airport to the U.S war machine. I hope my actions can in some way draw attention to the shameful complicity of the Irish government in mass murder”.

– Dylan Tighe​, musician, writer and actor

“At this time of year when a bowl of shamrock is handed over in the White House as a symbol of the gombeen attitude of our leaders, it’s vital to challenge the hypocrisy of the neutral Irish state letting its second airport be used as a warport by the US. How many rendition kidnap flights flew through Shannon with prisoners now in Guantanamo for more than a decade without trial, many force-fed for months? We’ll never know because military flights were not and are not inspected.

I feel compelled to use whatever artistic skills I might have to challenge glib acceptance of the use of Shannon by the US army, as a gesture of solidarity with those far-off communities suffering attack by US armed forces with the complicit aid of Shannon Airport. Not in my name, not with my compliance”.

– Donal O’Kelly, writer, actor and director.

Famine Walk in I.T. Carlow

Sakhile Heron speaks at tree planting ceremony during the Famine Walk held in I.T. Carlow on the 11th February.  Photo: Lisa Patten

Sakhile Heron speaks at tree planting ceremony during the Famine Walk held in I.T. Carlow on the 11th February. Photo: Lisa Patten

“During the 1840’s a new disease was found in the Irish potato crop… By May 1846 the price of potatoes in Carlow had risen to fifteen shillings per barrel. This was about three times the normal rate. The situation continued to worsen rapidly. At the end of 1846 the crop had completely failed and no potatoes were available in the County” – The Famine in Carlow

IT Carlow chaplain, Fr Martin Smith spoke about the profound significance of this famine graveyard, situated in the grounds of the college.  He stressed the need to be silent in this sacred place, to become aware of those buried there and to embrace the reality that these were real people, as real as the students who are now attending the college, largely unaware of the extraordinary history associated with the ground on which they tread. Church of Ireland Minister, Reverend Williams lives close to the graveyard and referred to the strong presence that can be felt there. Three to four thousand Famine victims lie buried together in Carlow Town, many of them children. The veil is thin in such places.

“The Poor Relief Extension Act 1847 empowered Guardians to grant relief at their own discretion to the aged and infirm and to widows with two or more dependent children. The Guardians were also empowered to grant food aid to able-bodied persons for limited periods… In Carlow the guardians were firmly against such measures. This attitude gave rise to the overcrowded conditions in Carlow Workhouse from late 1846″ – The Famine in Carlow

When the potato blight hit Ireland, only the lumper variety was affected. Over one million men, women and children died because they had been forced to depend on a single crop, the lumper potato, though enough food was being exported out of Ireland to have sustained them. If ignored, such epic human trauma stays trapped within a nation’s soul.

Last February, we gathered again in Carlow Town. Afri partnered with the Carlow Institute of Technology and with Carlow County Council. A pilgrimage was made from the Institute to the cemetery, where a strong spirit was felt and a Famine memorial unveiled. Such healing acts of remembrance let us see more clearly how essential biodiversity is for human survival, that there is still enough to eat in the world and that access to food and water are basic human rights which in solidarity, we must all work to ensure.

Report by Gary White Deer

“Community Pays Tribute to Famine Victims During Walk” in the Carlow People 

Shamrock, Shame and Shannon: Reclaiming Ireland’s Pride

Shamrock1

Shamrock, Shame and Shannon: Reclaiming Ireland’s Pride – A protest at Shannon Airport at 12 noon to 1pm on Sunday, March 15th.

To mark the 12th Anniversary of the 2nd US-led war on Iraq and the Taoiseach’s annual cap-doffing, forelock-tugging exercise before the Commander-in-Chief of continuing wars in Afghanistan and around the world, wars in which Shannon plays a crucial role.

Preceded by a ‘cycle of nonviolence’ from Dirty Nellies at Bunratty Castle to Shannon Airport, starting at 11.00 am.

Organised by Afri and supported by PANA

Peace and Neutrality: International and National Perspectives

From left: Carol Fox (Peace and Neutrality Alliance), Roberto Zamora, Joe Murray (Afri)

From left: Carol Fox (Peace and Neutrality Alliance), Roberto Zamora, Joe Murray (Afri)

“Making peace by making war is what we are trying to do – but it doesn’t work”, stated Edward Horgan, former commandant in the Irish Defence Forces and Shannonwatch spokesperson as he addressed the public meeting on ‘Peace and Neutrality: International and National Perspectives’.  Peace can only be achieved by positive neutrality.

