“You’ve got the words to change a nation but you’re biting your tongue / You’ve spent a lifetime stuck in silence afraid you’ll say something wrong / If no one ever hears it how we gonna learn your song / So come on, come on / Come on, come on…” – ‘Read all about it Part III’, Emeli Sandé

Written by Noni. Posted in Nondumiso N Hlophe

It is amazing how much time has passed. Ironically, my last post was on World Peace Day, much in the same spirit of my more recent “takeover” of the One Young World Twitter account by Ajarat BadaDan Ryan and myself.

I wrote this blog on Africa Day-pure coincidence-and it truly inspired me to reflect on what it meant to be Swazi, being raised in both the Northern and Southern hemispheres and to seek peace through culture, using life experience as a template. My intention was pure when I asked Rees Cowne (Community Relations at One Young World) if this takeover would be possible, almost a fortnight before it actually took place: to stimulate dialogue and create awareness around the day and its cause via social media. I hope Ajarat Bada, Dan Ryan and I succeeded in doing so. Below is an extended edit of my official blog post at One Young World, I hope you learn something from it, as I did from this experience.

Finally, the title for this post is taken from Emeli Sandé’s beautiful song, Read all about it Part III. This song was dedicated to me and One Young World’s cause, concerning World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development, by Alma Karimah, a tweeter from Jakarta, Indonesia on 27 May. That was an auspicious day in my life, as it marked 8 years and 2 weeks of my best friend’s passing and would’ve been her  26th birthday. Being the music lover that Setsabile Nxumalo was, it was befitting.

This post is dedicated to warriors of peace, messengers of hope and believers in unity through diversity around the world. *Bisous*

____________

 

Handicrafts at Manzini marketplace

This is my story of cultural diversity.  My culture forms the backbone of who I am (through lessons on my ancestors and culture), who I am in the present (through reconciling tradition and modernity), and inevitably will shape who I will become, in an increasingly globalizing world. My upbringing serves as testimony to that, having been raised in North America, Europe, South-East Asia and, of course, Africa. My spirituality has been influenced by the home I came from, the schools I attended and exposure to others religions. I was raised in a trilingual home and was taught to be respectful of my cultural heritage, as well of the heritage of others, as we would ask others to be with ours. Today, my life is firmly rooted in observing basic human rights, where most belief systems seem to concur at their axes. My country of origin is deeply rooted in its culture and traditions, stemming from the fact that it was never fully colonized. Swaziland went from being a traditional Swazi nation with its King to a protectorate nation-state in the late 1800s to a protected nation-state in 1967 and achieved full independence the following year. Culture is not a static but rather socially constructed characteristic of our society, with Sonas World tweeting a quote by Mahatma Gandhi to us: “No culture can live if it attempts to be exclusive.” Indeed, our late King and iNgwenyama Sobhuza II used to say that we needed to find a way to take what was good in modernity and to take what was good in tradition, and combine the two towards living a principled life.

 

Something to think about

At a basic level, Erasmus Mweene from Lusaka, Zambia reminded us how something as simple as a greeting one another vary from culture to culture, “from a wave, bow, handshake, nod, a bob, to tipping of the hat.” One of my favourite shared thoughts in life has been about how your car is that and your coffee is that, movies are from here and electronics are from there and how people still want to complain about one’s neighbours being other countries. In our increasingly, globalizing world, Twitter could not have been more evident of how we are bridging the cultural divide. Us tweeters (Ajarat BadaDan Ryan and myself) tweeted from Los Angeles to Adelaide, with Mbabane somewhere in between. We represent different ages, countries, cultures and spiritual beliefs, tweeting on different aspects concerning cultural diversity, and were united in our task in stimulating dialogue around the issue. I tweeted links to the different action plans and declarations and proclamations and resolutions that exist, formulated with the common goal of bridging to gap between conversing and actualizing cultural diversity, as a way of developing, discussing and living in the world. Somehow, it took tweeting across different time zones and giving the youth in particular a space to share their views and their culture, to realise just how powerful educating, and protecting one’s culture is.

In reflecting on the suggested list that forms part of the “Do One Thing for Diversity and Inclusion” campaign, I realised I had done most of them in my lifetime. As tweeter Michelle Ramage from Kansas, USA (in my opinion, rightly) pointed out, the to-do list “[is] not a list…but a way of life.” I came from a home that encouraged engaging with the arts-irrespective of culture-as any engagement was a welcomed opportunity for learning. I attended schools for the most part, where sharing meals, different points of view, as well as the history of our roots were not initiatives-we simply we living in our truth, sharing a part of us, with and without their prejudices. Hailley Griffis from Ottawa, Canada pledged to learn more about celebrations and holidays in the Greek culture‏. Alma Karimah from Jakarta, Indonesia shared details of the Waisak Day Festival she had planned to attend in Borobudur, Central Java, a Buddhist ceremony honouring the birth, enlightenment and death of Buddha.

