SEE PHOTOS OF THE TOUR
Immediately Liz arrived at her hotel reservations, a meeting was called and discussions that bordered on selected cities to be visited and strategies of achieving optimal result-setting up Food Not Bombs chapters wherever possible in Nigeria and West Africa were critically deliberated upon.Just as discussions were on-going, Keith Mc Henry made funds available for the purchase of a van for the Food Not Bombs tour and subsequent activities. The van was purchased by Mr. Emmanuel Eyoh of the Sevaoutreach on behalf of Food Not Bombs, Nigeria.
KATSINA-ALA, Benue State.
Having convinced Keith and his team of the need to first seek an audience with the Senate body of Africa's largest youth movement- the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), the team in company of student leaders proceeded to the Senate and addressed the Senate in session. Food Not Bombs not only drew applause from the waiting honourable senators but¾made a resolution to adopt Food Not Bombs philosophy in all tertiary institutions in Nigeria.
Katsina Ala was a great insight to achieving an in-road in Nigeria within the shortest available time. Those student leaders in Nigeria would ever recall Keith's charge and appearance as one major humanitarian commitment worthy of emulation.
CALABAR, Cross - River State
The Food Not Bombs team met with many organizations including religious and student groups. Keith addressed over 1000 students at the University of Calabar and was almost mobbed for his brilliant emotion laden speech. Then, something incredible happened in the lecture room. One of the students listening to Keith admitted she had known Food Not Bombs since she last visited US with her husband. This made Keith's assignment easier and credible.
Keith met the Dean of Students of the University and the University's Deputy Vice Chancellor and equally visited Malaria infected children at the University of Calabar Teaching Hospital. Calabar can boast of a Food Not Bombs group today with promises of expansion.
Before arriving in Calabar, however, Keith had met with farmers in Enenchele¾ village, near Asaba, Delta State, South- South Nigeria. Food Not Bombs now has a yam plantation farm project in Enenchele with beneficial concession to the people of the community. Harvesting is October, 2006!
Here, Keith had practical experience of hunger, poverty and neglect of the Nigerian people. Keith was taken round the community hosting the first petrochemical refinery and depot in Nigeria; Africa's third refinery. The people live in abject poverty, squalor and diseases of unimaginable proportion. The Chairman of the community's Security Committee conducted the Food Not Bombs teams round the community. The community leaders acknowledged Food Not Bombs was the first of such humanitarian organizations to visit the community and think of an action that could help alleviate their sufferings. Keith handed them with food and water. They showed appreciation for the concern showed by Food Not Bombs Movement to their plight. They wish the world can know what they are made to suffer in the midst of abundant natural resources particularly CRUDE OIL.
It is unimaginable that a community that contributes to the economic mainstay of Nigeria could be so deprived of basic amenities and comfort in their own environment. They are also neglected by the Multinational oil corporations that badly degrade their land, pollute their air, water and made their soil infertile for farming activities. They are grossly under-developed,too.
Keith made a commitment to work with the people and a Food Not Bombs Chapter was formed in Alesa Eleme, near Port Harcourt, River State. Keith also met some journalists and was interviewed for feature in some dailies. The Food Not Bombs team equally met with a religious organization and visited school children.
THE ONITSHA KIDNAP
Keith and Liz proved fearless when they were waylaid by the AREA BOYS(street urchins) at the dreaded Onitsha Market in Anambra State. Nigerian members on the trip were forcefully displaced from the van and it took the timely intervention of the officers of the State Police Command to secure their release, though demands were made for the release.Keith and Liz would later reason that ' it is cheap to secure your release when hijacked in Nigeria- just 3000 nira 's (including police).
ABUJA, Federal Capital Territory
Keith and his team had wonderful events here. Keith and Liz attended the Shehu Musa Yar 'Adua's Memorial Lecture. The lecture had both¾the Nigerian President & C-in-C (Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, GCFR) and that of Liberia (Mrs Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, first African female President) in attendance. Keith sat on a VIP reservation¾ with diplomats and top government functionaries. Keith met and exchanged contacts with cabinet ministers, agencies, director-generals of agencies and companies,individuals and like-minds. Nigerian journalists interviewed him and he was featured for the second time on the Nigerian Television Authority NTA (Africa's first and largest TV station)
Keith met the Minister of Works Sen Adeseye Ogunlewe thwice( Lagos and Abuja) and met at the instance of the Minister another top aide of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria- Mrs Toyin Adetunji, Special Adviser to the President on Food Security. Discussions held were fruitful and encouraging. Keith later paid a courtesy visit on the Presidential aide to seek positive collaboration to help the hungry. He equally addressed, twice, a community in the heart of Abuja and was able to fully demonstrate how Food Not Bombs organises talk-shops, displays and general disposition. Durumi community in Abuja has a viable Food Not Bombs group that can meaningfully affect the Federal Capital inhabitants and attract authorities interest to the plight of the poor and the hungry.