One country which has pursued the path of positive neutrality is a country with approximately the same population as Ireland: Costa Rica.  Costa Rica disbanded their army in the 1940s and the President at that time, Jose Figueras, declared that the military budget would be used on healthcare and education instead. Figueras believed it was pointless for a country the size of Costa Rica to have an army as it would never be able to compete with a larger country. Costa Rica has since become renowned for its neutrality and peaceful stance in foreign affairs.

(more…)

Reflections from Féile Bríde 2015

From left to right: Bruce Kent, Emanuela Russo, Joe Murray, Salome Mbugua and Colin Archer.  Photo: Pauhla McGrane

From left to right: Bruce Kent, Emanuela Russo, Joe Murray, Salome Mbugua and Colin Archer. Photo: Pauhla McGrane

Imagination and celebration were the order of the day at our 22nd annual Féile Bríde gathering in Kildare. ‘Occupy the imagination’ was the theme and the new Solas Bhríde a cause for celebration – built with the utmost attention to detail, as explained by Rita Minehan, in the teeth of the recession – a prizewinning example of a sustainable building in the heart of the Curragh. Warmth and welcome is added in abundance by Mary, Phil, Rita and members of Cairde Bríde who continue the tradition of hospitality for which Brigid was renowned.

Bruce Kent and Colin Archer, who have devoted most of their lives to promoting peace and – daringly – to the abolition of war, gave dynamic and thought provoking presentations on the extent to which ‘the world is over armed and peace is underfunded’. Bruce, who is in his 8th decade is an inspiration, with his indomitable spirit, his great sense of humour and his constant commitment to the cause of peace.


Film of Féile Bríde by RoJ

The essence of Bruce’s presentation was that ‘unless war is eliminated, the human race will be’ and so he has founded the Movement for the Abolition of War. This may seem like a far-fetched idea but so did the elimination of the slave trade when small groups of Abolitionists met in various parts of the world in the 17th century. (Of course we now have a new slave trade in the form of human trafficking but – unlike the slave trade – it is generally  regarded as the odious crime that it is).

Emanuela Russo spoke about the urgent need to wrest control of food production from the hands of profit-driven, environmentally destructive corporations and to establish food sovereignty, defined as “the right of people to grow and consume food that is socially, culturally, ecologically and economically appropriate to local conditions.” She went on to say: “the current global food system creates hunger and obesity at the same time. There are 900 million hungry people in the world and almost the same amount of obese people. One of the reasons why this is happening is that all around the world, more and more food systems are controlled by big corporations and agribusinesses with the support of national governments and international institutions (such as IMF and WB, WTO), these food systems regard food as a commodity and their main goal is not to feed the people but to make profit.” (more…)

Peace & Neutrality: International and National Perspectives

Flags_19Feb2015Peace & Neutrality: International and National Perspectives

Public Meeting

Thursday February 19th at 8pm

Wynn’s Hotel, Dublin 1

 

Speakers:

Roberto Zamora – Independent Attorney from Costa Rica, who has challenged the Costa Rican government on breaches of neutrality under their Constitution and won

Carol Fox – Peace and Neutrality Alliance

Chair:

Andy Storey – Afri

Organised by Afri – For more details contact admin@afri.ie / ph. 01 8827563

Manning Truthfest in Wales

Manning Truthfest

The Manning Truthfest gang in Wales

Report by Genny Bove

 The Craic Will be 90

It wasn’t the greatest start to a weekend. First there was a text about RoJ getting a flat tyre on the way to the ferry and then, when we were on the road heading south from Wrexham, a crisis call. I pulled over into the old station at Welshpool to take it. Joe Murray was on the ferry from Rosslare as planned with Nuala Kelly and Andy Cummins, but all four musicians in the party had been left behind on the quay (thanks to some misinformation given out by Irish Ferries staff who had promised there was plenty of time before the gates closed when there wasn’t) and the next sailing wasn’t due in til after midnight, too late for the Shamrock Bar gig planned for that evening. There was nothing to be done except put out some calls for local musicians to step in and hope that Joe could at least persuade the stranded ones to rebook on the ferry and arrive in time for Saturday night. The atmosphere in the car was subdued as we continued on our way, wondering how things were going to work out and whether the musicians might have just given up and gone home. We needn’t have worried. After about an hour, a text came through from RoJ: they were on their way back to Dublin, would catch the afternoon ferry to Holyhead, drive down to Fishguard from there – a five hour journey – and would be with us by 11pm. Cryptically, he added: “The craic will be 90.”
“What’s that about?” asked Eimear.
“No idea. Bet it’s a song lyric.”
Eimear looked it up and we began to worry that they might be tempted to catch the Isle of Man Steam Packet instead and all end up in Douglas. (more…)

