7 December 2010

What place do special events have in highlighting disease and trauma?

80 landmarks, including the London Eye, Empire State Building, Table Mountain and Sydney’s Opera House turned red on 1st December to mark World Aids Day. 2010 focussed on ending mother-to-child transmission by 2015 – as 200,000 infected children will die by age two. With December being a month of special seasonal events, do they change hearts and mind to make a difference?

As part of its 25th Anniversary, FORWARD hosted a night to celebrate the diginity and rights of African women – featuring amazing women artists. Maryan Mursal, a Somali singer/song-writer opened the evening and got everyone at Rich Mix, Hoxton up and dancing! Amira Kheir gave a great performance from a Sudanese/Italian background. Check out her new CD! I also learnt to love the sounds of Gambian Sona Jobarteh on the Kora – a beautiful stringed instrument.

The performance that moved me to tears was by Christina Oshunniyi, who told ‘her’ story of having FGM – and you could not hear a sound as she finished. This was made more poignant as I’d read this month of a mother, Amal Salah, in Egypt who was transformed by an FGM health class run by the Diocese of Egypt. In a country where UNICEF stated 97% of unmarried women had FGM, it is progress when a mother says ‘(my husband and I) agreed that we have to combat this bad habit and we will start with our daughter’. That daughter will now not have FGM performed.

By comparison I went to a Christmas Advent Service at St Paul’s Cathedral where two choirs sang different pieces of music in Latin and English at the same time – with the cathedral only illuminated by candles. The theme was preparing to leave behind judgement, death, darkness and despair, looking towards light, life and hope of healing at Christmas. Having overcome the underground strike and snow to get there, they where choice words!

As many of us prepare for a holiday season – Christmas, Channukah, Divali and other festivals – let us be light in our communities and extend a hand to those in need. Let’s focus on the reason behind the ‘events’ not just the sparkle!