 

Mural at UNICEF Swaziland

Call me an idealist-I do believe Pax Cultura (Peace through Culture) is possible worldwide. Our differences make us unique, we should bridge the gap between said differences through encouraging dialogue, exercising tolerance and developing policies geared towards encouraging cultural diversity. I am encouraged when I hear that states, not just citizens, are also taking such principles seriously and enshrining such principles into their national vision (Gogontlejang Phaladi from Botswana shared that cultural diversity has been enshrined into her country’s Vision 2016 pillar of ‘A Moral and Tolerant Nation’). Pax Cultura themed tweets from around the world-the change agents who will be leading the charge on this issue-further confirms a willingness to commit towards peace and understand, as opposed to war, intolerance and prejudice. My fellow One Young World Ambassador from Swaziland Sakhile Dlamini said “[a]s we build our cultural awareness, we also build bridges to trust, respect and understanding across cultures.” Sibaphiwe Matiyela from Cape Town, South Africa tweeted “[w]here we choose to love and learn instead, we create magic.” Perhaps the most eloquent words to live were eloquently summed up in Elyas Kakar’s tweet from Islamabad, Pakistan: “Love for all[,] hatred for none.”

 

My parting words to Twitter on the issue were the words of Henry David Thoreau:

“It is never too late to give up your prejudices.” 

OYW 2012- Bravo to MTN

Written by august (online). Posted in Augustine K. Kou

Tomorrow starts another great and remarkable discussion cardinal to a sustainable world. The best talents for future leadership have already started to arrive in Pittsburgh for an International Summit that brings thousand of youth together( no youth dominated event outside the Olympic bring more youth together than the One Young World). These brilliant minds with more than a thousand projects are impacting their various communities. One Young World is indeed the platform for young people to contribute positively to their society. Besides institutions have stood strong to compliment the efforts of delegates at the Summit. Like MTN, through her corporate  social  responsibility, 21 young persons from within their company’s area of operation were sponsored to attend the Second Annual Summit of the One Young World in Zuruich last year. And MTN this year has sponsored another Liberian, Janice Pratt, proving its commitment to the dreams and aspirations to tomorrow’s leaders. Leadership, Global Business, Interfaith Dialogue, the media and environment will be the thematic areas as usual. Thanks to Kate and David, including the Hard working OYW Team, our African Director Catherine D. Peter, for working possibilities for 2012. MTN deserves a Myriad Applauds.  Hearts off to our Liberian Team as we look forward to Joburg ….

21 September 2012: “…everybody’s talkin’ ’bout ministers, sinisters / Banisters and canisters, bishops and fishops / Rabbis and pop eyes/ bye bye, bye byes/ All we are saying, is give peace a chance…” – Plastic Ono Band (lyrics by John Lennon), Give Peace a Chance.

Written by Noni. Posted in Nondumiso N Hlophe

Thirty years ago, the United Nations (UN) dedicated this day to peace, more specifically to the absence of war and violence, such as might be occasioned by a temporary ceasefire in a combat zone for humanitarian aid access, and is kept by many nations, political groups, military groups, and peoples.  However, the inequality afforded to some is perhaps aptly demonstrated in the ringing of the Peace Bell itself-the Bell was cast from coins belonging to children from all over the world-except the continent of Africa.

Twenty years ago, then Secretary-General of UN Boutros Boutros-Ghali, wrote a report entitled An Agenda for Peace: Preventive diplomacy, peacemaking and peace-keeping. Quite simply, An Agenda for Peace was the resultant document from the UN Security Council’s request for recommendations on how to best strengthen and improve the efficiency of the UN’s practice of preventive diplomacy, for peacemaking and for peace-keeping, within the framework and provisions of the UN Charter. In the report, Boutros-Ghali defines “post-conflict peace-building” as “action to identify and support structures which will tend to strengthen and solidify peace in order to avoid a relapse into conflict”, the most lasting contribution to the concern, the study, and (of course) the appeal of humankind’s concern with Peace Studies.

A decade ago, Secretary-General Kofi Annan marked the beginning of a new peace-day tradition, to observe September 21st as “a day of global ceasefire and non-violence”. He called for:

“…all nations and all people to cease all hostilities for the entire day.