Famine Walk in Carlow

Famine Walk Carlow

Stop Climate Chaos hosts day of action ahead of Dáil debate on Climate Bill

scc_logo_highresStop Climate Chaos will host a day of action on Tuesday 10th February, calling on elected representatives to strengthen the Climate Bill. The Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Bill 2015 will be debated in the Dáil later this week. It will be the first time the Dáil has debated a Government Climate Bill but the coalition is concerned that the Bill will not deliver the low carbon future it promises unless significant amendments are made.

Ciara Kirrane, Coordinator of Stop Climate Chaos, said

“The coalition was deeply disappointed last month when the Government rejected proposals by the Oireachtas Environment Committee to strengthen the Climate Bill. The recommendations of the Oireachtas committee, which held comprehensive hearings on the draft Bill last year and produced an all-party report, have been ignored without reason or explanation. The Bill will not secure a transition to a low carbon future if the government refuses to do the bare minimum recommended by their colleagues, such as defining what ‘low carbon’ actually means.

“It is clear that our concerns are shared by many members of the public. We’ve had a terrific response from people all across Ireland who are disappointment that the Bill does not go far enough. Tomorrow provides a forum for these people to meet with their TDs and express their dissatisfaction.” (more…)

Global Call For Artists To Sow Seeds Of Hope For Planet Earth

Irish peace organisation Afri has joined with the Choctaw people – renowned for their respect and reverence for the planet – to call on artists everywhere to raise awareness and inspire urgent action on global warming ahead of the December climate change conference in Paris.

'Fields of Athenry' composer Pete St. John supports Afri call for action on global warming

‘Fields of Athenry’ composer Pete St. John supports Afri call for action on global warming

 The effects of global warming are increasingly clear: ecosystems are being lost at an alarming rate; species extinction is occurring on an unprecedented scale and communities, especially those who are already suffering, face decimation and displacement. Unless we make radical changes, things are going to get a lot worse.

But resistance is also on the rise.  In 2014, a coalition of native Alaskan tribes, backed by green campaigners, won a court victory against Shell’s drilling for oil in the Arctic.  Indigenous groups in the Amazon have been holding back plans to cut down more forests to facilitate oil exploration.

Damien Dempsey sings 'Choctaw Nation' at the 2010 Afri Famine Walk in Mayo. Photo by Derek Speirs

Damien Dempsey sings ‘Choctaw Nation’ at the 2010 Afri Famine Walk in Mayo. Photo by Derek Speirs

 

These artists have already pledged to act. Will you? Damien Dempsey, Liam Ó’Maonlaí, Steve Wall (The Walls/The Stunning), Colm Mac Con Iomaire (The Frames), Dónal O’Kelly, Noirín Ní Riain, Theo Dorgan, Paula Meehan and more. Full list below and more to be announced soon. Are you an artist? Add your name to the list of supporters here.

 

Earth Photo

Join Neil Young, Pharrell Williams and others

Artists are helping lead the change.  Neil Young launched a Canadian tour in 2014 under the title ‘Honour the Treaties’, backing the struggle of Canada’s indigenous nations against environmentally destructive tar sands extraction. Pharrell Williams recently announced a series of Live Earth Concerts around the globe on June 18th of this year.

In Ireland, renowned violinist Colm Mac Con Iomaire of The Frames (and ex Swell Season and Kila) will soon launch his new solo album ‘and now the weather’ which takes in the theme of our relationship with the planet. What we need now is a constant, continuous and multi-dimensional effort from now until the Paris Summit in December 2015 and beyond. 

We are calling on artists, musicians, poets, painters, writers, crafts people, designers, dancers and all creative souls everywhere to use their creative genius to awaken the super-power of world opinion.  Imagine the impact, if artists and those who love art, those who love Earth were to rise up and make their voices heard with one clear message: Stop killing our planet… save our world.

Please join our call by creating art that helps awaken, activate and inspire. Share your creations with your friends, fans and followers and be part of a movement of movements that is determined to forge a new world for our children and grandchildren.

