Reflections from Afri’s 35th Famine Walk

The 35th annual Famine Walk took place via the Doolough Valley in County Mayo on Saturday, May 20th. Renowned singer turned Independent Senator Frances Black, was among this year’s walk leaders.  A strong advocate for social justice, Senator Black is the first female Independent from the Seanad’s panel system in the history of the state. Frances is the founder of the RISE Foundation and also the Chairperson and a founder member of the recently launched Irish Anti-Apartheid Campaign for Palestine.

Other walk leaders included educationalist and activist Michael Doorly of Concern and Joseph Kabwe Kamfwa, an agriculturist from Lusaka in Zambia. Music was provided by the folk and traditional music legend Karan Casey, whose recently released album is entitled ‘Nine Apples of Gold’.

This unique event has been on the road for thirty-five years and has been led over the years by such distinguished people as Desmond Tutu, representatives of the Choctaw nation of Oklahoma, representatives of the Maya people from Guatemala, John Pilger, actor Gabriel Byrne, Christy Moore, Sharon Shannon, Ronnie Drew, Lisa Lambe, Damian Dempsey, Declan O’Rourke to name but a few.

The walk is about remembering those who suffered, died or were forced to emigrate during An Gorta Mór and those who suffer the same injustices today. This year’s walk is an expression of solidarity with all who suffer as a result of war and a call for every effort to be made to bring an end to war and pursue a path of peace. It echoes the voice of the UN’s nuclear watchdog in relation to the war in Ukraine, a country that hosts four nuclear power plants, saying: ‘each day we are rolling a dice and if we allow this to continue…then one day our luck will run out’. To underscore this warning, the Doomsday Clock, created by scientists to symbolise the urgent danger to human civilization, and our proximity to midnight, in other words, our destruction, is now at 90 seconds, the closest it’s ever been’.

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