Saturday 3rd February 2018
Solas Bhríde, Kildare Town
Registration at 10.20am
“Life has given me many challenges, which I choose to take as opportunities to learn and grow. This is my choice. I learned this on death row. I chose life, health, forgiveness, and love. That choice saved me from bitterness and hatred that would have destroyed me from within. I have dedicated myself to an end to violence – in all its forms. This is the way I honour the lives that were sacrificed along the way. This is the way I give back to the universe. Love is the answer. Fear is the enemy. We must choose the world we want and work towards making it happen every day in our own lives.”
These are the inspiring words of death row survivor, Sunny Jacobs, whose life reads like a Shakespearean tragedy, with injustice heaped upon further injustice, creating circumstances that would have crushed many people. An innocent woman wrongfully convicted of murder, her husband was executed, she lost other family members and she spent many years awaiting her own execution. But Sunny came shining through it all with dignity, strength, courage, compassion and hope. She is the perfectly encapsulation of this year’s Féile Bríde’s theme: ‘light out of darkness’.
Sunny and Peter Pringle, the last person to have been on death row in Ireland, have devoted themselves to promoting healing, peace and reconciliation. Together they have established The Sunny Centre – a sanctuary for others who suffer injustice, especially people who are wrongly convicted of crimes they did not commit and have spent time under sentence of death. We will hear their extraordinary stories at Féile Bríde this year.
Other speakers include the distinguished academic and activist Peadar Kirby, who plays a leading role in the Cloughjordan Eco-Village; UCC Professor Emeritus and life-long peace activist John Maguire; Hanny Van Geel of La Via Campesina, which promotes the rights of peasant communities around the world, and who describes herself as ‘rooted in farming’; and Rose Hogan who has a life-long commitment to agro-ecology and sustainable agriculture.
In a world marred by war and the woeful destruction of our exquisite planet, Féile Bríde is but one example of the many, many people and groups throughout our world who hope for and work towards a better future, a more just world and for the light to overcome the darkness.
And as the Spring birdsong heralds the end of another winter, we will also have music because, as Hans Christian Anderson said, “where words fail, music speaks”.
10.45am Fáilte, Solas agus Ceol: welcome, light & music
11.00pm Caring for our Global Village – Peadar Kirby
12.00pm Food for Life – Hanny Van Geel & Rose Hogan
1.00pm Lunch and tree planting
2.00pm Peace Meal Change– John Maguire
2.50pm Tea break
3.15pm Light out of Darkness
The Sunny Centre
To see who’s going on facebook go here.
Afri’s Féile Bríde conference is part of a week long events being held in Kildare organised by the Brigidine Sisters and Cairde Bríde. For information about the other events that week visit the Solas Bhríde website or download their programme Feile Bride Programme.
Among the issues to be explored at this year’s conference will be forced migration – the inevitable consequence of war and climate change.
Speakers will include distinguished peace activist and author Kathy Kelly and Scottish writer and campaigner Alastair McIntosh. Find out more in our brochure.
To see who’s going on facebook go here.
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.” (more…)
This year’s Féile Bríde aimed to mark the issues of “Life: Source or Resource-Enslavement versus sovereignty.” The day started with the beautiful music of harpist Fionnuala Gill as the Brigid flame was carried into the conference hall. The event made connections across borders, nations and nationalities, attracting speakers and partners from East Africa to the West of Ireland, in order to tackle together the unequal distribution of resources and the threats to food sovereignty.
Speakers included Afri’s partner Abjata Khalif of the Kenyan pastoralist Journalist Network, Fergal Anderson a small farmer from the west of Ireland, veteran writer and campaigner on issues of human trafficking, Donal Dorr, and Mia De Faoite, a survivor of prostitution speaking from her experience. (more…)
A short report on “Dreaming for the Earth: Meeting the Challenge of Climate Change”, Afri’s 2013 Féile Bríde conference held on the 2nd February in Kildare
Afri’s 2013 Féile Bríde, “Dreaming for the Earth: Meeting the Challenge of Climate Change” was held in the new venue of the Osborne Centre, which is beautifully surrounded by a lake and native Irish trees. This year the conference was aimed at tackling climate change, and opened with John Feehan, an expert on the Curragh, giving the history and uses of the Curragh, and then bringing the participants to the Curragh to explore the landscape for themselves. John strongly encouraged locals interested in preserving this public space, to consider forming a taskforce to care for the Curragh, in particular, to tackle the rampant furze.
Afri has been concerned about issues of food and hunger since its inception in 1975. One of Afri’s annual events is the Famine Walk, which remembers the Great Famine of the 1840s (a famine caused amongst other things by the dependence on a monoculture crop) in the context of ongoing famine and starvation throughout the world today.
We look especially at the causes of famine in the 21st century, particularly the war industry (the worst aspects of which are currently being demonstrated by the brutal Israeli bombardment of Gaza) an industry which now costs in excess of a staggering $1,200 billion annually, literally taking food from the mouths of the poor, an issue that will be addressed by Denis Halliday and Frida Berrigan in the opening session of this year’s conference. (more…)