Joe Murray, Afri – Action From Ireland (Patron, Archbishop Desmond Tutu)

Gary White Deer, Choctaw artist

 

garyw

The teachings of all First Nations tell us that all people share a common Mother Earth,
who takes care of us and we are born knowing this. In this Spirit, let us then take care
of Mother Earth as well as each other.

– Gary White Deer, Choctaw Nation

 

This call is supported by:

Liam Ó’Maonlaí, Damien Dempsey, Steve Wall (The Walls/The Stunning), Colm Mac Con Iomaire (The Frames), Q A.K.A Colm Quearney,   Dónal O’Kelly (actor and playwright), Gary White Deer (Choctaw artist), Sarah Clancy, Colm Keegan, Enda Reilly, Queen Elvis,  Veronika Stalder, Valentina Gaia Lops, Iain Dowling, Blue Drum,  Gary Dunne (music), Caroline K Stanley (music), Ciara Ryan-Gerhardt (creative writing, singing), Little John Nee (writer/performer/story maker), Dave Lordan (poet), Róisín Coyle (Visual artist), Maria McManus (writer), Bibly Mosa (poetry), Denise Keenaghan (poetry), Kate O’Shea (poetry), Rory White (music – cello – and songwriting), Séamus Bellamy (writing), Homeira (Homeira Printmaker), Angela T. Carr (poetry), Rosie McGurran (visual arts), Shelley Tracey (poetry), Luke Concannon (singer-songwriter), Connor McDermott (music/writing), Michelle McCarron (photography, film, writing), Ailbhe Darcy (writing), Sorcha Fox (poetry and performance),  Rosemarie Rowley (poetry),  William Wall (writer), Mary Madec (poetry), Tara Baoth Mooney (musician and artist), Theo Dorgan (poet), Paula Meehan (poetry),  Eleanor Hooker (poet), Elise Brown/Hands on Crreation (craft, photography, poetry, dance), Celeste Auge (writing), Nessa O’Mahony (poetry), Sheila Mannix (writing), Béibhinn O’Connor (music), Jenni Ledwell (actress), Lavelle (music),  Eabhan Ni Shuileabhain (poetry),  Sue Hassstt (writing, research, music, activism, participatory arts),  Brian Fleming (music/ theatre),  Lou McMahon (singer-songwriter),  Shevaun Doherty (botanical artist), Lucia Comnes (songwriter/singer/fiddler),  Édaín Ní Dhomhnaill (art),  Martina Flaherty (singer/songwriter), Lauren Guillery (musician), Lucy Vigne Welsh (acting, painting, writing), Giselle Harvey (art/craft),  Bee Smith (writing/poetry),  Danny Groenland (soul music), Beverly Farley (painting), Wendy Jack (singer songwriter), Terry Corcoran (painter), Ceara Conway (visual art/singing), David Carroll (music),  Michelle Culligan (craft/ writing / mosaic),  Nóirín Ní Riain PhD (music/theology),  Barbara O’Meara (visual artist), Martin Sharry (writing), Breda Larkin (comedian), Helena Tobin (artist), Kathleen O’Hara Farren (mixed media), Sharon Corcoran (poetry & writing), Deborah J. Stockdale (textile artist), Caroline Kuyper (yarn craftivism), Jules Bitter (music), Ciara Delaney (music), Saffron Thomas (sculpture), Kathleen McCreery (theatre and writing), Bernadette Hopkins (visual artist), Kate Thompson (writer), Aodán McCardle (artist/poet), Ciaran Keogh (actor/singer and film maker), Kevin Ovita Teddy (event organizing), Paul Byrne (music)

and more to be announced soon.

 

Are you an artist? Add your name to the list of supporters here.

‘If I could say one thing to other communities…’

Other communitiesAfter 14 years of challenging the oil and gas industry in north Mayo, what knowledge does the community there have to share? What questions might other communities have and how might they benefit from the experiences of those standing up to Shell and the State?

A four-year CEESA research project (2010-2014) in the parish of Kilcommon, northwest Mayo, sought to identify and share useful knowledge from the experiences of challenging the Corrib Gas project. This has been used to create an exhibition in which people respond to the question: If you could say one thing to other communities facing an unsafe development planned for their area, what would it be?

