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. Continue reading “Impressions from the 2014 Hedge School”

Remember the Citizenship Referendum?

Citizenship PhotoAfri was pleased to support the ‘Remembering the Citizenship Referendum’ event outside Dáil Éireann today. This marks the 10th anniversary of this dark day in our recent history and many of the migrant speakers reminded us of the shocking legacy it has left children born into a limbo state in the last decade.

Comparisons were made with the treatment of children in the ‘mother and baby’ homes which is the source of such recent horror. There were also many references to the appalling system known as ‘Direct Provision’ in which people are given just over €19 per week to live on. One woman who grew up in apartheid South Africa saying that she felt she had left that behind but now finds an apartheid-like approach at work in the direct provision system.

Well done to all those involved in organizing today’s event.