At the end of April, Afri’s Co-ordinator Joe Murray and Choctaw Gary White Deer travelled to Moville for a ‘Just a Second’ event, as part of our WorldWise Global Schools Project. The ‘Just a Second’ educational programme focuses on the absurdity of in excess of €40,000 being spent every second on war and weapons while a billion people suffer from hunger, lack of clean water and adequate housing. We began by walking from Moville Community College to the Quays. This was the departure point for many people from Donegal and surrounding areas who emigrated down through the years, often because of poverty or famine. We were joined there by Rose Kelly and students from Scoil Eoghain. We had music, poetry and readings focussed on those who are being forced from their their homelands today as a result of poverty, war and climate change. Following this moving event, participants walked back to Moville Community College where we planted a mountain ash together with students and teachers and then had a short seminar touching on issues to do with climate change, militarisation, famine and forced migration. Continue reading “Just A Second in Moville”
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”
Report by Genny Bove
The Irish greeting Céad míle fáilte (a hundred thousand welcomes) is no exaggeration. Over in Dublin from Wales again for a few days, this time with Chelsea Manning’s Mum Susan, we are once again experiencing the extraordinary hospitality, warmth and staunch solidarity of our friends here, and it’s wonderful.
Thursday night we gathered at the Teachers’ Club in central Dublin for an evening gathering Resisting Injustice organised by Afri to remember the late, great Gerry Conlon who met and offered his support to Chelsea’s family and who spoke so eloquently against injustice and for Chelsea Manning last November, just a few months before his untimely death from cancer this June.
Donal O’Kelly, the creative force behind January’s Manning Truthfest, was MC for the night. Donal has helped keep the cause in the public eye in myriad ways, most recently dedicating the World’s Best Radio Show award for his play Francisco to Chelsea Manning.
The first speaker was Nuala Kelly, whose talk drew on her extensive experience of supporting Irish prisoners in overseas jails. She recounted how she had at first been more aware of Giuseppe Conlon’s arrest back in 1975 than that of his son Gerry but how later, in her work with the Irish Council for Prisoners Overseas, she became involved in supporting Gerry and his family in their quest for justice. Nuala emphasised the impact on families when a person is imprisoned and the importance of offering support and working alongside families. She described how the campaign to free the Guildford Four, Maguire Seven and Birmingham Six started to gain momentum, with local groups little by little getting involved and taking their own solidarity initiatives, such as a women’s group organising street stalls in central Dublin. If we are going to build an effective campaign to free Chelsea, we need to find ways to engage as many people as possible as well as being mindful of the perspectives of both the prisoner and her family. Continue reading “Remembering Gerry Conlon, Supporting Chelsea Manning”