On Friday 30th January some of the 51 campaigners who took part in the research will speak about what they are learning through challenging the Corrib project. The creators of the exhibition will also talk about the research and photography behind the exhibition. (more…)

Kathy Kelly Imprisoned after Delivering Bread and Letter to U.S. Military Base

Peace Activist Kathy Kelly (left) with Nuria Mustafa (centre) and Jack Hynes (right) at Afri's 2003 Famine Walk in Mayo.

Peace Activist Kathy Kelly (left) with Nuria Mustafa (centre) and Jack Hynes (right) at Afri’s 2003 Famine Walk in Mayo. Photo: Derek Speirs

Former speaker at Féile Bríde, Kathy Kelly has just begun a 3-month prison term, having been arrested when she went to deliver a loaf of bread and a letter to the commander of Whiteman Air Force base Missouri, which operates drones over Afghanistan.

Here is an update from Voices for Creative Nonviolence, the organisation of which Kathy is the Co-ordinator:-

Co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence, Kathy Kelly will turn herself in to the federal prison camp in Lexington, KY on Friday, January 23. She will begin serving a three-month sentence for her June 1, 2014 protest of drone killings at Whiteman Air Force Base, in Missouri. 

Kelly asserts that drone warfare jeopardizes the security of ordinary people and that the U.S. Constitution protects her right to assemble peaceably for redress of grievance.  She was arrested  when she went with Georgia Walker and other activists to the gates of Whiteman Air Force Base  to deliver a loaf of bread and a letter to the commander of the base, which operates drones over Afghanistan. At her trial in December, Federal Magistrate Matt Whitworth found her guilty and sentenced her to three months. (more…)

Date for your Diary – Féile Bríde 2015

Afri - Feile Bride 2015
Féile Bríde 2015 will take place on Saturday 7th February in the Solas Bhríde Centre in Kildare town. The title of this year’s Féile Bríde is “Occupy the Imagination”.

‘Another world is possible’ – A simple and confident expression of an ability to step outside the existing paradigm and imagine an alternative! This ability to imagine, to voice the imagined, and to take action to manifest it, is a wonderful gift and holds the potential to a life well spent; a seed full of potential for change. Whether it be in the small fields of power within which we operate on a day-to-day basis or whether the net of imagination is cast farther to embrace other fields and other people, the role of the imagination in creating change is a vital one.

Speakers at this year’s Féile Bríde include those who similarly inhabit their dreams and make them visible. Bruce Kent, a name synonymous with peace-making and founder of an organisation that challenges the military mindset of countless generations, the Movement for the Abolition of War; Colin Archer of the International Peace Bureau, another life-long peace activist who similarly and consistently presents the kind of world that would be possible if we stopped sacrificing life in its many forms to the god of war and chose instead to put our focus and energy into the protection of life; Emanuela Russo, member of the Via Campesina and founding member of Food Sovereignty Ireland, by word and example occupies the imagined world where food production is in the hands of the people in respectful alliance with Mother Earth; And Salome Mbugua, working to bring about the world she dreams of in common with Brigid where justice, peace and human rights are upheld and hospitality is a belief in practice.

We invite you to join with us; to bring along your dreams and to add your voices to the dreamers’ discourse. Together, let’s ‘occupy the Imagination’ and discover what great changes we can help bring into being.

Clár

10.30am Gathering at the Well (adjacent to Irish National Stud) for walk to Solas Bhríde

11.00am Registration

11.15am Welcome the Flame; Music by Imogen Gunner and friends

11.30am Rita Minehan – Solas Bhríde: The Realization of a Dream

11.40am Bruce Kent & Colin Archer – Imagine… a World without War

1pm Lunch and tree planting

2pm Emanuela Russo –Imagine… a World of Food for People not for Profit

3pm Salome Mbugua –Imagine… a World Where the Stranger is Welcome

4pm Tea break

4.10pm Occupy the Imagination with Rose Kelly

5.10pm Conclusion

To book online go to the Eventbrite page or download and return this form to Afri.

For further information the 2015 brochure is available to download here.

Impressions from the 2014 Hedge School

Cathyrn O'Reilly (standing) and Vonnie Munroe of the Dunnes Stores Anti-apartheid strikers speaking at the Afri Hedge School in ITB.

Cathyrn O’Reilly (standing) and Vonnie Munroe of the Dunnes Stores Anti-apartheid strikers speaking at the Afri Hedge School in ITB.