Usually the operating base. Keith's public image soared high that he became identifiable even on the streets. Nigerians have watched him talk about the Food Not Bombs concept and saw in it a stressless approach to resolving our¾societal problems. Keith was able to set up branches in Lagos and looks forward to their sustainability.
Keith got the original documents of the Food Not Bombs van and handed same and the van to the West African Organizing Collective in Lagos. Also donated were flyers, bottons, T-shirts, books and a sum of 300 USD. Just as he made to depart the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Keith Mchenry clad in a flowing African attire (with a local traditional Hausa cap to match) charged everyone to work peacefully and co-operate with one another for the realization of FNB roles in changing the poverty situation in Africa.
Keith later departed and everyone was happy for an accomplished beginning!!
Free meal service has begun in some of the chapters. Successfully, Food Not Bombs has taken roots in five(5) major Nigerian cities namely: Calabar, Lagos(3 groups), Abuja, Port-Harcourt and recently, Ibadan. The target is to establish a minimum of Fifteen functional¾chapters by the time Keith returns in October. Curiously, Nigerians are asking if Food Not Bombs is not another spying/ information gathering NGO for the western powers!
They cannot believe that foods are given away free to the hungry and everybody so interested! They thought nobody cares about how the hungry are fed!They marvelled at the sound of the name Keith Mc Henry and the Food Not Bombs concept. Simple, practicable and indeed relieving.....they wonder! Keith in all of these efforts became a 'revolutionary celebrity's in Nigeria, appearing on the national TV twice in 2 successive weeks, meeting President's of 2 African nations NIGERIA & LIBERIA, Ministers, Diplomats, Presidential aides, Senate of NANS, Community leaders, religious groups and faith based organisation's, market women associations, school children and hospital patients, youth organisation''s, musicians( particularly the famous Charly Boy, Ex-President of PMAN, Journalists, security operatives, NGO's, the dreaded Area Boys( street urchins). Little wonder, the message is on!!!
Safely put, Food Not Bombs must lay a credible foundation for the success of its intended impact in Africa. Therefore, there must be credible hands to co-ordinate all activities pending when things begin to fall in line.Truth and commitment must be the guiding principle. Early planning and co-ordinated secretariat is important to Food Not Bombs future goals. Volunteers must be versatile and possess a mastery of Food Not Bombs philosophy and discharge the message in a most intellectual comporting sense.Funding at the initial stage is necessary to churn out more outreach and chapters. Above all, we must keep giving food in a society where ther is not enough to go round the massive population.
These are simply the roads to being there... achieving a peaceful world!
Preparatory to the tour, a total sum of USD 360 was granted the eventual West Africa Organising Collective Group. Posters, letter-head papers were produced at a cost of USD 98. The group also took delivery of materials earlier mailed to Nigeria by Keith at a cost of USD 63. Two Food Not Bombs activists travelled round selected campuses in Nigeria to rally support for the tour at a cost of USD155. The balance of USD 44 was expended on Gas and car maintenance.
Despite criticisms and schemings, it appeared to Keith and his team that only hard-working,committed, smart, honest and connected Food Not Bombs activists and volunteers here can consolidate the starting. Keith's eventual commendation of Food Not Bombs activists in Nigeria is unimaginable.Those comments sounds as inspirational as it is motivational, uniting yet cautionary! We grew by the day both in courage and confidence that we can now contribute to this global peace effort. We are sure we can help make a great impact!
CONSTRAINTS/ IMMEDIATE NEEDS.
