Archives for November 2011

A Conversation With CMIA Students

Tuesday afternoon Nov 1st
I had a lovely conversation with the SS2 students (the equivalent of high school seniors.)  They had been studying literature and I asked what were their favorite novels and writers.  Hands down it was the novel “The Purple Hibiscus” by Ngozi Adiche and the drama “Blinkards” by Kobina Sekyi. Unfortunately, I didn’t know either one. I asked if they had ever heard of the Nigerian writer Chimananda Adichie or her books “Something Around My Neck” or “Half of a Yellow Sun”.  They were unfamiliar with her or her works.  I told them about Chimenanda’s TED talk, “The Danger of a Single Story.”  They enjoyed hearing about her early writing as a child that reflected the English books she’d read and her breakthrough in discovering her voice in writing about her life in Nigeria.  I felt her experience made a favorable impression.  They then wanted my interpretation of Shakespeare’s Tempest and I had to claim ignorance as I am not familiar with that particular Shakespeare play.  That seemed to amaze them.  Here it was required literature in their class, and I was not familiar with it. I told them the truth that when I was their age, I preferred to be outside rather than reading indoors.  That took them by surprise!  The only one who smiled was somewhat of an outcast that then said quite deliberately, “My favorite thing to do is play ball outside.”

They wanted to know my favorite Nigerian food and I told them chicken and jolof rice.  They thought that was very fine!


It is Thursday morning here!  Today is our last day here before departing for Abuja tomorrow.  Hoever, I want to write about yesterday because last night I was unable to get online.

I’m struck by what seem paradoxes around here in Jos.  There seems to be a great deal of building going on.  New construction, new business and offices are lining the main arteries through town, yet at the same time, there are many more military checkpoints around.  Tuesday evening it took an hour to drive home from a restaurant (that took 20 minutes the first time) because of at least 10 check points.  Power seems even more scarce, It hasn’t been on during even one of the days while here.  Most all schools and business rely on generators but then deisel starts being a major expense.  While it appears that development is happening, there is also evidence that deterioration has occurred.

On a brighter note, I met with anther group yesterday regarding peace work and the importance of dialogue.  After what I felt to be a successful interaction, the eldest of the group spoke up that he felt everything we said was a waste of our time and that dialogue was useless.  Talk about the energy of the room changing!  He was elaborated that he had worked as a civil servant and that surrounding corruption had undermined his work.  I acknowledged his honesty and his principles when working with others that were corrupted.  I was grateful he spoke, for he exemplified the reality of what the other youth in the room will most likely confront in their work at some point.  I relied on Angeles Arrien’s definition of cynical- someone who cares deeply but has been deeply hurt.  The man agreed this defined his circumstance.  I was able to honor his caring, his work, his ethics, his example and his pain, and also talk about we all need to be prepared to fail but not give up.  The session ended with our shaking hands and me seeing his gorgeous smile.  I think we had converted him and everyone in the class.


The Work Continues

People here know that peace is needed and want this time NOW make a difference.  All understand it will be an ongoing process.

Yesterday we were interviewed on a one hour live radio show.  The interviewer, Kenzy Gopar did a wonderful job of asking questions that tied education, religion and family to practices of peace.  Bottom line is everyone here wants safety in their homes and safety while worshiping together.  I loved bringing my voice forward in regards to overcoming the fear and hate that has settled over the area since recent violence.

This morning I met with Christian and Muslim women and shared the movie “Pray the Devil Back to Hell”.  Many signed a list taking a first step towards organizing a women’s peace movement here in Jos.  The momentum is ga.  gathering.  These beautiful women have been waiting too long and say it is time for all children to live in peace.