The 100th Anniversary of the 1916 Rising was commemorated in a number of state events around Easter time and beyond. While it is very important to commemorate the first steps towards Irish independence it is regrettable that such emphasis was placed on the military hardware of the NATO-linked Irish Army today, as distinct from the ideals of the Proclamation, for example. One of the most bizarre events was the presence of a fleet of NATO Warships in Dublin Port over the Easter weekend. As we commemorated the sacking of Dublin City Centre by British warships 100 years earlier, the irony of a British warship among the other NATO vessels seemed to be lost on the Government as well as those queuing to go aboard. It was a striking illustration, nonetheless, of the degree to which Ireland has now abandoned neutrality and locked arms with the former colonial powers and their military escapades and ambitions. Hearing about this at the last minute, Afri organised a small picket and we were joined by anti-war activist Ciaron O’ Reilly who addressed the assembled audience! Here’s a short film of him speaking at this event below (film by Redjade Magyarországon).
One of the highlights of Afri’s year is the Annual Doolough Famine Walk and 2015 was no exception. The walk encapsulates many elements, from the tragic story which it commemorates to the reality of continuing famine and food inequality today; the local and the global, connecting Ireland, Africa, Asia, Latin America and the world. The breath taking beauty of the landscape and the way in which Delphi Lodge has now embraced the story adds another dimension. East Timor was the focus of the 1993 walk, which was led by Tom Hyland and Timorese students Dino Rai and Jose Lopez. The walk is also a generator of ideas and images, a place to plant trees and potatoes, to sow seeds to sing songs and recall stories.
In May 1994, Don Mullan and I left from the walk to attend the inauguration of Nelson Mandela in South Africa. On that occasion Arun Gandhi, grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, and his wife Sunandra had just led the Famine Walk and unveiled a memorial to Mahatma and Michael Davitt in the famine graveyard in Swinford. Gandhi, of course had strong links with South Africa, spending many of his formative years there before returning to India to lead the independence movement.
In 2015, I left the Famine Walk to fly to Dili, capital of the first newly independent state of the 21st century, Timor Leste. I last visited Timor in 1999, as part of a human rights delegation including Fr. Michael Lapsley and Robbie McVeigh from Derry. We met with many groups and individuals on that occasion including the leader of the resistance Xanana Gusmao, who was in prison in Jakarta at that time. Soon after he was released and a referendum was held in which the people overwhelmingly voted for independence.
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. Continue reading “Manning Truthfest in Wales”
Having hosted the Manning Family during their momentous visit to Ireland, Afri was delighted to continue that support for the Manning Truthfest – ‘the return fixture’ – in Wales on the 10th to 12th January 2014.
Donal O’Kelly had met the family, heard their story and, never one to miss an opportunity for offering support and solidarity, came up with the wonderful idea of the Manning Truthfest. This was a voyage of discovery in many ways as musicians and artists were contacted and assembled, car pools sorted and the ferry crossing arranged. From the moment we gathered this group of artists seemed imbued with a special spirit.
On arrival, we were warmly welcomed by Genny and the family, provided with excellent accommodation and from then on it was non-stop music. Despite the harrowing nature and the brutal treatment of Chelsea Manning there is much to celebrate in a life marked by courage and truth and it was appropriate that this Truthfest was awash with the sounds of music, song, poetry, drama, dance and drumbeat.
Thank you to all who made it possible.
For a full report of the visit, go here: http://manningfamilyfund.org/2014/01/14/manning-truthfest-report-part-1/
This weekend 10-11 January 2014 a gang of Irish musicians, performers and activists will travel to west Wales to present not one, not two, but three events in support of whistleblower and US prisoner Chelsea (Bradley) Manning and her mum and family members in Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire.
Chelsea Manning is serving a 35-year jail sentence in the US for releasing what was judged to be classified information. It included film of a murderous US helicopter gunship attack on civilians in Baghdad that killed 12 and seriously injured two children. The perpetrators of that crime walk free.
Chelsea Manning’s grandfather Billy Fox emigrated from Rathmines Dublin to Wales in 1948. So Afri invited Chelsea’s family from Wales to Dublin two months ago. His mum Susan, aunts Sharon and Mary, and his uncle Kevin made many friends during that visit, some of whom are among the return visitors to Wales this weekend taking part in The Manning Truthfest in Fishguard and Haverfordwest. Continue reading “Irish Culture Gang Storms Wales with the Manning Truthfest”
IT WAS WHILE walking down O’Connell Street on my first ever anti-apartheid protest in the late 70s that I first registered the name Nelson Mandela. Though vaguely aware before, it was when a friend and co-walker Catherine Moloughney began to chant ‘Free Nelson Mandela’ that I was led to find out more about Mandela and the cause he represented.
The urgency and the obscenity of the apartheid system was brought home later when then Bishop Desmond Tutu visited Ireland at the invitation of Afri in 1984 and told extraordinary stories about the reality of apartheid, like, for example, the fact that he had been refused permission to accept a previous invitation from Afri in 1982. Tutu’s great humanity, compassion and warmth was in itself the most stinging challenge to the odious system of apartheid. Continue reading “Honouring Mandela’s Memory with an Appropriate Legacy”
On Wednesday, April 13th, two thousand people gathered in Dublin’s Citywest Hotel for the sold-out POSSIBILITIES 2011 civic summit. POSSIBILITIES was organised by three Irish non-profit organisations: Afri, Children in Crossfire and SpunOut.ie and aims to inspire people, young and old, to become vocal and active in transforming our country and our planet for the better.
The event was attended by the exiled and soon to retire Tibetan leader, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, who accepted a personal invitation to come to Ireland from his close friend, Derry man Richard Moore. Richard was blinded by a rubber bullet at the age of 10, and went on to seek out and befriend the British soldier who shot him.
The Dalai Lama spoke on the subject of ‘Universal Responsibility’ and how taking action for change is something we all have a duty to do. Following the Possibilities Summit, the Dalai Lama went on to speak at events in Kildare and Limerick as part of his third visit to the Republic.
‘Hunger in a World of Plenty – Sowing Seeds of Hope’
Afri’s second of three ‘ Education for Liberation’ events, on the theme of ‘Hunger in a World of Plenty – Sowing Seeds of Hope’ took place on Thursday, 18 March 2010, in Kildare town. About 100 students aged 15-16 years old from 4 different schools in the Kildare/Laois region participated in the event.
Food and hunger have been issues of central concern for Afri since its inception 35 years ago. Afri was founded to respond to the scandal of hunger in a world of plenty, a situation which, unfortunately, has worsened rather than improved in the intervening period.
Afri believes in tackling the causes of hunger rather than merely responding to the symptoms. Those causes include the arms trade (costing a staggering €1400 billion annually); the neo-liberal economic system, which concentrates large amounts of resources, including food, in the hands of a small number of people; climate change and global warming; and the corporate takeover of food production, resulting in food being treated as a purely commercial product, thus denying access to the people who are most vulnerable. Continue reading “Education for Liberation in Kildare town”
Thursday, 26 November 2009
Belvedere College, Dublin
with students from Belfast Royal Academy
10.00am Introduction/Welcome – Joe Murray
10.10am The Awakening Universe – film and presentation by Clare O’Grady Walshe
Questions and Discussion
What you can do – Susan Hensel
11.15am Conflict, War and Poverty – Richard Moore
12.15pm Questions and Discussion