The Food Not Bombs van is presently not in good working condition.The engine is getting weaker by the day and needs to be replaced soonest. In the meantime, the engine needs urgent over-hauling and servicing.The exhaust pipe need be outrightly replaced, too as the van consumes too much gas due to leakage from the exhaust pipe. This if unaddresssed, could pose a threat to setting up more outreach, food recovery and distribution programme.
The West African Food Not Bombs Organizing Collective plans to undertake a consolidation tour of the Food Not Bombs chapters in Calabar, Port-Harcourt, Abuja, Ibadan, Lagos. 10 other cities would be toured for the purpose of establishing more chapters. We have plans to visit Ghana, Togo, Benin Republic & Niger Republic to interact and consolidate with existing chapters and possibly establish new chapters.
We definitely need money to buy GAS for our trips. The tour begins March 29 - June 29, 2006.
Other required assistance include stationaries, banners, flyers in Nigereian version and cooking materials for established chapters.
Van (maintenance and repairs) USD 280
Cost of Gas (for tour) USD 500
Stationaries, banners, flyers, cooking materials USD 570
Secretariat expenses USD 250
Foods and ingredients USD 250
Registration fee with Federal Govt.USD 1000
Total USD 2850.
THE FUTURE OF FOOD NOT BOMBS IN NIGERIA
Nigerians are conscious of this: FOOD NOT¾ BOMBS movement They are quick to ask questions and they are happy they always get the answers very clearly. They wish FNB philosophy should be adopted across nations that are dying of hunger and poverty in the face of abundance. That's challenging! But we cannot do all of these efforts without your support all.
West Africa Food Not Bombs Collective Group call on all FOOD NOT BOMBS chapters everywhere in the world to look the way of Africa and help feed the hungry, provide assistance to the homeless and be part of the vanguard to free our people from external and internal domination, pauperisation, oppression, mis- governance and anti-people policies. Your support in any form might just be the special help needed to save this poor but energetic race-AFRICA. Hunger pervades the entire land of Africa. You can be part of this global change.....an experience of empowerment of a life-time!
Nigeria truly has the potentials to change not only Africa but contribute to global re-unification.The West African FNB Organising Collective Group believes that's what Keith McHenry and his Food NOT BOMBS concept is here to do!! Our talents can now become World Peace Advocates......?
For now, Nigerians think one possible option over and over; the next FOOD NOT BOMBS NATIONAL PEACE and POVERTY ERADICATION CONFERENCE, October 2006.
To this, we ask you to support Food Not Bombs International in supporting this initiative.Your support is essential, motivating and contributory to the success of the October conference. We will gladly welcome you from any part of the world should you wish to be part of the conference.
West African Food Not Bombs Collective Group appreciates the efforts and contributions of the following: Keith Mchenry Co-founder FNB movement(USA), Liz Tadic, International journalist and documentary film maker(Australia), Our dear friendly FNB volunteer Jill (USA), Senator Adeseye Ogunlewe(Ex- Federal Minister of Works, Federal Republic Of Nigeria, Comrade Kenneth Orkuma Hembe (National President of NANS) Comrade Umelo Uzodinma(Senate President of NANS), distinguished Senators of NANS, Student leaders in Nigeria and powerful gallerians of NANS for allowing Keith to address the Senate while in session. Comrade Oluwole Badmus (SA to Ex-Minister of Works), Community leaders and good people of Alesa Eleme in River State, Religious leaders and organizations, Media Organisation's particularly, the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), Nigerian journalists both in the print and electronic media, NGO's, community leaders and farmers in Enenchele Asaba, Delta State, Security operatives, Charly Boy and wife, Bolaji Rosiji, Food Not BOMBS activists in Nigeria, James ANIETU, Emmanuel EYOH, Mrs. Toyin Adetunji(SA to President Obasanjo on Food Security), Management, staff and students of University of Calabar.
Most interestingly, the Nigerian people in general for their wonderful support and hospitality given Keith, Liz and Jill. Without your concerns and supports, we may have faltered.
We can never thank you enough!
Though, Keith has gone back to the United States but he left a legacy. Late Ken Saro-Wiwa, the great environmental activist from the¾ Niger Delta Nigeria once affirmed that "a message has been sent and instead of the message, they were running after the messanger.. forgeting that the message is more powerful than the messanger" Keith's effort is accepted here and why don't you join the team?
FOOD NOT BOMBS is HERE and THE STORY CONTINUES...!
Yinka O. Dada