Twenty-four hours: to give relief workers a safe interlude for the provision of vital services; to offer mediators a building block towards a wider truce; to allow all those engaged in conflict to reconsider the wisdom of further violence.

Twenty-four hours: not a long time, but enough for the world’s leaders to begin to listen to their peoples.”

 

Today, as I reflect on the promise that tradition held and the state of the world-in the atrocities we have witnessed in this year alone and the so-called divisions that are being emphasized (beliefs, disabilities, ethnicities, orientation, sex, wealth) as the sources of these tragedies-today is more crucial than ever. Humanity time and time again has had to propose, supplement and attempt to ensure the balance of studying warfare with aspiration studies of keeping peace. In today’s world, we seemingly are finding more reasons to “protect ourselves” with arms than to lay them down in favour of “seeking peace” out, however difficult and challenging this may seem. I question whether our psyche has not arrived at a place in our humanity where, we the people, have become compliant with the unacceptable, because we are not willing to put in the work it requires of every single one of us to make this world, not only acceptable, but truly peaceful-for all?

Beyond satyagraha, an “insistence on truth”, we must step away from misleading each other that this cause, like most, go beyond the one day (or one month, in some other cases) devoted to them.  This year, the day continues with its call for international truce as usual but will also focus particularly on bullying and domestic violence. Maybe the question of the day should not be “What does peace mean to you?” but rather “What will peace mean to my children, and their children and (so forth)…when war no longer exists?” Take a moment to reflect on what #peacemeans to you today, and spend all others-today and forever-actively doing your part to ensure that, one day, it means peace on this Earth for everyone.

Happy Peace Day, everyone.

X nH

12 August 2012: A Message to Grownups – “Tonight/We are young/ so let’s set the world on fire/ we can burn brighter /than the sun” – Fun, We Are Young.

Written by Noni. Posted in Nondumiso N Hlophe

Dear Grownups,

In honour of our upcoming Summit in Pittsburgh, I thought I would share some thoughts with you on what ‘being young’ is all about…it’s not as clear cut as you may think, we often get conflicting messages from our peers, the media and even you…so bear with me.

We are told that advice, like youth, is wasted on the young-nevertheless, we are told to enjoy the power and beauty of our youth. We have been assured that young hearts run free. We often reflect on how we are young, so young now that when tomorrow comes we will [insert an activity-whatever comes to mind-that you think (or maybe know) should not be done twice or maybe even thrice in a row but will be] all again because we are young. Sometimes, we ask for your forgiveness for what we have done, simply because we are young. We are told to hope for troubles few, to be brave and faithful and true, by ones who were once in love-just like you. We are guaranteed that only the young can break away and get lost when the wind blows, on our own. We sing about how this how we do. We proclaim that we are young with high hopes of setting the world on fire and burning brighter than the sun. Bold? Definitely! Misguided? Not entirely! Naïve? Sure, we’ll take it…you have couple of more decades up on us, why argue, numbers never lie!

However, as time passes, we hear more and more people-who were once young with us-quip about how they wish they would be forever young. We are also told that one day, we will reflect on the days when we were brave, when we were crazy, when we were mostly young. Before we cross that bridge, with about two months to go until Pittsburgh, one has to celebrate International Youth Day-the Day of the Young-this year appropriately themed “Building a Better World: Partnering with youth.” Gone are the days when the ‘old’ (for lack of a better word, because ‘aged’ sounds just as bad) built the world are we, the young, simply inherited it. We tried that approach, and no offense to the ‘old’ people in the room but look at what you’ve and are in the process of leaving us, it was as if you forgot that you had a world to leave to anyone…that it would simply end, with your natural end, on it. So, now at a crossroads, you have come to the conclusion that it would serve you well to ask the people who stand to inherit this world, what a better world would look like….beyond the lyrics to a John Lennon song. We thank you, and say-quite effectively so-challenge accepted.

Grownups, we thank you for giving us a voice but also ask that you don’t just let us say what is on our minds-really listen to what we’re saying. What we lack in years, we make up for in passion. We realize that the road will be bumpy but we have come prepared-hiking boots in tow! Please keep this in mind today, on International Youth Day, that we are young …for now. We can all learn from each other, and as we become the “no longer young” group, please accept us into ‘circle’ so that we can learn from you how to guide the ones behind us. We may not be there yet but please bear in mind that, one day, we will be. We will continue to utilize our naivety to spur us on, on issues that matter most to us, in a summit designed to cater to our hopes, dreams and aspirations for a better world-the world we will live in, when we are no longer young.

 

Yours faithfully,

The young, one year on from being really young in Zurich (almost).

 

X nH