By coincidence, the Afri Hedge School 2014 took place on the 96th anniversary of the official ending of World War 1.  I say ‘official’ ending as of course a monstrous machine of that size and ferocity doesn’t suddenly come to a halt all at once. Active battling in which several human beings lost their lives continued well after that iconic moment of the 11th hour, on the 11th day of the 11th month on which the leaders cried ‘stop!”. And signatures were made on a piece of paper.  I say ‘official’ as the fallout, the ramifications of that horrific war, ironically titled in the recruitment propaganda as ‘the war to end all wars’, is still to this very day having its devastating impact. The battles continue long after Armistice. The trauma has traversed generations in the many insidious ways that trauma can. Palestine is just one of many, many ongoing casualties that continues to bleed and die.

The lives of those men who had chosen to become or had been forced to become soldiers and were sacrificed in that war are traditionally remembered by silence and ceremony on this iconic day.

The Afri Hedge School chose not to hold the silence, but rather to facilitate the raising of voices. It invited the testimony of witnesses and casualties beyond those in active combat. It welcomed the awkward questions. And it framed all of this within the matrix of conscience. (more…)

Northern Kenyans adopt nocturnal life to escape extreme heat

Asha Abdi, a woman in the northern Kenyan town of Atheley, sits outside a shelter designed to protect residents from stifling daytime heat. Photo: Abjata Khalif/Thomson Reuters Foundation

Asha Abdi, a woman in the northern Kenyan town of Atheley, sits outside a shelter designed to protect residents from stifling daytime heat. Photo: Abjata Khalif/Thomson Reuters Foundation

This report from our partner organisation, the Kenya Pastoralist Journalist Network, shows the harsh consequences of climate change and how solar power is helping people to adapt.

By Abjata Khalif

ATHELEY, Kenya – It is 6 pm in Atheley and as the sun sets, bringing with it a cool breeze, this village in northern Kenya breaks out in a flurry of activity.

People gather outside, schoolchildren shout and play, and the sound of ululating fills the air. But this isn’t a wedding or a festival. The residents of this drought-stricken village are celebrating nightfall, because it means they can finally emerge from the shelters that have been protecting them from the extreme heat of the day and carry on with their lives.

“The ‘day’ has started and people are out of their hideouts ready to attend to their daily chores,” says community elder Abdi Abey. “Don’t mistake the celebration for a traditional festival. It’s a celebration of the changing weather.”

Over the past decade, Atheley and other villages in northern Kenya have suffered through a series of every-worsening droughts that have made normal life increasingly difficult. This year, for the first time, temperatures hitting over 40 degrees Celsius during the day have made farming, schooling, healthcare and other daily activities a struggle. (more…)

The Wave

Detail from Hokusai's The Great Wave off Kanagawa

Detail from Hokusai’s The Great Wave off Kanagawa

The Wave

(after Hardy)

They gathered up the guns and tanks,
divided the soldiers into ranks,
turned to face the enemy –
make a new date for history.

Prepare to fight – the order came
as the foe came into sight –
horizon-filled: a mighty wave
sent them all into their grave.

All the bullets, guns and bombs,
nuclear missiles impotent.
What use these weapons made by Man
with humanity an also-ran.

What use now the hunger and greed,
the makers of superfluous need.
What use those forgotten goals
for climate change and ozone holes?

What use the trillions spent on arms –
while dust and drought sucked up the farms,
as consequences grew in turn
enough to wither, drown and burn.

All the bullets ever made, every gun
every grenade, every cluster or barrel bomb,
laser rays, loud battleships, whispering drone –
secret weapons until then unknown,
gathered up in proud array –
for once all pointing the same way –
(although no silver saucer spun
beneath the unforgiving sun)
singing from the same hymn sheet, as they say.
recording the Earth’s sad lament –
a planet came a planet went.

~Pete Mullineaux, October 2014

Pete Mullineaux’s latest book Just a Second!  Exploring Global Issues through Drama & Theatre has just been published and is available to buy from the Afri office.

Date for the Diary: 2014 Hedge School

Hedge School poster

The 2014 Hedge School will be held on Tuesday 11th November in Room A57, Aontas Block on the I.T.B. campus, Blanchardstown, Dublin 15.  

Registration is at 9.30am and the Hedge School will run from 10am to 4pm.

This event is organised in partnership with the students from the Social and Community Development Course in I.T. Blanchardstown.

You can book a ticket and find out directions for the 2014 Hedge School via our Eventbrite page here.