Reflections from Féile Bríde 2015

From left to right: Bruce Kent, Emanuela Russo, Joe Murray, Salome Mbugua and Colin Archer.  Photo: Pauhla McGrane

From left to right: Bruce Kent, Emanuela Russo, Joe Murray, Salome Mbugua and Colin Archer. Photo: Pauhla McGrane

Imagination and celebration were the order of the day at our 22nd annual Féile Bríde gathering in Kildare. ‘Occupy the imagination’ was the theme and the new Solas Bhríde a cause for celebration – built with the utmost attention to detail, as explained by Rita Minehan, in the teeth of the recession – a prizewinning example of a sustainable building in the heart of the Curragh. Warmth and welcome is added in abundance by Mary, Phil, Rita and members of Cairde Bríde who continue the tradition of hospitality for which Brigid was renowned.

Bruce Kent and Colin Archer, who have devoted most of their lives to promoting peace and – daringly – to the abolition of war, gave dynamic and thought provoking presentations on the extent to which ‘the world is over armed and peace is underfunded’. Bruce, who is in his 8th decade is an inspiration, with his indomitable spirit, his great sense of humour and his constant commitment to the cause of peace.


Film of Féile Bríde by RoJ

The essence of Bruce’s presentation was that ‘unless war is eliminated, the human race will be’ and so he has founded the Movement for the Abolition of War. This may seem like a far-fetched idea but so did the elimination of the slave trade when small groups of Abolitionists met in various parts of the world in the 17th century. (Of course we now have a new slave trade in the form of human trafficking but – unlike the slave trade – it is generally  regarded as the odious crime that it is).

Emanuela Russo spoke about the urgent need to wrest control of food production from the hands of profit-driven, environmentally destructive corporations and to establish food sovereignty, defined as “the right of people to grow and consume food that is socially, culturally, ecologically and economically appropriate to local conditions.” She went on to say: “the current global food system creates hunger and obesity at the same time. There are 900 million hungry people in the world and almost the same amount of obese people. One of the reasons why this is happening is that all around the world, more and more food systems are controlled by big corporations and agribusinesses with the support of national governments and international institutions (such as IMF and WB, WTO), these food systems regard food as a commodity and their main goal is not to feed the people but to make profit.”

Salome Mbugua outlined her work in Akidwa and spoke about the new organisation that she has co-founded called Wezesha, a Swahili word meaning Empowerment, the aim of which is to support and promote human rights for women and children in Africa with the aim of achieving a more equal and just society.

Mary Minehan carries in the Brigid Flame to open the 2015 conference.  Photo: Pauhla McGrane

Mary Minehan carries in the Brigid Flame to open the 2015 conference. Photo: Pauhla McGrane

Rose Kelly explained the meaning of ‘occupy the imagination’, and the vital role that imagination plays in bringing about change. She quoted Pablo Picasso’s famous and inspiring words: “everything you can imagine is real” and Arundhati Roy’s equally inspirational “another world is not only possible, she is on her way, on a quiet day, I can hear her breathing”.

Finally, no Féile would be complete without music, provided this year by Imogen Gunner, Rachel Duffy, RoJ, Paul O’Toole and Brian Fleming. Wonderful music, the memory of which lingers long after the final note is played…

Report by Joe Murray, Afri Co-ordinator

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