Famine Walk 2014: Opening the Gates – From Famine to Food Sovereignty

Saturday, May 17th 2014

From Louisburgh to Delphi Lodge, Co. Mayo.

Registration from 12.45pm; Walk beginning at 1.30pm

Walk Leaders: Paul Nicholson, Luis Jalandoni, Emanuela Russo

Music: Imogen Gunner & friends

Michael Wade (Delphi Lodge) opens the gates of Delphi Lodge to the 2013 Afri Famine Walk in a historically significant welcome. Photo: Derek Speirs

The 2013 Famine Walk will long remain in the memory of those who were there to experience it. The opening of the gates of Delphi Lodge and the welcome extended by proprietor Michael Wade to walkers carrying the names of those who died on the original walk in 1849 was particularly poignant. The planting of an oak tree and potatoes supplied by Willie and Mary Corduff were powerful symbols of new life while the hauntingly moving words of Declan O’Rourke’s Famine song echoed: ‘you Connacht orphans, bare of foot, who walked ten miles at 7 years/ you took your little sister’s hand and walked her to the poorhouse door/ and when they had but room for one/ you left your little sister there/ and feint with hunger all day long/ you walked the ten miles back again”. There was a profound sense of history being made, of those who had died being fittingly remembered, of at least some wounds being healed.

Earlier we heard moving words from Salome Mbugua recalling recent famines, including in Somalia where over 200,000 died virtually unnoticed by the outside world in the period 2010-2012, and we were inspired by Gary White Deer’s reflection that “as we retrace the steps of the people whose names we bear, we believe that they will be with us on our journey”.

Fergal Anderson foreshadowed the theme of this year’s walk when he spoke of food sovereignty as an idea which “offers us a response to the failure of food systems motivated and driven by profit”. Fergal reminded us that we live in a world where a billion people are hungry and a billion obese; where food has become primarily a ‘business’, controlled by transnational corporations while causing great environmental damage and significantly contributing to climate change. Food, in its current form, is killing us, just as the lack of it kills people in Somalia and elsewhere.

This year we continue this theme with Paul Nicholson from the Basque Country who was part of the core team that established La Via Campesina, an international movement which coordinates peasant organizations of small producers, agricultural workers, rural women, and indigenous communities from Asia, Africa, America, and Europe.

Luis Jalandoni, who supported the mass struggles of sugar workers and peasant settlers in Negros, Central Philippines, in the 1960s and 1970s and spent time in jail as a political prisoner under the Marcos dictatorship, will speak about the situation in the Philippines. And Emanuela Russo who has years of experience in the food sovereignty movement in Europe and in Ireland will speak about ‘walking the talk’ and putting food sovereignty into practice.

– Joe Murray, Afri Co-ordinator


As in last year’s Walk, walkers will be welcomed at Delphi Lodge where a memorial will be unveiled, a tree planted and a moment’s silence observed in memory of those who died on the original Famine Walk in 1849.  Gary White Deer will speak at the unveiling of the memorial.

We are asking each participant to raise at least €20, in sponsorship for this event, to ensure that Afri can continue its important work.

To register online: https://www.eventbrite.ie/e/famine-walk-2014-tickets-10659353413

Famine Walk 2014 on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/607067212705715/

The Famine Walk brochure is available to download here: Famine Walk 2014 Brochure

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