Maasai blessings, traditional Kenyan food and, with the help of Hivos, identifying the tools to make change on the first day of Shaping the Future of Food in Africa
The first day of the Indigenous Terra Madre and Slow Food Youth Network (SFYN) event “Shaping the Future of Food in Africa” is almost over, and with four more days ahead, Africa’s first Advocacy Workshop Event on the topic of the Future of Food in Africa is off to a great start.
Blessings and Cultures
Margaret Tunda Lepore started the event with a traditional Maasai prayer, inviting all those present to join in with an affirmative chant of “Naaie” during the pauses between each line. The prayer asks for the families, animals and fields of the participants to be blessed.
In fine SFYN tradition, delegates introduced themselves not simply through their names, position or connection to Slow Food, but through their food. Slow Food prides itself as being a multilingual community and with people from seven different African countries present, the day’s meetings were conducted in a lively mix of English, Swahili, French, Italian, Dutch and Spanish, thanks to the hard work of the interpreters.
Openness around the diversity of our cultures and a willingness to share them with others: these are the essential elements for success in our work, as an inclusive attitude can protect all of our cultures when it allows for the formation of a common, cross-cultural agenda. This is what the delegates at Shaping the Future of Food in Africa came to do.
Creating change through advocacy
The event’s partner organization, Hivos, sent two delegates, Maria and Nout, to teach the group the basics of advocacy work. The group discussed some specific issues relevant to different countries, looking for commonalities. Finding the root cause of individual problems is the first step towards successful advocacy. As Maria stated: “Keep on asking, why, why, and why, when it comes to problems and their causes. Keep on asking until you reach the bottom of it. This is when you have found not only the many causes of a problem, but the deep roots which you have to tackle.”
In an afternoon World Café, 29 youths discussed topics like agroecology, gender in the food system, seeds, GMOs and new breeding techniques (NBTs), as well as healthy diets and land grabbing. All of these topics are, to a greater or lesser degree, relevant to the issues these youths are presently facing in their own countries.
After a full day of work, this evening the delegation will gather around the dinner table together to enjoy traditional Kenyan food and tell each other stories. Stories that move us, stories that inspire us, and stories that will keep up our good spirits in the days to come.
by Anna Messerschmidt